A way in

June 9th, 2014

When I tell people what I do, there is often a moment of silence while the answer gets processed. They get the editor part; it’s “advanced textiles” that trips them up. But when I tell them about all the amazing materials, technology and expertise in the advanced textiles industry, they’re genuinely surprised. I start with […]

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Everyday, but not ordinary

May 9th, 2014

Protective textile products are hard workers in industrial environments. Around the world, countless people start their work day following a critical routine by donning protective apparel: a hard hat, fire-retardant coverall, safety glasses, cut-resistant sleeves or gloves, high-visibility vests or jackets, clean-room garments, breathing masks. It may seem ordinary just because it’s common, but fire […]

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Right and light

April 19th, 2014

Hazmat protection needs to be exactly right for its use—and as lightweight as possible. Protecting people from hazardous materials is serious business—and it’s complex. Fabric designed for use in hazmat suits and gear undergo careful research and rigorous testing before they are ever made into an application. Once a garment or tent is assembled, more […]

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With risks this high, how much protection is enough?

April 7th, 2014

I haven't done a survey, but I think this is accurate: emergency personnel are most frequently dealing with crises they can understand. In fact, they may have been in similar situations many times in the past. They have been trained to deal with fires, car accidents and assaults, for example, and may feel confident that […]

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Medical textile miracles

March 8th, 2014

The more we learn about the human body, the more amazed we are. A highly complex machine, it’s so efficient that it’s baffling. But as brilliant and resilient as our bodies are, they wear out, get sick or are injured. It is for times like these that medical research has come up with all sorts […]

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Fashion and function

February 7th, 2014

When Mercedes-Benz runs a commercial featuring a special suit that lights up to reflect the emotions of the driver, in real time, during his driving experience, we may think “silly” or “spectacular.” But the fact is, the technology that powers the suit is not substantially different from the technology that could power a warfighter’s gear […]

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Powered, not wired

January 11th, 2014

The expectations for e-textiles and wearable technology are broad and significant. The research is yielding more promising—and practical—innovations at a fairly regular clip. We are not talking wires here. (My hunting socks with wires across the toes that run to a C-cell battery pack come to mind. Sitting in a deer stand was fine. Walking […]

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Button up your overcoat. And leave it buttoned.

December 10th, 2013

When I was a kid and we’d go to our Northern Minnesota cabin in the winter, my mom would bundle us up in woolen snow pants and jackets that she pulled out of mothballed storage trunks. We smelled mighty powerful for a bit, but a few snow angels or tumbles off the toboggan took care […]

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The new paradigm

November 12th, 2013

The discussion of good for business versus good for the environment is shifting slowly—but surely. Perhaps a better question today is, if it’s not sustainable, can it be commercialized? Does anyone spend time and money on researching new technologies that are counter to today’s environmental guidelines or mandates? Does anyone launch a new product into […]

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What’s the holdup?

October 8th, 2013

Try Googling “photovoltaic fabrics” sometime. The first page will yield articles from 2010. Solar collector technology (the kind you might see on the roof of a house) I’ve been told has not changed substantially since I bought a house with an active solar heating system in 1979. (1979!) I don’t live in that house anymore, […]

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