The Smart and Intelligent Textiles Conference, organised by the Technical Textiles and Nonwoven Association (TTNA) and sponsored by the ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres, was held at IFM on Thursday 24th August 2017. Delegates from industry and academia came together to listen to five speakers discussing current and future trends in smart textiles.
Keynote speaker Dr Ing. Dieter Veit, Head of Department for Technical Textiles at RWTH Aachen University in Germany, gave a fascinating insight into the reasons why electronic textiles have not yet captured the market share they were predicted to several years ago. He gave several examples of successful products including translucent concrete (Lucem), and fabrics which generate 3D effects from LED lights (Ettlin Lux), and discussed the factors which led to these products being successfully commercialised. He also discussed unsuccessful products, producing quite a few laughs from the audience, before finishing with his thoughts on how best to approach commercialisation of eTextiles.
An industry perspective was given by Ben Flavel, Innovation Manager at Geofabrics Australasia. Ben discussed their transition towards incorporating smart textiles into civil infrastructure through a case study about developing and trialling graphene-coated geotextiles to detect potential leaks in a water storage before filling.
Hub CI Joe Razal presented the work his team are doing on multifunctional fibres, passing around a sample of the graphene-containing conductive fibres produced on the wet spinning line. Joe discussed the advantages these conductive fibres can have if integrated or embedded within a fabric through weaving or knitting. Joe was followed by Associate Professor Lijing Wang from RMIT School of Fashion and Textiles who brought a different perspective to the audience, discussing the incorporation of electronic textiles into fashion design, with consideration for aesthetics and wearability.
Professor Julie Steele, Director of the Biomechanics Research Laboratory at the University of Wollongong highlighted the importance of considering biomechanics when designing smart textiles using a case study on development of a ‘Smart Bra’ which will automatically adjust to the wearer and her level of activity, optimising comfort and support and taking the burden off bra shopping for all women!
Attendees finished the day with networking over drinks and canapes while imagining a future filled with smart bras, luminous buildings and textiles that are smarter than us! The Hub was proud to support such an interesting conference.