Advances in protective fabrics

Written by: <Authors><Author><Id>210</Id><Name>Hariharan. S</Name><FriendlyName>hariharan-s</FriendlyName></Author><Author><Id>178</Id><Name>P. Ganesan</Name><FriendlyName>p-ganesan</FriendlyName></Author><Author><Id>178</Id><Name>P. Ganesan</Name><FriendlyName>p-ganesan</FriendlyName></Author></Authors> &


Current trends in protective textiles and smart fabrics try to find a symbiosis of protection and clothing. Textiles for protection is the fruit of a diverse body of talents, drawing together scientific and technical expertise from around the world, to produce an important source of current knowledge on textile materials & clothing, and their use in the protection of humans in hostile environments. This paper describes the idea of a smooth combination of the two worlds of protection and clothing.

Significant technological advances are occurring in the protective clothing industry in search for improved means for the protection of human beings. Ongoing concern for worker safety, protection from life threatening and disabling injuries and illness, and protection for personnel from fire, chemical agents etc, has resulted in the continued improvement in the protective clothing industry. Changes have affected the structure of the industry; various endures have placed demands on better performing products. These advances in technology, such as new materials and manufacturing processes for advanced textiles, have created greatly improved protective fabrics.

Nowadays, most of the advances are taking place in the field of defence, sports, fire protection, radiation protection etc. This paper deals with some of the recent advances in the protective textiles and their field of applications.


Safety and protective textiles refer to garments and other fabric-related items designed to protect the wearer from harsh environmental effects that may result in injury or death. Textiles are no more limited for use as apparels clothing is just are but not the only purpose of textiles with the rapid changes in the social economic structure of our society. Similarly, textiles enhancing the quality of human life trough protection against various hazards as well as protection of environment are todays priorities were scientist all around the world are breaking their heads.The environment is consider to have the highest priority where protection of individual is considered as in the defence application such as rain, snow, fog, wind, lighting, sun light, dust and also it should have to survive the intense heat, cold, wetness, UV light, wind-chill and other discomforts on land, sea and in the air.


The protective clothing industry is undergoing significant change as a direct result of rapid advances in technology and manufacturing processes. These advances in technology, such as new materials and manufacturing processes for advanced textiles, have created greatly improved protective fabrics. A number of current research and development programs are leading to commercialization of new technologies on a international scale.

Some of the advances in protective fabrics are:

Active protection system

Aluminized fabrics

Protective flex

Thermal sensitivity fabrics

Protection against biological and chemical threats

Complete armour protection system

Advanced soldier ballistic protection


APS is an intelligent fabric that consists of three dimensional spacer textile treated with specially formulated, responsive silicone coating. It remains soft and flexible under normal conditions, but when stressed under high impact force, the material instantly becomes rigid, and then immediately returns to a flexible state .The technology behind APS consists of a soft, malleable and formable dilatant silicone, which is impregnated into a three dimensional spacer textile support. The silicone composition consists of polymers that show transient bonding to a cross linking component. Under normal conditions, the polymers are bonded to the cross linker so that the bonds open when subjected to a long period deformation force, which allow the material to flow. When this force is removed, the bonds easily reform again, returning the silicone to its original soft state.


Fully integrated active safety that can be stitched directly into garments.

Material customization and versatility that allow many creative design possibilities.

Breathable, Flexible and light weight construction for outstanding comfort and freedom of movement.

Washable for easy care and maintenance.


Motorcycle garments

Military and civil defense

Medical applications

High performance protective and apparel

Life sciences


Aluminized fabrics

Combining materials expertise and innovation, these aluminized fabrics enhance human performance. Firefighters and industrial workers, when wrestling with a blazing inferno or standing for hours in front of a 1200-degree furnace, constantly face the threat of radiant heat the first heat to engulf a person in close proximity to fire. These fabrics help people withstand extreme temperatures. Aluminized fabrics are specifically designed to provide the ultimate protection from extreme heat, molten metal or high-pressure steam.



The new smart response fiber is proving to enhance passenger safety because of its unique energy-management properties. Securus is the first in a new category of polyester copolymer fibers being developed for managed-load applications. It combines polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which provides restraining properties, and polycaprolactone (PCL), which provides flexibility and cushioning.During a collision, Securus fiber seat belts protect the passenger in a three-step process: holding the passenger securely in place; elongating and cushioning the body as it absorbs the energy of its forward motion; and restraining and limiting that motion.


SmartSkin hydrogel is a new technology involving a hydrophilic/hydrophobic copolymer, which is embedded in an open-cell foam layer bonded to the inside of a closed-cell neoprene layer in a composite wet suit fabric with nylon or nylon/Lycra outer and inner layers.

SmartSkin absorbs cold water that has flushed into the suit and expands to close openings at the hands, feet and neck, preventing more water from entering. Water trapped inside the suit heats up upon body contact. If the water warms up past a transition temperature determined by the proportion of hydrophilic to hydrophobic components, the hydrogel releases water and contracts, allowing more water to flush through the suit. This passive system constantly regulates the internal temperature no batteries or mechanical action are needed.


Protection against biological and chemical threats

Chemical and biological weapons, once considered only a battlefield threat, now intrude into our everyday lives. Weapons of mass destruction are now, and will continue to be, a threat to all. These fabrics are helpful in chemical and biological protection.


CAPS (Complete Armor Protection System) are flexible body armor for law enforcement and military personnel. CAPS body armor can be configured to address specific threats, including knife, slash, spike, fragmentation, ballistic, and stab. It is a multiple threat body armor system that can be configured with these protective layers:

Soft round - composite fabric backing with Ballistic fiber > 25g/d

Knife - flexible Metal Flex Armor (MFA) mosaic solid element panel

Hard round - (military) component layers

Fragmentation - balanced system



Maximum protection through the combination of high concealment and low bulk

System is custom configured to meet specific threat assessments

Flexibility of MFA panel allows for extremity system designs vs. traditional system of trauma plates or chain mail

MFA Interaction with Knives

MFA tends to grab and hold knife tip after penetration

MFA damages the knife tip and knife edge

Reduced threat in multiple strike attacks

Thin light blades are likely to be broken by MFA


Mainly in defence applications


The main objective of these fabrics is to develop or insert advances in materials technology to improve protection and performance of armor systems against conventional and emerging ballistic threats while minimizing penalties associated with the increased levels of protection.


Light weight personnel armor with significant increase in ballistic protection

Better protection and lighter weight equates to improved survivability and tactical mobility for the individual

Enhanced analytical tools for body armor development, test and evaluation and acquisition/ fielding

More realistic survivability assessment


The technical textile market is respective to innovative new products. There is opportunity and need for functional, cost-effective materials. But the market is fragmented and complex. Development and lead times are often long and expensive. The market is quite small but exhibits moderately strong growth and produces are generally of high unit values. Due to increasing health and safety issues at work this may be an increasingly attractive segment. Good products are needed and they must work well. It is a market that offers opportunity, but also one that demands that much development and testing be done prior to adopting new products. There may be long lead times much resistance to things new products to market.



International fibre journal, April 2006

Manmade textiles in India, May 2006

Wellington sears Handbook of Industrial textiles

A C Horrocks Handbook of technical textiles

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