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Research about functional textiles and yarns

Table of Contents
PART 01 The Development History and Current Situation of Functional Textiles

1. Budding stage

Early functional textiles were mainly used for waterproofing, fire prevention, and gas prevention needs in military and special industries.

2. Early stage of development

In 1976, the US invented Gore Tex waterproof and breathable fabric.

Antibacterial, UV resistant, moisture wicking and other functions have also begun to be used in civilian textiles.

3. Rapid development period

After the 1990s, intelligent and environmentally friendly textiles such as nano silver antibacterial, intelligent response, temperature control,energy conversion, and health therapy emerged.

4. Current trend

Functional textiles are developing towards interdisciplinary integrationand innovation, such as the combination of biology, information science, and textile engineering, giving rise to more high-value functional textiles.

Functional textiles refer to textiles that have other special functions beyond the basic characteristics of textile products such as warmth retention, covering, and beautification, such as anti-static, wrinkle resistance, cooling, radiation resistance, heat absorption, and thermal conductivity.

Classified by functionality

01-Comfortable and aesthetically pleasing textiles

Textiles with functions such as moisture absorption, quick drying, cooling, waterproof, oil repellent, and anti fouling.

02-Safety protection textiles

Textiles with functions such as UV resistance, flame retardancy, and anti-static.

03-Healthcare textiles

It has functions such as antibacterial, anti mold, anti mite, far-infrared, negative ion, and deodorization.

01-Comfortable and aesthetically pleasing textiles

a. Waterproof and oil repellent textiles

Spray or immerse finishing agents with special molecular structures to change the composition of the fiber surface layer, so that the surface tension of the fabric is lower than that of water or oil, and is not wetted by water or oil.

b. Moisture absorbing and quick drying textiles

By introducing surfactants and other agents, sweat is wet and evaporated on the skin, fabric, and the outside world to complete the process of rapid sweating and drying.

c. Cool textile

Adopting modification, structural design, and post-processing methods on fiber raw materials or fabrics to make the fabric have a diffusive heat and cooling effect, it is applied in fields such as clothing, medical, and military.

02-Safety protection textiles

a. Flame retardant textiles:

In 2020, the global market size of flame retardant fabrics reached 1.056 billion US dollars, and it is expected to reach 1.315 billion US dollars by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate of 3.73%.

b. Anti static textiles

According to the “2022-2027 China Antistatic Agent Industry Market Deep Research and Development Outlook Forecast Report”, the global permanent anti-static agent market size reached 1.14 billion yuan in 2020, and it is expected to reach 1.86 billion yuan in market size by 2026.

c. UV resistant textiles:

They have a shielding effect on ultraviolet rays, absorbing them and reducing their transmission through energy conversion.

03-Healthcare textiles

a. Anti mite textiles

Prevent the harm of mites to humans and improve human health levels.

b.  Far infrared textiles:

Textiles with absorption and reflection far-infrared functions, achieving thermal insulation and health benefits.

c. Antibacterial textiles

Antibacterial agents in textiles damage the cell walls of microorganisms and cause protein denaturation. The global antibacterial textile market grew from $11.77 billion in 2021 to $12.67 billion in 2022, with a projected annual compound growth rate of 7.7%. It is expected to grow to $21.3 billion by 2030.

 PART 02 Development Trends of Functional Textiles

a. Sustainable development

Renewable and biodegradable environmentally friendly fabrics will be showcased at the 2024 International Functional Textile.

b. Diversified development

It is no longer limited to a single functional characteristic, but is developing towards a direction of multiple in one and composite functions.

c. Intelligent development

Intelligent textiles embed sensors, microelectronic devices, etc. into textiles to achieve functions such as health monitoring, motion tracking, and environmental response.

The main problems faced by functional textiles

  • ecological pollution ;② Short functional lifespan

Compared with functional textiles, the advantages of functional yarns are mainly reflected in the early stages of the production process and the internalization of material properties.

a. Durable functionality

Functional yarns are endowed with specific functions at the fiber or yarn stage, and have stronger foundational and long-lasting properties compared to post finishing .

b. Easy to process, can expand new application areas

Adding functional components in the yarn stage can facilitate subsequent weaving, knitting, such as smart yarns (including electronic components), bioactive yarns (used for healthcare), etc.

c. Environmental Protection and Sustainability

Through functional yarn technology, the use of environmentally harmful chemicals can be reduced at the source, and biodegradable or bio based functional yarns can be developed to achieve deeper levels of green and sustainable development.

PART 03 The History of Functional Yarns

The history of functional yarns can be traced back to the mid-20th century.

  1. Before and after World War II, protective yarns such as anti UV, anti chemical penetration, and fire retardant were introduced.
  2. Polyamide and polyester were invented in 1935 and 1941, which were not only durable and high in strength, but also endowed with more functional characteristics through modification .
  3. In the 1960s, yarns with functions such as moisture wicking, quick drying, and warmth retention were developed, such as Coolmax ®、 Thinsulate ™.
  4. After the 1970s, high-performance fibers such as Kevlar and carbon fiber were used to produce yarns with high strength, high temperature resistance.
  5. In the 21st century, the production of nano silver antibacterial treated yarns and functional yarns containing natural bio based materials such as seaweed fibers.

In recent years, functional yarns have developed towards intelligence, with the emergence of intelligent responsive yarns. For example, yarn that perceives and responds to environmental changes or physiological signals from the human body.

Coated Mxene (two-dimensional material) cellulose based conductive yarn developed by Drexel University in the United States.

Application scenarios of fiber based wearable electronic systems simulated by the Intelligent Wearable Research Center of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

PART 04 The current situation and main categories of functional yarns

Functional yarns can be achieved by adding specific components, changing spinning techniques and processes.

  • Antibacterial yarn
  • Flame retardant yarn
  • Skin friendly health yarn

a. Antibacterial yarn:

a textile with the ability to inhibit the growth and reproduction of bacteria or microorganisms.

The world’s largest producer of antibacterial textiles is located in the Asia Pacific region. China, the United States, Germany, and Japan dominate the antibacterial textile market.

According to GIR research, the global revenue of medical antibacterial yarns in 2022 reached $147.1 million, and it is expected to reach $181.7 million in 2029. The compound annual growth rate from 2023 to 2029 is 3.1%. At present, global healthcare expenditure accounts for approximately 10% of global GDP, and the proportion will continue to increase in the coming years.

Test Report of Anti-bacterial cotton

b. Intelligent Temperature Regulating Yarn:

It can interact with body temperature to cool down when the temperature is hot and warm up when it is cold, keeping the body warm.

Outlast’s PCM technology has extensive industrial applications in the US, the UK.

Mid6 company developed intelligent temperature regulating diving suit, the outer layer is closed cell neoprene foam material, and the middle interlayer is a composite of temperature sensitive hydrogel and open cell polyurethane foam material.

Triangle Company in the United States synthesized diameters of 15-40 μM microcapsules, arranged on the surface of the fabric, with temperature regulation function.

 Thermoregulation display of Temsmar:

The Portuguese Center for Nanotechnology and Intelligent Materials has developed nanocapsules made from starch and containing trace amounts of waxy substances,which can be permanently attached to clothing.

37.5 dynamic technology, which embeds 37.5 particles into the yarn or fibers of clothing, can capture the infrared energy emitted by the body, remove moisture when hot, and maintain warmth when cold, is a permanent technology.

Method for producing intelligent temperature regulating fibers Hollow fiber impregnation, melt composite spinning, coating method, microcapsule spinning method.

c. Cool yarn:

processing fibers and structures, using mineral particles in fiber production to increase their Qmax; Adopting special spinning technology to increase contact area and improve coolness performance.

In 2022, the global market size of cool fabrics reached 2.4 billion US dollars. IMARC Group expects the market size to reach $3.9 billion by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate of 8.4% from 2022 to 2028.

d. Infrared heating yarn:

an ecological heating material that absorbs infrared radiation from sunlight or the human body and converts it into thermal energy.

e: Skin friendly health yarn

Milk protein fiber is made from cow’s milk as raw material, and is processed through dehydration, degreasing, purification, and other processes to produce casein. It is combined with polyvinyl alcohol and spun by wet spinning, exhibiting silky, smooth, and healthy properties.

Good skin friendly properties, improved skin’s anti allergic ability, and delayed skin aging.


Underwear underwear, bra, baby products, winter men’s and women’s thermal underwear set.

f: High strength and wear-resistant yarn:

Super wear-resistant: The most wear-resistant among chemical fibers. High strength: suitable for special fields such as parachutes and military use. Super comfortable: With high moisture regain, it is comfortable to apply to the skin. Super cold resistance: In an environment of minus 30 °C, the hand feel of PA66 fabric still remains the same as room temperature. Aging resistance: It can withstand high temperatures of 140 ℃ for 500 hours and maintain strength of over 80%.

From 2020 to 2022, the global market size and demand for modified nylon have been increasing year by year, reaching $11.1 billion and 2.21 million tons respectively.

g: Thermal insulation yarn

a yarn that affects the transfer of heat flow due to its low thermal conductivity.

The thermal conductivity of gel material is as low as 0.013W/m ∙ K, the lowest density of gel is 0.16 mg/cm3, and the service life is long. It can be made into aerogel modified soft film and modified fiber.

Aerogel polyester staple fiber  :1.5D * 38mm; 3D * 51mm;

Aerogel gel filament : 50D/48F; 75D/72F; 100D/96F;

Graphene aerogel polyester filament: 75D/72F; 100D/96F; 150D/144F;

In 2022, the global aerogel market reached 5.076 billion yuan, It is estimated that by 2028, the global aerogel market size is expected to reach 8.581 billion yuan.

PART 05 The development trend of functional yarns

1. Sustainability:

In the production process of yarn, emphasis is placed on environmental protection, energy conservation, and resource recycling.

2. Eight facts about fashion and pollution:

35% of primary microplastics in the ocean come from washing synthetic textiles.

3500 chemicals are used in textile production, of which 10% are harmful to humans and 5% are harmful to the environment.

Every ton of textile products produced will pollute 200 tons of water.

The fashion industry accounts for approximately 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Each person consumes 100 cubic meters of water per year from textiles. 25% of new clothing is still unsold.Less than 1% of clothing is recycled and reused. Every second, a truck of clothes is burned or sent to a landfill.

3. Multifunctionality:

a. Integrating multiple functions onto a single yarn .

•Examples of existing multifunctional yarn products:

Thermal and heating yarns, also called thermo generating yarns, far infrared yarns.

TechNa-Poly | Anti-bacterial and Moisture Wicking Polyester Yarn

Hakuu-Poly | Moisture Wicking, Cool Feeling and Anti-UV Polyester Yarn

b. Intelligent yarn:

It combines traditional textile materials with sensors and microelectronic components, endowing yarn with functions such as perception, response, and communication. It has great potential in wearable devices, healthcare, military equipment, and environmental monitoring.

It is expected that the annual compound growth rate of the global smart polymer market will reach 21.9% from 2020 to 2026.

From 2020 to 2024, the annual compound growth rate of global smart textiles will reach 35.0%.


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