Functional Textiles: Classification, Application and Market Review

Functional Textiles

Pallavi Sunil Gudulkar
Department of Textiles (Textile Chemistry)
DKTE’S Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner


One of the most important fields in the textile industry and textile materials science is functional textiles. Fabrics with a set of integrated features for controlling or changing according to their application are known as functional textiles. Textiles of this type are typically made with a focus on functionality rather than aesthetics. Functionality, versatility, compatibility, flexibility, and interactivity are all characteristics of smart textiles. Temperature management, humidity control, health monitoring, sports training, position tracking, protective clothing, abrasion resistance, anti-bacterial characteristics, moisture absorption, quick-drying functions, and many other functions might be included.

1. Classification of Functional Textiles:

Based on the type of garment
  • Active wear
  • Performance wear
  • Ready to wear
  • Seamless wear
Based on the type of fibre
  • Polyester
  • Viscose
Based on the type of functions
  • Anti-microbial
  • UV cut
  • Temperature regulating
  • Water and oil repellent
Based on the application area
  • Geotextiles
  • Personal protection
  • Medical
  • Hygiene
  • Sports and leisure
  • Military/war

2. Types of Functional Textiles:

Various functional textiles
Fig: Various functional textiles

2.1 Deodorant functional textiles
Modifying the polymer molecular chain during polymerization, adding deodorant additives during fibre extrusion, and putting a deodorant finish to the fiber surface after spinning are all used to make deodorant fibers. The simplest approach of imparting deodorant in fibres is to use a deodorant additive as a dope additive. The current invention relates to a deodorant composition capable of efficiently absorbing and eliminating sulphur-based gases, such as mercaptans, from the air in a room or unpleasant odours that stick to known fibre products, particularly among unpleasant aromas in the air in a room. It also includes a deodorant fabric with a deodorant composition adhered to at least a portion of the fabric, as well as a fibre product that includes the deodorant fabric in at least a section of the fabric. Nursing or nursing care products, medical care or sanitary products, bedding, shoes supplies, sporting goods, curtains, carpets, upholstery, non-woven fabrics, woven fabric wallpapers, and other fibre products are examples. The current invention is more precisely directed to fibre items, such as nursing or care garments, underwear, bandages, gauze, masks, pouch covers, diapers, toilet deodorant sheets, toilet deodorant mats, trash can deodorant sheets, shoebox deodorant sheets, socks, and shoe coverings.

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2.2 Protective clothing
Protective-functional clothing is the most common and versatile type of functional clothing. In this scenario, clothing functionality can mean the difference between life and death for the user; at the very least, it can allow people to work in and around dangerous areas, improve their quality of life, and prevent or decrease injuries. Based on the type of the threat against which protection is necessary, protective functionality can be divided into three groups. In each situation, the technical requirements are highly particular and diverse.

Protective Textile
Fig: Protective Textile

Excessive environmental conditions (natural or man-made), such as extreme heat or cold, fire, rain, snow, dust, wind, or other threats, are the nature of the threat in this scenario. The primary design requirement here is to protect the body from exposure to harsh environmental elements (such as temperature) while also facilitating the passage of metabolic heat and moisture away from the body. Scuba diving suits, climbing suits, and firefighter costumes, for example, would require strong insulation with minimal weight and bulk, as well as ergonomic design to meet the mobility requirements of the application.

2.3 Biosensing functional textile
Wearable sensors provide personalised healthcare by monitoring the wearer in their natural environment, which provides a much more realistic perspective than a clinical setting. One of the most significant advantages is that the user becomes more aware of their own health status, which has a significant impact on preventative healthcare. Many research groups have used wearable sensors in healthcare for a variety of purposes, including cardiovascular disease and senior ambulatory monitoring. Physiological signals such as respiration rate, heart rate, ECG, and temperature are routinely monitored by such applications. Physical sensors are those that translate physical qualities into electrical impulses. Chemical sensing has yet to be used in these applications, despite the fact that it has the potential to provide a wealth of information on the wearer’s health. Chemical biosensors have a wide range of uses in clinical research and may provide additional information to physical sensors.

Biosensing functional textiles
Fig: Biosensing functional textiles

2.4 Sportswear
The most adaptable and fastest-growing section of the performance gear market is sportswear. A tremendous need for functional sports apparel has arisen as a result of dramatic lifestyle changes, a rapidly ageing population, increased sports engagement, and increased health consciousness. As a result, for everyday sportswear, a variety of value-added apparel with features such as temperature regulation, moisture management, stretch, odour reduction, and light weight is available on the market. While these garments may have multiple functions, they do not qualify as functional clothing. As a category, sports-functional clothing refers to clothing that improves performance and allows athletes to compete at the top of their game. The design and engineering of these sportswear is generally guided by two principles: the use of compression on certain muscles to improve blood flow and the application of aerodynamic principles to reduce wind or air resistance in high-speed sports. Depending on the case, both concepts can be employed together or separately. Unlike the other categories of practical clothing, this one includes aesthetics as a design consideration.

Fig: Sportswear

2.5 Vanity functional textile
This is another category that has never been classed as functional clothing because its primary function is to improve body appearances. The expansion of this market in recent years has been fueled by a greater awareness of health and body across the world, as well as a big ageing population. These garments are used by men and women with ageing or less-than-ideal body forms as a quick and non-surgical way of body shaping. Even though the primary purpose of vanity clothing is to improve one’s looks, the rules that control its design and manufacturing are the same as those that govern the design and production of other types of practical clothing. Vanity clothing works on the premise of compressing, lifting, or supporting specific body parts in order to create an artificially sculpted and perfectly shaped body. To accomplish the needed qualities, a complicated combination of preferential compression, invisible support, padding, moulding, wiring, specific seams, and special construction procedures is used. Pants, bras, and various undergarments (invisible under outer clothing) can improve sinking parts and slim and flatten the stomach, waist, hips, thighs, buttocks, and back as desired.

2.6 Clothing designs with multiple functions
This category of functional clothing includes some of the most complex clothing assemblies, such as military uniforms and space suits that are intended to fulfill multiple complex functions at the same time. To construct functions across many classes, they use a variety of materials including metals, ceramics, membranes, composites, high-performance polymers, and electronic fabrics. To construct such a garment system, several interdisciplinary specialist areas come together. More research is being done to produce systems that are more efficient, light weight, and pleasant. Military uniforms must give protection against ballistic injuries as well as environmental, radioactive, chemical, and biological threats. It must be compatible with other gear elements such as a helmet, gas mask, ballistics gear, survival vest, cooling systems, and hand and foot gear; it must also allow for communication (GPS, monitoring, and discrete devices) while remaining comfortable in extreme postures and activity for extended periods of time. A modern space suit is a perfect example of how complicated a clothing system may become. It’s made up of up to 18,000 pieces and 11 layers, and it has to house everything an astronaut needs to be alive, including oxygen, water, temperature regulation, and carbon dioxide removal, as well as provide stable internal pressure, shield against radiation, and guard against micrometeoroids.

3. Application of Functional Textiles Based on Function:

NatureFunctions of the Application
WaterAbsorbent, water, moisture, water repellent, waterproof, anti-fouling.
FireFlame retardant, heat-resistant, flame.
ThermalInsulation, thermal break, fever, exothermic, fast fitness, anti-financial, adhesion.
ElectronicConductive, electrostatic, electromagnetic wave reflection or absorption, microwave, dielectric.
MechanicalHigh strength, high strength and resistance rate, the rubber elastic modulus, extended, telescopic, shrinkage.
BiologicalAntibacterial, deodorizing, aroma, pest control.
Chemical and otherContraction in swelling, dissolving, decomposition, naturally crimped potential crimping, dividing, splitting.
High durableLight resistance, weather resistance, heat resistance, chemical resistance, abrasion resistance, fatigue life.
Ultra-high performanceUltra-high-strength, high elasticity, ultra heat-resistant, flame retardant, ultra-high absorbent.
Special functionLight conduction, light gathering, dialysis, reverse osmosis, ion exchange, gas exchange, photo catalyst form.

4. Functional Textiles Market
The growing demand for functional textiles in applications such as sportswear is driving the market (cycling, ski sports, swimming). The global functional textile market is being driven by spontaneous technological developments in the textile and garment industries, as well as rising customer demands. Functional fabrics, on the other hand, are relatively expensive and belong to the luxury category of textiles, attracting the attention of selective consumers. As a result, the cost structure may limit the worldwide functional textile market’s growth.

North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East and Africa are the five primary regions that make up the worldwide functional textile market. In terms of output, Europe has the largest proportion of the functional textile market. This is attributed to the massive rise of the textile and garment industries in Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as high-tech innovations. In addition, in comparison to Europe, North America has a solid market for functional textile manufacture. The functional textile market in Asia Pacific and the Middle East and Africa has a lot of potential. Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and Turkey are expected to be the most promising markets for the growth of the functional textile market.

Between 2015 and 2020, the functional textiles market is expected to increase at a healthy 33.58 percent. By 2020, the worldwide functional textile market will have grown to $4.72 billion USD. India is a leading garment and textile manufacturer, as well as the fourth-largest exporter in the international market. Due to strong automotive, fitness, fashion, healthcare, military, and sports textiles, the functional textile sector has experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30% from 2015 to 2020.

Functional textiles have opened up a new world of possibilities in a variety of fields. Many of these applications are critical, and as a result, materials with high end performance properties will play a critical role in modern man’s life. Textile Materials will almost certainly rise at an incredible speed in a fast-developing economy like ours. It would not only operate as a driving force for R&D efforts, tapping into the previously untapped field of Functional Textiles and Apparels, but it will also be a significant boost to our economy, gradually reducing India’s dependency on imported technologies in this field.


  1. Bio-sensing textiles – Wearable Chemical Biosensors for Health Monitoring by Shirley Coyle, Yanzhe Wu, King-Tong Lau, Sarah Brady, Gordon Wallace, Dermot Diam.
  2. Functional clothing -Definition and classification by Deepti Gupta
  3. Textile Functionalization -A review of materials, process and assessment by Mukesh Kumar Singh
  4. Indian Journal of Fibre & Textile Research 36, December 2011, pp. 321-326

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  7. Textiles for Safety | Flame and Cold Resistant | Healthcare, Ballistic, Chemical and Electrical Protective Clothing

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