Protective textiles or protective clothing are an important branch of technical textiles that are used primarily for their functional or functional properties rather than decorative or aesthetic properties. The importance of protective clothing in the workplace is immense. Protective textile products have been used to protect against various natural or man-made adverse environments or situations like heat, cold, storms, ultraviolet rays, snow, radioactive radiation, fires, friction, dust, microorganisms, static electricity, chemicals, etc.
Keywords: Protective clothing, bulletproof textile, ballistic protection, flame retardant, space suit etc.
Characteristics of Protective Textiles:
Protective textiles have several important features that should be present in every garment based on the workplace.
- Light weight and good Handle and Drape features
- High durability
- Water and wind resistant
- Resistant to bacteria and microorganisms
- Thermal insulation
- Ultraviolet (UV) resistant
- Air permeability
- Resistant to fire and flame
- Resistant to chemicals
- Provide protection from radar spectrum.
Raw Materials Used in Protective Textiles
1. Meta-Aramid Fiber: Meta-Aramid fiber is used to make industrial protective clothing, racing driver’s suit, filter bag for hot gas, cargo cover, boat cover, fire hose etc.
2. Pera-Aramid Fiber: Used to make tire cords, radiator hose, racing car brake shoes, strong combinations for aircraft, high-speed boat components, etc.
3. Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber is used in the manufacture of aircraft and space shuttles, industrial textiles, medical implants and marine textiles.
4. Glass Fiber: It is used in consumer products, corrosion resistant materials used in road covering, materials used in aircraft and aerospace systems etc.
5. Polypropylene Fiber: Polypropylene is also called PP. This fiber is used to make marine ropes and cables, boat sail protective clothing, boat or ship structure etc.
6. Spandex Fiber: Spandex is one kind of synthetic fiber which is used in clothing, hose, sportswear etc. Due to its elasticity, it is used to make many stretchable clothing.
7. PBI: Polybenzimidazole fiber is a one kind of synthetic fiber. It is used in making hot gas filtration, thermal protective clothing, racing driver’s suit etc.
8. Tencel Fiber: Tencel is made from plant materials like bamboo, cotton etc. Tencel fiber is used in the oil industry for filtration, medical textiles and industrial fabrics.
9. Inorganic Fiber: Inorganic fibers are made from inorganic materials. Glass fiber, alumina fiber, carbon fiber is called inorganic fiber, which is used in aircraft, automobiles, sports, electrical and military applications.
10. Fluorine Containing Fiber: It is used for corrosive filtration media, refrigeration and packing materials.
Classification and Application of Protective Textiles
Protective textiles have numerous applications. Protective textiles are used in almost all work situations for special purposes and to protect workers. The following vital 17 key application areas of protective textiles are discussed below-
1. Flame Retardant Textiles
These types of garments are made using cotton/nylon as well as special fibers (carbon, glass, aramid, PBI) and chemical finishes, which reduce the combustion rate of the fabric. Workers in industries such as metals, aluminum and steel are often exposed to heavy molten metal splashes and work at very high temperatures there. Therefore, wearing flame resistant clothing is mandatory for them. So, in such an environment they wear flame resistant clothing.
2. Chemical Protective Textiles
Activated Carbon used to be used in this type of clothing but now three layers of clothing are used, the outer layer protects from liquid chemicals, the middle layer absorbs liquid and gaseous chemicals and the inner layer provides comfort to the wearer. Workers in various chemical industries wear a special type of clothing / suit to protect themselves from hazardous chemicals, be they liquids/powders/gases.
3. Biological Protective Textiles
Microorganisms are microscopic organisms that include all unicellular organisms and can form an endosymbiotic relationship with the organism. This is why microorganisms act as effective agents in many infectious diseases. Biological Protective clothing protects against such infections, preventing the movement of bacteria / microorganisms.
4. Mechanical Protective Textiles
Mechanical performance of fibers, in their interlacing mode, hybrid yarns reach the textile material. This includes Ballistic, Blade cuts, Puncture, Projection of Fragments, Knives, Slashing etc. Acts as a personal defense against various risks such as. This type of textile product is made of a combination of glass fiber, HT polythene and various high-performance fibers, such as: Anti-cut Gloves.
5. Electrical Protective Textiles
There are basically two types of protection from electrical hazards, Electromagnetic and Electro Static protection. Utility workers working near power lines and electrical equipment may face the risk of electric shock and intense flammability, requiring electrical protective clothing for those working in the vicinity of very high voltage equipment. Also, these garments must be flame resistant, resistant and comfortable to wear.
6. Ballistic Protective Textiles
Ballistic protection of a soldier involves protection of body and eyes. The most widely used materials for ballistic protection today are aramid, ultra-high molecular weight polythene and liquid crystal polymer-based fibers. The use of hybrid fiber in ballistic defense systems is increasing day by day. It can be both Woven, Non-woven.
7. Bulletproof Jacket
A bulletproof jacket, bulletproof vest, ballistic vest or bullet-resistant vest is a personal weapon or item that helps absorb projectile-driven projectiles and the effects of explosions. The soft jacket is made from multiple layers of woven or laminated fibers and is able to protect small garments from small caliber handguns and shotgun projectiles from explosives such as hand grenades. These textiles are usually worn by police forces, private citizens who are at risk of being shot, bodyguards and bodyguards. Fibers like Polyester, Kevlar, Spectra, Twaron, Bynema etc. are used to make it.
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8. Space Suits
Special types of suits (space suits) are made for them keeping in mind some of the issues (heat / Cold, Pressure fluctuations, Chemical, Micrometeoroids, Balance etc.) while in space and space shuttle. Nylon, Dacron, Nomax, Kevlar, Teflon, Carbon fibers are used to make space suits.
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9. Fire Fighting Suits
Firefighting suits have been tested from 56 types of fiber for fire-fighting performance. The suite is designed to protect firefighters from the flames. The suits allow better evaporation of sweat and are well ventilated to reduce the risk of burns. A firefighter suit includes coats, pants, underwear, helmets, boots, gloves, station wear uniforms, and breathing apparatus. Structurally this protective clothing is made up of three layers: Outer layer, Vapor Barrier and Thermal Barrier.
10. NBC Suits
NBC suits i.e., Nuclear, Biological and Chemical which are also called bio-chemical suits. It is a kind of military and personal protective equipment. NBC suits are capable of direct contact with radioactive, biological or chemical substances and provide protection against contamination. It is designed to provide protection from the effects of radioactive substances and certain radiations, depending on the type of defense.
11. Mosquito Repellent Textiles
Mosquito repellent textiles are classified as pesticide-infested nets, curtains, home textile materials, military uniforms etc. Also, used as protective barrier against adult mosquito bites. To protect against mosquitoes, we usually spray pesticides inside homes and buildings, known as indoor residual spraying, air shields, ultrasonic radiation and so on. Of all the methods of protection from mosquito bites, the textile-based protection method is the most important, as the textile material protects the skin from harsh weather and also acts as a barrier to harmful airborne micro-organisms.
12. High Temperature Protective Textiles
This type of textile product is also used at a temperature of about 200 degrees Celsius, leaving the properties unchanged. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a high-temperature fiber for a specific application:
- Type/nature of application
- Temperature range and heat generation
- Environmental conditions
- Special needs (special examination, cover etc.)
13. Radiation Protective Textiles
Protective clothing is used to prevent the body from being exposed to radioactive substances in a radioactive environment. These are commonly used for professional staff at cancer treatment centers, nuclear plants.
14. Ultraviolet Protective Textiles
The main role of UV protective clothing is to protect the skin against the harmful effects of the sun. Nowadays skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, so changing the surface of textiles against UV radiation has become important especially for children’s clothing, sportswear, workswear. The UV protection effect of textiles depends on the fiber, fabric construction techniques, dyeing and finishing agents.
15. Waterproof Breathable Textiles
Lightweight fabric coated with polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane and other synthetic rubber has become increasingly popular for cold weather clothing. Although garments made from these fabrics provide protection against rain and somewhat less exceptional. Air penetration, condensation can accumulate on their inner surface and moisture vapor inside the garment can cause discomfort. Breathable polymer coatings are now used to overcome this problem which has greatly improved the comfort of such garments.
16. High Visibility Textiles
High-visibility textiles are colored fabrics that are easily perceptible or highly reflective in any environment. High-visibility clothing can serve as a distinctive mark to indicate the presence of wearers and is widely used for public safety, emergency services, personal protection applications and other professional use purposes. Various road or railway workers, traffic police are seen wearing such clothes.
17. Protective Health-care Textiles
The purpose of protective healthcare clothing is to protect healthcare professionals from contamination by blood and other infectious fluids. Protective healthcare textiles include Emergency room Textiles, Barrier Products, Breathable Membranes, Surgeon & Nurse’s Caps, Masks, Footwear etc. Protective clothing in the medical field should be affordable, breathable, comfortable, reliable and effective.
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Global Market of Protective Textiles
The application area and demand for protective textiles is increasing in every sector including military, medical, industry. In 2016, the size of the global defense textile market was 5708 million US dollars. In 2019, the market for protective textiles was $8.7 billion. The protective apparel market, meanwhile, is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.9% from $8.8 billion in 2020 to $12 billion by 2025.
The market for protective textiles is related to innovative new products. There are opportunities and requirements for functional, expensive equipment. However, the market is fragmented and complex. Development and lead time are often long and expensive. The market is quite small but shows moderately strong growth. It is currently becoming an increasingly attractive category due to the growing problems related to health and safety in the workplace.
- Richard Horrocks, Subhash C. Anand, “Handbook of Technical Textile”, second edition, volume 2: Technical Textile Applications
- Roshan Paul, “High Performance Technical textiles”, First edition published 2019.
- Matsuo, “Advanced Technical Textile Products” 2008, Volume: 40, No:3.
- Ojas Jain Payal Juneja, “Protective Textile”, https://www.slideshare.net, Accessed date: 07/02/21
- Asim Kumar Roy Choudhury, in Principles of Textile Finishing, 2017, https://www.sciencedirect.com/, Accessed date: 09/02/21
- Sajib Chowdhury, “Protective Textiles Introduction”, https://textilestudycenter.com/, Accessed date: 07/02/21
- Gopalakrishnan, “Advanced Protective Textiles”, https://www.fiber2fashion.com/ , Accessed date: 07/02/21
- Protective Textile Industry Articles, https://www.technicaltextile.net/articles/protective-clothing/31?page=5, Accessed date: 07/02/21
Author of this Article:
Md. Imran Hossain
B.Sc. in Textile Engineering
Shahid Abdur Rab Serniabat Textile Engineering College, Barisal.
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.