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Smart Textile Growth Includes Heated Garments, Insect Repellents

Expect growth in heated garments and garments offering protection against insects, new research indicates.

Fast expansion in winter sports activities is driving the demand for heated garment. Several new developments, including Omni-Heat technology from Columbia Sportswear and Heattech from Uniqlo, have been launched by retailers and clothing manufacturers. Active heat, in which a battery powers a heat source (usually woven into the fabric of the garment) has become a fast growing trend.

Many of these new technologies are difficult to integrate into existing manufacturing lines. There area also problems of washability, stemming from the delicacy of the electronics. Often, electronic yarns will have to be manually added to the garment, increasing cost.

However, the development of textile heating panels has been rapid, and improvements have been significant. Further development is likely as sportswear companies recognize the potential of this growing market segment.

Insect repellent apparel also targets a growing class of sportswear users. This technology at its most basic level integrates insect repellent chemicals into the fabric of a garment, at consumer-friendly concentrations. At more sophisticated levels, the garments seek to block insects entirely, while preserving comfort for the wearer. This can be critical in malarial regions, and with the spread of Lyme disease and West Nile virus.