The untapped opportunities of 3D textiles

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All our day to day life objects have three dimensions. Materials are formed of length width and depth.

Truly the traditional textile arena are also dealing with materials having depth but as those depths are negligible in compared to their  length and width, the traditional textile manufacturing engineers are almost considering everything as 2D material. All calculations and research and development approach are almost of 2D, most of us are just ignoring the z-axis! Particularly in Bangladesh, general dealing approach among the textile professionals are still two dimensional only.

Figure 1: You need to know 3D textiles not only for making human organs or aircraft engines but also for fashion industry.
Figure : You need to know 3D textiles not only for making human organs or aircraft engines but also for fashion industry.

To simplify the working process, ‘weight per unit area’ of the material has been used by the textile engineers and professionals to define and communicate their materials. But in an ever compelling reality and developments of technologies coupled with shifts in consumer choice, the importance of z-axis is increasing every day. The textile manufacturer can never ignore this.

Transforming 3D materials into 2D things to simplify communication and research process is not worthy anymore. This is like taking a difficult route and remaining incapable still. In deed the professionals only requires a change in mindset. Perceiving 3D technologies are not difficult at all. The companies and the educational institutes just require understanding the importance of it properly and incorporate it in their priority.

3D textile is not a new thing. Traditional textile making processes i.e weaving, knitting and non-woven technologies are being used in different formats to develop 3D materials. Those technologies are being used to make human organs to aircraft engines. Emergence of 3D printing has lifted it to another level. Today human can make any object he/she want using 3D technologies particularly 3D printing.

When technology has evolved so far, traditional textile materials like fabric, accessories and trimmings are being changed as well. Use of warp knitting technology to make fully fashioned ready to wear clothing and use of non-woven felting for developing mattress are pretty old now. Multi-layer fabric being used in sports and other functional purposes are using the engineering in a different approach. High tech 3D sophisticated manufacturing ideas are being used in making many accessories which are being used in fashion garments. Many weaving, knitting and printing technologies and their produced products which are being used in fashion garments are no more only made of traditional 2D systems.

Basic concepts of composite material development are being applied in making, developing and modifying traditional textile fabric and accessories. When the engineering sector requires lightweight materials but high tensile and other strength materials, the fashion industry requires function, comfort, aesthetics and look. Designers nowadays just can pick anything. And to make it unique and new many manufacturers globally are using sophisticated high-tech 3D approaches in producing materials for fashion products as well. Many dresses in fashion weeks held in fashion capitals (i.e Paris, Milan, London) has used 3D textile materials.

So, if textile professionals be smart enough in taking effort to perceive 3D technologies, they will be able to explore opportunities both in fashion industry and also in all other technical textiles and engineering areas. Companies and educational institutes must move forward building their infrastructure for 3D textiles. Weaving looms, knitting machinery, non-woven technologies and 3D printing technologies should be researched and followed up to find out business opportunities for Bangladeshi manufacturers. And educational institutes must emphasize this as demand for 3D materials are increasing very fast. And certainly there remain huge future for 3D textile materials.

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