The World’s Strongest Fibres Are Getting Lighter
The textile revolution sees lighter, stronger, and eco credentials unite for sheer strength as featured in LTP’s latest 360° Innovation book
The challenge of ever lighter and more sustainable, abrasion resistant, wind and water proof fabrics continues to drive the industry. Historically these traits were contradictory and could not be achieved in one garment but gold-standard suppliers have been innovating in this space to achieve the previously unthinkable. Here the team share those innovations with you. Alex Ingildsen, CCO at LTP Group states
“At LTP we aim to present a powerhouse of ideas, sourced by our talented team of in-house specialists in their quest for creativity, innovation & a drive for excellence. All findings are presented seasonally in our 360° Innovation book.”
Fabric sourcing & innovation manager at LTP Laura Didžiokienė and designer/trend forecaster Chantell Fenton discuss the lightest in-class materials built to withstand the elements and inform the next generation of products.
15 x Stronger than Steel
Said to be the world’s strongest fabric, Dyneema® formerly Cuben fibre, makes products lighter without compromising on strength and durability. As well as stating the fibre is 15x stronger than steel (weight per weight ratio), DSM say the fibre is also 30% lighter than nylon and polyester alternatives, taking strength and durability to new highs in ultralight iterations. The fibre is produced in a patented gel spinning process in which the threads are drawn, heated, elongated, and cooled.
Dyneema® Composites dramatically increase tear, puncture, and abrasion performance when compared with 500D nylon, whilst also reducing weight and bulk. As well as abrasion and tear resistance, the fibre also boasts UV and water resistance. Dyneema® Composites can also be customised to a clients specific requirements. Tailored to optimised strength, stretch, weight, and thickness overall or at specific points predetermined by load paths. The revolutionary fibre is stocked by innovative suppliers such as IBQ Fabrics and Olmetex.
Blackyak’s Emergency Jacket is crafted from Dyneema® and won the Gold Award. The jackets featherweight quality is due to the Dyneema® fabric, weighing in at just 71 grams (Size M). Blackyak developed the product to be as light and packable as possible, the brand state there is no lighter jacket with a smaller packing volume on the market.
Moncler is another future-thinking brand to use Dyneema® Composite Fabric in their Fall/Winter 2020 Grenoble collection. The design team honed in on Dyneema® as an innovative fabric that would take luxury performance to the next level.
Woven Shells & Down Jackets also get the Lightweight Treatment
LTP have also sourced several ultra lightweight solutions from powerhouses such as Toray, Schoeller and Green Threads, an emerging textile converting company who specialise in lightweight synthetic woven fabrics from Japan.
Many of the industry strongest, featherlight fabrics are petrochemical-based but there is mitigation in the 'built for life' guarantee, as apparel made from these materials seldom need replacing.
Even so, suppliers are working hard to bring to market sustainable versions of their high performance fabrics. IBQ fabrics are now using DSM’s new bio-based Dyneema® fibre. The brands signature fibre is updated with eco credentials and sights bio-based Dyneema® as the first ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (HMPE) fibre to deliver on the commitment to improve sustainability in high-performance materials. The process starts as waste from the pulp and timber industry is collected as feedstock. The processing unit then creates renewable ethylene from certified renewable products, specifically bio-based resins and chemicals that help reduce carbon emissions. Finally, through the application of the mass balance approach, DSM succeeded in creating ISCC-certified sustainable Dyneema® fibre that offers consistent durability and performance with reduced environmental impact.
IBQ fabrics confirms same performance, lower carbon footprint. The innovative fabric supplier are the first to implement the bio-based Dyneema® into the manufacture of their woven fabrics globally.
Another area of development material scientists are looking to innovate around is spider silk. Spider silk exhibits a high resilience and can absorb three times as much energy as a synthetic fibre, such as Kevlar. It’s also remarkably lightweight and extremely elastic.
One such innovation is Biosteel®. The fibre is made via precision fermentation. The gene that codes for spider silk protein is first inserted into bacteria. The engineered bacteria are placed in large bioreactor tanks with the necessary growth medium. The proteins produced by the bacteria are harvested and processed into fibres and then spun by mimicking a spider's spinneret.
According to AMSilk, the material is produced at an industrial scale through a patented, animal-free process that relies on bacterial fermentation and is powered by renewable resources. Compared to traditional fibres, Biosteel fibre is said to offer superior performance properties: it is extremely tough, lightweight (offering weight reductions of 30% compared to common fibres), anti-allergenic, highly breathable and moisture wicking. As the material is also biodegradable, this fibre provides the opportunity for brands to work towards close-loop production.
Recently Adidas partnered with AMSilk to unveiled the world’s first performance shoe made from Biosteel®, in the brands Futurecraft Biofabric collection. Adidas claims that the biodegradable material makes the shoe 15% lighter than conventional synthetic fibres. The upper is also said to decompose in 36 hours when in contact with the enzyme solution. Jens Klein, CEO of AMSilk, said of the collaboration
“The sports shoes which have been developed together with adidas are the first products worldwide with a high-performance material made of nature-identical silk biopolymers. With this development we are setting new standards regarding the functionality of renewable textiles.”
Bolt Threads are working on a similar innovation which replicates the properties of spider silk at scale. Microsilk™ is a silk-like biosynthetic fibre made through a process of fermenting water, yeast and sugar with spider DNA. Bolt Threads began by studying silk proteins spun by spiders to understand their inherent properties such as high tensile strength, elasticity, durability and softness. They then developed technology to replicate that process sustainably. In July 2019, Stella McCartney and adidas unveiled the Biofabric Tennis Dress, created with a Microsilk™ and cellulose blended fibre and designed to be fully biodegradable.
How to get your copy of the LTP Group’s Innovation book
The new edition highlights everything you need to know about textiles, trims and technologies. To get your hands on a copy, all existing customer should contact Alex for their copy of IB.02. Updated bi-annually with cutting-edge innovations, the next edition will be released in July 2021 exclusively for LTP customers.
The Innovation 360° book will become a place for suppliers to introduce their latest “super materials” and pioneering developments. If you’re an innovative supplier and wish to be featured in the next addition, please contact Alex.
This resource is created as part of the companies Value Added Services which are strategically developed to provide brands with the tools to drive new and exciting innovations. This suite includes:
For more information please feel free to contact Alex at the LTP Group [email@example.com].
LTP is a Danish owned garment manufacturer for +60 premium brands within active sportswear, outdoor, athleisure and sustainable fashion. LTP was established in 1991, and is probably the biggest Sport & Outdoor garment manufacturer in Europe with bluesign & GOTS setups in Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Vietnam
LTP consists of two divisions; LTP Garment and LTP Contract Furniture producing in nine fully-owned factories.
About Chantell Fenton
Chantell is an experienced performance sportswear designer and trend forecaster, with a passion for wellness, technology and function-first design. Chantell has an in-depth knowledge of how to spot and translate the must-have trends and macro shifts for the sports and outdoor industry. For more details visit www.chantellfenton.com