What Fiber Modifications Can We Expect to Find in the Near Future?
Institute of Forensic Science Berlin, LKA KT 45, Germany
Abstract : Textile industries in Europe and the US struggle against cheap t extile imports from Asia or Eastern Europe. The products can be sold very cheap and are distributed all over the world. The future of the European and US Textile and Apparel Industry depends on highly specialized products with added values. The textile industry develops advanced fiber types which are already available or will be available in the near future and can compete on the market. This will also have some influence in forensic fibers investigations. “Smart Clothes” and “Intelligent Textiles” are catchphrases but what can we expect to find behind these slogans and how can we determine new fiber types in forensic investigation? Especially the identification of nano-particles and nano-composites is a task for the forensic scientist. The question how and if the forensic scientist has to develop more refined techniques to identify these specialized textiles and fiber types is highlighted.
Textile production was and is a very traditional process which follows certain rules since a very long period of time. Nowadays natural and man made fibers are equally used for the production of clothes and other textiles and therefore found in casework. Over the last few years the situation in textile industries changed due to several influences. Sharing knowledge with various industrial sectors improved the outcome of new solutions. Joint collaboration obtained better results. Namely the general developments in nanotechnology (1, 2) gave some new input regarding new fiber types with added values.
The nanoparticles are ranging from 1 to 100 nanometers and mainly are created to add special functions or modify the fiber functions. So called “Intelligent Textiles” or “Smart Clothes” (3) represent the next generation of fib ers, fabrics and ready made products which have an added value regarding the textiles basic functions. As basic functions protection, warmth and coverage can be described. Furthermore there are values like group characterization and status due to fashion, color and marketing effects.
Added values like new functionalities partly result from research carried out in other fields then textile industries. The textile industry benefits greatly from these external results. The new fibers generation will add values in a sense that textile materials can “think” to refine basic functions like protection. The same textile materials shall keep us warm in cold environments and keep us cool in warm environments. The fast development of intelligent textiles is also due to the needs in the military industry. The before mentioned protective and regulating functionalities are needed there in the same way then textiles with improved camouflage effects.
Governments invest in Research and Development and the beneficial effect for the textile industry is that companies can make use of various new developments and influence other areas rather then to simply adapt only ready made solutions to their products. A new strategy is to look for external partners and to create completely new solutions via teamwork and cooperation in a joint venture with other technologies. This , for the textile industry, new way of thinking leads to co -operation between material sciences, engineering, chemistry, design, process development and clothing physiology and will not only influence our work in forensics in the fibers section over the next years.
Our life is also dominated by communicational and other technical devices. This is another focus regarding textiles and an increasing number of solutions will be implemented in textiles and clothing over the next years as for communication purposes and as wearable biofeedback systems. The focus of this paper is clearly on fibers and fiber developments which will affect our routine investigation and will give an impression how to plan ahead.