From « Open Innovation » to high end textiles: silicone sheathed yarns and textiles

Pressure is on the textile industry to create new yarns, textiles and functions to meet ever-changing consumer demands. Silicone-sheathed textiles, in particular yarns, have been in high demand for composite, technical and medical applications. Silicone sheathing could help increase the flexibility, compatibility and protection of the yarn, which – in turn – would do the same for the final textile. Despite the demand, silicone-sheathed yarns did not exist.

To take up this challenge, Elkem Silicones, Massebeuf Textiles and Texinov partnered in a collaborative project, named “Silicotex” to create a silicone elastomeric coating for polyester, polyamide and glass yarns. Elkem Silicones applied its expertise to achieve coating viscosity and reactivity profiles that would meet the needs of yarn and textile manufacturing processes. The three partners also made sure that the silicone coating, the thread and the other process components were compatible with one another, leading to perfectly sheathed yarns, and to innovative textile structures.

The glass-fiber yarns with silicone sheathing that Elkem Silicones and its partners developed can be knitted during the textile manufacturing process. The knitting process makes it possible to create conformal textiles that are able to reinforce composites in a unique and beneficial manner. Glass and silicone are also extremely compatible, making the resulting fiber thermal and chemical resistant. In wound care, these properties, combined with the hydrophobic nature of silicone elastomer, enable skin to regenerate healthfully without attaching to the textile material. This performance makes it easier, as well as atraumatic, to replace bandages or medical textiles, as opposed to traditional medical gauze.

The silicone developed for the Silicotex project is an eco-friendly material: solvent free, easy to clean and very stable over environmental conditions. It also gives textiles a certain level of anti-slip effect. The silicone sheathing makes fibers more flexible, opening a realm of possibilities in the design of innovative textile structure that is conformable to 2D and 3D applications. As a result, the Silicotex project and the developed products were awarded with the “Innovation Prize for New Materials” in 2013 at the Techtextil International Trade Fair for Technical Textiles and Nonwovens.