Preface – Functional Textiles for Improved Performance, Protection and Health


Gang Sun and Ning Pan

Clothing materials have at least two major functions: protection and decoration. Which of these is the primary, most important function is a matter of some debate. This book, through all its chapters, focuses solely on the functional performance of clothing materials related to protection of the human body. There is a long tradition of scientific research on this extremely important topic, but the related knowledge and information has been more or less scattered. This book therefore represents an attempt to collect all the relevant and up-to-date information in this field and to introduce the cutting edge scientific research to the potential audience.

Not many people would associate clothing design and manufacture with high tech or great scientific rigor. The wide range of coverage in this book, along with the theoretical depth of the problems and challenges involved, may consequently come as something of a surprise to them. We hope, therefore, that this book may also serve to attract the attention and interest of scientists from other non-textile fields, with a view to finding topics appropriate for interdisciplinary collaboration and future research.

The book itself can be divided into two parts – one focused on the topics more associated with chemical structures and modifications, and the other on properties related to physics – broadly aligned to the backgrounds of the two editors. Of the topics covered in this book, those with a longer history of research include antistatic and conductive textiles, anti-ultraviolet protection of clothing, flame retardant functional textiles, and infrared textiles. Other topics are relatively new, such as surface modifications for super-hydrophobic textiles, antimicrobial textile materials for medical applications, and to a lesser degree, insect (mosquito) repellent textiles, and pesticide protective clothing. Still others focus on specific types of textiles in sportswear and swimwear, military protective clothing systems, and medical textiles. Advances in material development have led to significant progress in new types of textiles which are also discussed here, including textiles with phase-change materials, functional shape memory textiles, and smart textiles, or wearable electronics, as they are often called. In addition, the book addresses some general scientific issues in textiles such as 3D body scanning and fit for functional textiles, biomechanics in skin/clothing interactions, and transdermal permeation of textile dyes/chemicals.

We are very grateful to all the contributors of this book for their time and effort in putting together the most up-to-date information in each subject area. We also hope that we have put together a book that serves not only the scientific research community but also the industries on functional textile investigation and development.

Needless to say this book would not have been possible without tremendous help from other people, especially from our Publications Coordinator Mr Adam Hooper, the Commissioning Editor Mrs Kathryn Picking, the Project Editor Miss Vicki Hart, and of course the institution behind them, Woodhead Publishing Limited.