When a fabric enters the market for the use of end consumer, there are several factors that are taken care of prior to that. The fresh and tidy feel of the fabric is attributed to the process of finishing. Finishing involves several processes and treatments that a fabric undergoes after it has been made and dyed or printed. Finishing is the final process that a fabric has to go through. Wrinkle free, smooth surface, stiffer, improved fall and drape of the fabric, water proof, the process of finishing brings to the market fabrics with combination of various properties.
The finishing is broadly classified by the designers and merchandisers as aesthetic finishes, which transform the appearance and feel of the fabric, and functional finishes that improve the performance of the fabric under the specific conditions. Those involved in textile processing categorize finishes as chemical finishes and mechanical finishes, also known as wet finishing and dry finishing, respectively. On degree of permanence, finishes are grouped as permanent, durable, semi-durable and temporary finishes.
These days the demand from the markets pertaining fabrics requires fresh and innovative approach. The textile industry has worked on novel finishing methods. These latest finishing techniques can be textile industry's most powerful tool and a key driver of value. There are several companies that are pursuing these new ideas that help the fabric reach its full potential.
Nanotechnology in finishing adds value to the process. Nanotechnology covers a wide range of technologies concerned with structures and processes on the nanometre scale. Nanotechnology is regarded as an important technology that will influence technological development in near future and will have economic, social, and ecological implications.
The technology is suitable to engineer required textile attributes, like fabric softness, durability, and breathability, water repellence, fire proof fabric, antimicrobial resistance, etc. in fibres, yarns and fabrics. The applications and scope of nanotechnology in the area of textiles are widespread. The nano processed garments have protective coating and the protective layer remains almost invisible to the naked eye. The nano finish saves time and laundering cost. The structure of the clothing that involves nano finishing signifies that the size is manipulated to 100 nanometres, thus making the clothing stain and dirt free.
Under the nano finishing, antimicrobial finish is gaining popularity. The intrinsic properties of the textile fibres can induce the growth of micro organisms. These microbes cause cross infection by pathogens and develop odor when the fabric is worn next to skin. In addition, the staining and loss of the performance properties of textile substrates are the results of microbial attack. Basically, with a view to protect the wearer and the textile substrate itself antimicrobial finish is applied to textile materials.
There are some requirements that need to be satisfied to obtain maximum benefits out of the antimicrobial finish. The durability to washing, dry-cleaning and hot pressing should be maintained. The process and the fabric should not have any harmful effects either to the manufacturer, user or the environment. It should comply with the statutory requirements of regulating agencies and should be attuned with the chemical processes. Resistant to body fluids and resistant to disinfections or sterilization are a must requirement.