It is difficult to perceive a world without innovation. The essential benefit of development is a better world and a safer life. There are instant solutions to all problems and the solutions are far simpler today. Industrial sector constantly develops ideas and products that serve the society at large. In the textile sector too, innovation has brought forward dramatic changes and this transformation is still running its course. With mercury steeply going down in the Northern hemisphere, the market for winter clothing is warming up. The advancement in textile has ensured that there are many high performance winter clothing to combat the dropping temperature. The Far Infrared (FIR) fibres in textile are among many innovations that use heating elements in cold weather clothing. FIR is also an integral part of therapeutic segment of clothing.
Capturing the heat
A combination of polypropylene and special lead-free bio-ceramics is used to create these fibres. The ceramic is responsible for emitting the far infrared rays. The basic structure of this fibre is based on the fact that energy emission is part of human body. The bio-ceramic converts thermo energy of human body into far infrared rays that generate deep but gentle heating. The health benefits of FIR textile range from keeping wearer's body warm, restoring physical function by getting rid of fatigue, relieving muscle pain, using to ease pain of arthritis and bronchitis. Such type of textile fabric also boasts of anti-bacterial and deodorant-like properties. All these features make far infrared fabrics suitable for health care products. The markets are already selling FIR trousers, undergarments, knee pads, nursing neck and stomach, socks, cushion, bedspread, bedding and shoulder pad. FIR clothing also proves to be a boon to regular joggers, athletes and defence personnel during cold weather.
The infrared concept has long been rooted in the cultures related to the Asian domains. Asian therapies often emphasise importance of blood circulation for well-being. Chinese Qi Gong is known to advocate this theory. Though, other products like infrared heat lamps etc were easily available in market, FIR clothing is a comparatively new development. FIR fibre was developed by a Californian company in 2003. Since then, many brands have been launched in the global market. The fabric has already proved its mettle in field of extreme sports. International sports brands are also taking keen interest in developing special range of sports gear that can give promising performance during colder temperatures. Medical fraternity too has shown support to this fabric for use in diabetic foot care, bedding and mattresses. Brands are also promoting shapewear and sliming lingerie designed on far infrared mechanisms.
Odyssey so far...
The first company to launch FIR textile Hologenix has recently announced its collaboration with Puma on a line of men's athletic apparel inspired by Olympian Usain Bolt. Hologenix's FIR fabrics have found a place in markets of United States, Taiwan, South Korea, etc. One of the commercial versions of FIR-emitting textiles for apparel was marketed by the French company HT Concepts. The move has expanded the reach of infrared technology into several sectors, such as fashion apparel, bedding, and technical accessories that include helmets and automotive seating. Among the latest innovation in FIR, Swiss company Schoeller's version of FIR reflecting technology has been applauded worldwide. The company's fabric uses titanium-mineral matrix that can be integrated into membranes and coatings.
Schoellers FIR expertise was applauded by Lee Davis, race car driver and founder of Luna C Clothing for auto racing. In one of his interviews, Davis vouched for FIR fabric's high-performance stating that the technology captures the far infrared rays and puts them back into the body, which results in higher concentration and focus, a lower pulse rate and lowers the time body takes to recover. Schoeller has launched a variety of technical fabrics based on FIR technology. The outerwear range includes denim, water-repellent viscose or polyester blends for outerwear and wool blends.
Receptive global market
Aging population, record breaking temperature in winter and increase in purchase by urban population, are some of the reasons that back FIR fabric. The growing need of this fabric has led to market expansion of functional fabrics in China and Taiwan. In recently concluded Autumn-2014 edition of Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics held in China, FIR was among the most sought-after functional fabrics. China has entered third grade research on high stimulation differentiated fibres including far infrared. The United States, Europe, Australia, etc import far infrared textile from Taiwan, China and other countries to meet the rising demand of the fabric.
The emphasis of textile companies is now on increasing performance and enhancing function of far infrared textile. Technical textile manufacturers are generally in good shape, the fact which indicates easy flow of funds into further research and development of far infrared products. The fabric has already entered the world of fashion and the acceptance is humbling so far. Continuous innovation has made this textile a rage across the world and leading companies along with international brands are diversifying FIR textile further, which is expected to lead to growing awareness and acceptance among prospective consumers.