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TECHNO FABRICS: WHEN CURTAINS PURIFY THE ENVIRONMENT
Fighting the crisis with hi-tech fabrics is the formula adopted by Tecnotessile of Prato. To meet the challenge of globalisation, they have decided to focus on materials and production processes capable of giving the textile industry new impulse. These range from nanotechnologies to non-conventional electronics, and from hybrid materials to those produced with advanced chemistry.
The Prato-based company has developed various projects using nanotechnologies, including, for example, one that allows curtains to be treated with titanium oxide nanoparticles, which then purify the environment. The nanoparticles introduced into the fabric give it qualities that make the curtains an effective barrier against dust and bacteria.
The production process, based on nanostructured systems, makes it possible to work on a nano or submicron scale in order to create “intelligent” textile structures, which can be specifically designed to give fabrics the required characteristics.
It is a very promising business. Over the last few years, demand has increased for fibres and textiles that provide features such as freshness, the capacity to absorb unpleasant odours and absence of skin irritation or allergic reactions. Tecnotessile has also invested significantly in this area of research. As a result, the nanoparticles that the company’s technology can now apply to textile surfaces are able to produce fabrics that are “germ-resistant”, i.e. able to prevent the development of micro-organisms, rather than just killing any that may be present.
Another promising project underway in Prato involves fabrics that provide protection from ultra-violet rays (UV). Tecnotessile has studied and refined a range of fabrics that can considerably increase protection from UV rays, for better personal protection. Clothing can in fact contribute to sun protection more than might be imagined; unlike creams, they do not need to be washed off and can provide a very high level of protection.
The Prato company also recently introduced a special loom for making fabrics that can assume complex three-dimensional shapes, with no stitching required. It is an ideal technology for making covers for sofas, chairs and car seats, as well as for clothing. This special prototype loom was entirely designed and made in the company’s workshops.
Tecnotessile of Prato is a national research company founded in 1972. 60% of its share capital (647,120 Euros) is held, as Società Nazionale di Ricerca s.r.l., by Italian textile and textile machinery firms (highly specialised enterprises that have gained global leadership positions in small market segments, which have grown exponentially over time). The remaining 40% is held by the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research.