Due to its unique properties, silicone is used right from the fibre production to the last finishing touch during the textile manufacturing process. The silicone-use helps in making stylish, comfortable and easy-to-care clothes. Textile manufacturers, all over the world, are using this technology to create fabrics, clothing and sporting goods that cater to the needs of today’s active lifestyle.

Some of the important characteristics of silicone that are harnessed in textile manufacturing are resistance to heat, sunlight, chemicals and age. Textile manufacturers are also using this material to make high-performance and highly functional intelligent fabrics. The leading fashion brands in the textile industry are using silicones to make products that are comfortable, fashionable and budget-friendly.

Let us see here how silicone helps in textile manufacturing:

Fibre Production: During the high-speed manufacturing process of artificial fibres, high amount of heat is generated due to friction. As silicone is resistant to heat and offers good lubrication, it reduces the dynamic coefficient of friction. This mitigates the risk of fibre melting and breaking during the production process. Low-viscosity PDMS is generally used as a lubricant to avoid adhesion of the fibre to the spinneret. Silicone is also used to encapsulate fibres to form high-thermal insulating textiles.

Fabric Softeners: After the production of fibres, they are treated with silicone to give initial softness to the textile product. Silicone-treated fabrics also bring durability to the clothing through multiple-wash cycles.

Cleaning Process: Another use of silicone in the textile industry is in the form of antifoam. Antifoams are used during the scouring step wherein raw fibres are treated before further processing. This cleaning process is a high-foaming step and thus, silicone-antifoams are quite helpful.

Fabric Coating: The fabric coating of silicone is much better in retaining flexibility and stability of the fabrics over a wide range of temperatures. Silicone-coated fabrics are breathable, comfortable and suitable for skin.

Apart from using silicone as a material, the silicone technology is also used in the textile industry processes on a large scale:

Textile Screen Printing: The new silicone textile printing inks are widening opportunities for textile screen printers and branded apparel manufacturers. These inks enable durable and high-quality screen printing that looks soft and is wash-resistant. This ink has good stretch and recovery properties that make it perfect to use for fabrics with 15-20% spandex content. Unlike silicone inks that require just three layers to get optimal overage, traditional inks need 15-20 layers. Further, silicone inks are also safe for the workers. Silicone 3D printing technology is another silicone-based use in textile printing.

Safety Sports Apparel: Motorcycle suits and sky vests are made with an advanced silicone technology that gives amazing properties to these protective fabrics. These fabrics breathe and expand according to body movements but become rigid upon impact, providing complete safety to the wearer.

Soft Denim: Denim you buy today remain quite soft and wearable from the day of purchase. A new granular silicone softening technology is used in the finishing process of these fabrics. However, before this technology, a softening process was used but it required intensive-labour, energy and a lot of water. With silicone technology, this process has become a lot simpler and faster.

Author's Bio: 

Mayank Mohindra is an author on apparel, fashion and textile industry.His articles are based on latest apparel industry news, textile news and/or analysis of the dynamics of global apparel trade, and fashion industry.