National Taipei University of Technology researchers have developed a new fabric-coating technique to produce quick-drying cloth, which they said could help the textile industry carve a niche in the global market even in the face of China’s “red supply chain.”
University professor Rwei Syang-peng (芮祥鵬) yesterday said that his team took two years to develop an incomplete surface-coating technique for unidirectional moisture transport and sweat diffusion, which could drain sweat swiftly and achieve a better cooling effect than Gore-Tex fabrics, a waterproof and breathable material.
Water-repellent fabrics are created using what is called the lotus effect, Rwei said. Microscopic structures on the leaves of the lotus plant prevent water droplets from attaching to the leaves, so water sits on papillae on the leaf’s surface without soaking in.
Water-repellent fabrics have a nanoscopic hairy structure on their surface that mimics the papillae on lotus leaves to keep out liquids, Rwei added.
The team’s incomplete coating technique leaves parts of the fabric “naked” — not covered by the water-repelling, hairy structures — so moisture can be swiftly drained through uncoated areas, Rwei said, adding that the incomplete coating could dissipate moisture three times faster than conventional gauze materials.
Gore-Tex fabrics are generally made into jackets or overcoats because they are too rough to be worn in contact with the skin, but the team’s technique can be used to make fabric with a gentle texture that could be made into lingerie and sportswear, he said, adding that they have been approached by international clothing companies.
The incomplete coating technique can be used on many fabrics, including cotton, nylon and polyester, he said.
“Our technique could give Taiwanese businesses an edge over Chinese competitors and help the textile industry carve a niche in the global market of functional fabrics, which has an annual value of US$70 billion to US$80 billion,” he said.
The team also developed a new technique to coat Teflon on kitchenware or high-temperature conveyor belts in food factories.
The team uses specially designed slot die to inject Teflon solution onto glass fiber, which is heated to 320oC to firmly attach the solution, Rwei said. The technique could the amount of Teflon solution used by 60 percent compared with the traditional dipping method, while no toxic residue would be left on the finished surface.
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