ESA and industry to discuss how space technology can improve textiles
Next week in Lille, France, representatives from ESA and European textile companies will meet to discuss how space technology can be used by the textile industry to improve our daily lives.
Companies involved in the European textile industry are invited to participate and several leading clothing manufactures have confirmed their participation.
The workshop, which will take place from 4-5 July, has been organised by ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme (TTP) to find organisations and industries wanting to learn more about how space technology can help their development. Projects initiated as a result of the workshop will involve several partners from within Europe and will be funded from a variety of sources as well as by ESA’s TTP programme.
Subjects for discussion at the workshop will be determined by the participants and their needs. Some suggestions that have been made so far include:
- new technology for safety and security to produce garments for search and rescue teams, and materials to provide warmth and protection in harsh environments
- intelligent materials and clothing, such as bioactive or smart materials, and portable and wearable sensors and computers
- applications for textiles and fabrics for use in the general clothing industry including fashion, sport, leisure and shoes
- industrial textiles and fabrics for use in areas such as transport and medical furniture
Technology and know-how from the European space programmes have already been used to provide solutions to some of the challenges facing the textile and clothing industrial sector, the following are a few examples.
Cool clothes Special space suits with internal cooling to allow astronauts to withstand high temperatures during space walks. This technology has been adapted by a Canadian company to develop a process now used by an Italian fashion manufacturer specialising in sports clothes and outdoor garments.
Checking fabric colours The same technology used by Earth observation satellites to monitor the quantity of agrochemical products used by farmers has been used to provide a more reliable method for quality control in textile production. An Italian engineering company, a Finnish company and the University of Como have collaborated in making a spectrograph with a colour camera to create an optical system to automate the difficult process of checking the colour of fabrics.
Flameproof textiles The technology that made the flameproof textiles used on Ariane launchers has been adapted by a French company to make vandal- resistant material to protect lorries and haulage containers.
Non-iron clothing Shape memory alloys (SMAs) can be stretched and deformed but return to their original shape at a given pre-programmed temperature. These were developed by ESA for use as lightweight temperature-controlled actuators in space. Now this process is being used by an Italian company to produce shirts that ‘iron’ themselves at body temperature. This shirt has been awarded the Best Innovation of 2001 award by Time Magazine.
Cot death prevention A new type of baby pyjamas, developed by a Belgian company together with the University of Brussels, could help to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, commonly known as cot death. These pyjamas draw on technology used to analyse the physical behaviour of astronauts in space. The built-in sensors monitor the baby around the clock and call for help when a potential dangerous situation occurs.
If you would like more information on the workshop please contact:
ESA Technology Transfer Programme
Tel: +31 71 565 3017
Tel: +39 010 362 8148 int 255