Current trends in the Protective & Safety area include fabrics and apparel that provide comfort, manage moisture, and are lightweight and flexible. In the past, apparel for the Protective & Safety area has often been bulky, confining and uncomfortable. Many of the fibers, fabrics and technologies developed for the technical sports textile area are also being applied to protective & safety clothing. This includes the use of Smart/Responsive materials, and nano-technology to improve and add performance. Technologies allow fabrics to thermoregulate, such as Akwatek/Akwadyne and Outlast, and regulate the comfort zone - the atmosphere next to the skin, controlling temperature and dryness. Wearable electronics, which will allow monitoring of body functions such as heart rate, respiration and blood pressure may also soon be a reality
• The design of apparel is also employing ergonomic designs and constructions to provide better fit, add more flexibility and comfort. However, design improvements for comfort must not reduce the required effectiveness and performance of the product. Advances in construction include seamless knitting and welded & glued seams, which reduce a garment's weight, provide added protection from liquid chemicals, and enhances comfort.
• Since 9/11, there has been an increased demand for protective clothing for protecting first responders to chemical or biological attacks. Clothing that provides protection from multiple hazards is a primary interest. The most common dual incident requiring protective clothing involves situations where there is a flash-fire protection in combination with chemical release.
• The development of industrial cut, puncture, projectile, and abrasion protection fibers in the late 60's/early 70's have improved the protection provided in military combat uniforms/equipment, and in the protection of law enforcement officers. Some of these ballistic products include aramid fibers (i.e. Kevlar® and Nomex®), para-aramid fibers (Twaron®), olefin fibers (Spectra® and Dyneemaâ„¢), and PBO fibers (Zylon™).
Recent developments in malamine fiber (Basofil®)technology provides the highest value for heat and flame resistant products in the marketplace, especially when used with other flame retardant fibers. The flame resistant properties are built-in and permanent in the yarn. When a flame is removed from the fabric, the fabric will extinguish on it own. Because of it's self-extinguishing quality, this fiber is now being successfully used for FR home furnishings products, like mattress ticking.
• Currently, there is much debate about re-usable/washable apparel and textiles versus limited-use products. Much of the focus is on cost, but the discussions also center around functionality, durability, effectiveness and quality considerations.