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CETI Puts The Tech Back In Textiles

Textiles and innovation aren't two words that generally go hand in hand. That's about to change, according to the folks at the European Center of Innovative Textiles (CETI), in Lille, France. The organization inaugurates its new headquarters this month, with the goal of creating better, more high-tech solutions across a number of industries. Their current projects show that potential.

Illustration by Vikki Chu

HEALTH CARE: CETI is working to develop new fabric for wound dressing, in which medicine, antivirals, and antibacterials are already integrated into the fibers. Looking further to the future, the organization envisions nonwoven textiles that can be used as a "seed" to rebuild tissue.

CONSTRUCTION: While building new roads, sediment can contain heavy metals, such as mercury, that seep into the water supply. Geotextiles can be used to filter mud and capture pollutants.

SPORTS: Agrobio textiles are created with nonwoven fibrous products, using raw materials such as feather keratin or flax as a substitute for petroleum. Meaning? They'll function like an environmentally friendly plastic. These strong natural fibers can be used to build products such as bikes and tennis rackets.

SAFETY: Protective equipment for workers such as firefighters is getting smarter. Materials carry integrated sensors to monitor heat and chemical levels. If levels get too high, the wearer is notified.

A version of this article appeared in the October 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.