Know What You Wear

Monday, December 4, 2017

Classification and Application of Functional Clothing

What is functional clothing?
All clothing is known to perform multiple functions – from aesthetic to basic protection from the elements. ‘Functional clothing’ can therefore be defined as a generic term that includes all such types of clothing or assemblies that are specifically engineered to deliver a pre-defined performance or functionality to the user, over and above its normal functions. Functional clothing is a relatively new and exciting segment of the technical textiles group — one which is receptive to new product developments & technologies and abounding with niche applications. Functional clothing is defined as that specifically designed and engineered to ensure predefined performance requirements and functionality for the user. This includes protection under harsh environmental conditions during work or sporting activities and protection against extreme hazards and environments.
Functional clothing
Fig: Functional clothing
It may also include clothing for use in monitoring and evaluating hazards in conditions under which conventional everyday seasonal clothing would not be adequate. The functionalities required of clothing can be very different, depending on the end-use. Functional clothing has widely application, it includes medicine, biotechnology, nanotechnology, physics and computing among others, to meet the multifaceted and complex requirements of the user. A variety of functional clothing products are available in the market as protective clothing, medical clothing or sports clothing.

Classification and application of functional clothing:
Only a few examples of more widely-used functional clothing are presented here, as the area is complex and broad. Functional clothing may be classified according to the main application areas, defined by Techtextil, which defines 12 main application areas for technical textiles, divided into following groups:
  • Protective clothing (Protech),
  • Sports-functional clothing (Sporttech),
  • Medical-functional clothing (Medtech),
  • Clothing for special needs.
The performance of textile materials is frequently used in describing functional clothing. In the case of activity clothing, this user-requirement is usually specific and complex. Some key areas for the application of functional clothing will be presented with regard to the above classification.

Protective Clothing:
Protective clothing can be defined as clothing including those protectors which cover or replace personal clothing and which are designed to provide protection against one or more hazards. Particular clothing may be designed to provide protection against hazards encountered during specific types of work. Examples include garments providing protection against cuts, abrasion, ballistic and other types of severe impact, including stab-wounds and explosions, fire and extreme heat, hazardous dust and particles, nuclear, biological and chemical hazards, high voltages, static electricity and extreme cold. High-visibility wear also comes into this category.

Protective clothing
Fig: Protective clothing
Protection clothing protects against extreme heat or cold, fire, rain, snow, dust, wind or UV exposure, penetration or skin contact of hazardous chemicals, toxic gases, body fluids, germs or radioactive particulate matter.

Classification of protective clothing:
1. Protection against mechanical impact: Special work wear, which must be sufficiently shock-absorbent to prevent injury resulting, in particular, from the crushing, etc., at last up an impact-energy level

  • Motorcyclists’ protective clothing
  • Protective clothing for horse riders (protective jackets, body and shoulder protectors)
  • Protective clothing for professional motorcycle riders (jackets, trousers, one-piece or divided suits)
2. Protection against physical injury (abrasion, perforation, cuts, bites): Protective clothing again abrasion, protective clothing against perforation, cut resistant protective clothing.
  • Aprons, trousers and vest protecting against cuts and stabs by hand knives
  • Protective clothing for abrasive blasting operations using granular abrasives
  • Protective clothing for users of hand-held chainsaws – resistance to cutting by a chainsaw
3. Protection of drowning:
  • Lifejackets, lifesaving suit
  • Buoyancy aids clothing which will ensure an effective degree of buoyancy
4. Protection against heat and/or fire:
  • Protective clothing for protection against heat and flame
  • Protective clothing for firefighters
  • Protective clothing for use in welding and allied processes
  • Protective clothing for workers exposed to heat (excluding firefighters’ and welders’ clothing)
  • Protective clothing against the thermal hazards of an electric arc
  • Protective clothing with electrostatic resistance – when the worker is exposed to environments where a spark could cause explosions or ignite fi res, e.g. petrol stations, petrol tanker drivers, flour mills, clean rooms etc. Protective clothing can be classified according to the type of fabric used: clothing with surface conducting fabrics and clothing with corona fabrics.
  • Protective clothing for automobile racing drivers
5. Protection against cold: Protective clothing against cold

6. Protection against rain: Protective clothing for protection against rain

7. Protection against electric shock:
  • Electrical insulating protective clothing for low-voltage installation
  • Conductive clothing for live working at a nominal voltage
  • Protective shielding clothing for live working
8. Protection against radiation:
  • Protective clothing against radioactive contamination
  • Protective clothing against radioactive particulate matter
9. Protection against dangerous substances and infective agents: Clothing for protection against penetration or skin contact with hazardous chemicals, toxic gases, body fluids:
  • Protective clothing for protection against chemicals
  • Clothing for protection against liquid chemicals
  • Chemical protective clothing for use against solid particulates
  • Clothing for protection against contact with blood and body fluids
  • Clothing for protection against infectious agents
10. Protection against invisibility:
  • High-visibility warning clothing for professional use
  • Visibility clothing for non-professional use
Sports-Functional Clothing:
Sports-functional clothing differs from casual clothing in that it often has features which enhance functionality. Sports clothing requires a high-level of breathability and moisture/vapour transfer combined with heat insulation and/or wind-proofing, waterproofing, and UV protection. In many applications, functionality must be considered in conjunction with interactions between bodily activity, clothing, and the environment.

Sports-functional clothing
Fig: Sports-functional clothing
Sports clothing is a general term and it is necessary for garments to meet specific functional requirements, which will depend on the sport and its environment, as well as the construction, mechanical, physiological and/or aerodynamic characteristics and form of the clothing. The required functionality may thus differ greatly, and may be based on the application of compression or the principles of aerodynamics to reduce wind or air-drag during high speed sports. Compression clothing (e.g. tights, clothing, and stockings) includes elastic, body-moulded suits with an engineering compression gradient and which may be worn as upper or lower body pieces. The function of aerodynamic clothing (i.e. garments for athletic or cycling wear) is to trap a thin layer of air next to the body. Both principles may be used in combination or individually, according to the requirements.

Classification of sports-functional clothing:

  1. Golf: Golf stylish clothing (allow also a casual or a formal look of clothing)
  2. Tennis: Short tennis skirts, t-shirts, Tennis dresses made out of a variety of high performance fabrics, Men shorts, t-shirts
  3. Soccer: Soccer uniform
  4. Basketball: Basketball wear
  5. Baseball: Baseball uniform (sliding shorts and jerseys)
  6. Football: Football shirts, football shorts, Protective clothing – shin guards
  7. Swimming: Swimsuit, bathing suit, swimming costume, Professionals skintight costumes, Bodysuits, called as dive skins
  8. Diving: Diving suit, Wetsuits
  9. Running: Women’s running clothing (lightweight performance in an athletic design), Men’s running clothing (lightweight performance in an athletic design), Skintight garment.
  10. Skiing: Ski suit, snowsuit, Jumpsuit (two-piece, in the form of a ski jacket and matching trousers), Racing suit, Cross-country gear, Ski jacket.
  11. Ice skating: Skating dress, Speed skating dress
  12. Cycling: Cyclist wear
  13. Motocross/motorcycle riding: Protective clothing for professional motorcycle riders (jackets, trousers, one-piece or divided suits)
  14. Aeronautics: One-piece flying suit
  15. Fencing: Fencing clothes, jacket, knickers
  16. Karate: Special karate clothing
  17. Fitness clothing: Men’s t-shirts, tank tops, shorts, pants, Ladies sports bras, workout pants or shorts
  18. Mountaineering/alpine climbing: Mountaineering clothing, Climbing clothing, climbing breeches, snowshirt, Expeditionary clothing, Wanderer clothing, Running wear
Medical-Functional Clothing:
This category refers to functional clothing for healthcare. Characteristics typically include absorbency (wound-dressing), air permeability (surgeons’ gowns, staff uniforms) and durability (pressure clothing). These types of functional clothing may be categorized into four separate and specialized areas of application, as follows:

  1. Healthcare/hygiene clothing,
  2. Surgical clothing,
  3. Therapeutic clothing,
  4. Intelligent functional clothing.
Healthcare/hygiene and surgical clothing are important sectors in the fields of medicine and surgery. They may be used in operating theatres and on hospital wards for the care, hygiene, and safety of staff and patients. Therapeutic clothing includes pressure clothing and clothing designed specifically to aid in reducing the risk of infection. Intelligent functional clothing is a relatively new and specific area in medical-functional clothing.
medical-functional clothing
Fig: Medical-functional clothing
Classification of medical-functional clothing:

1. Healthcare/hygiene:

  • Healthcare uniform
  • Clothing for nursing staff, nurse’s uniform
  • Clothing for patients, scrubs, patient wear
  • Medical coats, tabards
  • Medical protective clothing (in isolation wards and intensive care units)
  • Protective gown for dentist
  • Protective gown for veterinary
2. Surgical clothing:
  • Surgeon’s gowns, caps
  • Surgical cover cloths
  • Surgical hosiery
  • Surgical hosiery with graduated compression characteristics
3. Therapeutic clothing:
  • Pressure clothing
  • Tubular elasticised net garment
  • Far infrared therapeutic clothing
  • Infrared shapewear
  • Anti-microbial underwear
  • Anti-irritant’s underwear
4. Intelligent functional clothing:
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation vest
  • EKG Vests for heart patients
  • Intelligent biomedical clothing
  • Intelligent clothing’s physiological monitoring
  • Intelligent clothing in prehospital emergency care
  • Intelligent functional clothing for personal health records and medical information management
Clothing for Special Needs:
This category of clothing is concerned with improving the quality of life for people with special needs or disabilities. This includes wheelchair users, stroke victims, arthritis sufferers, and those with restricted movement.

Special needs clothing for disabled people are garments made to measure for individual comfort. This includes clothing with modifications for paraplegics, the elderly and handicapped, hypo-allergenic garments, clothing for Alzheimer’s sufferers, arthritis patients, incontinence sufferers, jumpsuits, sensory-perceptive children’s clothing and clothing for those with other disabilities. The needs of each group are distinct. It is therefore necessary for the clothing to be engineered to specific requirements. Design considerations include changes in body shape, limitation of mobility, ergonomic and physiological requirements and psychological and social needs.


References:
  1. Design of clothing manufacturing processes by- Jelka Geršak
  2. Functional clothing-Definition and classification by Deepti Gupta