Technical textiles are manufactured products for non-aesthetic purposes, where function is the primary criterion. It is a large and growing sector and supports a vast array of other industries.
The category includes, but is not limited too, textiles for automotive applications, medical textiles (e.g., implants), geotextiles(reinforcement of embankments), agro-textiles (textiles for crop protection), and protective clothing (e.g., heat and radiation protection for fire fighter clothing, molten metal protection for welders, stab protection and bulletproof vests, and spacesuits). Over all, global growth rates of technical textiles are about 4% per year greater than the growth of home and apparel textiles, which are growing at a rate of 1% per year.
Composites are made up of individual materials referred to as constituent materials. There are two categories of constituent materials: matrix and reinforcement. At least one portion of each type is required. The matrix material surrounds and supports the reinforcement materials by maintaining their relative positions. The reinforcements impart their special mechanical and physical properties to enhance the matrix properties. A synergism produces material properties unavailable from the individual constituent materials, while the wide variety of matrix and strengthening materials allows the designer of the product or structure to choose an optimum combination*.
The American composites and technical textile market represents approx. 36% of the global Composites industry in value ($35B) and 35% in volume (3 million metric tons). Moreover composites in the USA represents 16% of the US structural materials market (steel: 76%, aluminum: 8%) following a 6% annual growth since 1960. During the same period, steel growth had stagnated and aluminum growth more or less remained under 1% per year. End-user applications include aeronautics, automotive, mass transportation,renewable energy, construction/civil engineering/infrastructures, pipes & tanks, marine, sports & leisure, consumer goods, medical, etc.
Typical materials range from pre-impregnated (aka pre-preg), carbon or glass fibers and a non-hardened thermoplastic matrix to Kevlar™ woven, knitted, or uni-directional textile structures. Glasfibers woven, knitted or uni-directional textile structure. Garment fabrics such as cotton, polyester, velour, net; reinforced nylon fabrics, balloon material polyester, polyamides. Awning material coated polyester, cotton. Felt materials non-woven cotton or synthetics. Metal foils Stretch fabrics aluminum, copper foil, spandex, spacer fabrics. Foam material polystyrene, polyurethane, polypropylene. Filter materials felt, synthetics, carbon, paper. Gasket materials based on paper, carton, graphite, rubber, silicone, cork. Technical Textiles such as canvas, vinyl, sail cloths, pvc banner materials. The materials can be woven or unwoven.
The many composites and textiles materials are efficiently processed by the Blackman & White/MCT flatbed cutting systems using one tool, a or combination, of tangential blade cutting, driven cutting wheel, tangential drag knife, laser beam cutting, milling spindle, and automated material loading and off-loading utilizing simple roll-off trolleys and/or a conveyed vacuum belt system. Which system is best to use is determined by the type of materials to be processed and their width.