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Bioengineered Fabric

Coming soon to a store near you!

It is likely that what you are wearing right now is made of either cotton or linen or maybe even a mix of nylon or polyester. Surely your garment has been stitched from a fabric. The textile for your garment has gone definitely through a chemical process.

However, what you wear in the future is likely to be very different. You might want to get introduced to it now. So, say hello to bioengineered clothing.

Bioengineered clothing is made from fungi, animal cells, bacteria, yeast. When discarded garments made in this fashion (pun unintended) would disintegrate naturally spreading no toxicity. You would have also guessed this would reduce waste and may be even pollution.

With algae a yarn like fibre is created. This fibre is colour dyed (of course with non-chemical agents) and stitched into a garment – more like knitted into a garment. To make an algae-based fibre a sugary extract is taken from a multicell algae seaweed. The extract is powdered, made into a gel, colour-modified using natural ingredients, and extruded into fibres for weaving. The outcome is a strong but tremendously flexible material.

Experiments have created a long-lasting viable fabric from bacteria, fungus and compostable waste. Fibre from pineapple tops can be used for stitching. Reusability of the fabric is an advantage that will interest the environmentalists. This fabric can be re-coloured and even re-purposed multiple times before they actually need to be composed.

There are challenges that will soon be overcome. The fabric produced has to stay perfect for a long period. You would not want to see your dress disintegrate just when you are making your pitching to your customer and your fabric is ditching you totally. Or you are motivating your team to touch the heights of glory and your bio-friendly shirt is pushing you to the depths of embarrassment. The other factor is that the material has to be competitive cost-wise from their counterparts – stitched, chemical-processed, polyester/nylon fabric.

A Taiwan based company, Singtex, introduced what is seen as the first biodegradable textile, in 2009. He used coffee grounds to make this fabric.  A German brand, VAUDE’s, also has a commercial product that is made of cow milk and wool in 20:80 ratio. There are companies that have processed yarn using apple and orange skins and there are some that are using pineapple top to manufacture yarn. A company is known to be researching on cow manure as an alternative. And there are lab-grown collagens that can be converted into what the industry calls ‘bio leather’ that is seen to substitute animal leather.

This is an area that looks very promising from several perspectives. Consultiger will be happy to connect with experts in this space. Do write in to if you are an expert in bioengineered textiles.

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