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Defining “Textiles”: New Materials are Challenging Traditional Concepts

When is a material a textile? When is a textile a fabric? The unprecedented scope of new materials in development—by academia, government-funded technology groups and start-ups—is challenging traditional concepts of fabric formation. How this will impact the larger industry is a useful question to consider.

All fabrics are textiles, but it may be said that not all textiles are fabrics. Some of the new materials will not be viable, much less have broad commercial appeal. Some, however, have the potential to change the textile industry as we know it.

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