Guest Post by Gracie Watson
When people think of engineering, they think of bridges. They think of computers and the complex systems that work beneath their parts. They think of massive machines that do incredible things. They imagine great buildings that look impossible, like the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Great Wall of China. To be fair, these are truly impressive feats of engineering. However, that’s not the extent of where the term applies.
There is such a thing as textile engineering. It is a relatively new field, but one that is rapidly gaining acceptance and applications. While textiles and fabrics have been with us since long before we became civilized, they are still usually done by hand. This changes the more prominent and developed textile engineering becomes.
What These Engineers Do
What textile engineering is all about is the design and control of the fiber. It concerns itself with the manipulation of textiles, the refinement of apparel processes, the development of the final product, and the complex machinery that makes them. It uses engineering principles with the minutia of the textile industry, allowing for applying a clinical, technological approach to textile problem-solving.
Textile engineering can be seen in various stages of the process, assisting or streamlining matters. There is process development, research, control over the production process, and even quality control. The information and data gathered are processed and used to give technological solutions to problems and to upgrade the process, such as knitting machines from Xdknitmachinery.
Training to become a textile engineer is difficult. It requires an in-depth understanding of the mechanics of various materials and fabrics. It also calls for chemical knowledge, as well as the formation of yarns and threads. To some extent, they might also need to know about mechanical design, so they can better understand the machines that are used in the industrial production of textiles and clothing.
There are a few demands of industrial textile engineers that are almost universal. In particular, many companies are looking to find the next great fabric that combines comfort, weight, and fire-resistance. The medical field is always on the lookout for new absorbent, lightweight fabrics for their needs and have a heavy investment in hypoallergenic textiles. There is also a high demand for the development of weather-resistant fabrics for packaging and outdoor materials.
The typical engineer has to be updated with new discoveries, trends, and technologies. Innovation is going to be something they keep an eye out for. This is true for any field of engineering, including textiles. Their focus just shifts towards fabrics and materials, whether man-made or natural. Fur, leather, metals, plastics, and other base materials can all be turned into the threads of clothing, and these are studied extensively.
A part of what they do is understand the properties of different textiles. These assist in determining where they should be used. Should something be used for clothing or furnishings? Is this particular fabric suitable for environments like the outdoors, where moisture is going to be a constant concern? How can this fabric be treated so it becomes more resistant to factors like water and sunlight breaking down dyes?
A textile engineer will also be expected to provide technical advice on the design of products, to ensure that the ideas can be achieved without undue disruption to the process. They might also be held responsible for ensuring certain equipment and technical details are within a company’s specifications.
Engineers may also play a part in harvesting textiles. This involves multiple fields, including the production of the rolls and the processing of the base materials. These specialize in working with the fibers and the raw form, with a focus on improving current textiles or developing new ones to fit specific needs. They are also involved in improving the processes by which a textile is made, refining it to maximum efficiency.
Research and Design
Textile engineers are also expected to work with the marketing and research personnel. This is to ensure that they are aware of the current trends and what may be required of the machines to make. By keeping abreast of these changes, they can help prepare the production processes for things like different aspects of the fibers, updates to the base patterns, and other small details that kept the operation smooth.
Engineers might also be called upon to assist in producing sample products, prototyping new designs for approval before going into mass production. This would include amending designs and evaluation of patterns to see how easily they could be produced by machine. Identification and selection of parts and fabrics from suppliers is also a part of this task of a textile engineer.
Textile engineering isn’t easy. It is a field that is new, but already has high demands for the people who engage in it. However, this knowledge is put to use in improving existing offerings, better utilizing industrial machinery and the development of new products. The field is relatively recent, but already has many areas where its expertise is invaluable.