Exploring the innovative thought behind Sewfree
The textile industry is perhaps one of the oldest existing trades in the world. From the earliest days of animal hides to modern day nanofibre textiles, technologically, the changes have been exponential. The nature of materials, machinery and design along with manufacturing techniques in the fabrication of textiles has evolved to accommodate the increasingly varied needs of humanity. So, whether humans require fabrics meant for the hottest of climates or the farther reaches of space, there has been an innovation which has made it possible. Today, as technology, in the form of mobile devices and networking, becomes an integral and essential part of the world’s population, the textile technology industry has been working to develop new materials and processes to address this need.
INNOVATING THE SIMPLE
As consumers expect high-tech features in every aspect of their lives, garments are also expected to meet this need. The basic of which is the ability of a garment to drape and fit the wearer’s body in such a way to maximise comfort, movement and style. The key areas of stretch and recovery are always on the top of the list from fashion designers, sports apparel manufacturers and technical textile companies. In this respect, the technology development process demands that the seams and stitches of any construct not only be of fine quality but also waterproof and of bonding strength.
However, in the rush to the final product, many small steps are needed and some critical aspects of the textile manufacturing workflow need to be reworked. Something as simple and perennial as sewing and binding fabrics together becomes an area that needs a revolution. Since the next wave of future fabrics requires many essential and new features, such as electronic embedding and electrical connectivity, the reliability of old-fashioned needle and thread is no longer sufficient. Under these use-case requirements the means to construct resilient fashion designs and fabric adjustments calls for a whole new approach to bonding systems.
The combination of these two requirements calls for a bonding process system that is low profile but seamless. Recently, one such product was made known to the market that claims to answer these very needs - Bemis Worldwide’s Sewfree range of products. And as the name itself suggests - Sewfree - is a polymer based thermoplastic film which uses an adhesive compound to bond fabrics together, thereby replacing stitching. The customisation of widths needed for various cuts and patterns is also an essential feature and can be used in a number of applications. The adhesive film can be applied through various means such as ultrasonic, RF, laser, hot air sealing machines and fusing presses. All of these features allow manufacturers to bond fabric seams in ways that fit into their existing processes.
Bemis utilised their new series of TPU elastomers to address the question of stretch and recovery in the fabric by partnering it with the Sewfree bonding process. These ‘ High Recovery TPU Elastomers’ are specifically designed to be used in places which require low profile
applications such as in delicate inner wear. By ensuring a svelte and smooth aesthetic while at the same time making sure that the fabric demonstrates the highest degree of recovery. It also eliminates the need for tedious stitches at the seams, band or hems, while providing strong bonding. This application is also applicable to various other products as can be imagined by a garment and technical textile designer.
The Sewfree next-generation adhesive film has already been proven in a variety of designs. It’s usage in innerwear apparel, technical outerwear and for general body gear has had numerous benefits such as guaranteeing product performance and reducing risk areas like stitch quality. Essentially, Sewfree eliminates sewing and allows a garment to be glued together to make the final product. And due to the highly elastic nature of the adhesive film along with its softness, the comfort aspect is maintained while ensuring apparel strength in fabrics such as polyester, cotton and blended materials. Even wide width fabrics can be laminated by being applied in a tape form and then converted into a pre-cut garment.
Apart from its stretch, recovery and strength aspects, Sewfree also makes a significant reduction in product weight. The difference between traditional cut-and-sew designs and the Sewfree bonded garments has gone as high as 15 per cent. In this sense the saved weight on these products scales up and makes significant savings in every aspect of the product chain - from shipment to wearability. An additional advantage is that these adhesive films can also be bonded with open face materials, such as nets, meshes and laces furthering its customised usage in the future.
THE FABRICS OF TOMORROW
At present, the different forms of bonded technologies are used to supplement the traditional sewing methods. This has resulted not only in lower costs but far more unique designs.
BY MOVING FURTHER ALONG THE TECHNOLOGY SPECTRUM WITH FABRIC BONDING, BUSINESSES CAN EXPECT CLEAR SAVINGS IN LABOUR COSTS AS WELL AS THE CONVENIENCE OF LESSER STEPS NEEDED TOWARDS MANUFACTURING A GARMENT.
Pushing this envelope further with Sewfree, allows newer fabrics to be combined and experimented with for greater design and utility possibilities. While, at one time, circular knits were designed to be less than perfect, they can now be 100 per cent seamless. Even in products such as bra cups, the seams can be eliminated making for not only happy customers and better styles, but greater business as a whole.
By moving further along the technology spectrum with fabric bonding, businesses can expect clear savings in labour costs as well as the convenience of lesser steps needed towards manufacturing a garment. Not only do bonded garments take fewer steps to manufacture but also fewer components which further speeds up product deployment. The trend, so far, has been the timeless one where customer desires and within a production cycle they are fulfilled. But the limits of manufacturing have been broadened now with new technology allowing for faster fulfillment with more innovative features. By streamlining the technological aspects of the manufacturing process, designers and business’ in the garment industry can begin to truly collaborate with consumer technology providers such as mobile device manufacturers and consumer technology companies. Fabrics that are built on pure bonding seams and other industry innovations such as nanofibres, conductive materials and miniature power storage designs, can truly make futuristic fashion a modern reality.
Companies such as Bemis, who are generating new product innovations for the textile industry, are not alone. Companies such as Noble Biomaterials announced in February 2017, the development of seamless conductive materials which would not only be integrated with electronics but also durable. Innovative collaborations are expected to generate a new market of opportunities for textile and apparel manufacturers, where they might actually take a share away from consumer technology companies and integrate them into their existing brands. So, one day a Nike product could not only manufacture your sports shoes but also be your mobile device interface via their sports accessories - the possibilities are endless. The question only remains, will it be the textile industry that integrates technology into its products or will it be Apple releasing their 2018 Spring-Summer digital fashion couture?