What is textile chemistry

Textile chemistry is a highly specialized field that applies the principles of chemistry to the production of textiles, such as those used in clothing, furniture, protective wear, transportation, tires, air bags, and much more. Textile chemists may create new products to meet specific market needs or modify existing products to become more generally marketable.

Textile chemistry can be divided into three overlapping areas:

  • dyeing and finishing chemistry
  • fiber and polymer chemistry
  • materials chemistry

Chemists work in the textile industry in research and development, process development, process modification, technical services, environmental testing, and dyeing and finishing operations.
The study of textile chemistry begins with the knowledge of fibers, natural, artificial and synthetic.
Today, polymeric synthetic fibers are such an important part of the textile industry’s production that the field includes many chemists who are trained in polymer chemistry.
The dyeing and finishing aspects of textile chemistry require an understanding of both organic chemistry and surface chemistry, as required by the synthesis and fabrication of dyestuffs and chemical products used during the dyeing processes.
Knowledge of regulatory and safety processes is also important in textiles as the requirements become more stringent, as is attention to the environment. Interaction between textile chemistry and materials science is becoming increasingly important. Textile chemistry includes the application of the principles of surface chemistry to fabrics to improve their performances and fulfil the requirements of the market and consumers.
It also encompasses organic chemistry in the synthesis and formulation of the products used in textile-enabling processes.

Where a chemist works

Chemists may work in the R&D laboratory, as well as in the Quality Control laboratory, in the production plant, assisting with fabric production, interacting with customers to understand their needs, developing new effects on fabrics, or providing technical support.
Today, textile production is global, so technicians in this field are requested to travel and meet people from different cultures, environments, ideas, knowledge, and markets.

Chemists and colourists can be employed by chemical companies that manufacture the polymers from which synthetic fibers are made, and they are also employed to research new dyes and chemical products.

Textile chemists are people interested not only in textiles; it has to be considered an intersection of different industries that are starting from Chemical suppliers to machinery producers, fiber producers, authorities, regulatory, health and safety, customer assistance, and fashion brands.

Even if textiles can be considered a traditional industry today, they have become really innovative: textiles are around us and are influencing our lives.

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