Technical textiles in manufacturing of sportswear


Fatma Çitoğlu, Marmara University Faculty of Technology Textile Engineering İstanbul, Turkey


Textile and readymade products were initially used for basic needs, but with the technological improvements and revolutionary innovations coupled with intense competitive market conditions, they became one of the most sought-after material in various disciplines which in turn led to researching and producing different textures. In the future, in addition to fashion-specific characteristics of the products and fabrics, the use and demand for multifunctional interactive textile products that could also serve other purposes will rise. The production of technical textile products, with their various fields and purposes of use as well as their high technical and performance attributes show a rise in the field of sportswear similar to other areas of use. The characteristics of the materials employed are also increasing gradually. In this context, the garments the athletes wear and the materials they use have great importance in terms of technical textiles. In this study, the contribution of technical textile production on various sports is analyzed, and in addition to literature research and sample applications, the latest developments in technical textile products used in different sports were evaluated. The research conducted reveals that the technical textiles have an effect on different sports and the performance of athletes.

Key words: Technical textile, sportswear textile, athlete garments, wearability.

  1. Technical textiles

Technical textiles developed for appearance and aesthetics in technical specifications and performances in the 1980s are increasingly becoming increasingly diverse products. This rapidly growing sector has not been able to meet the name of “industrial textile” by expressing its richness, complexity and production techniques and is called “technical textile”. Technical textiles in this context are referred to as materials that are obtained in any process or process, or used to accomplish a single feature. Such products are expensive and highly value-added products. Superior performance characteristics include chemical, weathering, resistance to microorganisms, high strength, flammability, easy drying and incombustibility. Because of these properties, they are also used in areas other than textiles, but they are used as a part of the material – + 5n [AKÇALI, 2016, Emek, 2005] The technical textiles were first collected by Messe Frankfurt, which organized the international technical textile fair, Techtextil Frankfurt, under 12 classes according to the application area. However, because some products have more than one area for their intended use, the borders cannot be drawn exactly. Sportive textiles (sportech) are the technical textiles produced for sports and casual wear [MECİT et al., 2007a; Yalcinkaya & Yilmaz, 2011] in this classification, where the textile textiles from construction textiles have a wide perspective from vehicles to underground materials.

  1. Technical textiles

Production of technical textile products with high technical and performance characteristics for different usage purposes is increasing in all fields as well as in sports field. In both individual and team sports it is seen that not only the athletic performances but also the material properties used are important. Therefore, the academic studies on the effects of the technical textile products produced for the sports branches on the sportsmen are seen to increase. This provided the introduction of the concept of sports textiles and included the athlete’s clothes, materials and shoes they used [Gupta, 2011]. The superior properties expected from these products cannot be achieved by a single fiber structure, but the fiber structures which contain the desired properties are required to be incorporated into the fabric under suitable conditions. Fiber type of fabric, fabric [D’Silva, Greenwood, Anand, Holmes, & Whatmough, 2000] are the most important parameters in terms of the structural weaving, fabric / weight, fabric thickness and applied chemical processes. In sports textiles produced in this direction, parameters such as adaptation to different weather conditions, heat insulation, comfort, UV protection, waterproofness, hygiene and anti-bacterial properties, opacity, easy drying, soil repellency and self-cleaning are expected parameters [Uttam, 2013] It is now common practice to provide different physical properties to athletic wear and to increase athletic performances after using different fiber constructions. Thermolite fibers, a kind of polyester developed by DuPont, are manufactured from hollow hairs with thousands of small air sacs, providing excellent insulation found in the fur of polar bears. Breathing membranes also find application areas. These properties can be achieved by the fibers used during production and by the finishing operations [Horrocks & Anand, 2015; MECIT et al, 2007b] It is now seen that sports textiles have a wide range of uses, from sportswear to artificial turf, climbing ropes and parachute fabrics. The product range includes balloon fabrics, sports shoes and bags, sleeping bags, tent fabrics, swim fabrics, racket frames, fishing rods, golf clubs and fishing nets. Among these products, sports shoes have the biggest market share. In sports shoes, abrasion resistance, sweat absorbency, waterproof and breathable properties are sought in addition to other features. Sportswear should have hygiene characteristics as well as functionality. In addition, protection from ultraviolet rays, which has gained importance in recent years, has been added to these properties. For this reason, antimicrobial finishes and ultraviolet protective chemicals are applied to sportswear, to reduce smell and prevent bacteria formation. The use of composite structures has increased in every field, as well as in the production of sports equipment. Bicycle wheels and body, ski and surf equipment, soccer and baseball, tennis racket, etc. are examples of areas where composites are used. At the same time, in recent years, it has been observed that structures called “Mobile Thermo” are used which can distribute the heat uniformly and adjust the temperature. The desired performance characteristics of the fabric can be achieved by such special finishing operations, for example, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) microporous coatings and breathable fabrics have been developed. Names such as “fieldsensor”, “cubesensor”, “coolmagic” and “aerosensor” are given to the clothes which absorbs the body and quickly dry the product. These academic and sectoral progresses have forced firms to produce highly sophisticated products. Multidisciplinary work is also seen to work with textile, electronics, and bionic engineers as well as textile engineers. These creative teams are designing performance enhancing products in line with the needs of athletes. For example, the different technologies developed by Adidas provide a more effective working environment for sportsmen. For example, ClimaCool® technology keeps athletes at the optimum body temperature by ignoring temperature values in the pond. They have made separate measurements on male and female athletes who have developed this technology and they have determined which regions of their bodies have increased heat in different sport branches and different exercise levels according to their ages and applied to the products. During this application, they developed three-dimensional fabrics to develop a product that absorbs and absorbs moisture in areas of significant temperature and sweating. The fabrics positioned in the critical heat zones of this garment have hundreds of small holes in the body parts and prevent the garment from sticking to the body, bringing the aeration to the highest level on the skin. In addition, on the collar side of the form, the conductive tape embedded in the collar allows the temperature to be drawn through the heating zone and a cooling signal is sent to the brain to form a continuous cooling sensation. The product has been tried at the Olympics in Athens. Sports textiles have become used in almost all sports activities. There are also numerous areas for use in the marketplace with products.

III. Distribution by branch

The technical textile products we see at almost every stage of sports activities are composed of structures made up of different textile materials and the usage area or the division used is suitably abrasion-resistant, sweat-absorbing, waterproof and breathable. General characteristics expected from sport textiles today; air permeability, antistatic property, hygiene and antibacterial properties, dirt repellency, flammability, opacity, easy drying and weathering, as well as compatibility and suitability in different weather conditions, heat insulation, water permeation resistance, comfort properties, UV protection, self-cleaning, [Uttam, 2013] These properties can be given to sports textiles through the type of fibers used during production and the different chemical finishing operations [MECIT et al. 2007a]

  1. Textile Equipment

Looking at the products produced in the field of sports technical textiles, it is seen that the market shares of textile equipment are also above the market growth rates, and the unit values are high. Tennis rackets, hockey sticks, snow and water skis, racing cars, fishing nets, bikes, ropes, canoe bodies, yacht and boat bodies, sports shoes for risky sports, surf boards, sportswear, lawns, tents, flags and flags springs and springs of musical instruments are the most obvious applications of technical textiles in this area. It is observed that the use of composite structures especially in textile equipment is widespread. The use of composite structures in hockey, baseball and golf clubs, especially in tennis racquets, bicycles, skateboards and skating wheels used in different sports branches, is a matter of question. The main reason for preferring composite materials is the strength and light construction they have. Thanks to the sports technical textile products spreading in the market, it is aimed to protect the athletes from unwanted accidents and continue their health status. Checklight technology developed by Reebok company can be given as examples of the products of these companies. Thanks to this technology, the health of the athlete can be observed with the control of the narrows and the intensity of the impact which can be achieved in the sports encounters. Especially used for ice hockey and American soccer matches, the athlete is aiming to be able to do the first intervention to the athletes depending on the severity of the blow and the hits taken with a headrest placed in the helmet. 20 – 500-micron polyurethane and polyester / polyurethane blend fibers developed by another company are produced with antibacterial and breathable properties and are offered for use in sports shoes, tents, parachutes, balls, gloves and so on. Just like American footballers, boxers have technology that evaluates their training berths. This technology is used in gloves and the accelerometer measures the impact strength, speed, blocking time and stroke combinations of the athlete.

  1. Compression Cloths

Compression clothing is one of the technical textile products used for sports branches. These garments are designed for sports or medical purposes, with the aim of applying pressure on the skin so as not to restrict movement. It is seen that it is widely preferred among athletes in many branches especially in order to increase the athletic performance and to improve the recovery after the exercise. It is used during or after both training and competition. The physical, physiological, circulatory, perceptual, heat regulating and psychological benefits of compression garments can be mentioned [KAÇOĞLU, 2015] Compression clothes are produced individually or industrially designed for specific areas of the body, such as upper body (cuff, long sleeved or sleeveless T-shirt) or lower body (knee or thigh size stockings, knee or ankle tights) [Felder, & Cai, 2011] The level of compression applied by the garments depends on the type of clothing, the size of the body, the shape and size of the applied body area, the structure and physical properties of the material used, the nature of the sport activity made and the amount of elasticity of the fabric [Brophy-Williams, Driller, Shing, Fell, & Halson, 2015 [Lovell, Mason, Delphinus, & McLellan, 2011] suggest that compression tights worn during 30-minute intermittent and repetitive running may improve the process of active recovery by reducing the lactate concentration and heart rate after high-

  1. Sports shoes

The most important garment of an athlete is a sports shoe. Because this piece, carried on the foot before, during or after the competition, directly affects its performance. Manufacturers who are aware of this develop this product with various technologies. Particularly, producers engaged in work on sweating and air-breathing sometimes produce shoes with adjustable feet, impact and floor adjustments with a new chip technology, sometimes with a new fiber technology, and have effective shock absorbing properties during work and superior elastic properties of the shoe sole to do so. One of the remarkable technologies is Elastopan technology. The world’s first expanded thermoplastic polyurethane, especially used by Adidas company in running shoes, is applied to all shoe types and soles. The UltraDry non-woven surface product, developed by the Italians, appears to have been used in the inner footwear of shoes. When it comes into contact with water, the technology absorbs the moisture immediately and encapsulates the layer found in a lower layer, creating a feeling of dryness on the soles of the feet with the help of the microfibers they have. Microfibers with 110 – 30 times more absorbency compared to fibers produced by conventional methods constitute the structure of this technology. With a special membrane developed, it is seen that after the absorption of the nemesis,

it is released out of the surface of the fabric without holding it, and the chilling of the cold, which is formed by wetness.

III. Swimming

Swimmer swimsuits and gym clothes are made from polyurethane foam (PUR) fibers called Spandex, Lycra and Elastan, which have 5 times longer stretch than their original length. In the same way, it is seen that the big sport textile companies that produce athletic formulas use CoolMax fiber due to high moisture transfer, dry and comfortable gripping, breathability, strength, flexibility and softness. Supplex fiber, a nylon variety developed by DuPont, also finds use when it is used with lycra, due to its swimming clothes, aerobic clothing, waterproof and breathable structure in leggings and tights. Supplex is more flexible, light and soft than Nylon due to its thinner multiflament construction. Knitted fabrics containing spandex fiber are also preferred in these garments due to their elasticity and ability to fit the body. It is necessary to produce water-repellent, antibacterial, high-strength and heat-insulating products for sportsmen in this branch. It is important to move the user quickly and easily. Especially for swimming sports, swimsuits with anatomically adaptable body movements and non-blocking features are required. These clothes occupy a large area on the body and take shape of the body and thus affect physical activity. If swimming sports are considered to be a sporting event that competes with the Olympics, especially in the Olympics, any kind of advantageous design and innovation is so important for the athlete. Designed to inspire the main bodies of the jets inspired by grooves to reduce the turbulence effect, the grooves placed in the backrest provide a 3 percent increase in swimming performance. It has been determined that this product increases the fluidity of the water on the back of your swim during swimming and reduces the weight of the water on your back by an average of 70 kg. A further advantage of creating swimwear suits in addition to driving comfort is the positive effect on aerodynamic interaction of air and performance. In addition, the performance of the swimmer can be improved by reducing swimmer friction. All of these features are directly related to the comfort of your swimmer and have a direct impact on its performance [Oğlakçıoğlu, İlleez, Erdoğan, Marmaris, & Güner, 2013, ÖLÇER & BENGİN, 2015]

  1. Running and cycling sports

In running or cycling sports, the athlete is actively in motion every minute, and sweating is happening. If there is not a layer that will distract the nemesis, the moisture will remain underneath or it will get wet with the clothes, causing it to get wet. The Thermolite-based fabric used in this type of sport evokes a dry-warm feeling that is relieved of this strain. The use of this technology is widespread especially in the tights of athletes who are interested in running and cycling.

  1. Hiking and nature sports

In hiking and mountaineering sports, the most used product is sports shoes. The material used is characterized by high strength, long service life and flexibility to maintain even at low temperatures. Especially the high strength technologies used in products are an important criterion for choosing climbing shoes for mountaineers. Another sought-after feature is water repellency. Elastomeric materials have been widely used for this reason. Thanks to the layered structure and membranes used in shoes manufactured for outdoor sports, the product has water repellency, breathability and wind resistance. Most hiking and nature sports are also conducted by non-professionals. Especially trekking activities are known to be a sport that everyone is interested in. But the professionals who play this sport have important features that they are looking for when doing sports. The most important of these are blood flow velocity, air and water permeability. The Energear product, developed by Shoeller, has been announced to accelerate blood flow and increase the level of oxygen in the blood, thanks to far infrared rays that the body has been able to deliver. The recovered beams by means of the developed mineral matrix are the result of this. Thus, the feeling of premature fatigue disappears and the product warms up in a shorter time, which increases the performance of the person. By means of opening and closing the pores of the fabrics, optimum air and water permeability are tried to be provided. Again, the same company has products that provide protection against UV rays with ColdBlack technology, nanosphere technology and products with water and soil repellency []

  1. Gymnastics

Muscle system and body development are very important for both swimming and gymnastics. During the training of the athlete the body must exhibit a correct posture. For this reason, athletic wear should provide an effective movement. By transferring the energy just above the knee and wrapping the lycra power, the Adidas firm still uses the technologies under the control of the power. HEYtex produces HEYsports fabrics for sports branches such as gymnastics, judo, high jump. Fabrics are preferred due to their non-slip and high strength properties.


Whether as a professional or an amateur, the inclusion of people into sports life as a part of social life and the increasing popularity of it, provides the development of sports products in terms of performance and usage as much as diversity. Firms are trying to be oriented to various technologists and sportsmen as a result of both increasing demand and professionalism. At the same time, data such as speed and health of the athletes are also followed up by these technologies. Any negative data that changes on this count can be intervened immediately. The fact that the athlete’s training and fitness history is kept in memory also makes it easier to improve his performance schedule. The fact that the sport technical textile industry is increasing all over the country all over the country every year shows that the demand for these products has increased and expectations have also increased.

The sports technical textures that come out in different branches, both equipment and clothes, should carry the elements of fashion besides their performance characteristics. Clothing designed in the color or model appropriate to the fashion is important. When athletes are competing in front of spectators, they can be in both superior and desire to look good. Athletes’ products, which are a prestige element for companies, are extremely important in terms of increasing their market share and awareness. The purpose of this study is to group the technical textiles used in different sports branches and to provide information by scanning the articles in the literature. As the use of sports technical textiles increases and it is seen that it will increase, it is aimed to be a preliminary information for future works.

Resources: 1-AKÇALI, Kadri. (2016). Examining the use of technical textiles in sport branches. International Journal of Science Culture and Sport (IntJSCS), 4 (2), 533-546. 2- Brophy-Williams, Ned, Driller, Matthew William, Shing, Cecilia Mary, Fell, James William, & Halson, Shona Leigh. (2015). Confounding compression: The effects of posture, sizing and garment type on measured pressure in sports compression clothing. Journal of sports sciences, 33 (13), 1403-1410. 3-D’Silva, AP, Greenwood, C, Anand, SC, Holmes, DH, & Whatmough, N. (2000). Concurrent determination of absorption and wickability of fabrics: A new test method. Journal of the Textile Institute, 91 (3), 383-396. 4-Labor, Alpaslan. (2005). Technical textiles market in the world, Turkey’s production and export facilities: İGEME. 5-Gupta, Deepti. (2011). Functional clothing-Definition and classification. 6-Horrocks, A Richard, & Anand, Subhash C. (2015). Handbook of Technical Textiles: Technical Textile Processes: Woodhead Publishing. 7-KAÇOĞLU, Celil. (2015). Sporda compression garment. CBÜ Physical Education and Sports Science Journal, 10 (2), 18-33. 8-Lovell, Dale I, Mason, Dale G, Delphinus, Elias M, & McLellan, Christopher P. (2011). Do compression garments enhance the active recovery process after high-intensity running? The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25 (12), 3264-3268. 9-MECİT, Teks Yük Müh Diren, Center, TÜBİTAK Textile Research, ILGAZ, Teks Müh Sevcan, DURAN, Arş Gör Deniz, GÜLÜMSER, Tülay, & TARAKÇIOĞLU, Işık. (2007a). TECHNICAL TEXTILES AND USAGE AREAS (PART 1). 10-MECİT, Teks Yük Müh Diren, Center, TÜBİTAK Textile Research, ILGAZ, Teks Müh Sevcan, DURAN, Arş Gör Deniz, GÜLÜMSER, Tülay, & TARAKÇIOĞLU, Işık. (2007b). TECHNICAL TEXTILES AND USAGE AREAS (PART 2). 11-Oğlakçıoğlu, N, İlleez, AA, Erdoğan, Ç, Marmaris, A, & Güner, M. (2013). Effect of Sewing Process on Thermal Comfort Properties in Cycler Clothing. Textiles and Engineer, 20 (90), 32-41. 12-MEASURE, Hacer, & DENGİN, Serap. (2015). A RESEARCH ON THE INVESTIGATION OF ROLLER PLUGS IN ADJUSTMENT OF SPORTS PERFORMANCE. International Journal of Science Culture and Sport, 2 (Special Issue 1), 570-581. 13-Uttam, Devanand. (2013). Active sportswear fabrics. International Journal of IT, Engineering and Applied Sciences Research, 2 (1), 34-40. 14-Wang, Lijing, Felder, Martin, & Cai, Jackie Y. (2011). Study of properties of medical compression garment fabrics. Journal of Fiber Bioengineering and Informatics, 4 (1), 15-22. 15-Yalcinkaya, Baturalp, & Yilmaz, Demet. (2011). Electronic textiles, conductive fibers used in the textile industry and in wearable textiles. Textile Technologies Electronic Journal, 5 (1), 61-71.




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