Ever wonder how certain fabrics protect against the bitter cold, keep athletes cool, or stretch with you as you bend? It’s all 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, tire yarn, 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, and a newer area that intersects with materials science and involves the blending of different textile materials. In the textile industry, chemists work 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, both natural and synthetic. Because polymeric synthetic fibers are such an important part of today’s textile business, 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.
The interaction between textile chemistry and materials science is also increasing. Textile chemistry includes the application of the principles of surface chemistry to processes, such as dyeing and finishing. It also encompasses organic chemistry in the synthesis and formulation of the products used in these processes.
- Fundamental understanding of the structure, composition, and properties of substances, including polymers.
- Mathematics and computer science skills, especially the ability to understand and apply statistical techniques.
- Analytical instrumentation techniques to characterize properties and performance of materials.
- Critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills to determine which tests to conduct and to interpret the results of those tests.
- Communication skills, both written and oral, to communicate findings to both scientists and nonscientists.
In industry, chemists tend to move between companies every five to seven years. Many industrial textile chemists eventually move into fields that are chemistry adjacent, such as project management or process improvement, that use their chemical knowledge, but also include managerial or business-related responsibilities.
Original content at acs.org