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A new report has suggested that smart fabrics could be set to take control of the personal protective equipment (PPE) industry over coming years.

However, the Technology Innovations in Smart Fabrics report highlights that firms in the sector will need to overcome a number of challenges to exploit the potential in the offing.

The biggest challenge raised by the report says that makers of smart PPE fabrics need to invest in quality control of the products. It says that the manufacturers will need to conduct a more robust series of tests than present levels.

This will, the report concludes, ensure the fabrics are more reliable and durable, while still delivering everything promised by the electric advances built into the materials.

One of the researchers compiling the report, Sanchari Chatterjee, commented:

"Developing advanced smart fabrics has become important as the need for these products increases in targeted applications in the […] personal protective equipment industry."

Other challenges being faced down include the rising costs of the raw products for the smart fabrics, as the components increase in complexity. This is leading to the purchase price of the garments for customers being set too high for many.

Working to drive down the manufacturing costs to deliver better value and greater cost effectiveness to the end user will be critical, Chatterjee continued.

Other key findings suggested smarter fabrics would offer greater diversification in PPE markets, and that materials with sensor technologies will be a big growth area. Further, it was proposed that North America will lead the developments, followed by Europe.

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