TOKYO — For shoppers looking for garments with odor-control properties, textile maker Nisshinbo Industries Inc. has a silver lining.
The Osaka-based company has developed a new nanotechnology that allows it to insert silver particles into fabrics, to give an antibacterial and deodorizing effect. The company has developed a cellulosic fiber impregnated with silver particles as fine as four nanometers across. Because the fibers are impregnated with the particles, the company contends that fabrics made from them will not lose the silver content — and its germ retardant properties — in the wash.
A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.
While there are other silver fabrics on the market, Nisshinbo said they feature silver powder on their surfaces, where they are more susceptible to washing off. The company also noted that its technology does not use a binder to attach the silver to the fabric. Binders can affect a fabric’s hand.
Nisshinbo said silver was traditionally known to possess antibacterial qualities, which is one reason that silver eating and serving utensils were prized.
The presence of bacteria in fabric is a common reason for garments to smell funny.
The company plans to produce and sell about 1 million linear meters of silver-implanted woven and knit fabrics per year, beginning with the spring 2004 season. It will target the silver fabrics at numerous categories including uniforms, casual wear, shirts, bedding, nightwear, innerwear, polo shirts and handkerchiefs.