In the frame of the ObservatoryNANO project, two reports dealing with a general overview of the applications, perspectives and market of the nanotechnology-related textiles were published in 2009 . This new report is devoted to the analysis of two specific segments where such innovative technologies have a wider potential, namely, the medical/healthcare and sport/outdoor sectors.
Textiles products are usually classified according to their end market. Therefore we can talk of apparel (fashion), interior textiles, and technical textiles. In Europe, each of these segments account, roughly, for 1/3 of total market share (Apparel 37%, interior 33% and technical textiles 30%) 
The technical textiles segment has experienced the largest increase in consumption during last years with high performances and non conventional technical textiles gaining ever growing attention. According to the European Commission (EC): ”expenditure on research and development (R&D) is higher in this field than for 'conventional' textiles reaching an investment of up to 8-10% of the total turnover¨ . The technical textile sector looks set to be the ideal framework for the introduction of new functionalities resulting from the use of innovative technologies such as nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology research in textiles is rather intense and has three main objectives:
1. Upgrading of both present functions and performance of textile materials, characterised by, for example, enhanced strength and tear/wear resistance, hydrophilic or hydrophobic, or insulating properties, and flame resistance.
2. Introduction of innovative functionalities, not yet present in textiles. Among these are, features like antibacterial, self-cleaning, UV-blocking, conductivity, controlled release for active agents, etc.
3. Development of smart/intelligent textiles, that is textiles with new functions through the integration of electronics into fabrics, which make them responsive to inputs, to show/modify specific properties, or with sensing and actuating capabilities.
The technological approaches for the production of nano-related textiles are based on the following three processes:
• Introduction of functional nano-materials into raw fibre materials, which can combine the original features of the fibre with nano-material functionality.
• Coating the surface of fibres or textiles with functional nano-materials, to produce functional textiles with greater added value.
• Electrospinning of polymers for the production of nanometric fibres leading to non-woven fabrics with improved or new characteristics with multiple applications.
Although the applications of nanotechnology in the textile sector were initially introduced through conventional garment and furnishing textiles, the applications for high performance technical textiles are garnering increasing attention. Experts consider these segments as the main area of application for nanotechnologies on the short-medium term, especially in sectors where performance outweighs costs (for example medical, sport/outdoor, military or niche high-fashion textiles) [1, 4-7].
At the cutting edge of the above nanotechnologies are the applications to obtain smart nanotextiles. The development of smart nanotextiles has the potential to revolutionise the functionality of our clothing and the fabrics in our surroundings giving them unprecedented characteristics, such as sensing, actuating, and communicating features.
The two sectors covered by this report, that is Medical and sport/outdoor textiles, represent a clear example of technical textiles where nanotechnology can play a significant role in the near future. Both segments tend to prioritize performance over cost (though a cost /benefit trade off must always be found) and dedicate a considerable part of their R&D efforts in the research of new or improved functionalities. A clear example of the importance of the implementation and commercialisation of new functionalities in these sectors is the increasing use of nanotechnology-related antibacterial products.
Due to the overlapping needs of the two sectors (similar functionalities and properties required) the report focuses on product functionalities, dealing jointly with innovative textile features for both the medical and the sport/outdoor sectors, but indicating the specificities for each segment.
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