Nanotech coating boosts Thailand’s textile business
PHRAE : The value and appeal of Thai natural textiles will be boosted with the application of nanotechnology coating, the Ministry of Science and Technology says.
The ministry, through its National Nanotechnology Centre (Nanotec), has opened the country’s first nanotech natural textiles coating centre.
The centre, located at Phrae Technical College, aims to promote the use of advanced technology to add value to the folk textile business, which will in turn spur economic growth in the community.
Phrae is famous for its folk-style, indigo-blue mor hom fabric and shirts.
Nanotec executive director Sirirurg Songsivilai said the value of Thai textile exports is estimated at 120 billion baht a year, 5 billion baht of which comes from folk textiles.
However, many folk fabrics and fabric products fade easily and are not durable.
Mr Sirirurg said nanotech coating addresses these weak points. The nano-surface gives a silky touch to the textile, makes it more resistant to water and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities.
He said different types of nano substances are used to coat different types of fabrics. The nanotech coating lasts about 20 washess.
Science Minister Woravat Auapinyakul expressed his confidence that the use of nanotechnology with traditional fabrics will boost the folk textile industry as it will add a variety of desirable qualities to textiles that will serve consumer needs.
He said the technology will be distributed and made available to other folk textile businesses throughout the country.
Mr Woravat said the government plans to promote folk fabrics and textiles to both Thai and international consumers.
Cabinet members will be encouraged to wear them, acting as endorsements for the industry.
Phrae will supply the fabrics for government ministers’ clothes.
Mr Woravat, who hails from Phrae, said the folk fabrics worn by the cabinet members will be nano-coated to make them resistant to bacteria and UV rays.
The science minister said currently only about 20% of the ministry’s research into nanotechnology has been applied in business. He said he would like to see this increase to 70%.
Mr Woravat said he has ordered the Nanotec centre to develop a coating substance to improve the quality of teak wood to attain a premium qualification to meet high international demand.
Phrae is also the country’s biggest hub for teak wood furniture.
Sakchira Wiengkao, owner of the Baisri shop which sells natural textiles and clothing, said the quality of natural fabrics has been upgraded with the use of nanotechnology.
He said the soft and silky texture added to fabrics by the technology will be particularly attractive to consumers, as they usually judge cloth by the feel of its surface.
He hopes nanotechnology will help extend the life of the folk textile industry, which has a hard time competing with modern clothing.
Phrae governor Apichart Todolokvech said the folk textile industry brings in more than 2 billion baht to the province every year. With the new technology, he expects even more money to be raised as vendors can charge more for the better quality products.
Mr Apichart also said he will ask traffic police in the province to wear nano-coated uniforms as an advert for the technology.