- Research, develop, and create performance textiles for potentially life-saving uses
- You'll need technical ability, design skills, and good concentration levels
- Progress into senior technical roles or move into management or research
As a technical textiles designer you'll work to create fibres and fabrics for a wide range of uses, like medical textiles (e.g. allergy-free bedding and artificial ligaments in prosthetics, clothing textiles (like waterproof, flame-retardant, heat-resistant or bullet-proof fabrics; woven fabric structures used in the manufacture of motor vehicles and aircraft), and construction textiles (like carbon fibre 'skins' used to protect buildings).
- Coming up with ideas for products that meet performance specifications
- Identifying the suitability and availability of materials
- Developing product prototypes
- Assessing technical performance specifications and carrying out rigorous testing
- Recording and interpreting test results
- Writing technical reports and cost estimates
- Researching new techniques and technologies
You'll normally work closely with research and development and production teams. You'll spend a lot of time in a laboratory environment and on the factory floor, but you may need to travel to attend conferences and exhibitions.
Most employers will expect you to have a degree or postgraduate qualification that focuses on technical skills and knowledge, rather than surface design or the fashion industry. Relevant courses include textile technology, textile design, materials science, or product design.
Alternatively, you could start as a textiles or materials technician (you could get this through an apprenticeship) and do further training on the job to specialise in technical fabrics research and development.
You'll also need creative ideas and design skills, good concentration levels, strong written and spoken communication skills, IT skills, project management skills.
You could go on to work in a research department for a university or company that specialises in technical textiles, for example carbon fibre or graphene.