Inotek: Fabric That Mimics the Behavior of Pine Cones


There are a lot of options for performance fabrics out there, but if you’re a sportswear designer, MMT Textiles Ltd has an option that is definitely worth checking out. This textile innovation draws inspiration from unlikely source- pine cones.

While this may conjure up images of scaly, sharp, or even wooden fabrics, the idea of a “pine cone”, like fabric, refers to its performance rather than aesthetics. The textile is an example of biomimetics, meaning it mimics the behavior of something in nature. Studies of the way pine cones respond to humidity gave designers the idea for Inotek.

So how does it work?

Dubbed “The Pine Cone Effect,” the concept is derived from the plant’s reaction to humidity; it closes to prevent moisture from getting in, and opens up when the air is drier. In typical clothing fibers, there is plenty of space for water to permeate, not such a great thing if that includes rain or sweat.

With Inotek fabric however, the fibers (like the pine cone) close, causing the yarn to “tighten” and keep out any moisture.

Instead of a heavy, saturated fabric, Inotek actually becomes 10 percent thinner when wet. Tiny air pockets open along the surface of the fabric in order for it to remain breathable.  Once humidity conditions have returned to normal, the fibers “open” back up to return to their original state.

This textile innovation allows the wearer to dry off more quickly, and to stay dry for longer periods of time. This means fewer sweat stains and less dampness from the rain! The technology also aids in temperature regulation, as humidity is a big factor in comfort when it comes to body heat and external temperatures.

Jessica Bucci

Jessica has been trained in a wide variety of textile and fiber processes, traditional as well as computer-aided, which she uses in both her design and sculptural work. Jessica has also served as a teaching assistant for beginning weavers and drawers.