Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spray-on clothing in a can to be launched

Tight-fitting t-shirts and hipster jeans could get even more snug if you could just spray them on. That idea just got a little less far-fetched. A liquid mixture developed by the Imperial College London and a company called Fabrican lets you spray clothes directly onto your body using aerosol technology. After the spray dries, it creates a thin layer of fabric that it can be peeled off, washed and re-worn.

“When I first began this project I really wanted to make a futuristic, seamless, quick and comfortable material,” says Manel Torres, a Spanish fashion designer and academic visitor at Imperial College in a statement. Torres worked with Paul Luckham, a professor of particle technology at the Imperial College to create the material. “In my quest to produce this kind of fabric, I ended up returning to the principles of the earliest textiles such as felt, which were also produced by taking fibers and finding a way of binding them together without having to weave or stitch them,” says Torres.

The spray-on fabric consists of short fibres that are combined with polymers to bind them together and a solvent that delivers the fabric in liquid form. The mixture evaporates when the spray touches the surface. The fabric is formed by the cross-linking of fibres, which cling to one another to create the garment, says Fabrican. The spray-on fabric can be pretty versatile. It can be created in many colors and and can use different types of fibres ranging from natural to the synthetic, says the company.

The spray can be applied using a high pressure spray gun or an aerosol can. The texture of the fabric changes according to the type of material such as wool, linen or acrylic and how the spray is layered on the body. Fabrican says the technology is not just for fashion but can have some innovative use in medicine to layer bandages on the skin without disturbing the wound. The technology is still in prototype stage and some kinks still need to be worked out, such as the strong smell of solvent around the fabric. The researchers estimate that it will be at least a few years before it can be ready for commercial use.

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