Clothing has always been a popular application for composites. In fact, a vast majority of clothing today is made up of interwoven composite fibbers that give it strength, warmth, and durability. This comes as no surprise, but did you know that composites in clothing has had a major impact in recreation, fashion, and industrial settings? Let’s take a look at some of the most unique ways composite materials are used in clothing
One of the most popular products for composite clothing is Gore-Tex. Invented in 1969, Gore-Tex is a waterproof, breathable fabric membrane that use most commonly used for all-weather rain ware. The most beneficial aspect of Gore-Tex is its ability to repeal liquid water while allowing water vapor to pass through the material. This allows excess body heat to pass freely while keeping the wearer’s skin dry.
The simplest form of Gore-Tex rain wear is a two-layer composite sandwich. The other layer is typically composed of polyester or nylon and it provides strength. The inner layer is made up of polyurethane which gives it water resistant properties. This type of rain wear has proven to be a fan favorite for outdoor activities like hiking and camping.
Gore-Tex isn’t just limited to rain-ware,it also has a sister product called Windstopper, a light-weight windproof material. The composite materials that make up this product are not waterproof, but they do have breathing properties and they act as a wind barrier that helps keep the user warm in cold and windy conditions.
The future of fashion just became one step closer to taking a quantum leap in composite textile design. Researchers from Concordia University have just designed computerized fabric that can change color and shape in response to movement.
The composite fibers that make up this clothing consists of multiple layers of polymers that are interwoven with electronic fabrics that can harness energy directly from the human body. This new composite fiber has been dubbed “smart clothes” and it could revolutionize the entire fashion world as we know it. Color changing clothes might not hit the shelves for the next 20 or 30 years, but the introduction of these new composite materials has started to gain widespread attention by fashion designers and retailers alike.
When worker have to deal with hazardous materials in industrial settings, they must be well protected. Besides being shielded from toxic chemicals, lead, asbestos, just to name a few; they must also be comfortable so that they can work at the highest productivity levels as possible.
A leader in protecting workers against industrial hazards is DuPont. They have developed several high-end composite clothing products such as Tyvek and Tychem. The engineered the protection directly in the fiber themselves. They do not use films or laminates as they will eventually wear away and expos the user to dangers.
Tyvek composite materials are generally used to safeguard men and women from everyday hazards such as dangerous vapors, liquids, and particles. Tychem, however, is generally used to help protect against very toxic liquids and vapors from sarin to chlorine gas. These chemical suits are setting safety standards for the HAZMAT category. If it wasn’t for composite materials in industrial suits and clothing, countless people would have suffered dire consequences.
Composite clothing has help protect numerous people from small inconveniences like getting wet while camping to repelling toxic material in an industrial setting, but in no other case have composites shown their true worth as they have in military applications. Countless men, women, and children owe their lives to composites in times of war and hostility.
The most revolutionary composite material, used in both hostile and everyday uses, is Kevlar. Five times stronger than steel, Kelvar is made from tightly woven fibers made from long molecular chains of a polymer material. This grid of fiber can help absorbs and dissipate impacts from knife blows up to small arms fire. Kevlar is also flame and chemical resistant which makes it a perfect material for applications like bulletproof vests, flak jackets, helmets, and protective gloves. With all of the amazing benefits and application available, it is safe to say that Kevlar will be on the front lines of hostile situations for a long time.
In conclusion, composite materials have played a vital role in the design, manufacturing, and daily usage of clothing. The keep us safe, they keep us warm, and they keep us stylish. We owe a great thanks to composite fibers and materials.