Scientists from the Pennsylvania State University have created a self-mending coating that makes clothes repair themselves. This invention might be the future for the fashion industry, and as well it might be used for military purposes or for individuals that work with harmful chemicals.
Self-repairing textiles are a reality thanks to Walter Dressick -who works in the Naval Research Office- and Melik Demirel -from the Pennsylvania State University-, who have created a unique substance that once applied to threads makes them knits back together after a tear. Imagining never having to replace a jean or never spending hours patching a crack in our favorite garment is now possible, and it is simple.
“For the first time we are making self-healing textiles,” said Pennsylvania State’s professor of engineering science and mechanics, Melik C. Demirel.
Farewell to the sewing needles
Now, these scientists have come up with this coating technology that can be applied to conventional textiles such as cotton, linen, and wool, healing tears by applying a coating called “polyelectrolyte layer” which contains squid proteins.
“Fashion designers use natural fibers made of proteins like wool or silk that are expensive, and they are not self-healing,” said Demirel.
This might be the end for discarded clothing problem in the world. Currently, the unique substance has only be applied to pre-made items. However, scientists behind the self-healing clothing invention assure that it can also be used to textiles before the garments are woven.
“Maybe this is a way to improve the longevity of clothes we wear”, added Demirel
How can it be used?
The coating is made out of yeast and bacteria, integrating both positively and negatively charged polymers. The scientists revealed that they added natural proteins that come from the rings of teeth in squid suckers.
The technique to apply the substance is quite straightforward and inexpensive, it only requires equipment and water. It can be applied by dipping the whole item in the material or just be spot applied to the part of the clothes where it is needed, dropping the liquid on the tear, adding water and holding the tear together during a few minutes, until it heals itself.
But it is not only meant to be used in the fashion industry, and it is planned to be used on military uniforms making them harder to tear apart. It can also be used as a barrier from chemicals reducing thus the risks of exposing to toxic substances. This can be done by incorporating enzymes, such as an organophosphate hydrolase, into the clothing degrading the toxin before it reaches the skin.
The awesomeness of the discovery doesn’t stop here, the coating applied in clothes is not noticeable but it is so high that it can keep self-healing clothes even after they are laundered. There are already companies interested in the invention, such as Google and Levi Strauss which have announced early this year partnership to combine technology with clothes on the Jacquard Project.
Source: Christian Science Monitor