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Extra resources for Developments in Smart Fabrics
They made garments from fabrics which had fabric-backed foams. Fabrics without PCM weighed 267g/m2 and with 455g/m2, making that nearly 200g/m2 of PCM. Tests with a thermal manikin showed that the heating and cooling effects changed body heat loss by an average of 2–13W for the first 15 minutes but then there was no further effect. This seems to tie in with other work which suggests that the benefits are small and short-lived. Shape-memory These are a range of materials which under the influence of an external stimulus can materials change shape from a temporary deformed shape to a previously set shape.
As sensors they work by changing resistance when a force is applied to them or when the temperature is raised. There are other types of EAPs including active polymer gels. These are low stress, high strain materials. The forces they generate when swollen are low. However when constrained, they can generate higher, useful forces. There are also dielectric EAPs. These are usually used in a parallel-plate capacitor arrangement, with a film of the polymer placed between two electrodes and a voltage applied.
The problem with all of these is that for good conductivity, high filler loadings are required. This requires good mixing, and often the textile properties of the resulting yarn are reduced – in particular there is usually a significant increase in brittleness. Recently, fibres have been made containing carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes have the conductivity of metals and some have length-to-diameter ratios of around 1,000. 5%, which is one-tenth of the level needed for conducting carbon. There is also the possibility of using conductive polymers as fillers.
Developments in Smart Fabrics by Pira International Ltd