Breakthrough manufacturing process could lead to air-conditioned clothes

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A manufacturing process developed by engineers in Finland could enable the production of smart fabrics with in-built air-conditioning.

The technology, developed by a team at the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) enables microscopic channel structures to rapidly embossed on large areas of plastic film.

By pumping cold or hot liquid through a network of these microchannels it’s possible to control the temperatures of the materials, and the researchers now plan to use the process to produce a smart fabric that can be controlled via a mobile app.

“Minuscule microfluidic channels can be compared to the cardiovascular system,” said VTT’s Ralph Liedert. “This gave us the idea for other applications of our new method in addition to diagnostics, such as heating or cooling channels for clothing, or the storage and transport of substances that are only needed in small volumes (perfumes and fragrances) or that are very expensive (medicine).”

VTT is now seeking potential partners within the sports, outdoor recreation, wearable technology and the cosmetics industries for the commercialisation of this new technology.