”Smart clothes” are clothes that employ new technologies: technological developments have made it possible to integrate electronic components into conventional garments. In demanding conditions, such as working in heavy industries, very specific demands are placed on work apparel and materials, as they must protect the wearer from any hazards found in the working environment. Smart clothes design offers new material technology applications to make work apparel safer and more specifically suited to the work and environment in question. Smart clothes also make it possible for the wearer’s vital functions to be monitored, using, for example, an electromyograph (EMG).
The goal of the Academy-funded Models for Intelligent Garment Design (MeMoGa) research project is to develop methods and models for the research and design of smart clothes as well as to study matters related to their usability and social acceptability. The MeMoGa project approaches new, multidisciplinary research fields through the research of clothing design, fibre material technologies and physiology.
The material applications used in new types of work apparel include impact-protective materials, which can be divided into two categories: phase change materials (PCMs) and auxetic materials. "One example of phase change materials might be d3o, which is made of ”smart molecules”. Phase change materials move normally with the body, but when impacted, they protect the wearer by instantly hardening and then returning to their normal state once the impact load is released," explains researcher Mailis Mäkinen. Auxetic materials, on the other hand, are energy-absorbing materials, whose cross-section expands when stretched. "Auxetic materials include metals, ceramic or polymer materials or composites. These materials withstand pressure better than standard materials," says Mäkinen.
Terhi Loukiainen | alfa
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