Textile Printing

Malleable textile fibers, a new way of using textile? Photo courtesy of The Harvard Gazette.

Malleable textile fibers, a new way of using textile?

Have you ever straightened your hair or at least known someone who has? Obviously, heat is in charge of making this change, but with the minimum amount of water, its effect could reverse completely or at least to have a notable change. Why does this happen? It’s really simple… Hair has shape memory and in response to some changes or stimulations, it will return to its original shape.

Imagine your clothes could do the same? For example, a T-shirt that expands when exposed to moisture and that shrinks when dry or having a one-size piece of clothing that fits all person’s measurements? Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) developed a biocompatible material that can be 3D printed into a predetermined shape and programable to go back to its original shape. It is made with keratin, which is extracted from Agora wool used in textile manufacturing.

One of the main characteristics, or at least one of the most important in my opinion, is the reduction of waste in the fashion industry, “The implications for the sustainability of natural resources are clear. With recycled keratin protein, we can do just as much, or more, than what has been done by shearing animals to date and, in doing so, reduce the environmental impact of the textile and fashion industry.” Said Kit Parker, the Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics at SEAS.

Keratin fiber textile. Photo courtesy of The Harvard Gazette.

Keratin fiber textile. Photo courtesy of The Harvard Gazette.

As mentioned before, when this keratin-based fiber is stretched or exposed to an external stimulus, the structure re-aligns to fit some determined shape and it remains in that position until it is triggered to go back to its original shape.

As an experiment, one fiber sheet was turned into a permanent origami shape. Once it was set, the researchers submerged it in water and they unfolded and rolled it into a tube and dried it. Once it was set again and turned into a fully stable tube, they submerged it again so the process was reversed and it folded back into an origami star.

“This two-step process of 3D printing the material and then setting its permanent shapes allows for the fabrication of really complex shapes with structural features down to the micron level,” said Cera. “This makes the material suitable for a vast range of applications from textile to tissue engineering.”

So for a little twist when it comes to textile, it sounds like a great way of innovation and this might be the future for the fashion industry for reducing its gigantic waste this industry produces.

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Recent Posts

Keep up with the latest trends about de digital printing industry and learn more about different technologies, equipment, media & substrates, inks, etc.