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Wearable heating and cooling with smart fabric

 

​High-volume production method for hot embossing microscopic channel

We have invented a high-volume method for producing microscopic channels onto large areas of plastic film. Pumping hot or cold liquid through a network of these microchannels enables the temperature control of functional clothes.

With VTT's high-volume method, microchannels can be produced on large areas of plastic film in a short time. Pumping cold or hot liquid through a network of microchannels enables the temperature control of functional clothes.

So far, the utilisation of microscopic channels for other than diagnostic purposes has been limited by relatively high production costs and the small size of the networks of microchannels that can be manufactured through traditional methods.

Microchannels for large surfaces

Minuscule microfluidic channels can be compared to the cardiovascular system, for example. 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 such as perfumes and fragrances or that are very expensive e.g. medicine.

The channels can be embedded either into hard or soft plastics, depending on the purpose of use. For example, the feel and shape of a soft and elastic plastic film is better suited for integration into a coat compared to rigid plastics, which in turn are better suited for application in card format, such as a handy travel perfume dispenser that is the size of a credit card. Other possible uses of the thin cards include very precise dosing of medicine or serving strong spices in restaurants.

VTT is currently developing a smart fabric which can be used as "personalised air conditioning" in outdoor clothing. We are now seeking partners within sports, outdoor recreation, wearable technology and the cosmetics industry for the commercialisation of this new technology.