How to

23 March 2017

Othermaterial - Clothing Which Adapts to Temperature

Img: Othermaterials 
Spring is one of those seasons that brings unpredictable weather. That transition period; where it may be gloomy and chilly when you leave for work in the morning, but by lunch, the sun is shining and you find yourself removing layers which you wrapped up with about three hours before.

Otherlab have created a fabric, called Othermaterial, which adapts to the temperature around you, to maintain a comfortable body temperature. When temperatures drop, the fabric - which is paired with synthetic materials nylon, polyester and polyolefin - expands to create further insulation. And when temperatures rise, the fabric will compress and provide less insulation. Say goodbye to the morning stress of what to wear in transitional seasons.

The creation process of Othermaterial began 15 years ago when Otherlab founder Saul Griffith researched bimorphs. These are scientific, complex-sounding cantilevers which, put simply, change length and bend in response to temperature change, due to the two dissimilar materials within it.

Img: Othermaterials
Griffith then combined his research on textiles and heat control, and the bimorph structures. This developed the vision of a variable textile and the bimorph mechanism to eventually work towards an adaptive textile.

Workers at Otherlab researched the performance and the limits of a bimorph, and how to assess its usefulness in the project for an adaptive fabric. They calculated, by using ‘sensible assumptions’ of thickness and type of variable, that the limits for a bimorph bend over a narrow 10°C range, as Medium reports.  They concluded that the textile had enough movement which could potentially impact human thermal comfort.

The team then went on to develop the fabric to be effective in insulation and adaptation, having the potential to keep the wearer comfortable and even cut buildings’ energy costs, as those wearing the fabric will be at a comfortable temperature without the use of artificial heating or cooling systems. They note that the expansion can be by 2°C, and domestic energy consumption and related emissions have to potential to be reduced by 2%.

The website describes the textile as ‘structurally unique’, achieved by “pairing two materials with different thermal expansion characteristics. As temperature changes, the lengths of the two materials change differently, causing the textile to bend and increase the thickness of the fabric.”

See the company’s demo video below.

This advance in thermal clothing is exciting, and Digital Trends reports that the Otherlab team are planning to manufacture clothing samples within the next year, to trial and test. 

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.