MMT TEXTILES LTD
Technical director and inventor of MMT’s Inotek TM biomimetic fiber and yarn technologies that use ambient moisture in clothing microclimate to trigger a mechanical response in the textile resulting in a programmed shape change that opens up the textile structure to increase airflow in damp conditions.
This invention started life during my doctoral work where I set out to investigate the shift from passive to animated textiles in the context of discomfort sensation caused by buildup of moisture in the microclimate. A review of literature and commercial technologies, at the time, revealed a range of wicking and temperature responsive smart systems.
As part of the research I conducted a series of ‘real time’ trials recording skin moisture and temperature data while navigating London’s public transport system, compared findings with the literature and concluded that moisture is directly linked with damp discomfort and provides a more efficient trigger than temperature.
Hygroscopic fibres swell as they absorb moisture from the microclimate, in doing so they cause the yarns to expand in width and block pores in the textile thus becoming less permeable to air. The technical challenge was to work out how to realize a textile system that becomes more permeable as the ambient moisture levels increase.
Original work conducted by Professor Vincent (my PhD supervisior) and his team in the 1990’s produced a prototype with severe limitations in terms of functionality, use and relevance to the industry (appendix 1). My knowledge of textiles combined with the study of seed dispersal systems and creative training inspired the development of the new concept that could overcome previous barriers. The next challenge was to translate the concept into a working prototype and identify relevant partners to enable production.
I created a consortia to carry out various stages of development this included McDermit Autotype who manufacture thin films. There I developed a bilayer film that curled in damp conditions. We produced lengths of the film using the company’s pilot facilities, these were sent to Lurex R&D plant for slicing into 0.8mm filaments, joined and rolled onto bobins.
I was lucky enough to be granted access to the weave studios at Chelsea College of Art where I produced the first woven textile prototypes, with the help of the technician, Fran Aquilina. These were sent to Phil Gibson at the Natick Army Research Labs for moisture dependent airflow resistance
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