By Chris Capps
It sounds like a story completely fabricated, but clothes in a can that can be sprayed on the body to create reusable garments have become a reality thanks to the efforts of scientists at the Imperial College in London. The incredible new invention results in a very basic form of clothing that goes far beyond simple body paint. These new garments are actually made of cotton and polyester that starts in a liquid form then hardens.
The material was developed by scientists at the University of London. In a demonstration video they showed the BBC how the prospective technology could work.
The liquid cotton spray turns to its hardened form after the solvent within dries when making contact with air. What is left is a sticky cotton that eventually dries to become clothing. After it is sprayed onto the skin it can be pulled off and is machine washable. The spray clothing can be used for all typed of clothing and fits better than most other forms of clothing.
When thinking about the practicality of spray clothing, a few problems come to mind immediately. The first two hurdles spray clothes will have to overcome will be surface area and areas such as under the arms. The materials will be adhesive, meaning people spraying the clothes on themselves will have to have their arms raised in order to get the area under the arms. Additionally they will be unable to lower their arms until after the material has finished drying. Then, the can will have to be sprayed evenly in order for the cotton fabric to retain the needed shape and size. And users of different sizes will find different sized cans necessary for their use. Additionally users will find it necessary to make their clothes rather than simply put them on. And even traditional clothes are difficult to keep together without the edges breaking. Clothes in a can might be difficult to maintain. Of course it’s expected by the time the clothes come out (in about a year) that these problems will have been addressed.
The real news is that this technology may prove not only useful to the fashion industry, but to medical professionals as well. If sterile sprayed cloth that sticks to the skin can be used for simple clothing manufacturing, is it possible the same technology could be used for bandages as well? Since medical gauze must be applied by sterile hands in a reasonably safe environment, the complete removal of hands from the equation may make spray bandages even more useful than spray clothing. Since hands don’t necessarily need to be clean in order to spray the bandages on, this could in theory cut the waiting time for application down quite a bit. Of course it’s unclear whether or not the materials used in spray clothing are safe enough to use in this way.
And then there’s clothes mending. If the material proved smooth and useful enough, it could be used to patch up clothing in a number of ways. It could mend rips and tears and make un-wearable items easily used once again. Is this a step into the future?