24327704_sFINLAND: Researchers in Finland have developed a technology which could lead to the introduction of a temperature-controllable “smart” fabric.

The VTT Technical Research Centre claims to have come up with a new high-volume production method for hot embossing microscopic channel structures onto large areas of plastic film at a low cost. One of VTT’s goals is to engineer a smart fabric, adjustable with a mobile app for controlling the wearer’s temperature.

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 clothing.

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

“Minuscule microfluidic channels can be compared to the cardiovascular system, explained VTT’s key account manager for wearable technology and printed diagnostics,” commented  VTT’s Ralph Liedert. “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 (perfumes and fragrances) or that are very expensive (medicine).”

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