Smart Materials

Topics: Spandex, Swimsuit, Wetsuit Pages: 5 (1326 words) Published: August 22, 2012
Long back our ancestors found the material and then adapted themselves according to the materials available but now our needs have changed and we design materials according to our needs with desirable characteristics. As time has changed and life has become extremely fast so we need smart materials that have flexile properties with desirable characteristics, which can change with the changing surrounding conditions like temperature, moisture, pH etc.

Smart materials are designed such that have one or more properties can be significantly changed by an external stimuli, such as stress, temperature, moisture, pH, electric or magnetic fields to change the way the material functions in response to the stimulus.

Smart materials have one or more properties that can be dramatically altered. Most everyday materials have physical properties, which cannot be significantly altered, for example if oil is heated it will become a little thinner, whereas a smart material with variable viscosity may turn from a fluid which flows easily to a solid. A variety of smart materials already exist, and are being researched extensively.

Science and technology have made amazing developments in the design of electronics and machinery using standard materials, which do not have particularly special properties (i.e. steel, aluminum, gold). Each individual type of smart material has a different property that can be significantly altered, such as viscosity, volume, and conductivity. The property that can be altered influences what types of applications the smart material can be used for.

Lycra is a synthetic polymer, developed by the DuPont Company in 1950s. It is also called elastane or spandex. It is incredibly elastic; it can be stretched to 600 times its length and return to its original shape.

Evolution of Lycra

Lycra fiber was invented in 1958 by a team of scientists, originally as a replacement for rubber in corsetry. Before Lycra fiber was invented, consumers endured saggy, baggy, stretched and bunched clothes. But when the DuPont scientist Joe Shiver perfected a revolutionary new fiber – code named K, which changes the scenario. 

 In the 1960s, Lycra fiber revolutionized the way in which fabrics could be used. In beachwear it replaced thick and heavy swimsuits with light, quick drying garments like the bikini. In the 1970s, the brand fiber started to make an impact on the fashion scene, as disco fever and interest in fitness made leggings and figure-hugging leotards the look of the moment. Leggings and body-hugging jeans with Lycra fiber are among the defining looks of the decade. 

By the mid 1980s, over half of all women’s hosiery and underwear relied on Lycra fiber for a close, comfortable fit. During the 1990s, the Lycra fiber brand position in the sports market strengthened through the development of hi-tech fibers such as Lycra Power fabric in compression shorts, which help reduce athletes' muscle fatigue. This decade also saw the rising popularity of the fiber not just in women’s fashion but in men’s too. 

Structure of Lycra

It has a special type of structure, with polymer chains that have both rigid and flexible parts. This means that the chains can easily be pulled apart, but also that there are enough forces between the chains to pull the structure back into place.

Physical properties

Lycra is very light,
Very comfortable to wear
Breathes-circulation of air is easy
It is resistant to bacteria and ultraviolet light, and
Dries quickly.

Factors affecting…
Ethical Factor
The advantage of this material is for sports people, especially swimmers, as it reduces the amount of drag between the body and the air or water. It also has a sort of spring effect, which reinforces the muscles and also improves performance. But there was controversy and it was considered as an ethical issue in Olympics.

Swimsuit controversy
With over 70 world records being set in...
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