Remember to spray on your deodorant first, yeah?

Paul Raven @ 17-09-2010

A brief “hey, look, tech!” post, simply because it seems to be everywhere at the moment, and I’d totally jump off a cliff if all my friends were doing it too*: spray-on clothing!

The spray consists of short fibres that are mixed into a solvent, allowing it to be sprayed from a can or high-pressure spray gun. The fibres are mixed with polymers that bind them together to form a fabric. The texture of the fabric can be varied by using wool, linen or acrylic fibres.

The fabric, which dries when it meets the skin, is very cold when it is sprayed on, a limitation that may frustrate hopes for spray-on trousers and other garments.

“I really wanted to make a futuristic, seamless, quick and comfortable material,” said Torres. “In my quest to produce this kind of fabric, I ended up returning to the principles of the earliest textiles such as felt, which were also produced by taking fibres and finding a way of binding them together without having to weave or stitch them.”

Apparently it takes fifteen minutes to spray a T-shirt onto a model, which (for now at least) pretty much ruins the only practical selling point of spray-on clothing, namely convenience. But sensibly Torres has other (more sensible but less headline-worthy) applications in mind, e.g. medical. The cynic in me wonders if he didn’t think of the medical apps first and come up with the clothing thing as an effective marketing gambit… whether he did or not, it seems to have worked.

And your sf-nal pat-ourselves-on-the-back-for-prescience moment: Technovelgy points out that good ol’ Stanislav Lem wrote about spray-on clothes back in 1961. I dare say it’s been mentioned in fiction a few times since.

[ * That particular parental rejoinder has always bothered me. I remember responding to it once with something along the lines of “if I saw a trampoline at the bottom, then yes”. I think I may have been sent to my room afterwards. ]

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3 Responses to “Remember to spray on your deodorant first, yeah?”

  1. Sarah Ennals says:

    How stretchy is the resulting fabric? If you can’t take it off without tearing it, it’s going to be single-use only, which will be wasteful unless the fibres can be recycled into more spray-on felt.

  2. DQKennard says:

    Setup a whole group of “high pressure sprayguns”, aimed at a conveyor belt, and computer controlled. Stand naked on the belt, call out the clothing request, let the belt carry you past the sprays. Cue Jetsons music. Cue humorously incorrect clothing based on incorrect voice recognition.

  3. gmoke says:

    Preparatory depilation mandatory or else you’ve got an extremely painful experience when you try to remove the shirt.