The Secret Winners
Anyone who watched the football World Cup games in the midst of sweating fellow sufferers at the "Public Viewing" was well dressed in the sweltering heat with the functional jersey clothing that the players also wear on the pitch.
Sweat evaporates from the skin, cooling the body – this is an important part of physiological temperature regulation, but the result is damp clothing too. It is uncomfortable to wear and makes further evaporation more difficult: the body temperature rises.
To remedy this, clothing manufacturers in the sports and leisure sector are introducing "breathable" fabrics with "moisture management". They should quickly wick sweat away from the body and release it.
The polyester in the commonly used Coolmax fabric is pressed into fibers with an indented oval cross-section. In this way, micro-channels are created that conduct sweat beads away from the skin by capillary action.
The manufacturers press modern polyester into fibers with an extremely low moisture content, namely 0.5 percent, compared to four percent for nylon and six to seven percent for cotton. New plastic processing methods also make it possible to produce special cross-sections, resulting in a capillary effect.
The market is expanding and always bringing out new products. Silver ions in the fibers are said to prevent bacterial growth and the smell of sweat with their germicidal effect, while electrically conductive additives ensure that the surface of the clothing is water-repellent when the first raindrops fall. However, if you always want to be up to date, you have to dig deep into your pockets. But as in the automotive market, what is considered a luxury today will become standard equipment in future generations.
Did you know?
- One textile manufacturer claimed to have used "nanotechnology" to increase stain resistance. According to experts, the pants in question were simply coated with Teflon, which reduces surface tension so liquids are less likely to stick. Molecules are indeed nanosized, but Teflon is by no means new.
- A loosely woven shirt does not protect against sunburn. However, tightly woven fabrics make air exchange more difficult, so that a shirt made of it quickly becomes damp and clammy. Recently, fiber manufacturers are adding matting agents like titanium dioxide that scatter ultraviolet rays
- Winter clothing should also be permeable to moisture, but retain heat. This is achieved with hollow fibers in which air is trapped as a heat insulator. This principle imitates nature: even polar bears' hair is hollow.
The Heidelberger Verlag Spektrum der Wissenschaft is the operator of this portal. Its online and print magazines, including "Spektrum der Wissenschaft", "Gehirn&Geist" and "Spektrum – Die Woche", report on current research findings.