Course Blog Projects Course 2018

The Second Skin: Future cloth production

At present, the textile industry is an irreplaceable part of our daily life. However, it hazards seriously to our natural environment. For example, The World Bank estimates that 17 to 20% industrial water pollution is owed to fabric dyes and treatments (Pereira L. et al, 2009). It is also mentionable that textile units produce atmospheric emissions during their various processes. Acetic acid and formaldehyde are two major emissions of concern in textiles (Parvathi et al, 2009). Therefore we decided to develop a durable and fashionable fabric to help people stop purchasing frequently. After two iterations we came up with the idea – the Second Skin.


Through researching relevant essays and reports about self-healing principles, we found several practical ways to achieve our goal. The first one is the coating with squid teeth proteins. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University turned squid teeth proteins into a liquid form through using yeast bacterial. Then used it to coat cotton, wool and other fabrics. If the fabric is torn, you only need to put the edge together and apple some water. Providing some pressure and wait for seconds the fabric will get repairs by themselves.

We believed the 3D printing system will keep improving and upgrading and in the foreseeable future home 3D printer will be normal to see. The whole manufacturing process only needs three steps. Firstly, the printing system will print the microvascular system covered by the wanted fabric. Afterwards according to your requirements corresponding bacteria or proteins will be flowed into the system. Then you can get the customized clothing specially designed for yourself. It is mentionable that we develop a set of supporting production equipment for moving the production line to our homes. Customers are able to purchase raw materials from chemical companies directly and print only when needed. Therefore the on-demand production system will reduce waste effectively.


Design process


Our first idea is a modular self-healing fabric.We imagine our clothes are made up of single patch in the future. Each patch is made up of two layers: fabric and bio-plastic scaffold. Firstly, in clothing factories manufacturers will cover the fabric, including denim, linen and wool, with the squid teeth proteins. Afterwards, the fabric will get stuck on the scaffold. Then patches will be sent to retail stores and purchased by customers. Afterwards according to requirements of ourselves we can combine patches to jackets, jumpers and sweaters.

After the mid-term presentations, we collected lots of valuable feedbacks and found deficiencies of our idea. Firstly, from where clothing factories can get the squid teeth proteins? Secondly, normal washing machines and laundry services are not available to the fabric because it will stick to a ball in the water. Thirdly, after the special coating being washed out, how we dispose these self-healing patches? Fourthly, we still do not know how to combine the fabric and the scaffold firmly. Last but not the least, when the bio-plastic scaffold cannot make repairs by themselves so the fabric will be useless once the scaffold is broken.

We believed our idea that using customizing to replace purchasing is right and potential. However the modular fabric project is too vague. We do not have a clear conception about the manufacturing chain and effects about manufacturers, users and sellers so the project is not convincible. Therefore after the mid-term presentation we began to improve and integrate our project into the final look.

Reference: Parvathi, C., Maruthavanan, T. and Prakash, C., 2009. Environmental impacts of textile industries. The Indian Textile Journal22.