This phase involved exploring the way to to integrate textiles treated with sodium acetate trihydrate (SAT) crystals into something that could be worn. There are two sections to this:
- Molding SAT salt crystals on top of textile,
- Exploring silicone inflatables and SAT crystal growth, and
- Creating a prototype using garment-making techniques
Molding SAT salt crystals on top of textile#
I started thinking about a way designers and artists would work with these crystals - could they design the shape these crystals could take in 3D? To explore this point, I thought about the initial state of my salt solution - liquid. When textile designers incorporate a viscous ink into textile and shape a desired pattern, they screenprint. Thus, I developed a pseudo screenprinting method (pseudo because it doesn't include the mesh screen) that molds SAT salt crystals on top of textile. This method was also motivated by the fact that I was looking to incorporate a vibration motor to induce salt crystallization. It was also motivated by my thought that the optimal vibration would be achieved if the motor was attached to something rigid like acrylic.
Process to mold SAT on textile#
- Lasercut acrylic molds, 6mm thick (or whatever thickness you desire)
- Textile to be treated
- Prepared 2:1 SAT:water solution
- Plastic/saran wrap
- Pre-treat textile per Kit #1 instructions
- Prepare lasercut textile holder/mold
- Cut out two frame shapes in acrylic. One needs to be bigger than the other by a hairline so that it could hold the textile and give it tension. I used 6mm thick acrylic sheets here and cut it with a Trotec Speedyflex 400. My settings were: Power, 75%; Speed, 0.35; Frequency, 5000 Hz.
- Secure prepared textile to lasercut textile holder
- Layer textile on top of a piece of plastic wrap (the purpose of this is to collect any liquid from seeping out underneath)
- Take the layered pieces, and secure to lasercut textile holder as below. Note: the saran/plastic wrap isn't shown in the picture. Left is how the top should look, Right is how the bottom (where the saran wrap is missing) should look.
- Pipette 2:1 SAT:water solution in volume created by textile
- Let dry in the mold. Once dried, you can remove the textile and plastic wrap from the mold, and let it dry even more. Using clear acrylic sheets helps you visualize when the crystals have finished forming because you can see through the edges. The following pictures show how the formed crystals look on top of the textile once semi dry. It will continue to dry like this.
Exploring silicone inflatables and SAT crystal growth#
As I was thinking about wearable design, current handwarmer products and how I wanted the user to interact with wearing a garment that supplies crystallized heat on demand, I thought about our soft robotics assignment and how a silicone inflatable could be used to 'package' the SAT salt and then triggered when one needed the warmth, with the salt crystals making the silicone possibly inflate.
Prototypes incorporating SAT solution at the seams#
I started thinking about how to trigger salt crystal formation, and saw that in addition to flex discs, spring coils can be used to trigger crystal formation. I started to think about rigid structures that are in garments and came across corset-making and boning - apparently boning gives can give lightweight structure to your garments. I had a vision for the salt crystals emerging from the seams of clothing. Since the SAT needs to be in solution before it can crystallize, I wondered if there was a way to incorporate it in the same way boning is incorporated in garments.
The following images below are sketches of my thought process in creating a process that someone could use when incorporating the salt solution at the seams.
Top, the first time I thought about how the process could go (which resulted in "Prototype 1"); Bottom, refinement of Prototype 1, using machines and tools to make the design cleaner.
Process of making each prototype#
- Textile that can integrate with silicone well (in this case, I used denim)
- Ecoflex 00-30
- Heat n' Bond (or any iron-on adhesive)
- Cut out two patterns to be joined and laser cut slits for dams (you can cut this by hand, or use the 1st lasercut pattern listed in the Files section).
- Create seam by folding in edge of textile about 1/4" in and use Heat N' Bond to secure.
- Create two thin silicone layers for the top and bottom of the fabric
- Pour Ecoflex 00-30 over a sheet of acrylic (or any heat-safe container where you can let the ecoflex drip to create a thin layer). What I do to gauge how much ecoflex to measure is multiply the area (in mm^2) of the rectangular sheet of plastic I will use by 0.001, and then divide by 2. It assumes that you will make a 1mm thin sheet of silicone, and the multiplier for 0.001 is to convert mm^3 to mL.
- Cure in oven at 150 F for 10 mins
- Cut dimensions that will cover the open seam. If following the pattern listed in the file, you can downlad the second file for laser cutting the silicone. I cut the thin silicone layers with Trotec, and used the 6mm thick sheet of acrylic sheet I was making it with as a sacrificial layer that would stay underneath the silicone as I cut. Settings were: power = 100, speed = 80, frequency = 2000 Hz, passes = 2.
- Prepare textile that will be the 'growth' layer for the crystals. This layer will be exposed, but protected from the wearer using the inner silicone layer.
- Make seams waterproof with silicone
- Adhere inner layer silicone (big rectangle) to the seams as the salt crystal growth layer
- Adhere the two patterns to be joined with uncured silicone. My setup was as follows (I blocked off the areas that I didn't want to be wetted by the silicoe)
- Apply uncured silicone in the slits so there's a waterproof seal from the outside to the inside
- Adhere top, outer layer silicone to outside of seam, aligning the "window" with the seam.
- Create outer layer growth pattern - dam to encompass salt crystal growing? or maybe you simply want to cover it up with leather? < what I did for Prototype 2. This is your chance to explore :)
Prototype 1 is shown in the following picture. I ran into problems trying to create a silicone dam for the SAT solution and decided to ditch this method of fabrication for future design.
Refinement of prototype 1, and explorations in making dam above the textile to encompass SAT solution. Below are images of two versions of prototype 2.
Prototype 2.1 utilizes the process outlined above, but fabricating an "origami-esque" textile (in yellow) around the seam. The yellow textile turned to be an unreliable wall for holding the SAT solution, and I ultimately tossed this idea out, thinking that development in designing a textile that could fold and unfold when needed would be another design phase itself.
Some snapshots of steps in the process of making prototype 2.1. From top to bottom: (1) shapes laser cut from yellow woven cotton textile, (2) ironing fold designs with the help of a metal ruler, and (3) attaching the yellow dam to the seam with uncured silicone adhesive and overlaying it with a clear acrylic sheet to apply even pressure.
Prototype 2.2 ditches the concept of a dam, and overlays two laser cut pieces of leather on top of the fabricated seams.
Some snapshots of steps in the process of making prototype 2.2. From top to bottom: (1) laser cutting leather wristlet pattern out, (2) ironing leather to denim using heat n' bond, and (3) attaching laces to the holes to make it wearable.
Laser cutting files