Nanotechnology Makes Fabric Water and Stain Resistant

Manufacturers are using a few nanotechnology methods for making clothing water and stain resistant. Two companies turn to the lotus leaf for inspiration, while another takes its cue from peaches. Both ideas are likely to be pretty darn fruitful (pun intended).

Water resistant fabric inspired by the lotus leaf

You have probably noticed the clothing manufacturers who advertise their clothes as water and stain resistant; many of them are using nanotechnology to achieve these characteristics. These companies have essentially found a nano way to copy the way plants, such as the lotus leaf, shed water.

The top of a lotus leaf has a rough surface because of little waxy spikes, which cause moisture to bead up and slide off the leaf.

A company called Schoeller Technologies has a fabric treatment called NanoSphere that adds nanoparticles to the surface of fabric, allowing clothing to shed water just like a lotus leaf does. The hilly surface of NanoSphere results in less area with which dirt or water can make contact.

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Another company, BASF, has created a product called Mincor TX TT. Their process is similar to Schoeller Technology’s in that they too use the so-called lotus effect. BASF’s trick is to pack billions of nanoparticles onto fabric so closely that dust and dirt can’t get through and attach themselves to the fabric. Dirt simply stays in a layer of air above the fabric and washes off easily.

Mincor is used in awnings, umbrellas, and tents.

Repel water and stains by studying peaches

A company called Nano-tex modeled their method to make clothing and upholstery fabrics water and stain resistant after the way fuzz on a peach repels water. Nano-tex is using what they call nano-whiskers. Similar to the fuzz on a peach, these whiskers are tiny hair-like projections that cause liquid to bead up and roll off the surface of fabric.

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These whiskers are aligned along spines using what the company refers to as molecular hooks. This system of whiskers and hooks make the fabric more durable but don’t make it less breathable (meaning that the material still lets air in and out so you don’t feel like you’re in a sauna). Nano-tex claims that, where other treatments reduce breathability and wear off over time, their treatment lasts longer.

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