Proposal & Samples

Made by descando

A cumulation of my work in the micro course, Soft Fabrication Skills

Created: February 18th, 2018



After being shown some of the work from CMU's Morphing Matter lab in this course, I decided to email them and try to see if I could work as a research intern with the lab. Luckily, my request went forwards and I'm now working on a project with them! We're encouraged to brainstorm applications of soft circuitry. This proposal is an idea I'm considering investigating with the lab.



The Morphing Matter lab has been working to create "temporary tattoo" structures that can be worn directly on the skin, with the tattoo "ink" being a conductive film. This leaves a lot of opportunity for potential uses. Currently, we're working on 3D, changing tattoos. The tattoo consists of two sheets of a translucent silicone that closes around a bubble shape. The bubble shape is injected with a liquid whose boiling point lies very close to atmospheric conditions.  In this scenario, we would supply power to the bubble in order to heat up and boil the liquid and make the bubble expand. I wanted to see if this technology was applicable to clothing and fashion.



As someone who shifts environments often, I find that my big heavy coat, which is perfect for outings to downtown Pittsburgh, is more of a sweaty nuisance when I wear it (or inevitably have to carry it in a large jumble) in academic buildings. Knowing that air is an insulator, I wanted to see if I could apply the expanding bubbles to coats. 

My idea is that if the environmental temperature dipped below freezing, the circuit would be activated to begin the inflation process. From then on, the circuit would keep the bubbles steadily at the boiling point until the environmental temperature went above freezing again. The bubbles allow extra space for air to get in and insulate the wearer from the elements.

The coat would be stitched in a way that allows space for the bubbles to expand, but otherwise can lie more-or-less flat when not inflated. I saw that nylon and down were common winter coat materials. Since down is a good insulator, I also thought it would be good to include it as a layer between the circuit and the body in case the circuit gets too hot. 

The liquid for expansion would be alcohol since this has a boiling point that is close to the temperature of the body and therefore would boil more quickly than other materials and at a comfortable temperature for users.



The ideation process of this proposal opened my eyes to how many uncertainties there really is in research. Are these really the best materials? Would air actually enter into the coat because of the extra space afforded as I imagine it, or would there have to be another mechanism to fill the coat? If cold air enters into the coat, would that counteract the purpose of this experiment?

I look forward to receiving feedback and direction from my lab group about the feasibility of this idea. I'm glad I took this course, as it has helped me reimagine how textiles can be used and made me more confident in my abilities in sewing, so much so that I can imagine redesigning a winter coat!


Sample Book

Cut using the Cricut
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A cumulation of my work in the micro course, Soft Fabrication Skills