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Potential of new hyper viscoelastic fibre

High strain-rate sensitive properties promise the creation of a new generation of stretch textiles.

20th September 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Battersea, London


Rheon Labs, a fast-growing materials technology company based in Battersea, London, has completed an extensive six-month project with Fibre Extrusion Technology (FET) to further develop Rheon – a reactive polymer that dynamically stiffens when subjected to force.

Rheon can control the energy of any amplitude or frequency – from small vibrations to forces at ballistic-speeds – and has a wide range of potential applications.

Backed by a £173,000 grant from Innovate UK for feasibility studies, the aim of the project with FET, a leading supplier of laboratory and pilot meltspinning equipment, was to develop a hyper viscoelastic fibre from Rheon which displays high strain-rate sensitive properties. This promises to enable a new generation of stretch textiles that can actively absorb, dampen and control energy during movement, rather than simply acting as springs.

For close-fitting activewear and sports bras, the ability to actively control muscle mass or soft tissue movement during exercise will allow brands to engineer garments that relax during everyday use, but stiffen during exercise for improved support and performance.

FET and Rheon specialists carried out trials at the new FET Fibre Development Centre in Leeds, UK, using an in-house FET-103 monofilament meltspinning system. The next phase will be to upscale the trials of preferred materials on Rheon’s own new FET-103 meltspinning line, with FET’s continued support on hand.

Creating a fibre with unique strain-rate sensitive characteristics could be as radical a change in the market as the initial introduction of stretch fibre with the launch of Lycra. The textiles would have a multitude of beneficial properties and provide significantly less compression in the garment than conventional materials, substantially improving user comfort, support and performance.

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