Computer calculates heat distribution underneath clothing

Empa researchers in St.Gallen have developed a computer model that can calculate how warm a person will feel when wearing a certain piece of clothing. This is set to shorten the time taken to manufacture new clothing by up to 90 percent.

A colour code indicates where garment best insulates the human body. Image Credit: Empa

The extent to which clothing feels warm above all depends on how much air is contained in the space between the body and the outer layer of clothing, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) explains in a press release. To test this, clothing developers have up until now designed prototypes and trialed these on test subjects. Researchers at the Empa department of Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles in St.Gallen have now developed a speedier method for such tests.

In specific terms, the researchers in St.Gallen have developed a computer model that can calculate heat distribution underneath clothing. This takes into account the layers of air in addition to the influence of sweat and the wearer’s movements. “We used computer programs developed for the fashion industry as a basis”, explains Empa researcher Agnes Psikuta. These programs simulate the situation on a catwalk. Designers are able to create a virtual model of a piece of clothing and see how their newly designed clothes look on a person in motion.

The program does not only work for standard sizes either. “Our program can shape the avatars according to different body types and sizes. If, for example, something is to be developed for particularly muscular, curvy or slender people, we can adapt the program accordingly”, Psikuta comments.

According to information from Empa, the program can shorten the development time for clothing by up to 90 percent as it eliminates the need for test runs. However, the amount of time actually saved all depends on the individual product.

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