Smart Textiles with Graphene Ink

Versarien, a company known for developing advanced materials and enabling engineering exploitation, is focussing on bringing the many advantages of graphene to sportswear through collaborative partnerships with brands and manufacturing companies.

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Established in 2011, Versarien is at the moment involved in or has completed over 100 separate projects in various fields and also in textiles. They have, for example, existing partnerships with Sri Lanka-headquartered MAS Innovation, the apparel manufacturer with 93,000 employees worldwide and customers entailing, for example, H&M, Calvin Klein, Marks & Spencer, Nike and Ralph Lauren. Another collaboration is with the Coats Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of sewing threads. Versarien collaborations with other textile companies are presently confidential, but the company is also interested in establishing more partnerships.

The business offers products that are capable of having a huge impact in a broad variety of industry sectors. They have now focussed on combining graphene ink with textiles to make advances in the sportswear industry. 

“Versarien has truly done the legwork on the science of graphene across a wide number of fields, and we have established technologies that are now ripe for commercialisation,” 

says the company’s sports textiles specialist Bobbie Lawrenson.

Graphene Incorporation

“Due to the ways in which our graphene is incorporated, there is added improvement in drying rate, allowing the body to further regulate itself through evaporative cooling,“

Lawrence says.

Graphene has an inherent strength that is another property which can enhance the functionality of different textiles.

“Despite being one atom thick, graphene is one of the most robust materials on earth,” 

Lawrenson explains.

“Integrating graphene at the blending stage of raw material extrusion incorporates the strength and durability inherent to the connected carbon atoms. The aim is that garments will last longer with no fibre failure, increasing the number of wears and washes per garment. For areas such as sports textiles, where materials are pulled, grabbed, washed, torn, and subsequently thrown away, improved durability significantly impacts sustainability.”

Regularly only a low quantity of graphene is necessary to achieve improved characteristics in textiles.

Application Process

“The application of graphene inks to textiles is very easy via the screen printing, inkjet or transfer routes, primarily to bring thermal transmittance benefits,” 

Lawrenson states. 

“Patterns can be customised for each application or design and the inks have been fully tested both for washability and durability.”

Another application option under development is coating. Successful testing and research on the yarn extrusion of graphene materials has also been done at the Warwick Manufacturing Group.

“In terms of key performance improvements, the thermal regulatory properties of graphene make it a game-changer in the sportswear industry and it is becoming widely known as one of the planet’s most conductive materials,”

 Lawrenson adds. 

“The ability to cool you down when you are warm and warm you up when you are cold is an area textiles scientist are looking to explore. By exploiting graphene’s conductivity, utilising the laws of thermodynamics, garments can be designed with regulated zonal temperatures. Control over thermal transmittance and regulation helps the body manage its temperature in extreme climates.”

Further development and research in the area of graphene application is continuously done to improve on even more products in the future. 

“Our extensive research and development efforts are constantly examining the quantities and the methods in which graphene can applied to coatings and blends of yarns in fabric to maximise the property benefits,” 

Lawrenson concludes.

With graphene ink coming into contact with many different fields, can you think of other industries that would benefit from it? 

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