Published on September 21st, 2010 | by Becky Striepe5
Fab Fabric? Spray on Cotton
An engineer and a fabric designer have recently teamed up to create cotton fabric that comes in a can.
Imperial College of London’s particle engineer Paul Luckham teamed up with fashion designer Manel Torres to launch Fabrican Ltd. to create a spray on fabric. The company is working on mass-producing this fabric in a can.
Could this new fabric help the industry become closer to a zero waste fashion ideal, or do the product’s drawbacks outweigh the potential benefits? Let’s take a look at the spray on fabric and talk about its pros and cons.
The fabric consists of tiny cotton fibers dissolved in a solvent which quickly evaporates after you spray it on, leaving a seamless piece of fabric right on your model or mannequin. The fabric comes in an aerosol can, probably to help create an even application of the fabric. It looks quite versatile, but I definitely have some concerns about it.
This video from New Scientist gives a little peek at the fabric and talks a bit more about how it works:
There are a couple of benefits with this new technology that immediately spring to mind.
- When you’re cutting out fabric for a pattern, there’s always going to be waste. Even if you use those scraps, you’re going to end up with tiny pieces that are too small to use. With spray on fabric, there’s no cutting, and therefore no waste.
- The other neat thing about this fabric is it can be reused over and over, also without creating waste. In a world of fast fashion, this could significantly cut back on wasted fabric in the form of landfilled clothing and I’m not just talking about clothing discarded from personal closets. Big box stores often toss unsold clothing that’s gone out of style. With this new technology, they could send those items back to the manufacturer to be remade into something new and current.
- The biggest concern for me is the product’s ingredients. I couldn’t find any information about the solvent used to apply the fabric. Water is a solvent, so it could be something as innocuous as that. Or it could also be a nasty chemical solvent, which have their own concerns.
- It looks like the plan is to mass produce this fabric in aerosol cans. The propellants in these cans are not great for the environment, though they have come a long way from the CFC-laden cans that were destroying the ozone layer. Aerosol cans are also a hassle to recycle, so I do wonder if we’d be replacing fabric waste with empty cans in the landfill.
So what do you guys think? Is this new spray on fabric hot or not?