Futuristic fashion has been a blast for several decades now. From sheer astronaut-inspired leather suits of the mod ‘60s to fashion’s recent obsession with all things metallic, it seems space is always on our minds. Today, there’s a new reason to get excited about clothes inspired by the final frontier. In sunny Pasadena, NASA engineers are taking metallic textile squares and weaving them together with 3D printing techniques to make “space fabric.” Basically tech-savvy chain mail, this new fabric has the capacity to serve astronauts in space and fashionistas on the runway. It’s the most intelligent use of new technology in 2017 fashion. You might want to start thinking about how you’d incorporate this “space fabric” into your fall wardrobe.
Most space-inspired materials are reflective. This property is what makes space fabric ideal for crafting spacecraft shields and protective astronaut suits. When the sunlight hits the tiled side of fabric, the rays bounce back into the atmosphere. The other side of the fabric absorbs any lingering heat . This high-functioning dual feature is possible because NASA understood how to use 3D printing wisely. With digital design tools, they could generate a complex geometric structure and simply send it off to be printed. A production system like this saves costs and increases the ability to create unique materials. Rather than welding or stitching, 3D printers use a layer by layer building process known as additive manufacturing. Using this gradual process lets the machine build things like intricate webbing from top to bottom rather than trying to maneuver a complex structure into place.
PASSIVE HEAT MANAGEMENT
The dual structure of space fabric makes it one of the most versatile man-made materials in the fashion world. You can wear either side depending on what effect you want. The tiled surface reflects light and temperature if you’re trying to keep the elements at bay, while the intricately woven side will absorb whatever you’re facing outside. Imagine you’re exploring in space and you need to plant your spacecraft on the ice for a little while. Space fabric will provide you a strong but flexible surface that can fold over uneven terrain. You won’t have to worry about the ice melting either because the reflective material will maintain the temperature. If it can work on a spaceship, it can work on your shoes. By next winter your snowshoes might be fitted with space fabric soles.
STRENGTH AND FLEXIBILITY
Innovative and smart, the most basic asset of space fabric is how the material bends. The tile-like structure combined excellent flexibility with incredible strength. When the material moves from the space industry to the fashion world, it will give designers the chance to make some of the sturdiest jackets the market has ever seen. It will be perfect tough weather in the fall and winter and when the sun comes out, you can turn your outfit inside out to keep cool. There’s a reason NASA is calling their new invention “fabric.” It functions as a fashionable material. As space-focused as this material was in the beginning, you can be sure fashion will be making good use of it soon enough. When fashion designers find a way to incorporate this level of tech smarts into their designs, your wardrobe will really take a leap into the future.
Chain mail-esque space fabric doesn’t seem like a fashion mover, but this NASA invention is poised to take the industry by storm. Instead of a blast from the past, go ahead and embrace this blast from the future.
— Timothy Vest