News & Insights | Technical Textiles & Non-Wovens

T-shirts to keep athletes cooler

Published: September 5, 2020
Author: SaachiBhatia

It’s another humid and sticky summer day, and you’ll see an ad for a sports T-shirt saying it’s made from a substance that’ll help your skin feel comfortable instantly. Fascinating, but how would that work?

All types of goods businesses have adopted what are considered cool touch materials. Bed sheets to ease hot flashes, facial wipes to relax a sore nose, or a business suit to keep you relaxed during a difficult interview-there are only a few forms that businesses have turned to cool touch technology.

Measuring material heat transfer

Effusivity is a heat transfer property that is found in all materials, combining a material’s thermal conductivity, density and heat capacity. Thermal effusiveness explains how easily and how much heat can be moved from one substance to the next. When you touch something strongly effusive, the flow of heat from your skin into the material induces a sense of coolness.

The higher the thermal effusivity value a material has, the cooler it will feel to the touch. The lower the value, the warmer it will feel as a material. For instance, air has an effusivity value of 6, natural rubber 518, human skin 1360 and silver 23688. Even if the temperature of a piece of natural rubber and silver is the same, the silver would still feel cooler because it has a higher effusivity value.

The same concept can be applied to athletic t-shirts. My colleagues and I decided to find fabrics that have high effusivity qualities so you could select a T-shirt that will give you a comfortable feeling next to your skin while you’re getting ready for a basketball pick-up game in the gruelling sun.

It’s in the material

Our research team obtained effusivity data from seven performance materials – polyester, recycled polyester, rayon, wool, silk , cotton and spandex.  To ensure accuracy, we ensured that all the fabrics were manufactured the same way – with a traditional knit structure on the jersey.

Jersey knits have distinct patterns on both the front and back side. The side of the chest has vertical rows of knit stitches and is the exterior of a T-shirt. A jersey knit’s back side has stitches formed horizontally, and is normally inside a T-shirt.

Materials composed of recycled polyester fibers had the lowest effusivity and would therefore feel the warmest next to your skin on a hot day. The winner and the material with the highest effusivity in our study was a fabric made of 95% cotton and 5% spandex. If you want something to feel cool on your skin on a hot day, this is the best choice.

Cool, high-tech T-shirts can be very difficult to produce, but with thorough and careful research, you will get a shirt that will make you feel good by effusivity, wicking, cooling, and that doesn’t cling – and of course, perhaps the most important aspect, make you look good too.


SOURCE: Manufacturing Business Technology



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