Color Changing Fabrics and Objects for Home
Fabrics that Respond to Temperature
I am a child of the seventies. Mood rings and mood jewelry are part of my internal consciousness.
They fascinated me then and they still fascinate me. But I have gotten older (shhh! don't tell anyone) and so my fascination is a bit more sophisticated than it once was. Yes, friends and family might tell you I am not sophisticated and that I still act as goofy as ever. However, they aren't here right now and so I get to explore this topic a bit differently.
So what could possibly be bigger and better than mood jewelry? Mood Fabrics!
Mood clothing has made an appearance before but recent improvement on the idea is about to change the face of mood textiles.
This isn't a tilt it and it will change type of product. This type of product is temperature sensitive and changes color as it is handled or worn by a human or comes into contact with something radiating temperature.
Where do you find these fabrics? Can the public purchase them? Why would you want a "mood fabric"? Any ideas?
Let's explore and see what we can find out.
It's Called Thermochromic
The mood fabric, or any color changing textile for that matter, is called "thermochromic". Thermochromic simply means the color changes as the temperature of the fabric changes.
The most recent thermochromic fabric to hit the marketplace does not change to a whole range of colors like a pschydelic dream. Instead the textile changes within a particular pre-established range of colors.
You can see some of the colors by visiting the Chameleon International website. See a description of the product here and learn about the magical color changing raincoat.
If you want to use color changing material in mass produced wallpaper, floor mats or art, this manufacturer is the company to contact.
Looks like this bean bag was made with the ChroMyx heat sensitive product.
The color may not be something to put in your living room, but a kid or teen room would be a perfect spot for this conversation piece. Anywhere the body touches the fabric will start the heat/color changing process.
Commercial Thermochromic Coatings
Can you do this at home?
The military uses thermochromic coatings to detect ammunition that is exposed to high temperature. Ammo over-exposed to heat can be risky to use, may not perform correctly and could compromise the users safety. (odd concern if you stop to think that the receiver is in danger whether the thermochromic coating is used or not, hmmm.)
Temperature sensitive inks are used on products to decifer the temperature of the contents. Beer manufacturing plants are using them on beer cans (nothing worse than a beer that gets too hot and then gets cooled down!). They are also used on medical devices, battery testers and temperature gauges. And where would medical thermometers be if it wasn't for thermochromic inks that read body temperature?
Using the Ink
Looks like you need to create products on a large scale to warrant purchasing this kind of ink. Plus you may need to mix it with binders and other products to use it properly. Printing companies (as in screen printers and the like) appear to be the ones using the ink.
Make Your Own Mood Fabric?
Let me begin by saying "I have never tried this." However, the thought is fascinating to me and I may just have to make some mood changing fabrics of my own.
It would seem pretty logical to do:
- Buy fabric
- Buy thermochromic dye
- Dye the fabric with the thermochromic dye
- What type of fabric works best with what brand of dye?
- Do I have a way to dye the fabric that won't dye my kitchen, bathroom, laundry room or craft area along with it?
- Does the dye set in the fabric or do I need to heat set or use some other substance so it doesn't wear off or rub off?
You would also need a large space to dry the fabric and/or machines that would do that for you. Seems like small (very small) batches might be best for home dye projects.
Where to Buy Mood Paint
This is the only place I have found thermochromic paint (not dye) for home use in the US. Paint with Pearl is the name of the company.
The product can be mixed with pearl paint colors to produce a variety of color changes but the basic product is just a black and white color change which for me is just as great an idea because I am a black and white fiend!
The Electronic Crafts website explains how to use the crafty version of this paint (i.e. small amounts and not a dye) by using silk screening methods.
Are Mood Fabrics Cool?
Are Mood Fabrics Nifty or silly?
Color Changing Tile - Love this!
Use this in the shower and enjoy the irridescent color changes from the water temperature. The company name is "Moving Color" and the product style is called "tye dye" and the tile changes colors as its temperature changes.
The Air Force is aiming to outfit its troops with a color changing camouflage fabric that changes color and pattern.
The company making the color changing camo is HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp.
You can find a list of the 34 countries HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp. is working with and get a glimpse of their production schedule at their website.
Crazy stuff. They are even painting planes with camouflage.
Wonder how long it will be before this hits the retail market?
Looks like we are still in the early stages of developing actual home and building products that use thermochromic materials. The Consumer Energy Center talks about thermochromic windows of the future but does not tell us who is going to be making them. I suspect every window manufacturer at some point will have such a product.
The Future of Window Film
Another promising alternative is a thermochromic window film that lets light in but blocks heat. The heat is simply reflected away from the window once the temperature reaches 29 degrees Celsius (about 84 degree Fahrenheit for us Americans).
Pleotints is actually making and selling thermochromic film. Check them out at pleotint.com.
Durability seems to be an issue. Just think of all the Victorian era windows that still exist. Could the film have held up all these years if it had been available back then?
Ideas for Using Color Changing Technology
What about something that changes color to warn about an oncoming heart attack? seizure? Maybe a patch that detects infection?