DURBAN – Tech clothing company Vollebak has made its Full Metal Jacket from copper as the first step in developing intelligent and disease-resistant clothing in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a statement from the company, it took them more than four years to develop and create this self-sterilizing jacket. The jacket features a unique copper construction that effectively eradicates harmful microbes that hit it.
Co-founder of the company, Steve Tidball said:“While it might look like it’s come from another planet, it’s designed to be worn like a normal jacket. And it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing metal—the copper is woven into a flexible yarn and the jacket is fleece-lined, so it’s comfortable enough to be worn every day.”
The garment is made from 65 percent copper and incorporates roughly 11 km of the metal fiber in its design.To turn it into a usable fabric, the company stated that it had to laminate the copper thread with a breathable and waterproof membrane called c_change.
Researchers reported last month that the coronavirus survives for days on glass and stainless steel but dies within hours after landing on copper.
Explaining how copper works, Bill Keevil, a microbiology researcher at the University of Southampton said: “The copper releases electrically charged ions that destroy the bad microbes and makes it difficult for them to breathe. Then, it punches holes in the microbe’s outer membrane, before moving in and wiping out its DNA. This not only kills it but prevents it from developing any future resistance.”
“Copper is biostatic, which means that bacteria and other life forms will not grow on it. Working with the copper came with its own set of challenges. Not only is it an extremely expensive material, but there’s also no established supply chain as the material is normally used to make cookware and electrical components, not wearables,” said Tidball.
In addition to being disease resistant, the jacket is also waterproof, windproof and breathable. The company says the jacket is only the first step in its development of antimicrobial clothing, so there’ll be more protective pieces to come.
The Full metal jacket is available in black or silver and is priced at $1,095 (almost R 20 000).The company previously made the first coat graphene and made a near- indestructible jacket from Dyneema – a fibre that is 15 times stronger than steel.
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