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The potential, the performance and the behaviour of auxetic textile materials for competitive aquatic sports

McDonnell, Chloe, Alice (2016) The potential, the performance and the behaviour of auxetic textile materials for competitive aquatic sports. Masters by Research thesis (MSc), Manchester Metropolitan University.


Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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The project investigated how auxetic materials in the competitive aquatic sports (swimming wetsuits and impact protection vests) can support athletic performance. Auxetic materials are considered as a class of interesting and emerging materials with enhanced behaviour. Due to their negative Poisson’s ratio, auxetic materials harbour unique characteristics such as, improved resistance to impact, synclastic curvature and viscoelastic dampening. Auxetic materials have been reported for a wide range of applications, including, functional performance sportswear, aerospace materials such as aeroplane nose cones, military textiles, medical equipment for example an antibiotic release bandage and geotextiles. However, there is little evidence of real time applications of auxetic materials and so this study investigated the application of auxetic materials for functional performance sportswear specifically competitive aquatic sports. A critical appraisal of literature revealed the potential of materials to reduce hydrodynamic resistance during swimming and the performance of auxetic foams and textiles in water sports (vests) to provide impact resistance. In this study, a thermo-mechanical manufacturing technique was adopted on a reticulated Polyurethane foam to produce an auxetic foam with 70% linear compression ratio in three planes. Results revealed that the conversion process was in line with previous researches and conventional foam was successfully converted into auxetic foam. A uniaxial compression test found the auxetic foam cells to contract under compressive strain and resist compression at the same time. Initially indicating that the auxetic foams will be more resistant to impact. The foams were subjected to an impact attenuation test developed by Department of Apparel, Manchester Metropolitan University. The results informed that auxetic foams can reduce peak impacts up 63% (3 times), which concurs with previous research. Auxetic foams therefore have the potential to provide enhanced resistance to impact in water sport protection vests. The auxetic foam was also evaluated for flexural rigidity and bending length. The converted auxetic foam achieved a 70% improvement in flexural rigidity measurement compared to conventional foams, indicating the auxetic foam has the potential to conform to body contours and therefore enhance the targeted compression in a competitive wetsuit. In addition, a commercially available competitive wetsuit was also examined for the potential of identifying where embedding of the auxetic materials in the garment would be most appropriate. The neoprene wetsuit evaluated in this project highlighted how functional materials are used within a conventional garment. Based on the above evaluation, it could be predicted that auxetic foams can be embedded into wetsuits for enhanced performance. Auxetic foams could enhance compression in highly compressive zones such as the buttocks, core and thighs without thinning out under tension, as conventional materials do. Their ability to contract under compression and extend under tension also suggests their suitability to shoulder and under arm panels where greater flexibility and freedom of movement is key. Auxetic therefore foams have the potential to reduce pressure and improve comfort in these areas. The above investigations reveal the potential of auxetic foams in competitive aquatic sports to reduce hydrodynamic resistance in a swimming wetsuit and offer enhanced impact resistance in a water sport protection vest. Key Words: Auxetic, negative Poisson’s ratio (NPR), auxetic foam, thermo-mechanical process, flexural rigidity, impact attenuation testing, compression, aquatic watersports application.

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