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Colour Changing Materials: Summer vibes come alive

Colour changing materials have already been on the market for a while. Recent developments in technology and manufacturing processes have helped widen the field of application for these materials, ranging now from casual consumer products up to the textile and fashion industry. 

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Everyone has probably already met  this phenomenon in their everyday life hink about the “power level” bar that you find on alkaline batteries, aimed at  displaying the charge level, or about those gadget mugs that reveal some printed images when filled with hot beverage such as coffee or tea…One of the interesting questions that trigger our curiosity might be: what exactly causes the colour to change? How is such a process achieved?
 

Materiali cromodinamici 2

Image by Pexels

The so called “chameleonic” behaviour of materials is caused by the nature of some pigments that are commonly deposited on the surface. These pigments might react to exposure to UV light, to heat, or liquids, and are thus called photochromic, thermochromic or hydrochromic respectively. 

Materiali cromodinamici 3

Image by Youtube

Technically speaking, the material’s surface is generally coated with a film containing the reactive pigment, that when exposed to the reactive element reacts by “fading” away revealing the underlying original colours or surface. These films can be applied continuously or locally within a defined geometry to create patterns or images

One of the main challenges in the industry has been stabilizing the compounds responsible for the reactive effect, and making the reaction reversible.

Photochromic pigments are for example now implemented in colour-changing shoes from well-known commercial brands and provide new colouring patterns to the product  when exposed to sunlight. 

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Image by Youtube

Development in implementation in textiles has also made it possible to create new “hydrochromic” fabrics, that have been recently used to manufacture water-reactive swimsuits, capable of changing colour when in contact with water and to restore the original tone when dried. Just the right solution to push even further our long-year awaited summer fun!

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