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From chemical engineering to the catwalk

Spray-on haute couture technology reaches new heights at an Imperial press preview and fashion show

Imperial College London

Seamless fabric that can be sprayed on to skin and other surfaces to make clothes, medical bandages and even upholstery will be demonstrated this Thursday, in advance of the Science in Style spray-on fashion show next week at Imperial College London.

Dr Manel Torres is a Spanish fashion designer and academic visitor at Imperial, where he has collaborated with Paul Luckham, Professor of Particle Technology from the Department of Chemical Engineering, to create a seamless material called Fabrican Spray-on fabric that can be sprayed directly onto the body, using aerosol technology. The spray dries instantly to make innovative clothes that can be washed and re-worn.

At the press preview, Dr Torres will demonstrate the Fabrican Spray-on fabric on models, creating clothes from scratch to show how this technology can be applied in the fashion industry. He will also be showcasing his 2011 Spring / Summer Collection of spray-on haute couture next Monday evening at the Science in Style fashion show at the College. The event will celebrate design-led technology at Imperial, and will coincide with London Fashion Week and the London Design Festival.

The Fabrican Spray-on fabric consists of short fibres that are combined with polymers to bind the fibres together, and a solvent that delivers the fabric in liquid form and evaporates when the spray reaches a surface. The spray can be applied using a high pressure spray gun or an aerosol can. The texture of the fabric can be changed according to what fibres are used (such as wool, linen or acrylic), and how the spray is layered.

"When I first began this project I really wanted to make a futuristic, seamless, quick and comfortable material," says Dr Torres. "In my quest to produce this kind of fabric, I ended up returning to the principles of the earliest textiles such as felt, which were also produced by taking fibres and finding a way of binding them together without having to weave or stitch them. As an artist I spend my time dreaming up one-off creations, but as a scientist I have to focus on making things reproducible. I want to show how science and technology can help designers come up with new materials."

Fashion is just one of the uses of this technology. Dr Torres has set up the spin-out company Fabrican Ltd with Professor Luckham to explore other applications, such as medicine patches and bandages, hygiene wipes, air fresheners and upholstery for furniture and cars.

Professor Luckham adds: "The fashion application of spray-on fabric is a great way of advertising the concept, but we are also keen to work on new applications for the medical, transport and chemical industries. For example, the spray-on fabric may be produced and kept in a sterilised can, which could be perfect for providing spray-on bandages without applying any pressure for soothing burnt skin, or delivering medicines directly to a wound."


Notes to Editors:

1. Press demonstration of the Fabrican Spray-on fabric

Members of the media are invited to attend a demonstration of the Fabrican Spray-on technology on Thursday 16 September 2010 at Imperial College London's South Kensington Campus from 9.00am to 13.00 BST To register attendance please contact Colin Smith on or +44 (0)207 594 6712.

2. Science in Style: the Fabrican Spray-on fashion show

Members of the media are also invited to attend the exclusive spray-on Fashion Show on Monday 20 September 2010 from 18.30. To reserve your place, please contact Colin Smith on or +44 (0)207 594 6712.

3. For photographs and B-roll footage of the Fabrican Spray-on technology in action, please contact Colin Smith on or +44 (0)207 594 6712. Picture and video footage of the Spray-on fashion show will be available from Tuesday 21 September.

4. Science in Style, the Spray-on fashion show is supported by the Spanish Embassy Cultural Office, Design London, Lindal Group, Castell dei Remi and Novasol Spray S.A.

5. About Fabrican Ltd

In 2000, Fabrican patented an instant, sprayable, non-woven fabric. Developed through a collaboration between Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, Fabrican technology has captured the imagination of designers, industry and the public around the world. The technology has been developed for use in household, industrial, personal and healthcare, decorative and fashion applications using aerosol cans or spray-guns, and will soon be found in products available everywhere.

6. About Imperial College London

Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.

In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible.

7. About Design London

Design London is the international centre for design led innovation that combines world-class creativity and expertise in design from the Royal College of Art, and engineering and business from Imperial College London's Faculty of Engineering and Business School.

Developing and teaching radically new practices, tools and processes to transform the way businesses innovate and translate creativity into commercial success, Design London was established with the aim of stirring together the scientific, engineering, business and creative design communities to enhance business and public sector innovation.

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