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back to article British boffins perfect process to make any item '100% waterproof'

UK company Plasma Product Innovations (P2i) today demonstrated a chemical process it claims can render any material 100 per cent waterproof. Grappling at an ungodly hour this morning with words like 'hydrophobic', 'nanotechnology' and 'submicroscopic-surface-enhancement', a small number of half-asleep hacks were shown how a …

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Joke

100% waterproof...

That'd be the "Wellington Boot" then!

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Coat

Waterproof electronics?

"Eventually, we hope, yes. We are very keen to apply it to electronics, ultimately making them waterproof, although this is still in the early stages of development."

In other words....

I hadn't thought of that, thanks very much. Now, where did I leave that number for the guy from Intel/HP/LG/Panasonic/TOM TOM/[Insert electronics manufacturer of choice]?

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Boffin

breathable?

sounds cool for waterproofing gadgets, but I'm not sure about clothing. If it's *so* waterproof does that mean that treated articles won't breath in the same way that Goretex does. Could get a bit sweaty in there....

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awesome news for bikers

Motorcycle leathers and so-called "waterproofs" are never entirely waterproof despite what manufacturers claim - and only get worse over time.

Can't wait for this to hit the shelves!

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Happy

There's always an exception.

I can think of at least one product that will never be made waterproof.

Water !

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Bit different to GoreTex me thinks

I thought the whole point of goretex was to be a oneway street for water, i.e. let water out but not in, to allow for breathable material and not so sweaty clothing, I am guessing this would not work in the same way.

Anyways great invention but not a goretex killer me thinks......

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Breathability

With clothing and footware particularly making something waterproof isn't that hard. The challenge that GoreTex has managed is to make it waterproof and breathable. The advantage of breathable fabrics is that sweat can evaporate from your foot/armpits etc and pass out through the material while rain can't penetrate in through the material. If the material is not breathable then you will still end up with soggy (and very smelly) sock after a long hike just from sweat.

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Anonymous Coward

Hi-Tec? Schmi-Tec.

Such a shame that it's Hi-Tec adopting this. Their footwear is so badly constructed that it falls apart within 6 months of daily wear.

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Silver badge

Is the material still breathable?

Can water vapour from inside still get out through treated material? If so this is very useful - if not, if will be unwearable.

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Gold badge

What happens when you treat a water bottle?

Just curious - do you end up with a bubble of water hovering 1 inch off the surface or what?

I have another good use for this: car windshields. Stuff like Rain-X works well, but needs bi-weekly renewal, and nano coating seems less effective after half a year, but both are good enough to repeat the effort to maintain the result. I can also see this work for seats and windows in general.

And it would be a fantastic practical joke to give someone a treated towel ..

:-)

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So

Would that stop rusting if adapted for use on metallics?

Does it do anything to stop water leaking through fibres? A gooey spray might fill small gaps, wheras this sounds like it wouldn't.

Still.. FREAKING COOL.

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Coat

Mine's the one

above the pool of water on the floor.

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Anonymous Coward

Is this a spray?

Is it something you can spray on, or do you have to buy stuff that's been treated in the factory?

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Coat

So if it's totally waterproof.....

..... how do you wash it?

The surprisingly dry but filthy one in the corner please.

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Coat

Could this...

... be applied to the Governments' data protection methodology?

- Mine's the one with the USB stick & the CDs in the pocket

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Ooooo

If they used this to make small digital waterproof cameras, I'd bite. Having to faff with my current waterproof case with its gels and seals is not that easy (especially when you start your two week holiday abroad and find you forgot the sealing gel).

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Great news for small boys

wanting to avoid bathtime

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Can I please

have my shoulders done.

As well as the Teflon coating.

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jai
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other applications

can they apply it to glass? or at least plastic?

then you could fill a glass of water and it'd be repelled from the sides

so in theory, you'd not have to bother washing it ever?

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Flame

Go do some reading...

Yes, it's breathable.. at least it's claimed to be.

yegads, are none of you able to browse further than the pages of el Reg?

http://www.p2i-labs.co.uk/Newsstory9.html

a

[flame, cos I'm about to be]

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Can this be sprayed on a person?

Just wondering because I'm a lousy swimmer, so being 100% waterproof could be handy.

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Coat

So not a Gore-Tex killer then?

Because if everything on the shoe/garment is 100% waterproof, then water is not only not getting in - it's also not getting out. Which would be equivalent to exercising in a black bin bag with a head hole cut out of it.

Mine's the one with sweat pouring out of it

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Not a Gore Tex beater

The point of Gore Tex is not it's waterproofing abilities, plenty of materials before it offered waterproof, but that Gore Tex it one way - it lets water out but not in.

Accidently step into water that is deeper than your boots and you'll have wet feet for the rest of the day. At least un-waterproofed boots let that water out and so does Gore Tex, but boots waterproofed by this method would trap that water inside!

Likewise sweat would be trapped inside the boot, or inside the rain coat etc. Compare wearing a breathable waterproof against those plastic/rubber backed ones where after a couple of hours you are sticky and chafing.

This tech has great potential, but waterproofing clothing? FAIL

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For all those asking but too lazy to google

According the the P2i website:

"The ion-mask™ treatment of textiles and footwear delivers true waterproofing with no loss of breathability."

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IT Angle

not necessarily waterproof

Water repellent doesn't necessarily mean water proof. Treating a string vest with this won't magically mean that you stay dry out in the rain whilst wearing said vest. It would mean that the vest stays dry, or rather that the cotton it's made from doesn't soak up the water.

Most waterproof items (good ones anyway) eventual failure mode is to seep through the seams where there has to be a physical join.

And most of the time people wearing water proof items get wet because water runs in through the obvious openings, where your head and arms stick out for example.

(not saying that this is rubbish, just saying that it's not magic).

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Alien

Goretex doesn't work

It doesn't let sweat out and if badly designed, lets water in the sewn joints (unless they are properly taped) and drips down the neck/throat area.

Can't see this being an improvement unless it really does repel water from a distance (even if a millimeter).

Notice the picture above only shows the toes of the boot not getting wet - dunk it upto it's shoelaces and show the insides !!!

Probably alien technology involved from a crashed UFO.

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Bronze badge

Ships?

Could this be used to coat the underside of ships, to reduce the resistance when travelling through the water? Or to coat the decs and superstructure?

Non-slip flooring?

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Boffin

Water vs Water vapour

Just because something repels 100% of liquid water doesn't mean for a minute that it won't be breathable. The treatment repels liquid water from the fabric and doesn't rubberise the fabric or really seal it in any way. The breathable nature of the original garment will be unaffected.

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Paris Hilton

No.

A goretex boot wouldn't allow water to drain out if it got filled from the top, goretex allows vapour sized water particles/molecules/whatever through but water itself is stopped.. or something along those lines. I'm no scientist. I know as i recently left my goretext boot outside the tent in the rain, it filled up good n proper, and didn't drain.

Paris, she loves to be filled up

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Very neat, but...

I wonder what its effects on an item's ability to biodegrade or be recycled are? Seems like it might impede both...

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Anonymous Coward

Ahem

@MartinLyne: "Would that stop rusting if adapted for use on metallics?"

No, that would be paint!

General Comment:

Regarding the comments about it not being a GoreTex killer (which I agree with), this reminds me of the Astronaut pencil story. Imagine that story re-written .....

"Faced with the problem of making objects completely waterproof, the UK spent millions developing sub-microscopic nanotechnology ion-masking coatings. Meanwhile, everyone else used a plastic bag."

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Goretex

Goretex membrane isn't one way, nor a sponge, it has tiny holes that are small enough to let water vapour though but not let droplets of liquid water through. At least until they get clogged up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gore-Tex#Design

http://www.gore-tex.co.uk

Whether fabric treated like this would behave the same way would depend on the fibre size and how tightly woven it was, or how porous a non-woven material was.

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I see...

And what about Capillary action?

That's how water penetrates most materials. And if the treatment prevents that, how exactly does it 'breathe'?

I suspect this product only works on certain materials, because to 'breathe' it has to be able to allow water vapour to pass, but not water droplets - that's how Goretex works, it's actually a PTFE membrane full of holes. Holes too small to admit water droplets, but large enough to pass water vapour.

I'll believe this stuff when I see it applied to a piece of woven Cordura which, which then becomes totally waterproof...

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Black Helicopters

@ Goretex doesn't work

Sorry I have to disagree, Gore Tex works very well indeed. It's not the only material to do the same job and better materials might be developed, but compared to non-breathable waterproof materials Gore Tex is a winner.

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Hmm...

"under a different brand name, Magnum"

What - everlasting lollies?

I'm not convinced by the photo, BTW. I notice they didn't dip the shoes past the laces...

As a motorcyclist, I'll believe it when I try it, but I'm not holding my breath.

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Happy

Can be applied to gadgets?

The statement of making gadgets waterproof as well mean it will stop watering pouring into my laptops air vents :D

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@ fifi

"are none of you able to browse further than the pages of el Reg?"

Nope!

Stupid Question.

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@ Jon Brunson, Re: Ooooo

What you want is an Olympus Stylus 850 SW, small 8 Megapixel digital camera, waterproof up to 10m depth and shock proof to 1.5M. I have one and it's brilliant, takes fantastic pictures and video underwater.

No need for silly waterproof cases.

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xjy
Paris Hilton

Impregnation and filling up with fluid

Submicroscopic impregnation will presumably have to be applied using industrial methods and pressure technology, maybe safety precautions to prevent nanoparticle damage to human tissues (compare the risk from carbon nanotubes). Which means no home spraying, but much more effective impregnation of producer-treated goods.

A local small-scale industry will probably spring up (like one-hour photo development) to provide industrial-style impregnation.

There must be a helluva difference in nanosize between molecules of water and of water vapour, otherwise the GoreTex solution (heh) wouldn't work.

String vests might prove warmer even though they let in moisture cos the threads wouldn't become wet and lose heat due to evaporation. Same goes for socks, even though they won't absorb moisture but repel it. The capillary effect might be designed in to channel moisture up and out of submerged shoes, but that's for the garment engineers to discover, not us.

As for submersion being inevitable, that's crap. A simple elastic sleeve (impregnated) around the interface between shoe and sock (or trousers even better) would plug this gappy leak.

So the thing sounds great.

(Paris cos she has a gappy leak that can only be plugged by summat injecting fluid, and thinks a lot about impregation.)

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Boffin

re: Capillary action

umm... this is a property of liquids... the skinny holes that would suck up water will allow air to pass freely since air is a gas. if the holes are too small, then water won't get past without being forced (micron filters) but air still moves through it much easier. you forget the concept of densities. less dense substances move easier than more dense substances. water moves easier than lead and air moves easier than water.

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Hi-Tec

Gotta agree with the previous poster. Once had a pair of their boots-- things disintegrated within a year. And I'm a computer professional, a career path which generally doesn't lead to extreme wear on one's shoes.

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@ Steve Mason

"awesome news for bikers"

As I was reading the article, I was already imagining myself spraying my leathers! ;)

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It's all Crap

As any real outdoorsman(woman/alien) will tell you none of the "waterproof" outdoor gear is truly waterproof - it all lets in water after it's saturated.

Gore-Tex "breathes" better in the ads that in does in the real world. If you're forced to wear it you end up just as wet, but it's from sweat, not rain. If it isn't cold outside you're better off just getting rained on. It won't hurt you ya know.

A/C said it, if it doesn't really repeal water from the surface it's useless. We're going to need anti-gravity somethings to keep us truly dry.

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Boffin

I'll be interested to see whether this does genuinely beat gore-tex

I've been mountaineering, hill-walking, ski-mountaineering and expedition cycling for years. I've tried every material available at some point or another, with varying degrees of success. Gore-tex is by far and away the best. Firstly, as one poster correctly pointed out, it works by having small enough holes in the PTFE membranes that water molecules pass through, but the surface tension of water makes the water droplets too large to get through. This in turn leads to one of it's weaknesses. If you add something to the fabric that reduces the surface tension of water (like detergent) it can stop it from working. As with any breathable fabric, if the osmotic balance between the inside and outside isn't high enough, or the required moisture transport is too high for the rate supported by the fabric, then you will get condensation inside. The times I find that breathability breaks down (in all waterproof/breathable fabrics) is two-fold, one is when you are doing too much exercise, in too hot a state. The second more important one is in very very humid conditions, where there is insufficient osmotic imbalance - for example walking in low cloud. In those conditions you are getting wet regardless.

Compared to other fabrics though, it is more durable, more waterproof, and more breathable. And I haven't found another fabric that works adequately as a bivi-bag - where the fabric has to transport all the moisture from your breathing as well (and I've spent months and months living in bivi-bags so I have plenty of experience here).

Gore-tex (or fully waterproof) boots are pretty silly in general though. On most hill-walking in the UK, at some point you will put your foot in a deep bog, or cross a stream that is too deep. With a gore-tex boot, the boot fills up with water and stays there (unlike what someone above mentioned). Jungle boots for the military are actually canvas with drain holes in the bottom, knowing that you are going to get wet. Personally, the best combination I have used is waxed leather boots, worn with gore-tex gaiters. If water gets in the boot, it soaks through the leather from the inside and you don't pour water out of your boot. If it rains, the water runs off the gaiters and boots quite adequately.

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Nano particles can be dangerous too.

You get nice dry tumours though.

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Coat

How would you wash things?

Why, you would dry clean them of course.

Mine's the unusually dry and clean one.

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Boffin

rain and sweat are different

The way stuff like this works is that the water will just slide off as it will be unable to form droplets or to wet the fibres. Sweat evaporates so will pass through as vapour. At most you would have to add a wicking layer inside the treated.

Most running clothing these days is made from material where the weave means they act as wicks taking the sweat from you and also meaning they dry very quickly if rained on. You cannot wash them in fabric softeners without endangering this property.

If this treatment means I can have a rain jacket that is lighter than Goretex though that would be good and for the shoes too.

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Coat

Plasma!

All the posts commenting on a spray can treatment, are suffering a comprehension fail, the article states; "are treated with the ion-mask plasma", that's an ionised gas plasma.

Mine's the one with the tazer and can of crazy foam in the pocket.

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Coat

"the left boot has been treated"

but, that's the one with the sopping toe, while the right boot is bone-dry.

Or did you mean "the boot on the left, as we look at it, has been treated"?

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Silver badge

Not a goretex killer, but still has some applications.

The trouble with goretex is that it will not always keep you dry.

(See a bunch of comments above)

But if you layer your clothing right, or rather the materials right, you can make a fairly water repellent rain gear that does breath. The inner layer is goretex and the outer layer is your water proof fabric, where you have vents to allow the coat to breathe.

So you stay dry for the most part.

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