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These manufacturing methods give materials which have conductive, magnetic, piezoelectric, water-repellency or anti-microbial properties and from these a wide range Page 27 © Copyright Pira International Ltd 2006 Developments in Smart Fabrics Technologies and materials of textile properties can be achieved, including: stain resistant clothing; anti-odour for sportswear; anti-microbial medical textiles; conducting cloth; water-repellent fabrics; and textiles that can sense movement and wear or can be used to generate power.

They are fine, transparent fibres of glass or plastic which transmit light. Fibre-optic sensors have been developed for measuring temperature, the presence of gases, pressure and so on. They are lightweight, flexible and do not need to be electrically insulated – unlike electrical conductors with which they compete. France Telecom used them in visual display clothing (described later). Sapphire optical fibres have been developed for IR transmission and very high temperature applications. As sensors they are used for stress/strain sensors and for temperature measurement.

This transformation is reversible. The lower temperature crystalline state is called ‘martensite’ and is a less ordered, deformable state. The upper temperature state is called the ‘austenite’ state and is a highly ordered state which is also called the ‘parent state’ or phase. In the austenite form, the alloy is hard and stiff and in the martensite form, soft and ductile. While in the austenite state, the alloy is put through a special high temperature tempering process to give it its parent shape.

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