Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 16868
Funded under: FP6-SME
Country: Italy

Superelastic material for compression hosiery

An EU-funded project has developed a new concept in compression hosiery that can overcome its present limitations. Many patients stop wearing compression hosiery as it is too tight to put on easily without help.
Superelastic material for compression hosiery
The 'Development of a superelastic material that enables its cost-effective application in highly compliant compression hosiery for the over 18 millions European citizens' (LooseandTight) project developed a new hybrid fabric based on superelastic fibres to manufacture compression stockings and socks, which are designed to increase blood circulation. They are woven so that compression is highest around the ankle and is reduced towards the top of the hose.

Researchers conducted a preliminary scientific analysis to determine the properties of a number of superelastic alloys and textile fibres for use in manufacturing hybrid textile structures. A study on ways of covering the superelastic wires were also carried out. Following an investigation into shape-memory alloys that can 'remember' their shape, scientists concluded that nickel-titanium alloy (NiTinol) was the most suitable.

A new hybrid superelastic yarn was also developed composed of NiTinol wires covered with a range of fibres, including elastane and cotton. In addition, a new hybrid textile structure was created that reduced wearing force and retained its superelasticity thereby ensuring constant compression whilst being worn.

Project partners developed a mathematical model to predict the behaviour exerted by the specialised hosiery. The model showed the very low force required for elongation of the hosiery while retaining the correct compression force exerted during its use. A new form of heat treatment was also devised for use not only in compression hosiery but also in medical stents, technical textiles and composite structures.

The development of the new fibre will make it easier for patients suffering from leg ulcers, varicose veins or other similar disorders to put on compression hosiery. This will help improve their medical condition and enhance their quality of life.

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