Feeling the winter chill? Spare a thought for Newton, the $250,000 sophisticated test dummy helping RMIT University researchers come up with the latest fabrics and designs for warm clothing.
Newton freezes in sub-zero temperatures and then sweats up a storm in climatic control chambers as researchers put him through his paces under layers of thermal insulation.
Newton is a state-of-art Sweating Thermal Manikin who replicates human activity while RMIT School of Fashion and Textile experts at the Centre for Advanced Materials measure his responses and record his changing temperature.
He helps the University’s clothing and textile materials researchers test the latest fabrics and garment designs to determine their functional performance.
Australians have been hard hit this winter with icy blasts sending the mercury plummeting and causing snow in Queensland for the first time in decades.
“Newton works hard under extreme conditions so we can deliver the best in functional sports and protective apparel, work wear, medical garments and textiles,’’ said Associate Professor Olga Troynikov, Performance and Sport Apparel Research Leader at the School of Fashion and Textiles.
The manikin is designed to test clothing in different thermal environments without the risk of inaccuracies that occur in human subject testing.
“He has a fully jointed and dynamic body with sweat pores to mimic a human sweating and he works in special climate control chambers that drop to a chilly -15 degrees and soar to a sweltering 35 degrees.’’
Troynikov said the winter chill highlighted the important work carried out on fabrics and garments at RMIT.
“Warm winter wear design and materials are constantly changing as researchers come up with better combinations of fibres and fabrics to improve warmth-to-weight clothing ratios,’’ she said.
“Polar fleece from a decade ago has been replaced by puffer jackets today and is a long way from the single-sided windcheaters of more than 20 years ago.
“But fabrics must be both wearable and durable and have to be hard-wearing yet lighter and faster to wash and dry.’’
For interviews: Olga Troynikov, on 0407 344 042.
For media enquiries: Kelly Ryan, (03) 9925 0961 or 0447 784 615.