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With new tech, NC State aims to make better insulated clothing for servicewomen, firefighters

A person fixing the garments on the sweaty manikin.
North Carolina State University Wilson College of Textiles
Submitted Image
A person fixing the garments on the sweaty manikin.

Researchers at North Carolina State University are touting new technology aimed at helping women in the Armed Forces and firefighters feel more comfortable in their clothing.

The university’s Textile Protection and Comfort Center housed in the Wilson College of Textiles, recently purchased its first female "sweaty manikin" through a $1.5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.

These specific manikins help researchers understand how someone will respond in different environments with humidity, temperature and wind changes. The center already had several male manikins that they’ve used to test both men and women garments.

“Now with the female sweaty manikin, you actually get the shape of a female and how that actually plays a role in terms of the additional installation or lack thereof,” said Shawn Deaton, the center’s Deputy Director at N.C. State. “The different clothing sets that females wear, you know, as undergarments, how they may interact.”

Deaton said moving forward, researchers want to understand the differences between men and women’s clothing so they can design something that helps in whatever terrain they're in.

“Females have curves, and they also typically wear more undergarments than a male does,” Deaton said. “You typically see more insulation, and less breathable systems that basically make a female retain heat more in terms of the way they're wearing that.”

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.
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