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Vollebak’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Made With Virus-Killing Copper

Innovative clothing company Vollebak launched what it calls the “Full Metal Jacket,” which incorporates Schoeller’s three-layer fabric made with 65 percent copper.

In looking for materials that offer resistance to disease and a base on which to build intelligent clothing, Vollebak, founded by brothers Steve and Nick Tidball, turned to copper for its ability to kill bacteria and viruses, and to conduct heat and electricity without a power source.

Made with 65 percent copper, the Full Metal Jacket is the first commercial jacket ever built from mostly copper, the company claims, with more than 11 kilometers of the material in every garment.

“As we enter a new era of disease, the Earth heats up, and fires and floods sweep across countries, we’re radically underprepared as a species for the speed at which change is taking place,” Steve Tidball said. “With normality shifting beneath us, our survival systems need to adapt–from emergency planning and infrastructure, to our architecture and clothing. So, we’re doubling down on our mission to design clothing for the needs of the next century rather than the next season. Disease resistance will become a requirement of clothing in the future and that’s why we’re starting to work with copper now.”

Though metal, with its high cost and lack of an established supply chain, might not be seen as a go-to component for futuristic fashion, Vollebak said clothing that can fight off harmful microbes and diseases requires “base materials that can do things that normal materials can’t.”

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Vollebak, which has created what it says was the world’s first graphene jacket and a plant and algae T-shirt grown in forests and bioreactors that turns into worm food, noted that copper is biostatic, meaning that bacteria and other life forms will not grow on it. It also has strong antimicrobial properties, killing bacteria and viruses upon contact.

“One of the challenges we were already exploring when Covid-19 hit is the role clothing can play in protection against disease in remote environments on Earth, and how clothing can play a part in making sure we don’t take diseases from Earth with us up into space, where astronauts’ immune systems are already compromised,” Nick Tidball said.

“NASA is exploring the use of 3D-printed medical instruments built from copper onboard the International Space Station to help reduce the risk of infection on long-duration space flights,” he added. “We wanted to see if it was possible to start making clothing built almost entirely out of copper. The Full Metal Jacket is our first iteration of copper clothing and proof of viability.”

He said while it might look extraterrestrial, it’s designed to be worn like a normal jacket. Because the copper is woven into a lightweight flexible yarn and the jacket is fleece-lined, the garment is suitable for everyday use.

Once the metal face fabric and advanced membrane have been bonded together, an abrasion resistant polyamide backing is added, allowing the jacket to be worn like any high-performance apparel. Over time, the fabric will wear like denim, with crease lines emerging and colors fading gradually to reveal the raw copper color, the company noted.

Schoeller and Vollebak have worked on several remarkable developments together throughout the years, as we have a strong alignment around pushing the limits of innovation for consumer benefit,” Schoeller Textil USA president Stephen Kerns said. “While Schoeller has offered metallic fiber articles in the past, this one in particular hits home in a deeper way today.  A complex textile that also delivers the additional performance properties of our ‘c_change’ waterproof, windproof membrane.”

The jacket features Swiss textile firm Schoeller’s three-layer fabric that’s 65 percent copper, 23 percent polyamide and 12 percent polyurethane. The jacket incorporates Schoeller’s highly waterproof, breathable membrane material, with two fleece-lined, zipped side pockets and a pair of large front bellows pockets with angled storm flaps. A series of internal pockets, a fleece-lined chin-guard, metal snap fastener cuff adjusters, and elastic adjustments on both sides of the hood and hem with drawcord adjuster round out the jacket, which is manufactured in Italy and Romania.