2017-10-24 09:25

Textiles that behave abnormally is Ana’s field of research

Textile in relation to the body, the room and the building. Design to create more sustainable ways of living by linking architecture, textiles and interactive surfaces. That is what the EU-project ArcInTexETN is about. For Portuguese Ana, who is researching auxetic structures, this form of cooperation is a big boost.

The Swedish School of Textiles has been involved in ArcInTexETN since the very first day, and since 2015, fourteen students from different disciplines and universities have worked in the project.

Ana Ines Rodrigues is the newest PhD-student to join the ArcInTexETN programme. Ana usually resides at Heriot-Watt University in Galashiels in Scotland but is currently doing her secondment at The Swedish School of Textiles in Borås, where two secondment terms are mandatory for all the fourteen students within the ArcInTexETN project.

Ana’s research is focusing on textile structures for adaptive and responsive clothing –in other words clothes that adapts to the situation. We asked Ana to tell us a bit more about her subject and her experiences from that special form of cooperation that is an EU-project.

What is ”abnormal” about the textiles in your research?

“My project is about auxetic structures. I know that the word sounds a bit strange but it is actually a very interesting topic. Auxetic structures are structures that when stretched in one direction, expand in the perpendicular  direction as well. They get wider. So these structures actually do the opposite of what is considered normal.”*

“My goal is to design, develop and construct auxetic structures in order to test their behaviours, and optimise the material they make. Another goal is to develop techniques to attach them to fabrics and investigate their use as they are, with or without attaching.” 

How did you get in touch with the ArcInTexETN programme?

“One of my best friends is already taking her PhD at Heriot-Watt University. She knew about the scholarship and sent me the link to apply. At the time I didn’t know that it was for the ArcInTexETN programme. I only found out that at the interview. I’m glad it was.”

What do you think are the benefits of studying in different countries?

“Oh my God ! The amount of collaboration, networking, and exchange of ideas is insane. It’s like being in a completely different world. Help comes from everywhere. Ideas, collaborations, suggestions, paper exchanges, people from other backgrounds can reach you and help you discover new pathways for your research – things you would never realise if left on your own.”

How has the involvement in an EU project enriched your research?

“EU projects help early stage researchers [ESR] like me to find their ways in between the already existing researchers. These projects help young researchers to expand their network and help the exchange of ideas so that their research can grow in every way possible.”

* Normally, structures become thinner when stretched.


A common example of an auxetic structure is paper, another is the body's tendons. There are also several origami folds that grow wider if they are stretched lengthwise  – it was actually origami that initially made Ana interested in the phenomenon that is auxetic structures.

Auxetic structures are already used in the clothing industry, for example in Gore-Tex and in shock absorbing soles.

Those who want to know more about this can read up on Poisson's ratio. Most materials have a Poisson's ratio between 0 and 0.5. Auxetic structures have a negative Poisson's ratio.

Read more about ArcInTexETN on the project website www.arcintexetn.eu or the project's blog www.arcintexetn.com

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 642328.

Text: Jenny Bengtsson
Photo: Suss Wilén