Vantablack may be a term that you have heard when it comes to creating the darkest tone possible. It was once heralded as the densest material around. Understandably, this piqued the interest of artists and designers who are on the hunt for the best “new black”. But, what does this actually mean and could this allow for Vantablack clothing?
Can you buy Vantablack clothing?
Sorry to burst the bubble so soon, but no. The properties of the material, its applications, the costs, and the potential health risks all mean that Vantablack isn’t suitable. The military may get to wear something in the future but, civilians have little chance. This will be a disappointment to those that love the idea of the blackest tone possible. Let’s learn a little more about this material, why it is so problematic, and how designers at MIT have created something even darker since its conception.
What is Vantablack?
Simply put, Vantablack is a scientific breakthrough that was once the most truly black tone to exist in the world. Any garments somehow made with Vantablack could be the darkest in the world. This nanofabric was created by a nanotech company in the UK. It is a very strange material that is unlike other synthetic options as it is grown with countless carbon nanotubes. The thinness of the tube – 10,000 times smaller than a strand of hair – allows for a very dense material that blocks out light.
As a result, you end up with one of the darkest black materials currently in existence. We will look at the competition a little later. Vantablack has potential applications in engineering and manufacture where the small carbon fibers can create a thin dense layer of black that is incredibly striking. Therefore, it is no surprise there are questions about bringing this into the world of fashion.
Why do so many people want Vantablack clothing?
A lot of the appeal of Vantablack material comes down to that idea of the classic little black dress. This has been a staple of women’s wardrobes for decades and even if the lengths and styles have altered with time, the color has remained the same. Therefore, the idea of bringing an even darker, more striking black tone to the dress is intriguing. There is, however, the warning that the extreme darkness and dense tone of the black material would make the wearer look a little more two-dimensional. Whether or not that would be flattering depends on your figure and the purpose of the dress. Perhaps it might make a good impression on the catwalk or a movie premiere. A brunch date in town, not so much.
Can you make Vantablack clothing?
The biggest obstacle here is the way that the material is produced. Vantablack grows on a surface, rather than being grown synthetically in a lab and then applied to another material. Therefore, you can grow Vantablack coating onto metal, creating coatings for vehicles and other applications. This is a problem for creating wearable items with Vantablack. Potentially, you could grow the material onto body armor and use it in a military capacity. But, there isn’t much room for the process in dressmaking. You aren’t going to be able to grow this onto a piece of fabric, fit it to a model, and then stitch it all together. It is unclear just how you would create a Vantablack little black dress. But, that doesn’t mean that engineers and designers won’t collaborate and try this out in the future.
Or course, the other issue to contend with here would be the cost. This is such a ground-breaking piece of engineering that even if you were to get hold of the means to grow Vantablack on a suitable material, it would cost a fortune.
Is Vantablack even the blackest option anymore?
No. This where the desire for Vantablack clothing may decline a little. As with any new technology or innovation, there is always someone out there trying to go a little further or make something a little better. Engineers in MIT did just that to try and improve the oxidization risk of the material used by their British counterparts. In doing so, they also happened to make it even darker.
Vantablack was the darkest option for a time, absorbing 99.96% of any light it is exposed to. To the untrained eye, that may as well be 100%. However, that did mean that there was 0.4% of the light that wasn’t absorbed, and therefore room for improvement. In came the MIT team who created their own material that brought the light absorption level to 99.995%.
Could either of these materials make it into mainstream clothing brands in the future?
If we can’t buy Vantablack fabric and start making our own super-black creations at home, perhaps we might be able to buy them in the future? Well, I don’t recommend getting your hopes up on that one as there is one final issue to consider. There are still health concerns.
Vantablack isn’t a material like we are used too. You don’t have a standard weave of fibers creating a strong fabric that you can then manipulate and wear as much as you like. Even synthetic plastic materials mimic the properties of natural materials and are relatively safe. Here, you have a completely different structure of tiny carbon nanofibers that could break off when damaged. This raises the question of what happens if the tiny particles get into our eyes or our lungs. There are concerns about the material being carcinogenic.
Don’t expect to be able to use Vantablack or its cousins any time soon.
In short, we can’t start getting carried away about the potential of Vantablack fabric when buying or making clothes. We have to remember that this is unusual carbon material with properties, unlike any standard material. It isn’t designed for traditional clothing and there is still a lot to learn about its properties. For now, we can simply marvel at the tech and the density of the tone creating.