Cool Socks for Athletes

A photo of the Cool Socks for Athletes team working on their projectSponsor: Gildan

Team Members: Jazmen Gary, Ben Hindley, Courtney Ledlow

Project Description: The goal of this project was to create a measurably cooler athletic sock with long lasting cooling properties to help keep the wearer cool and dry, thereby, improving their athletic performance. As of today, there are no true cooling socks on the market, and this may be attributed to a couple of challenges this study serves to address. First, it is difficult to quantify cooling with any specific lab test since the sock is in an enclosed environment, and second, the shoe inhibits evaporative cooling. In order to address these issues, a list of important measurables was created and innovative ideas were generated by incorporating existing cooling technologies, engineered cooling yarns on the market, foot sweating patterns, and various knit structures. 

The design process consisted of four primary stages. First, the yarns were ordered in similar denier and analyzed in a single structure. The best performing yarns were selected and then tested in various yarn and knit structure combinations to identify the best performing samples. In conjunction with the second part of the DOE, a company called MESH01 was used to gather data on the yarn samples. These yarn samples were knitted into basic athletic socks and given to various users across the United States along with a survey in order to measure the performance quality of the materials and the trends in desired sock characteristics per user. Finally, it was planned that the first sock prototypes would be constructed using the optimal yarn and knit structure combinations by considering the properties provided by each combination and how they would react with the natural foot sweating patterns.

This project allowed us to develop a better understanding not only of cooling technology, techniques, and testing, but also the design process, the construction of experiments, and how best to orchestrate and plan a product development process from start to finish. Putting the final product aside, this project has been more than successful in that it has made us into better team members and engineers.