Water-repellent boots and a 3D printer, tangible projects of the University of the Andes.

A water droplet slides side by side on an absorbent cloth. Up, down and rotates like a surfer on a wave. The strange thing is that instead of ‘devour it’ the paper repels it. The explanation, though it may sound complex, is simple: what is sought is to modify nanométricamente materials, ie, manipulate, in a controlled way, elements and parts to submillimeter scales.

Johann Osma, an engineering professor at the University of the Andes, says seeks to make things happen almost like you want. “The cloth was made to show that if water-repelling, then we could go further. We have videos silk tie which I sprayed them ink or juice and dribbled them. Not the perfect technique, but is effective for the industry, “explains Osma

After this experiment, the first work in nanometric modification the Andes did was made with a military style boots that repel water. Even though theere are liquid spill leather or fabric, the two materials were involved to not let water pass. And everything happens beyond what the human eye can identify.

-Explains Osma modified layer has roughly the height of a flu virus: between 50 and 100 nanometers. “Between the initial idea and longer working time, it took four or five months, but the project lasted one year and another year for the conception of the company,” he adds. The motivation for this project was industrialist. The national company Industrias Wilches came with the interest of making a radical change in how to make their products. That led to the company Nanotactics, which was responsible for marketing, but later was settled. Today trading it’s made by Industries Wilches in exchange for royalty payments.


Microelectronic Center of the Andes which runs Osma has three paths for researchers.

Some are dedicated to researching the state of the art. “They are doing things that do not exist. There is a 70 percent chance of success something that is not what they want. But it is not a failure if you know redirect “he says. The second group is the developer of equipment and technology.

Here was born a 3D printer. The guide was one of the biggest teams in the laboratory, the SF100. “To put it in simple terms, it is a quarter of photolithography. Uses light to print things. It does 2D, ie projects a light and this painting something on a plane. Each pixel measures 15 microns by 15 microns. For reference, a red blood cell is about 5 microns in diameter, then here we are talking about three, “Osma says. However, the SF100 is fussy. If too much is used and damaged, complicated production and research. “We think in making an equipment of these. But already decided, why not propose to come out better. So we wanted printed in 3D, to make volumes less than 10 micrometers, “Osma tells. And they succeeded. With your equipment, you can print with a volumetric resolution of one micrometer by micrometer by 0.8 micrometer, ie 800 nanometers. To understand this, it prints on a similar scale to the cell. “We might think of that as chairs makes for a theater, this equipment would be to cells,” he says. They are now transforming that 3D printing into biopolymers so they can make tissue growths of artificial skin with natural cells. They are further including nanometric materials for giving them hydrophobic properties (water repelling) and antibacterials.

In the laboratory there is a miniature Eiffel Tower, even if it has no utility, served to demonstrate complexity, fidelity and printing capability. Under a microscope can detail the beams, the edges.

“With this we had to learn from polymers, biopolymers and something you do not see much that the product is very flexible and resilient. As the scale is so small things are more resistant than steel and more flexible, “he adds. Another part of the student projects is a braille printing. It differs from traditional printing because usually bas relief, but is printed in high relief and is characterized by its high strength, which makes it difficult removal. Osma says it can print embossed fabrics as a logo or drawing. With that seek technology transfer, which allows you to replicate something that was invented and take it to a product that fits the industry. Although nanotechnology was there for centuries, Osma says its rise is due to the arrival of some branches at these scales, which made financial resources to bear and became fashionable.


This boot belongs to the program leader of the National Army called “Soldier of the Future Colombiano”, and is being developed by members of the School of Logistics of the Army who work on developing a boot that seeks protect the feet of the fighters against infection, fungal product, bacteriasy microbes that are exposed in forested areas, wetlands, high mountain and outdoor temperatures; this meets the following characteristics: is waterproof (super hydrophobic by nanotechnology, ie repel dust, bad smells and humidity), thermal and that adapts to the cold and heat according to the geography of the country, reduces impact on falls and blows, finally, is what antifungal allowing better hygiene and quality of life of military personnel through use.

In a second phase is to develop the way in which through the piezo system electricity and the dynamics of the movement of the soldier walking, can generate electricity for various purposes, this phase is currently under investigation by Dr. Jorge Reynolds Pombo, Scientific Director of the Program of the Colombian Future Soldier supported by Industrias W. Wilches SA, the Antifungal boot is in testing phase, being used by soldiers in jungle and mountainous areas of the national territory.




ANTIBACTERIAL: Removes and prevents up to 99.9% of fungi and bacteria produced by sweating or humidity; thanks to technology fabric with silver yarn, we protect and provide security for the proper functioning and development of our user.

THERMOREGULATOR: A process that maintains the balance between profit and loss of heat or temperature regulation creating comfort and welfare to the user.

WATER REPELLENCY: Thanks to nanometric coating does not allow passage of fluids into the surface, allowing for the natural transpiration (waterproofed leather).


ANTIBACTERIAL: Kill 99.9% of bacteria within six hours and prevents proliferation directly attacking their DNA, as generated form disinfection in the tissue contact, helping to prevent infection of open wounds and accelerating the healing.

ANTI-ODOR: Silver ions are fixed to ammonia and denatured proteins, eliminating odors caused by bacteria, it can be used clothing with silver for several days without washing, extending the durability of the product and its aesthetics as new, also eliminates the odor within the first hour of use.


Gives up to 33% thermal insulation more than conventional clothing. Silver fiber has an infrared range above 95%, the highest in skin contact minimizes the loss of radiant heat actively reflected further by the conductive effect moving the heat around the body, dissipating heat sources originating in certain areas (armpits, groin, and feet) in warm temperatures helps accelerate evaporation generating a rapid elimination of perspiration and keeping the body always dry

ANTISTATIC : Silver is the best conductor of electricity in the world, rubbing between non-conductive materials generates an electric charge where the silver thread woven dispels this immediate electric charge, remaining free of static electricity, in addition, the electrostatic charge is in the nerve endings, and there are about 7000 of them alone on the floor of the foot, clothing with silver threads dissipates the electrostatic charge increasing the feeling of confort and it also generates a magnetic effect which helps blood circulation avoiding the “heavy legs effect.”

PERMANENT: All properties are maintained throughout the useful life and are not altered with the washings.


WATER REPELLENCY: Using nano-coating technology to avoid the absorption of fluids from the outside and have an impact on the welfare and improvement in the quality of life of the user.

ANTIBACTERIAL: Allows neutralizing the different toxins and poisons that are in the jungle and endemic areas in case of military clothing; prevents fungus caused by humidity or sweat.

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