Fibers That Strengthen, Cool, and
Protect the Environment
By Kathlyn Swantko
Biotechnology, nanotechnology, fiber engineering and material science are playing important roles in advancing fiber development. Recent research has led to the development of textile fibers that are more durable, stronger, last longer, are more sustainable, and protect the environment. These fibers can be incorporated as a whole, or as material ingredients, in products that offer performance properties for a wide range of applications. Many intelligent fibers are also being made from special polymers that react with the environment to potentially meet the demands of future generations.
The FabricLink Network explores several new fiber developments that were on display at Outdoor Retailer 2019.
Graphene-One in its first appearance at an Outdoor Retailer Show, introduced its KYORENE® graphene fiber to the outdoor market. Graphene is an allotrope (when one or more forms of a chemical element occurs in the same physical state) of carbon material that possesses outstanding inherent properties. At only one atom thick and a million times thinner than the diameter of a single human hair, graphene has been found to be 200 times stronger than steel, harder than diamond, very lightweight, extremely flexible, and highly transparent.
IKYORENE® fiber's inherent properties include body thermal regulation, heat dissipation, therapeutic benefits, bacteriostatic/odor-control, anti mosquitoes/mites, mechanical strength, washable, and it is eco-friendly. KYORENE® fabrics are available in KYORENE® filament, KYORENE® staple, KYORENE®/viscose staple, KYORENE®/cotton (50/50 blends), and in KYORENE®/viscose (50/50 blends). The fiber has applications in sports/activewear apparel; safety gear (gloves, vests, jackets); antimicrobial applications (medical gloves, mattresses/bedding, infant clothing), outdoor and sports gear, as well as potential applications in a wide range of other categories.
Brrr°® is a pioneer in functional fabric innovations that have been proven to keep the body cool. The company is focused on developing new custom fabric technologies that improve form and function to keep consumers more comfortable than ever before.
Brrr°® fabrics incorporate the company's proprietary, patented technology that has been independently tested and verified by global laboratories. Brrr°®'s Triple Chill Effect™ uses cooling minerals to create an immedidate and continuous cooling effect; active wicking to move moisture away for nonstop comfort; and rapid drying to deliver a fresh experience. The cooling minerals are extruded into synthetic nylon, polyester, rayon fibers to create "cool-to-the-touch" fabric that are machine washable and hypo-allergenic.
The technology and processes gives brrr° textiles superior Qmax (instant cooling performance according to FTTS-FA-019) scores that measure the cooling effect of fabrics. Thermal testing show that brrr° fabrics draw heat away from the skin, providing an instant and continuous cooling sensation that is built into the fiber, which can't fade or wash out. In addition, Brrr° fabrics have greater thermal conductivity than comparable blends or "virgin" cotton, polyester, and nylon. The fabrics also have the ability to lower the skin temperature by 2-3 degrees, keeping the wearer cool and comfortable. The technology is currently available in performance apparel, bed sheets, hats, and infant car seats.
Unifi, focusing on consumer demands for recycled products, introduced two new fibers at ORSS'19.
TruFlexx™ is an engineered stretch 100% polyester fiber made with REPREVE®, a sustainable stretch option that eliminates the need for spandex. When spandex is used in a fabric, it greatly limits recyclability after its useful life. TruFlexx engineered stretch can replace spandex in the 5-10% content range for comfort stretch knits, creating a possible 100% closed-loop recyclable polyester fabric.
TruClean™ is a chemical-free anti-static fiber and REPREVE® nylon staple fiber that permanently inhibites static cling, and repells pet hair, lint, and other small particles to keep fabrics looking their best. TruClean™ is a sustainable option available with REPREVE recycled fiber for apparel, pet bedding, upholstery, curtain, and automotive applications.
Polartec introduced Polartec® Power Air™, the first fabric technology engineered to reduce fiber shedding. By encapsulating insulating lofted fibers within a knitted fabric construction, this foundational technology platform offers advanced thermal efficiency, and is proven to shed five times less than other premium mid-layer weight fabrics. The initial product release features an internal grid structure on one side, which simultaneously holds air for improved insulation and increased breathability, while the other side features a smooth, durable outer surface that resists pilling and minimizes drag.