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New disposable outdoor garment concept made with DuPont Hytrel

Du Pont Engineering Polymers : 04 September, 2006  (New Product)
A highlight of the DuPont exhibit at ISPO, held in Munich, will be the introduction of a unique concept for the manufacture of semi-disposable, multi-use water-resistant and breathable outdoor garments based on a DuPont Hytrel engineering thermoplastic elastomer active membrane.
It has been developed by Exten S.A., a Swiss company with expertise in the production of multilayer plastic films and laminates for hygiene, medical and technical applications. Garment prototypes in the form of outdoor jackets will be exhibited at the DuPont booth in Hall A1, Stand No. 515/123.

Exten had previous experience of the extrusion and lamination of Hytrel through its creation of co-extruded membranes for waterproof fabrics under the company’s Smylex brand. The company has now succeeded in producing a three-layer laminate fabric suitable for the manufacture of semi-disposable, multi-use, multipurpose garments aimed at outdoor enthusiasts. The laminate consists of a waterproof and breathable Hytrel film between two layers of non-woven material, one of which is based on spunlaced, ultrasoft polyester fibres, the other on spunlaid hydrophobic polypropylene. The inner non-woven layer acts as a collector of water vapour, in most cases perspiration, creating a humidity gradient between inside and outside of the jacket; this gradient ‘pushes’ water vapour through the hydrophilic and breathable Hytrel membrane, before evaporation through the non-woven outerlayer. The outerlayer is tear- and scrub-resistant, as well as water-repellent. The finished garment produced under the Exten concept guarantees long-term water-resistance and breathability, but is not washable. “We believe there is a vast market potential for high-performance, semi-disposable outdoor wear, where the user receives the benefits associated with premium garments, in terms of weatherability and comfort, in a much more cost-effective offering. This is primarily due to lower raw-material costs and production efficiencies gained from the high-speed processing of non-woven materials,” explains Mr. Fabrizio D´Amico, sales director at Exten S.A.

A ‘breathable’ grade of Hytrel was chosen for the application due to its efficiency of absorbing water vapour, diffusing it across the membrane and evaporating it on the other side. It also provides the garment with outstanding water- and wind-resistance thanks to its monolithic physical structure. Further material benefits include its processing properties, in this case by extrusion lamination and hot-melt lamination technologies with the non-woven materials. The inherent combination of flexibility and toughness provided by Hytrel makes it an ideal film for creating waterproof fabrics which come under duress, typically in outdoor conditions.

Exten is now looking for partners to develop commercial ranges of garments, or other potential applications, based on the concept. It views its participation at ISPO summer 2006, through its representation on the DuPont stand, key to achieving this objective. “We are delighted at the opportunity to have some prototypes of the outdoor garments on the DuPont stand, and is a further example of the developmental and marketing support provided by DuPont in achieving this concept,” says Mr. D´Amico. Beyond material provision, DuPont provided technical support in the extrusion and lamination of Hytrel.

ISPO marks DuPont’s fifth consecutive participation at the show dedicated to manufacturers and retailers of sporting goods, held twice-a-year in Munich. Other highlights at the DuPont booth will include a new motorbike boot concept from Puma and Random Design, and a wrist-protection device for skating, both using Hytrel, as well as kite-surfing harness components made of DuPont Delrin and Hytrel.
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