Water Repellancy That's Durable?

Nanotechnology may make waterproof clothing work better thanks to a UK company.

Posted: 11 June 2007
by Jon

New advances in nanotechnology may mean Durable Water Repellant - DWR - treatments for waterproof fabrics that actually are durable.

Current DWRs tend to be relatively short lived, so eventually the outside of a waterproof jacket stops repelling water and becomes saturated or 'wets out'. Once that's happened, no matter how breathable the fabric, its ability to pass moisture vapour outwards is massively reduced and you quickly become damp from condensation.

That could be set to change with an Oxford-based company called P2i Ltd getting Euro accreditation for its operations. The company's treatment uses something called ion-mask to apply a nanotechnology surface treatment to the entire surface of a product which is only nanometers thick.

The layer is molecularly bound to the surface of the material and cannot be removed by solvents, chemicals or 'common environmental conditions' making it, incredibly durable.

It also, says the company, displays ultra low surface energy values down to one third of that of PTFE (Teflon), so it's ultra-slippery too. Ideal for the outside of a waterproof jacket particularly as the other qualities of the material treated remain the same.

It's early days yet, but it's an exciting development that could mean waterproof clothing that works better for longer.

More information at www.p2i-labs.co.uk where there's a guided tour to the plasma technology used by the company.

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