Sunday, August 31

Waterproof Membrane - Gore-Tex's days numbered?

Ah good old Gore-Tex. In the early days a licence to print money for Mr Gore as manufacturers flocked to his door to negotiated the royalty deal. Rushing to adopt the new wonder fabric, and educate consumer demand into assuming it was preferable to other waterproof approaches. Leading to increased demand, and a substantial cost premium.

There's no denying it has been revolutionary. Evidenced by alternative materials that have since appeared based on the basic science behind it all (Event, Sympatex etc)

But is that cash deluge coming to an end?

Hi-Tec have announced a lightweight waterproof shoes featuring Oxford UK-based P2i Ltd's ion-mask™ enhancement, a treatment originally developed to protect soldiers from chemical attack.

“The footwear industry has spent many years trying to make sports shoes non water-absorbent and truly breathable without adding weight and we have been able to deliver the solution.

The technology is ideal for a broader range of synthetic materials and also in electronic devices .........that are required to work both indoors and outdoors which poses the risk of water ingress and damage.

A protective layer, of a few nanometres is applied to the shoe surface by means of an ionised gas or “plasma”, not only nano-coating the external surfaces of the shoe but also the inside, between and around the individual fibres in the shoe.

Extensive evaluation at the three leading footwear test houses has already confirmed the treatment offers unprecedented levels of super-hydrophobicity and breathability.

Invisible to the naked eye, ion-mask™ allows the foot to truly breathe but stops water seeping through the sides of the shoe; bouncing off the surface instead like beads of mercury. Unlike conventional waterproof treatments that require additional layers to be sewn into the shoe ....which add weight ....ion-mask™ is applied after the shoe has been manufactured and does not compromise the weight of the shoe"

I guess you can see where this is likely to turn up next, if it truly is as effective as the initial reports suggest. And with much wider applications outside just clothing.

Wonder if Mr Gore is having trouble sleeping at night? Or perhaps this will be another brave challenge which eventually fails out on the hills?

Time, as they say, will tell.

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Comments:
Hi John,

you are so right when writing "time will tell". There are not many outdoor topics coming up so frequently like the "perfect breathable material has been found". We will see how it really performs if it makes it to the high street especially in terms of durability/abrasion resistance which always concerns me for any kind of fiber treatment.
 
Hi John

Have a look at these as well:
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=self-cleaning-materials
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=lotus-leaf-inspires-water
 
What can of worms have we opened here then
;-)
 
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