Fabrics

Fabrics

There are many fibers, fabrics, fiber/fabric finishes and coatings and insulation materials for cold weather. We have gathered together a notebook of information which covers each of the properties of various fabric manufacturers and what their products claim they'll do. The primary information was found from the Fabric Index site (see link below). Several of the products explain about the polymer layering of different fabrics and insulations. Many of the companies tell about what their specific materials are used for-- whether it be inner layering, outer layering, insulation fabrics, etc.

The following is some fabric information gathered from the Fabric Index site:

The ComforTemp Dynamic Climate Control material is one of the new fabrics that boasts phase changing properties to regulate the temperature of the individual. The Cordura Plus company has various fiber options (acrylic, lycra, supplex, and taslan) which each have different, potentially useful characteristics of breathability, strength, thickness, etc.

We had difficultly locating information on how to purchase these fabrics directly, as we did with most of the others. They do not want to give information away about their fabrics and how they manufacture their fabrics. They also are reluctant to sell their fabrics directly in small quantity.

GoreTex Windstopper fabric is shown below. One important polymer, used by Goretex in layers with polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE), is called oleophobic which would block saltwater, body oils, etc from passing through the material. It claims to be "oil hating." This would be an excellent thing to investigate, especially since it could potentially be exactly the barrier we need to protect the battery and wiring within our glove.

Thermolite Base fabrics (diagram below) are made of hollow-cored fibers that claim to wick away moisture while keeping heat insulated in the hands. The fabric claims to take moisture away from the skin to the surface of the fabric quickly, where it can evaporate more quickly. This seems like a good idea, but for our product, the fabric will not be in direct contact with the skin and thus, it is not necessary for the fabric to have the ability to "wick moisture away from the skin." The material is also designed to encapsulate air to act as an insulating layer within the material. We also could not purchase this material directy from the company. They only supply to large investors.

The Polartec Windbloc Series is a fleece fabric designed to be both windproof and water-resistant (shown below). It's meant to minimize heat loss from exposure to wind and water. The fabrics claim to be soft and lightweight-- two qualities that would be ideal for our manufacturing purposes. The problem with that we encounter with this fabric is that it doesn't breathe.

I contacted Malden Mills to try to obtain information about the thermal properties of fabrics in order to assist in calculating the necessary heating power of our gloves. I spoke with Jim Gillette in the Marketing Department. About the thermal conductivity value, he said that fabric companies don't calculate any specific value, because it is too difficult to get a precise number due to the large number of variables necessary to take into account such as: the outside temperature, wind passing over the glove, wind velocity, etc.

Jim said the Polartec Windbloc fabric works really well for gloves, but doesn't breathe, and do not need a heating device since the excess heat and sweat wouldn't be able to escape through the fabric. He suggested using Polartec Windpro because it is a tight knit fabric with breathability, so hands won't get overwarm. However, with a heating device, it may be overly warm. The problem we encountered with either of these fabrics is that we could not purchase the fabrics from MaldenMills directly, or from their retail store.

One of the main problems we encountered in locating fabrics, is that the companies do not sell their fabrics. They also are not willing to tell about their product because they are trying to keep their manufacturing procedures to themselves, which is understandable since it is how they are making their money. Thus, for the prototype, we are using generic fleece fabrics in order to get an idea of whether or not we will need to go to one of the above-mentioned, harder to get, and most likely more expensive specialty fabrics.

For the design of our glove, due to the heating property which will be placed on the backside of the glove, we will most likely have some form of comfortable fabric, silk, thin fleece/polartec, or some other thin, lightweight and non-allergenic fabric will line the inside of the glove. The following layer will hold the wire w/ insulation material. The top layer will also be made of a thin material, ideally one that allows for moisture to leave through the fabric, so as not to build up moisture within the glove when the hand is being heated. Because we will only heat the backside, an extra layer of polymer may be added to the palm-side of the glove. That is yet to be determined. It is also recommended by workers at Dupont and MaldenMills who replied back in regards to fabric choice that we purchase fabrics and test them ourselves for insulation purposes, since each fabric-type varies in that respect.

References:
MaldenMills/Polartec: http://www.polartec.com or http://maldenmillsstore.com
MaldenMills/Polartec Corporate Headquarters 1-800-252-6688
MaldenMills Marketing Dept. Contact: Jim Gillette 1-978-659-5146
Thermolite Fabric Information http://www.dupont.com/thermolite/
Fabric Information Site: http://www.fabriclink.com/

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