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Electrospun membrane from The North Face

Outdoor brand The North Face (TNF) chose the first day of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas (January 8-11) to unveil a new breathable, waterproof material for outerwear which it claims will “revolutionise the future of technical fabrics”.

The membrane, which it calls Futurelight, is created using an electrospinning process that allows for high levels of air permeability to be added. TNF has said by creating “nano-level” holes in the material it can offer “incredible porosity” without compromising on waterproofness. 

In the electrospinning process, a polymer is mixed with a solvent, to make it liquid, and pushed through a nozzle or syringe into an electrical field where the yarns are whipped or spun and fall on a moving carrier in a scrambled and tangled array of nano-filaments. The yarns measure in the order of a hundred nanometres and form a non-woven fabric

The technique used is also said to allow designers to adjust weight, stretch, breathability, durability, construction (knit or woven) and texture depending on the wearer’s needs or the conditions.

The material has been tested extensively by TNF’s global athlete team, including on an expedition to the Lhotse and Everest mountains in the Himalayas. During the expedition, alpinists Jim Morrison and Hilaree Nelson skied three 8,000-metre peaks. 

Futurelight fabric will be available to consumers in autumn 2019, including in the brand’s Summit, Steep and Flight product ranges. 

Image credit: The North Face.

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