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How ion-mask enhancement works in footwear?
Jul '08
Major high street sports brand Hi-Tec will team up with P2i - the company behind the technology in its new range of hydrophobic shoes - to exhibit at the world's leading trade show for the outdoor sector.

The two companies will be at OutDoor 2008 (July 17-20) in Friedrichshafen, Germany to demonstrate the lightweight, waterproof shoes Hi-Tec are set to launch as part of their latest ranges.

The shoes feature ion-mask enhancement, a revolutionary plasma treatment originally developed to protect soldiers from chemical attack and patented by Oxford UK-based P2i Ltd.

The technology has already attracted further interest from the footwear market and P2i are expected to announce more contracts shortly. The treatment is already well known in industrial applications such as laboratory disposables and filtration media but is now set to move to a wider range of applications. A number of major electronics firms are now investigating ion-mask as a method of waterproofing consumer devices.

P2i Ltd's Business Development Director Dr Ian Robins said: “OutDoor 2008 is the perfect place to demonstrate this significant breakthrough in shoe technology to an audience of trade experts.

“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.

“This high-profile contract with Hi-Tec has alerted a broad range of other industries to the potential benefits of ion-mask and, although we continue to work with a number of major footwear companies, the list of potential applications is nearly endless.

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

“This is very exciting time for the company as we have come a long way quickly and it is pleasing to see the technology in action in major consumer brands, which was the intention when the decision was made to commercialise the technology.”

ion-mask applies a protective layer, just nanometres thick, over the entire surface of the shoe 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 during manufacture, which add weight and can result in poor fit of the shoe, ion-mask is applied after the shoe has been manufactured and does not compromise the fit or weight of the shoe. Furthermore, the process treats all materials within the shoe at once nano-coating synthetic materials as well as leathers.

Conventional footwear requires the addition of membrane technology in conjunction with taped seams and a durable water repellent (DWR) in order to display highly water resistant properties. P2i's ion-mask enhancement process can take an ordinary shoe off the end of the manufacturing line or retail outlet shelf that would normally fail the shoe flex test and render it water resistant. The technology can be used as a novel non-tape seam sealer and displays excellent abrasion resistance.

P2i Ltd

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