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Freudenberg produces thermal insulation from fibreballs

Sep '19
Pic: Freudenberg
Pic: Freudenberg
Freudenberg Performance Materials has come out with new thermal insulation - comfortemp fibreball padding – the first ever padding made from fibreballs which unites the benefits of loose down filling and padding with high level of quality. The material insulates 80 per cent better than conventional padding even though it is as light and soft as down.

The special thermal insulation by Freudenberg Performance Materials is soft, warm, breathable, durable and sustainable. A material that benefits both industry and consumers. With more and more people spending time outdoors to unwind after a hard day’s work, reliable clothing is a must since inclement weather such as rain, snow, and cold may play spoilsport.

Freudenberg Performance Materials developed the comfortemp fibreball padding in partnership with the popular Italian outdoor-sportswear brand, Napapijri. Comfortemp fibreball padding is the first wadding in the world made from contiguous small fiberballs. For customers and producers, it may be an alternative to materials such as down.

Though downs are light and very good at keeping a body warm, they can trigger allergies and clump when they get wet. “Working with loose material like down is much more complicated and difficult for the clothing industry,” explains R and D specialist and comfortemp fibreball padding project manager Sarah Ziem. The loose material must be filled in small pockets, which are then quilted, but they can still slip, allowing thermal bridges to form on the seams. This is not possible with meter goods like comfortemp fibreball padding. It provides excellent and consistent warmth. Comfortemp allows greater design freedom for producers in less time and at lower costs.

“Our wadding is versatile and combines the best characteristics of loose materials and meter goods,” says Ziem. The wadding is made up of loose fibreball and binder fibres. During production, the balls are mixed with fibres and are formed to a cohesive nonwoven material using the “airlaid” process. Afterwards, it can be further processed without time lost.

Comfortemp fibreball padding has a high-volume recovery force. “After being manufactured, the material is tightly vacuum- packed and then sent at relatively low cost,” says Ziem. After being unpacked, it rapidly “rebounds”. It can be then used for production a few hours later. This also saves time and money. Other materials take much longer to unfold. The positive effect also benefits end consumers. When they pull their jacket out of their backpack on a mountain peak, they don’t have to waste time fluffing it out.

For four years Freudenberg Performance Materials researched and developed comfortemp fiberball padding. Fibreballs are also used in the furniture and bedding industries. “The greatest challenge for us was finding a process for the clothing industry to produce such light, soft, and voluminous products,” says Ziem. The Freudenberg engineers thought hard, tinkered and combined various elements in a clever, integrated process. Starting with finding the right raw materials and fibre mix, using the Airlaid technology and the associated homogeneous nonwoven deposition, and then finding the perfect speed and temperature in the oven. A process with prospects that provides room for the development of further diversified products in the Freudenberg Group.

Comfortemp fiberball padding consists of 70 per cent recycled polyester that is derived from post-consumer PET bottles. Although the fibreballs themselves are 100 per cent recycled, binder fibres are used in the manufacturing process, resulting in a total of 70 per cent recycled material. Sustainability is a key sales proposition, particularly in the outdoor industry. “Sustainability is at the top of the agenda in the clothing industry,” says Christiano Zanetti, sales manager for Freudenberg Performance Materials in Italy. “Practically all companies are working on it, as the end customers are demanding it.”

Freudenberg Performance Materials India was established in 1998 in Chennai. The company is active in the interlining and industrial nonwovens business area besides shoe components.

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