Essential uses mean where the water repellent property is a core property of the article e.g for professional use where water protection is essential.
A non essential use is where the water repellent property is not in balance with the actual normal use of the article.
Hi David, thanks for the thoughtful question. Fiber weave and membrane selection are critical to the waterproof/water resistant system in conjunction with DWR selection. In fact, you are now seeing companies like Columbia and W.L. Gore (Gore-Tex) foregoing the outer textile layer in its entirety and placing the membrane on the outside, providing a surface that does not require treatment and re-treatment of DWR chemistry.
There are many clever ways to approach the DWR problem, but, in short, textiles are a well understood, durable outer surface for technical apparel. Weave, flatness, tightness, and myriad other factors will affect a textile's uptake and retention of a DWR chemistry in addition to its performance. But, when that textile wets out (saturates) with cold rain water, the user will be in a compromised position for comfort or even their health, so it's best that the industry continues to be clever!
What are some critical factors that brands within the textile industry have to address when considering moving from fluorinated to non-fluorinated DWR finishes?
There are examples of that if I understood your question correct and that has maybe to do with the different perspectives and standards on performance in context to whats at least needed for an appropriate DWR treatment. I hope I understood your question correct. Overcome through knowledge transfer.
The 'barriers' are the durability and longitudinal performance of fluorine-free DWRs, and that in some instances, such as extreme mountaineering, long-lasting repellency is necessary in extreme weather conditions. It depends on the end-use of the consumer. Ongoing research into the deterioration of the repellent functionality, the expectations and requirements of consumer, and the evolving fluorine-free chemistries will give further information into whether fluorine-free DWRs are suitable. There is not just one fluorine-free alternative but many different chemistries, and methods, which are being developed. It is a complex challenge!
No, all fluorinated chemistries are not bad. We have learned and know that long-chain chemistries (as defined by OECD) need to go away. As of 31 December 2015, the major global manufacturers of long-chain fluorinated DWR products ceased their production. Regulatory actions have occurred and are in the offing to eliminate long-chain products. The performance needs of the industry led to the development of short-chain fluorinated technologies as an alternative, for now, to be able to deliver the performance that was need and to be able to stop the manufacture and use of long-chain products. The dialog has opened a vibrant discussion about what one needs to know about the short-chain or any other alternatives. A very active conversation amongst the supply chain is ongoing and the door is wide open for innovation!
A non-perflourinated plasma technology, developed by Europlasma, was just given the Golden ISPO Award 2016: Best Performance Footwear Component award at the ISPO sports and outdoor wear exhibition. Patagonia uses a plasma technology for its Encapsil water-proof down -- also non-perflourinated. What are the opportunities and limits to plasma technology?
Bob - one question (and perhaps for Matt too) is to what degree would the typical consumer see differences in performance (for example water repellency) between different coating materials or is it really when you get to more performance products that you see those differences. I guess the question would be to what degree are consumers demanding water repellency and what level of it are they requesting? And are there times you could add in lots of repellency and it may make not a lot of difference - eg. riding a bike in the rain with water gushing towards the person.
Hi John, great to hear from you. Patagonia lays out their DWR philosophy in this blog post: The Cleanest Line: Our DWR Problem [Updated]
In short, after a thorough screening of existing and in-development fluorine-free chemistries, Patagonia has not yet found a suitable replacement that meets our quality and performance standards. We are continuing funded research in the area as a top priority, but we do not want to sacrifice the lifespan of a garment (ie it ends up in the landfill sooner).
Bob hits the nail on the head regarding Brand insistence. In general, it is extremely difficult to pull an ingredient chemistry all the way through a supply chain at the insistence of a chemistry supplier. It takes a Brand to do the legwork on technical qualification and also to put the dollars on the line at the end of the garment manufacturing process!
Thanks Bob. Can you give a bit more detail about the engagement Chemours (and others) need to make the transition to non-F DWR successful? Given the hands off approach of contract manufacturing, how can brands up their game on issues like this? Is it thru direct conversations with chemical companies? It feels like the engagement needed is very different than most brands are used to.