The Development Of Custom Insulation Design
How Insulation Works
High quality insulating fabric works by balancing breathability, warmth and the ability to wick cold air away from the skin. Thermal retention and good air flow help keep the wearer warm, but an insulating textile must also release moisture from the fibres to keep the wearer comfortable.
Whilst natural down has the highest warmth to weight ratio, it doesn’t deal well with wet conditions and quickly turns into a flat, non-insulating mass. Many man-made insulators however, are water repellent.
The Holy Grail for custom installation design is to create a fabric that brings together breathability, flexibility, wicking and hydrophilic qualities. This is achieved by combining solid, shaped and hollow fibres to produce an insulating textile that responds to the specific needs of a design.
For example, a textile with a good hand feel and superior warmth will be ideal for the lining of a waterproof jacket, whereas a lightweight trekking fleece will need to have exceptional breathability and wicking abilities.
How Man-Made Fibres Work
Solid fibres combine strength and flexibility with anti-migration properties. These fibres are important to the overall strength of the insulation and ensure that it stays put so the structure of a garment remains stable.
Shaped fibres assist with wicking and breathability so the insulation remains warm and comfortable. The technology that wicks moisture from the skin also helps the fibres to repel water.
Hollow fibres act like down to capture and retain warmth and provide the ‘loft’ of natural down. The higher the loft, the more effective the fibre at retaining warmth.
Putting it all Together
By combining solid, shaped and hollow fibres together in different proportions and densities custom installation design fabrics can be created. Bespoke insulation can be created that fits your personal specifications, be it for technical clothing or a high performance sleeping bag. You can even add an extra layer of warmth to your home by creating custom insulation for your curtains.
Into the Future
So what’s the future for custom insulation fabrics? Biomimetics creates insulating fibres that mimic natural insulating materials – for example, hollow fibre that mimics polar bear fur.
E-textiles that work with tiny, powerful batteries will enable the creation of more fabrics with in-built heating elements and electrically activated insulation. Passive adaptive materials will enable greater heat storage or the development of membranes that are selectively permeable. New polymers and coatings have interesting applications for optimising insulated clothing in the 21st century. Flexible aerogels are super thin, super strong and super insulating, making them ideal for clothing and sleeping bags.
The future for custom installation is bright – and it’s very, very cosy.