Glossary

Adaptive clothing

Adaptive clothing is clothing systems which can adapt to the ambient conditions and the physical state of the wearer. Many functional textiles also have these properties.

Antimicrobial

Antimicrobial means “directed against micro organisms”. An antimicrobial substance is a compound which inhibits or even completely prevents the growth of micro organisms (for example bacteria).

Bluesign®

The Bluesign® standard created in the year 2000 by Swiss company Bluesign Technologies AG is a global quality seal for sustainable products and production processes. Since its creation the Bluesign® standard has been implemented by various leading global manufacturers of membranes, textiles, textile agents and laminates. The Bluesign® standard is an independent industry standard which covers the whole textile production chain. In addition to consumer and industrial safety, it also covers the aspects of emissions (air and water) and resource-protecting production. As a Bluesign® system partner, Sympatex meets the most stringent environmental protection, industrial and consumer safety guidelines in the world in relation to its production processes and products.

Breathability

The word breathability is often used in relation to clothing physiology as a synonym for the water vapour permeability of a material. The Ret value of a material provides an indication of its breathability. Functional textiles with a membrane can provide excellent breathability whilst also providing protection from rain.

Carbon footprint

The CO2 footprint, also known as the CO2 balance, provides an indication of the total carbon dioxide emissions caused either directly or indirectly by an activity or produced over the life cycle of a product. Since there is still not an internationally recognised definition (2011) all greenhouse gases or additional factors are included in some calculations.

Coating

Coating generally means the application of plastics to base materials, for example to textile fabrics.

Compact membrane

In contrast to microporous membranes, compact membranes have a poreless structure. The Sympatex membrane is a compact membrane and its function is based on a physical and chemical principle in which water vapour molecules are transported along the molecule chains through the membrane using an adsorption-diffusion-desorption mechanism.

Elasticity

Elasticity is the property of a body or material to change its form when subjected to force and to return to its original form when the force is removed. Good elasticity can be a great benefit for functional textiles, particularly those used for sporting activities.

Fleece

Fleece is a textile product often made of polyester with a fleecy surface. This is primarily used in textiles and functional clothing where it is used as a heat insulator. In addition to its insulating properties, fleece also provides other benefits. It is elastic, soft on the skin and often has certain water-repellent properties as well.

Fluorocarbon-free clothing

Fluorocarbons have been used in the production of water-repellent textile coatings for more than 30 years. These substances are enriched in the environment and degrade very slowly. Sympatex is one of the first suppliers in the world to provide fluorocarbon-free laminates which meet the criteria of being 100% waterproof and windproof and having optimal breathability without ecological compromises.

Functional clothing / Function textiles

Functional textiles are textiles which may be waterproof, windproof and breathable, as well as having heat management properties and being hard wearing. These textiles ensure excellent wearer comfort even in changing ambient conditions. As a result of their positive properties, functional textiles are often used in sport, leisure, work and safety clothing and footwear.

Hydrophilic

Hydrophilic (Ancient Greek meaning water-loving) means water-attracting and moisture-directing. The opposite of hydrophilic is hydrophobic.

Hydrophobic

Hydrophobic (Ancient Greek meaning water-avoiding) means water-repellent and not moisture-directing. The opposite of hydrophobic is hydrophilic.

Impregnation

Generally impregnation means saturating textiles with substances which give them new additional properties, for example water-repellent, dirt-repellent or flame-proof. In the functional textiles context impregnation generally means a water-repellent coating.

Laminate


A laminate is a material which is made up of several layers. For functional textiles these individual layers are generally one or more textile layers which are combined with a membrane. Two or multi-layer laminates are used for functional clothing and footwear. Depending on the laminate type, they are suitable for a wide range of applications such as for lightweight, fashionable leisure clothing, hard wearing outdoor clothing, safety clothing for work, footwear and for technical applications such as in the motor and medical technology industries. The production process for a laminate is known as laminating.

Membrane

A membrane describes a thin isolating layer. In functional textiles the use of waterproof and simultaneously breathable membranes ensures on the one hand that the textiles will reliably keep out wind and moisture whilst on the other it ensures a wicking effect, in other words the removal of sweat, which in turn ensures excellent wearer comfort.

Microfibre

A microfibre is a chemical fibre which, if it is 10,000 m long weighs a maximum of 1 g. This corresponds to a single titre of 1 dtex. This means that microfibres are finer than natural fibres such as silk. Functional textiles made of microfibres are supple, soft, lightweight and absorb moisture quickly as a result of their large surface area which also enables them to dry quickly.

Microporous membrane

In contrast to compact, poreless membranes, the function of microporous membranes is based on a purely physical process. Water vapour molecules diffuse through microscopic channels. Water droplets are much larger, however, and cannot pass through these channels as a result of their size.

Oeko-Tex® Standard 100

The Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 is an independent certification system for textiles which have undergone a hazardous substance test. It was developed at the start of the nineties as a reaction to the demand from consumers and the general public for safe textiles.
The testing and certification system used for the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 meets the wide-ranging quality requirements of consumers for modern textile products whilst also giving due consideration to the complex production conditions in the textiles industry.

Onion system or onion skin principle

In functional clothing terms, the term onion system or onion skin principle is used to mean a combination of individual garments which are worn on top of each other similar to the layers of an onion. The modular structure of the clothing means that it is possible to achieve an individually and at the same time simple adjustment of clothing to suit changing temperature and weather conditions by adding or removing individual layers. A suitable material choice and excellent fit of the various layers must be ensured so as to achieve effective wicking whilst at the same time maintaining good protection from low temperatures, wind and damp. The various layers of clothing each play a different role. The primary role of the textile layer closest to the skin is to remove the sweat which forms on the surface of the skin. The mid-layer(s) must have insulating properties to help prevent the wearer getting cold. The hard wearing outer layer should primarily provide protection from the wind and damp and it must also be breathable so as to maintain as effective wicking as possible.

PFC

Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are a large group of very different chemical compounds in which the hydrogen atoms on the carbon framework have been completely replaced (perfluorinated) or partially (polyfluorinated) by fluorine atoms. PFCs have been commercially used since the middle of the 20th century, are manufactured artificially and do not occur in nature.
In the functional clothing sector, PFC is mainly used in the form of PTFE-based membranes as well as in fluorocarbon-containing water-repellent equipment (DWR). Some PFCs are considered to be toxic or carcinogenic. They are hardly metabolized naturally and therefore accumulate in the food chain. Last but not least, the environmental protection organization “Greenpeace” has been calling on the textile industry for several years to refrain from using fluorocarbon-containing DWRs in the future and to resort to less problematic alternatives.

Polyester

Polyester is the name given to a class of polymers. Polyester is used, for example in the production of synthetic fibres which, despite being lightweight, are extremely strong, stretchable and tear-resistant. At the same time the fabric is dimensionally stable, easy to look after, quick-drying and crease-resistant. Polyester fibres may be pure or compounded with other natural or chemical fibres to make sports clothing, workwear, outer clothing, home textiles and technical textiles.

PTFE

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic polymer composed of fluorine and carbon atoms. Products manufactured from PTFE are generally characterized by their lower flammability, distinctive chemical resistance and high thermal conductivity.
PTFE has been increasingly criticized in the last few years as fluorine compounds, which are used in the production of PTFE, are suspected of being harmful to health and even carcinogenic. Toxic gases can also be formed during the heating or combustion of PTFE.

Ret value

According to ISO 11092 water vapour transfer resistance (Ret) is the resistance that a material has to water vapour passing through it. The lower this resistance the most water vapour-permeable / breathable the material is. According to the classification of the Hohenstein Institute, breathability is categorised as very good if it has a value of less than 6, good for values of 6 – 13, satisfactory for 13 – 20 and unsatisfactory for values of over 20.

Stretchability

The term stretchability comes from strength theory and means the property of a material to change its form when subjected to force. Stretchability indicates how far a material can be extended without breaking or tearing.

Water repellency

Water repellency is the property of materials to prevent the immediate absorption of water. In addition to waterproof features which can be achieved by means of a membrane, for example, a water-repellent coating can be applied to the outermost textile layer of functional textiles to prevent the absorption of moisture through the textile. Water absorption by the outermost textile layer would have a negative effect on wearer comfort (for example by creating a clammy feeling). Water repellency is achieved by the application of a coating which may contain fluorocarbons or be fluorocarbon-free and ensures that water droplets form beads and fall off.

Water column

The waterproof property of functional textiles is often quoted in “mm water column”. This represents a measurement of the water pressure which a water column of a certain height exerts on materials without the water being able to pass through them.

Waterproofing

Waterproofing is the property of materials which prevents the ingress or passage of water to the extent required for the application concerned. Wearers of waterproof functional textiles are permanently protected from moisture by the use of membrane systems, for example.

Weather protection clothing

Weather protection clothing provides the wearer with protection from a wide range of weather conditions. Waterproof functional textiles, for example, provide effective protection against wind, low temperatures and damp.

Wind chill effect

This term means the perceived temperature that differs from the actual air temperature as the wind increases. For example if the air temperature is 6°C and the wind speeds if 30 km/h, the perceived temperature is -5°C. When there is no wind we start to feel cold in a temperature of around 18°C whilst in a moderate wind the same happens at an air temperature of around 25°C.