Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Dimpora

A breathable waterproof membrane for circular sportswear

Springwise ChangeNOW

This Zurich-based startup aims to replace forever chemicals in outdoor clothing

Spotted: To make products waterproof, some manufacturers use forever chemicals, including PFAS and PFCs, and while these chemicals get the job done, they have a significant environmental impact. PFAS and PFCs take as long as 1,000 years to degenerate and can make their way into waterways and the natural environment, including our bodies and other living organisms. However, Zurich-based company Dimpora is now producing functional membranes suitable for the outdoor textile and activewear industry that are eco-friendly and free of PFAS. 

The company has created a collection of fluorine-free and microporous membranes that are both breathable and waterproof. To do this, Dimpora first coats calcium carbonate particles in a water-repellent substance, and then pours the highly durable and non-toxic polymer polyurethane over the particles. Once the calcium carbonate has dissolved, it leaves behind a coating with 3D pores that keep water out, but also allow sweat vapour to escape. 

Dimpora’s membranes are typically incorporated by sandwiching them between two sheets of material, but the company has also created its Dimpora 3D Membrane, which can be applied directly onto an already assembled garment by spraying, painting, or dip-coating the textile. The startup’s Sane Membrane is also biodegradable. 

The company highlights that its membranes are versatile – the size and quantity of the pores, as well as the overall thickness, can be tapered depending on the desired final product. The technology also allows the company to apply the membrane as a whole or specifically where needed. 

Unlike other outdoor and sportswear apparel, which often require multiple layers of different laminates to achieve the desired functionality – for instance, to make garments both breathable and waterproof – Dimpora is able to combine properties into one membrane. In terms of recycling, this makes it much easier, because there are less materials to separate. And crucially, the company’s products won’t leave behind traces of harmful chemicals at the end of their usable lives.  

Springwise has spotted many innovations looking to improve the quality of clothing without putting the environment at risk, including a metallic coating for wearable textiles that can repair itself and repel bacteria, and climate-positive cotton T-shirts.

Written By: Anam Alam




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