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In the great outdoors!

In the great outdoors!

The sports and outdoor clothing industry is booming. Freudenberg Performance Materials has developed a special thermal insulation, which is soft, warm, breathable, and sustainable. A material that benefits both industry and consumers.

The mountain calls, the forest beckons: More and more people are spending time outdoors to unwind after a hard day’s work. In every type of weather, they go out to clear their minds, re-energize, play sports or simply have a nice time with friends and family. Inclement weather such as rain, snow, and cold mean they need the right equipment to truly enjoy the hours spent. Reliable clothing is a must. No wonder the sport and outdoor clothing industry is booming.

To be part of this trend, Freudenberg Performance Materials developed the “Comfortemp Fiberball Padding.” The popular Italian outdoor-sportswear brand, Napapijri, is a partner in this process. Comfortemp is the first wadding in the world made from contiguous small fiber balls. It is warm, breathable, and durable. For customers and producers, it is a compelling alternative to loose materials such as down. 

Project manager Sarah Ziem and sales expert Christiano Zanetti check the padding quality.

Warm, light, and flexible

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&D specialist and Comfortemp 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. It provides excellent and consistent warmth. And 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 Sarah Ziem. The wadding is made up of loose fiber ball and binder fibers. During production, the balls are mixed with fibers and are formed to a cohesive nonwoven material using the “Airlaid” process. Afterwards, it can be further processed without time lost.

Another important factor here is the material’s rebound force. This is the force with which the wadding recovers after it has been vacuum packed together. Comfortemp has a high-volume recovery force. “After being manufactured, the material is tightly vacuum- packed and then sent at relatively low cost,” says Sarah Ziem. After being unpacked, it rapidly “rebounds”. Freudenberg's customers can then use it in 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.

Light, soft and warm: Loose fiberballs are the raw material for Comfortemp Fiberball Padding.

Project manager Sarah Ziem and sales expert Christiano Zanetti check the padding quality.

Sustainable prospects

For four years Freudenberg Performance Materials researched and developed “Comfortemp Fiberball Padding”. Fiber balls 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 Sarah Ziem. The Freudenberg engineers thought hard, tinkered and combined various elements in a clever, integrated process: Starting with finding the right raw materials and fiber 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.

Light, soft and warm: Loose fiberballs are the raw material for Comfortemp Fiberball Padding.

Last but not least, Comfortemp also comes in an eco-friendly variant made from fully recycled fiber balls. 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.” In the end many people benefit from “Comfortemp Fiberball Padding”: Freudenberg, the clothing industry, consumers - and the great outdoors, which the clever wadding makes it possible to enjoy in any weather.


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