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Technology

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Technology is an applied science, i.e., it translates the discoveries of theoretical science into practical application to man's life. As such, technology is not the first step in the development of a given body of knowledge, but the last; it is not the most difficult step, but it is the ultimate step, the implicit purpose, of man's quest for knowledge.

AYN RAND : “Apollo 11,” THE INTELLECTUAL OBJECTIVIST, Sept. 1969, 9.

Nothing can raise a countries productivity except technology, and technology is the final product of a complex of sciences (including philosophy), each of them kept alive and moving by the achievements of a few independent minds.

AYN RAND : “The Moratorium on Brains,” The Ayn Rand Letter, I, 3, 5.

INSULATION: The action of insulating electrically or physically; the condition of being isolated by non conductors so as to prevent the passage of electricity or heat.

Source OED.

The dictionary gives and explanation of what insulation does, not what it is. Insulation can be any number of materials that separate two fabrics. The space between the fabrics which is occupied by cotton fiber, wool fiber, steel wool, down, a polyester and polypropylene blend, straw or even wood chips all perform the same function; i.e. trap air and keep it from moving. Knowing the various materials does not tell us how best to use them. That we have to figure out for ourselves.

The earliest technology used by humans was straw, and then down followed by wool and cotton battings. It wasn't until the late 1950's that technology brought us polyester fiber for insulating purposes. With respect to insulations used for clothing, sleeping bags, comforters, bedspreads, etc. it was a brilliant technological discovery. Everybody wearing clothing was warmer, the materials were lighter and further significant changes in products occurred as a result. Then in 1964 Celanese Corp (now no longer in business) developed continuous filament fiber for insulation purposes, which finally went into production in 1968 for use initially in pillows followed by outerwear and sleeping bags. It was a brilliant technological development. Over the past 40 years continuous filament fiber has proven beyond question to be the finest form of insulation ever developed. I take a considerable amount of credit for its performance since I pioneered its use through lamination. I do not believe but rather know that Lamilite, a laminated version of continuous filament fiber is significantly better than any other method of using continuous filament fiber and it makes all chopped staple fiber fill regardless if they are 100 percent polyester or a polyester polypropylene blend totally and completely obsolete.

At one point in time I presented my findings to all of the skiwear and sleeping bag manufacturers in the USA about how best to use continuous filament fiber only to be told that the general public would never buy a synthetic sleeping bag that looked like mine; they had to resemble down bags. Today Wiggy's Inc. is the largest volume sleeping bag manufacture in the USA and the largest manufacturer of performance sleeping bags in the world. You name the company whose sleeping bags are available at any backpacking, camping or general sporting goods store and look at the country of manufacture; CHINA.

If you read any catalog from the companies whose bags are expensive and filled with continuous filament fiber you will note that they all use a shingle construction. This was originally pioneered by The Northface Company (THF). They originally used a chopped staple fiber sandwiched between two scrims. When the chopped staple fiberfill broke apart with use and especially when laundered; it took them five years of returns to finally change to using continuous filament fiber, slow learners. The basic problem they had was a lack of knowledge of insulation and the willingness to learn about synthetic insulations from someone who actually had the knowledge. The end result today is that every other marketer of high priced sleeping bags has followed them. The shingle construction is very expensive as you will see later in the article and as a result these bags have to be made in China because there the labor rate is about $0.25 per hour. The technology that existed in 1968 developed by me lamination of continuous filament fiber had been completely ignored. Hence the success of Wiggy's bags insulated with LAMILITE.

In spite of what was learned between 1970 and 1975 by TNF when they tried using a chopped staple fiber in a shingle construction and the fiberfill deteriorated that has not stopped Sierra Designs from making a chopped staple shingle construction sleeping bag for the US Navy SEAL's. According to the information published in magazines and on their web site the material used for insulation is a low melt chopped staple polyester fiberfill. The method of construction is flex/shingle. www.sierradesigns.com/ops Click on assault bag , note the temperature rating at the top of the page is +45* and lower down it is +35*. I am inclined to agree with the +45* rating. It is my understanding that the making of this bag is a development of Natick Labs. I originally read what appears as an article in a publication “Textile Intelligence” but then realized it was an advertisement. (I received correspondence from Natick referencing my March/April 2006 newsletter which has an article about the Chilean military suffering a loss of 150 men from hypothermia because the sleeping bags they were issued; those bags were insulated with a low melt chopped staplepolyester fiber that did not perform as they expected. I confirmed the accuracy of this information with the Chilean military.)

If you look at the Sierra Designs web site there is a bag called “40 Winks” which for all intents and purposes is the same as the assault model bag except for the insulation which is continuous filament fiberfill. It is a far better bag, so why work with a relic of the past a chopped staple fiberfill batting ? What I also find interesting is the fact that there is a lack of interest in continuous filament fiberfill insulation at Natick , a product which exists primarily because of the influence of Natick Labs. In my opinion, the current state of insulation would lead any knowledgeable person to a laminated continuous filament fiberfill; Lamilite.

A person would also have to ask why the difference in price between the “assault” bag ($180.00) and the “40 winks” bag ($250.00). I know from my experience as a manufacture that has made shingle construction bags there shouldn't be that great a difference in price. Maybe there will be a realization that the pricing for the “assault” bag should be similar to that of the “40 winks.”

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Tired of cold feet? I have been manufacturing insulated footwear products for 15 years; muk luks, over boots, booties, and pack boots. All have proven to out perform all other competing items with ease. In 1998 or so I showed Lamilite to Herman Survivor company (no longer in business) when they told me of the many complaints they received from customers who had purchased their boots which utilized Thinsulate as the insulating medium. They made approximately 2000 pair of boots for me with Lamilite that sold very well and performed better than any Thinsulate boot the customers had ever used. It has taken me five or so years to find a shoe company to work with since Herman's closed their doors. Wellco located in Waynesville , N.C. In the process I have also contacted and sampled all of the other insulated boot manufacturers in the USA . I have experienced deja vue.

As I noted in the previous article when I offered my knowledge to the sleeping bag manufacturers years ago and was soundly rejected I have now experienced the same basic attitude from the boot manufacturers. They are so committed to using Thinsulate because of the many years they have used it they really have no interest in changing. Since I have been in the footwear business I have heard numerous times from customers that the Thinsulate boots they have just don't keep their feet warm in relatively mild conditions, as when they are standing in a duck blind, deer stand, elk stand, etc. and the temperature about 0 degrees and higher. I find it hard to believe that the manufacturers and the retailers they sell to have not heard these complaints.

Here is an example of some of the comments I have received; “Before owning Wiggy's pack boots my boot of choice for cold weather was Georgia Boot ice trekkers. They are nice because you have the support of a leather hiking boot and screw in ice spikes, but they fail below 0 degrees after one hour in snow despite having 2000 gram Thinsulate insulation. The Lamilite pack boots work well in -30 F.” The letter further states; “Courtnee could not fit into a size 7 men's (pack boot) so I had to buy her a brand that made women's sizes. I chose the Sorel glacier with a whooping rating of -100 F, she wore two pairs of socks and still had painfully cold feet the entire time, despite keeping her torso extra warm to try to improve blood flow to the extremities.” Brandon W. He and Courtnee went to Canada 's James Bay Frontier for a snowmobile vacation and outfitted themselves with Wiggy's bags and clothing. The temperatures were from -15 to -40 F for the two weeks.

When I spoke to the boot manufacturers I presented them with my many years in the field of insulation and the success's I have had in general as well as with footwear. In retrospect all to no avail. What I have come to realize is the young men I have been communicating with have no background in the field of insulation. They have been with a company for 10 to 15 years and are now in a position over seeing product development. The company had been using Thinsulate prior to their being hired so they have never seen any other insulating medium. I now come along and show them a product that has been in use as an insulating medium far longer than Thinsulate; i.e. continuous filament fiber which had never been introduced in footwear until me and they question its validity. It makes no difference how much factual information is presented they chose not to accept it.

Here are some established facts relating to the differences between Lamilite and Thinsulate. Technical data published by 3-M about Thinsulate states the following; “Thinsulate type C offers about 1 ½ times the warmth of down and nearly twice the warmth of high loft fiberfill insulations when equal thicknesses are compared. It is breathable and moisture-resistant.” Typical properties noted on the technical data sheet show the C-200 is actually 210 grams per linear yard or 6.2 ounces per square yard (36 x 36 inches) or 10.333 ounces per linear yard 60 inches wide and has an intrinsic clo reading of 2.50. The weight shown excludes the scrim therefore the clo reading is for the C-200 Thinsulate as an entity by itself. I have a copy of a customer service report dated may 10,1984 from a G. Randell; who may no longer work for 3-M; stating they have tested the Thinsulate on a 3-M clometer. They may also have used Kansas State University 's Environmental Labs (KSUEL). The composition of the C-200 is 65% olefin and 35% polyester.

Lamilite is composed of 100% continuous filament polyester fiber. The weight we tested at KSUEL was 4.8 ounces per square yard or 8 ounces per linear yard 60 inches wide and it was quilted to a lining material. The intrinsic clo reading is 2.60. The test was done in July 2005. I can only guesstimate the intrinsic clo reading for the quilted Thinsulate to be a lot less than 2.50. If we tested the Lamilite un-quilted weighing 6.2 ounces per square yard the intrinsic clo reading is more than 3.0. At this point we can see how much better the Lamilite is starting to show it self. It gets better as you will see.

I noted that Thinsulate C-200 contains 65% olefin and is advertised to be moisture resistant. Olefin or polyolefin or polypropylene is all one and the same and has a high wick-ability characteristic. If you go to www.fabriclink.com and type in polypropylene or its other names you will get to see what I saw; all the characteristics of this particular fiber; high wick-ability. In addition I was recently contacted by a company in Canada; Transpor Dry Layer,Inc. on there web site www.transpor.com is a graphic showing a skin layer, perspiration layer, Transpor dry layer (a synthetic treated with a finish like silicone) and then a wicking layer. The wicking layer I was told is polyolefin. Remember in order for a material to wick it must be capable of absorbing liquid; i.e. WATER. I have personally placed a piece of C-200 in my sink and showered it with water and sure enough it absorbed the water; it took several hours to dry. Please note that Grand Junction, CO. where I live has a very low humidity level, 10% or so, therefore drying time is much faster than any humid location. If it were moisture resistant the water would have rolled off of the Thinsulate as water rolls off of a ducks back.

3-M patented Thinsulate; application was filed November 4, 1977 and it was granted October 3, 1978 . While reading the patent I noted in the area known as “BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION” the following paragraph; “The reason why existing microfiber webs have only limited value as thermal insulation is that, at least after these microfiber webs have under gone a normal compression history, they are heavier than alternative types of fibrous insulation. This heaviness is an inherent consequence of the nature of microfibers; their very fine size and conformability causes the microfibers to come together as a dense, fine-pored web. As an illustration, a one-centimeter-thick web of blown microfibers is about five times as heavy as a one-centimeter-thick web of commercial polyester staple fibers.(Emphasis added by me.) Even if a blown microfiber web only half as thick as a web of polyester staple fibers is used (so as to provide roughly equivalent thermal insulation resistance), the blown microfiber web will still be about two-and-one-half times as heavy as staple polyester fiber web.” As one can plainly see a web of staple polyester is better than the Thinsulate. 3-M never tested the Thinsulate against continuous filament polyester; i.e. Lamilite. Had they the differences would have been even greater.

The patent does discuss the benefit of blending polyester staple fiber with the olefin fiber to bulk it up which is a benefit, but as we know Thinsulate does compress quite easily and has very little resilience.

We now know the reason that so many people have discovered why their feet get cold in boots supposedly insulated by the use of Thinsulate. The Thinsulate absorbs and retains moisture and it collapses there-by reducing any insulation qualities it had. I have been told that the drying time in someone's home could be as many as 12 hours, but as I stated above the drying time for an exposed piece (about 12 inches square) of C-200 was several hours. When you are in the field camping and the temperature is below the freezing point (+32 degrees F) the chances of your boots drying is slim and none. However, the chances of the moisture freezing in your boots are pretty good. In the morning you are putting on very cold boots containing moisture that will absorb the heat from you feet very quickly; as I have discussed in the past moisture is the greatest absorber of heat on the planet; in any of its forms. In addition since the fibers that make up Thinsulate compress easily as is noted in the patent the spaces between the fibers where air would be trapped do not exist; hence no insulation of any consequence.

I quoted from the patent the fact that the Thinsulate product is in one sentence two and one half times heavier than 100% polyester and in another sentence it states the microfibers are about five times heavier when of equal thickness; one centimeter. Therefore, if you make a polyester insulation two and one half times the weight of the Thinsulate it is 525 grams or 18.4 ounces or if it is five times then the result is 36.8 ounces per linear yard for each weight, those weights would give you thicknesses that would be very difficult to put into a boot. The weight of Lamilite that I use in my Over Boots is 4.8 ounces per square yard and they will when used over any boot keep your feet warm as low as -25 F and the Muk Luk's when worn over the same boots as worn with the Over Boots will keep your feet warm as low as -50 F. In addition when wearing either of these items your feet even if wet will not get cold. In my personal experience when I was lost I was wearing hiking boots insulated with foam with the Muk Luk's over them and my feet never got cold even though I walked through streams. The temperatures that I experienced were easily -15 F with winds gusting to probably 40 knots and when I finally was back at base camp in the cooks tent I took off the Muk Luk's and found water in them and my foam insulated boots were soaked. Had it not been for the Muk Luk's my feet would more than likely froze and I would never have survived.

One other aspect of the boots that are currently on the market that utilize Thinsulate is the addition in the boots of a film advertised as “water-proof and breathable.” Water-proof they are. I toured a boot factory in July 2006 and observed that the quilted Thinsulate was laminated to a well known film. After the lining was completed it was filled with water to make sure it was not leaking. Then the lining was placed on a tube blowing warm air to dry it out, these devices are available in several catalogs, and the drying time I was told is a few hours. I have seen several displays of boots in water being flexed demonstrating how water-proof they are. Have you ever seen a device demonstrating vapor coming out of the boots? I haven't and neither has anyone else including the manufacturers of these films which I consider bogus products. The addition of these films only serves to make drying these boots more difficult.

When next you are looking for an insulated boot remember the Lamilite insulated leather boots from Wiggy's have a comfort range from +60 to about 0 degrees. If you want to go colder I recommend the Over Boots as they will perform easily to -25 F or the Muk Luk's if you want to go colder. I have experienced using all three items in the conditions noted; in all cases I was wearing the heaviest quality of 100% Smartwool brand socks and was also wearing the proper clothing for the conditions (all Wiggy's of course). Wearing cotton or any synthetic socks may not work as well. Feet just like every other part of our body emits moist vapor through the pores and the best way to deal with it is to have wool socks and insulation that does not absorb the moisture or inhibit its ability to flow out of your boots. We know from experience from hunters in Alaska who have used the original Lamilite boots from Herman's that they dry overnight in a tent. The toe area of the boots should also be large enough that your toes are not crunched together, if they are the blood flow is constricted and as the day goes on your feet swell and that will make things worst, which all contributes to cold feet. Wiggy boots have a very ample toe area. Also, none of the Wiggy boots will ever contain any form of film.

Another thing to keep in mind is the simple fact that Lamilite insulated clothing is significantly more efficient than Thinsulate or for that matter any other form of insulation and again as was explained in my January newsletter completely un-effected by water. We have a variety of hunting garments for all conditions from warm bow hunting to polar bear hunting. We also have the military digital camo as well as the newest multicam pattern.

With Lamilite insulated clothing and our fishnet long underwear you will wear less layers of lighter weight clothing and stay more comfortable than you ever thought possible. I have experienced this comfort personally being a 3 rd season hunter here in Colorado (November) for 15 years.

THE STATE OF INDUSTRY IN AMERICA

I believe we have an enormous problem in the USA with respect to the number of manufacturing companies that have closed their doors as a result of production of raw materials moving out of the country. Of course once the finished product manufacturers left the raw material manufacturers had no choice. I can speak in great detail about the textile industry since I have worked in it continuously for the last 46 years. I an equally sure there are men who could describe as I will the same thing happening in whatever industry they are associated with.

When I started in the textile industry in 1961 I was a salesman selling among other things synthetic insulation. After I was with the company (located in N.Y.C.) a few months my boss bought me an airline ticket to fly to Albany , N.Y. to visit the factory that produced the insulation material (Star Textile and Research, Cohoes , N.Y. and no longer in business). There I was shown garneting machinery, the machinery that made the insulation. The machinery I was shown was “straight line web forming'' which means the fiber web was layed out in a straight line. It was then bonded with a binder via a spraying process. I then visited other garneting operations located in Brooklyn, N.Y. and N.J. and was shown similar machines only once the web was formed by these machines instead of coming straight out of the machine it was cross lapped. This process allowed for a slightly loftier product of equal weight (most of these companies are no longer in business). In 1966 I took employment with a company that had rando webbers (Camden Fiber Mills, Warminster , PA. (and no longer in business). These machines created a web that had the fibers randomly dispersed. The difference between the straight line garnet and the random web structure is significant. The random web is loftier and far stronger for equal weights of fiber. The straight line garnet could make lighter weight products and process thinner fibers; i.e. 2,3, 4 denier thicknesses with weights as low as 2 ounces per yard 45 inches wide while the random construction had to run a 6 denier fiber and couldn't make a weight lower than 3.3 ounces per yard 45 inches wide. In 1968 when the tow spreader was installed I had a first hand look and education in continuous filament fiber. I was privileged to see all of the problems as well as the ways they were fixed. I had the opportunity to do things like laminate the fiber since part of the company was a laminating plant. I discovered ways of working with the fiber that eliminated a multitude of problems. I also gave sample yardage to manufacturers who gave me advice on how best to use it. Almost all of the manufacturers are gone today.

Polyester fiber whether it is for insulation or knitting or weaving is for all intents and purposes no longer made in the US . Companies like Dupont who was the worlds largest polyester fiber producer to the best of my knowledge doesn't make one ounce of polyester fiber. Others like Celanese are gone. When the outerwear manufacturers closed production in the US the domestic raw material suppliers closed down. As you can see there was a serious trickle down effect.

Young people today do not have the opportunity that my generation had to become educated in what ever field of employment we found our selves. Companies like Sierra Designs do not have people in the upper echelon of their corporate structure who have the knowledge that I or my contemporaries have so they can not hire people with knowledge since the younger people they do hire weren't born until after the industry left the country.

They had no opportunity to learn, so they do things by the seat of their pants and listen to the proverbial “snake oil salesmen” not knowing these “snake oil salesmen” do not know anymore than they do. These same “snake oil salesmen” go to places like Natick Labs and offer their wares to people who have come from careers in the military in many cases, what could they possibly know? I am sorry to say very little, so they depend upon the “snake oil salesmen” for guidance. Who suffers the troops who are issued poor functioning products?

The same holds true for the insulated boot industry. The upper echelon hasn't the knowledge so they can't judge what their underlings are doing and the underlings are afraid to change from the “status quo.” What we have is the blind leading the blind.

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