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historical facts of fiberfill.

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When polyester fiberfill was originally developed by a British company Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in partnership with DuPont of the USA. The ICI product was trade named Terelene and the DuPont product was named Dacron. This started in 1929 and during the ensuing years they determined the fiber thicknesses that were ideal for various purposes and it was determined that the optimum thickness of the fiber used for polyester fiberfill for insulating purposes is about a 5.5 denier. Denier basically refers to the thickness of the fiber.

The thickness of the fiber that I use for most applications is the 5.5 denier and it has proven beyond question to be the best thickness to use because of its strength and resilience. I also use a finer denier about 2.75 for different applications where I do not want as much loft as I get from the 5.5 denier. I stand on the overwhelming success of my products because of these fibers. They also have one additional attribute and that is a silicone coating.

Recently I read an article in the outdoor industry bible news publication SNEWS about the many attributes of Primaloft written by Jason Silva of the public relations company CGPR. If I had zero knowledge of fiberfill for insulation purposes the article would cause me to look for garments made with Primaloft. However, what it did was to cause me to take out of my files the original patents from DuPont (2) and the patent for Primaloft. The first DuPont patent was filed in July 1983 and it refers to high loft fiberfill batting that is made from 5.5 denier fiber and the second patent filed in September 1989 also referrers to 5.5 denier fiber. Keep in mind that DuPont actually started selling this 5.5 denier fiber in the 1950’s for pillow stuffing and in the late 1950’s it was introduced to garnetter’s who converted it into a batting form and sold to outerwear, sleeping bag, robe and comforter manufactures. It was the original SYNTHETIC ALTERNATIVE TO DOWN which was being used for the same purposes, but was considerably more expensive.

In May 1986 Albany International filed a patent titled SYNTHETIC DOWN. In April 1984 they published a report for the US Army Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center- Natick MA. The title of the report is DEVELOPMENT OF SYNTHETIC DOWN ALTERNATIVE. The material used was and is still polyester fiber; only it is not 5.5 denier a proven thickness of polyester fiber for this purpose but a 0.5 denier thickness. I always wondered how they could get away with claiming to have invented something that already existed that was made with a heavier weight of fiber that was made for use as an insulating medium. Maybe it was because Natick paid either $350,000.00 or $700,000.00 to Albany who was the low bidder for the solicitation as I was told.

At the time of it being introduced into the market place I spoke with Mike Frankosky who had several DuPont fiberfill patents and asked if this very fine denier fiber was a good product for use as an insulating medium and his response was if you go less than 2.75 denier you lose heat retention and resilience efficiency. He did the study when 3-M came out with their Thinsulate that was originally made from polyethylene micro fibers. 3-M eventually mixed polyester fiber with the polyethylene fiber to bulk it up and give it some resilience. However it was not helpful as it did not work very well and sees limited use except in boots as far as I know. So as you can see the 0.5 denier fibers is not in my opinion acceptable for use to make insulation medium.

I do have a copy of the report and from reading it I have learned a few things. #1- silicone coated fiber will allow vapor to pass through the fibers 16 times more rapidly than the same fiber not silicone coated and #2- water molecules are too large to fill the spaces in the fiber itself.That is why Lamilite/Climashield does not initially retain any as in attaching to the fiber; the fiber is silicone coated. The third information I read now but did not the first time I read the report is and I quote; “A combination of theoretical and empirical analyses showed that an open network of relatively stiff and elastic microfibers would approximate the optimum configuration in terms of the stated goals. Experimentation led to development of three embodiments of this general form and subsequent evaluation indicated that all three hold potential as direct down replacement”. In essence the report states that they have nothing other than theory and potential.

I decided to look at the Primaloft web site to look at the various garments that are being offered by companies such as Patagonia, Heely Hanson L.L. Bean and about a dozen more. In literally al cases the garments offered have significant quilt patterns to them and the patterns are quite small. The models are placed on mountains with lots of snow around. The suggestion is that these are winter grade garments that are very light in weight but very warm. NONSENSE!

The reason these companies have small quilts is because in larger quilt patterns the fiber will break apart in use and especially in laundering. But the web site is slick and there is a reason, when I read the dossiers of the many people that work at Primaloft I realized they all are marketing people. It appears to me that not a one of them has any background in the field of fiber for the purposes of insulation. If they actually had background in the field of polyester fiber for insulation purposes they would know that 0.5 denier polyester fiber if in fact that is what their ten different qualities are made from they would know that this fine denier fiber has no resilience and that it cannot be made lofty at all. If any of them were to get a copy of the report and read it it would not make any sense to them. most of it is actually gibberish anyway.

Is it any wonder that no other company is copying them, but Primaloft Company did try and maybe they are still at it in Asia trying to copy the continuous filament fiberfill products? These Primaloft people are opportunists and they latch onto such things as using recycled fiber because it is an eco-friendly thing to do. Reality is when you use recycled fiber it is more costly than new material, so the consumer buying recycled pays a premium. They are joining the crowd that is using fabrics that are “breathable” with a fiberfill that is “breathable”, as if fiberfill was somehow stopping the flow of vapor or air from going through it. And finally they are making a sustainable product, sheer nonsense; the entire range of Primaloft products is not sustainable at all. No resilience, no strength and certainly not much of an insulator, regardless what you read on their web site.

In my educated opinion they do not have a product that will function as they claim. They are a marketing company and as such spend tons of money advertising for the marketing people at all of the companies that chose unfortunately incorporate their product in garments.

I will shortly make a video demonstrating how poor a quality product they have put on the market.

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