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3M and Cocona Labs Innovate Smarter Materials

Fiber companies are making technological advancements that are driving greater sustainability in their products and the sector at large.

3M Thinsulate Xerogel

As part of its growing textile insulation portfolio, 3M said it will launch a new xerogel technology insulation in the coming months.

Comprised of 60 percent post-consumer recycled material, the new 3M Thinsulate Xerogel Insulation also showcases 3M’s ongoing commitment to developing sustainable textile solutions. Notable features for 3M Thinsulate Xerogel Insulation include warmth under compression, lightweight construction, breathability and ease of application at mills.

Being more than 99 percent air, xerogel is a highly porous structure that can inhibit air circulation, making it a strong thermal insulator. In order to apply this innovative material to apparel, 3M’s in-house researchers and engineers developed a new formulation and composite that takes it a step further.

“Traditionally, when mills tried applying xerogel to textiles, they would run into some issues, including dusting and breakage,” Mike Mandanas, laboratory manager for 3M, said. “3M science has addressed this and other hurdles.”

A key differentiator for 3M Thinsulate Xerogel Insulation is its ease of application at the mill level due to its low dusting, flexibility and minimal breakage. The development of 3M Thinsulate Xerogel Insulation also falls into 3M’s wider sustainability initiatives. Today, the company’s Minnesota-based headquarters is powered by 100 percent renewable electricity, with an aim of achieving 50 percent renewable electricity in all global locations by 2025.

Earlier this year, 3M announced it is pledging $1 billion over the next 20 years to accelerate environmental goals, including achieving carbon neutrality in operations by 2050, with a 50 percent reduction by 2030 versus a baseline year of 2019; reducing water usage by 25 percent across all facilities by 2030 and reducing dependence on virgin fossil-based plastics by 125 million pounds by 2025.

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The company also manufactures 3M Thinsulate 100 percent Recycled Featherless Insulation.

37.5 yarns

Cocona Labs, makers of 37.5 sustainable thermoregulation technology, has incorporated an additive that allows 37.5 fibers to biodegrade at enhanced rates once placed in landfill conditions.

Fiber companies are making technological advancements that are driving greater sustainability in their products and the sector.
37.5 technology Courtesy

The new offering does not affect the comfort or performance that 37.5 Technology provides, giving clothing designers more freedom in balancing performance and sustainability, the company says. The 37.5 yarns are now available with an additive that is permanently embedded at the fiber level, enhancing the ability of microorganisms already present in landfills to bind to and break down the fibers, speeding up the natural degradation process.

The company noted that unlike some other products on the market, this new additive does not simply cause the fibers to fracture into smaller pieces of microplastic that then remain unchanged. Instead, the fibers are converted into naturally occurring byproducts at the molecular level. Modern, more efficient landfills are increasingly able to capture and reuse some of these byproducts as a renewable energy source, it said.

Third-party lab testing under ASTM D5511 shows almost complete breakdown of 37.5 staple fiber in two years in an accelerated landfill environment.