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HeiQ and Speedo Turn to Shark Skin to Reduce Drag in Performance Swimwear

Swiss textile innovator HeiQ has partnered with Speedo on a new Fastskin line of suits with a drag reduction technology made possible by modifying the surface of the fabric at a microscopic level.

Competitive swimmers are always looking to create the least resistance possible to obtain maximum speed in the water, which is what brought about the Fastskin range.

“We are proud to combine our in-depth knowledge in textiles with Speedo’s expertise in swimwear to develop a differentiating innovation,” Carlo Centonze, CEO of HeiQ, said. “This is the outcome of the close collaboration between Speedo and HeiQ’s research hubs in Australia and Switzerland.”

Centonze told Sourcing Journal that HeiQ had been working with Speedo to “revolutionize the swimwear industry and enhance performance levels” for a long time. The purpose of working with Speedo to create the Fastkin range, he said, was to “understand drag and find out what it takes to make swimmers faster.”

The result was Speedo’s LZR Pure Intent, which features a triple-fabric construction designed to enhance compression and flexibility. To reduce drag, Speedo and HeiQ developed a shark skin-inspired fabric technology. This combination creates pure speed for the sprinter, in what Speedo says is its smartest suit to date.

Speedo’s LZR Pure Valor is designed to be light and flexible to allow the racer to increase their power and reduce drag through streamlining. The fabric was co-developed with HeiQ to give swimmers a greater range of motion and core stability to help racers feel lifted in the water and stay strong into the finishes.

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“With almost two decades of improvements in our Fastskin technology, we are excited to partner with HeiQ to give our racers the ultimate advantage with drag reduction technology to improve their speed,” Rebecca Bennett, materials specialist at Speedo, said. “We’ve worked very closely with our athletes and taken all their feedback on board to help them get the suit they need to perform at their absolute best.”

Other HeiQ innovations have mostly involved dealing with air and how to make materials warmer or cooler, or waterproofing, Centonze said. This includes a new CoolNet UV+ fabric to stay dry and feel cool that the company developed with Buff, a tubular headwear category.

CoolNet UV+ was developed to keep customers safe and cool from the sun’s UV rays using a recycled performance polyester microfiber fabric with HeiQ Smart Temp’s activated cooling technology to keep the wearer cool and comfortable. The fabric also seamless, includes UPF 50+ sun protection, and offers a four-way Ultra stretch weave.

HeiQ Smart Temp is an intelligent thermoregulation technology. Cooling is activated by rising body temperature and deactivated once cooling is complete.

Beyond reducing drag, HeiQ is also working to increase warmth.

The company’s XReflex, a radiant barrier technology on high performance fabrics, builds on warmth without adding fabric. The XReflex technology allows outerwear, mid-layers and sleeping bags to maintain the required level of warmth, while reducing bulk by as much as 50 percent. With an ultra-thin reflective surface applied through a high-tech vapor deposition process, HeiQ XReflex reflects the body’s radiant heat, increasing the thermal resistance and allowing maximum breathability. Matched with a specific insulation, HeiQ says this combination creates the optimal heat retention required for the product.