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Taiwan Companies Collab on Sustainable Membrane Material

HWAFUNE Textile, a Taiwan-based manufacturer of functional fabrics, has teamed with polymer producer Phoenix Innovative Materials to develop Porlite, a sustainable polypropylene (PP) membrane.

HWAFUNE chairman Jackson Chang said he started to take interest in PP membranes because the lifecycle of the material, from the production of the membrane and the manufacturing of the fabrics to the disposal of the clothing, is more in line with increased environmental awareness than membranes made of PU, TPU and PTFE.

When heated to high temperatures during the manufacturing process, PTFE will generate PFOA, which is classified as a possible human carcinogen. In addition, greenhouse gas is produced when fabrics containing this material are incinerated, HWAFUNE noted.

In the past three years, HWAFUNE and Phoenix worked closely on the manufacturing, testing and modification of the membrane. Besides functionality, HWAFUNE also considered the needs of consumers during testing, such as waterproof, moisture permeability and the appearance of fabric after washing.

Porlite, which is produced through non-toxic manufacturing processes in Taiwan, features 10 billion pores arranged in an orderly manner on the membrane. The the pores are smaller than water molecules and bigger than air molecules, meaning the fabric can resist water penetration, even under pressure, while maintaining breathability.

In addition, Porlite can also transport moisture from the clothing to the atmosphere by diffusion through the membrane, providing moisture permeability and breathability during high-intensity exercises and workouts when consumers tend to sweat.

In line with the HWAFUNE’s commitment to sustainability, Porlite’s durable water repellant (DWR) properties mean it can endure at least 30 laundering cycles and is rain-resistant for period of time.

“I can guarantee that Porlite is capable of replacing existing functional fabrics and can fully address high-end brands’ product development requirements,” Chang said.

Both the PP membrane developed by Phoenix Innovative Materials and the Porlite fabric created by HWAFUNE are manufactured in Taiwan. The goal is to establish bio-based manufacturing processes by using natural materials such as weeds as raw materials and to provide biodegradable products in 10 years.