Tired of having to reproof gear? Hi-Tec have announced the release of Ion-mask™ technology, a treatment that works at the molecular level, binding invisibly to the surfaces of products, giving them an extraordinary ability to repel most liquids. Ion-mask™ was originally developed for the military to protect soldiers from chemical attack. The benefits include minimal consumption and negligible waste, and according to Hi-Tec the ion-mask™ treatment represents a quantum leap in footwear technology according to Hi-Tec.
Using patented plasma technology the Ion-mask™ process coats 3 dimensional objects with an invisible polymer mask that repels oil and water, without affecting the look or feel of the shoe.The plasma process enables polymers to infuse to the shoes/boots on a sub-microscopic scale. This means that every single fibre is given a layer of water repellent polymer only molecules thick.
Only tiny quantities of chemicals are needed, with minimal waste, so the Ion-mask™ process is also highly efficient compared with traditional methods such as dip application (DWR's) or membrane technologies. Equally the process is activated at room temperature making it one of the most climate friendly footwear technologies available.
Ion-mask™ also helps to keep footwear clean, a quick wipe and the dirt simply falls away. Furthermore the Ion-mask™ process means the fibres on even open weave materials become repellent and therefore non-absorbent. Coating every fibre, not just the outer layer, means the entire shoe (inside and out) is treated. This eliminates the need for a waterproof membrane or 'booty construction' so the shoe is as breathable before the process as after. Better still the process is far more durability than conventional treatments, while breathability remains unchanged compared with untreated materials.
The Ion-mask™ treated shoe is also lighter, by around 35 grams for mid-cut UK8, than its membrane equivalent. In fact, unlike a membrane construction, the treated shoe will not gain weight when used in wet conditions as the material no longer retains water.
The new technology will not be available until Autumn Winter 2008, however it does look set to change the performance of footwear in a major way and could see the end of having to regularly treat footwear to maintain water repellancy.
Trail has a pair of the treated footwear and will provide more information here as soon as they have had a good test.
For more information go to Hi-Tec web site
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