Teijin Techno Products Limited, one of the core companies of the Teijin Group's aramid fibers business, announced today the development of a groundbreaking firefighting suit that offers the world's highest levels of heat-barrier performance and comfortable, lightweight design.
Developed in cooperation with Akao Co., Ltd., Japan's leading manufacturer of firefighting apparel, the suit is made with TRIPROTECHTM aramid fiber fabric newly developed by Teijin Techno Products. Akao will begin selling the suit in early March of next year.
The new suit weighs just 2.5kg, or 10% lighter, and is 60% more effective in preventing second- and third-degree burns compared to the lightest suit previously developed by Teijin and Akao. Generally speaking, the weight of a firefighting suit, which is typically around 3kg, can be lowered by reducing fabric thickness; however, this can undermine both durability and flame and heat-barrier properties. Until now, it had been a technical challenge to design a lightweight firefighting suit that also offers high-level heat-barrier performance. As such, the new suit represents a major breakthrough by combining both features on such high levels for the first time.
The TRIPROTECH fabric consists of three layers. The outermost layer, GBARRIER(r)LIGHT, is made with Teijin's Conex(r) flame and heat-resistant meta-aramid fiber. Blending Technora(r) high-strength para-aramid fiber in an optimum ratio hash resulted in a thinner, lighter-weight design while maintaining fabric strength.
Teijin Techno Products also used proprietary technology to develop a unique, corrugated-weave structure that creates a highly efficient air layer in the innermost layer, or lining, called TECWAVETM. The air layer insulates heat and slows down heat conduction for significantly improved heat-barrier performance, also backed by the unique double-weave structure in the outermost layer.
The company also improved the weave pattern on the TECWAVE layer's inner surface that comes into contact with the firefighter's undergarments. By reducing friction and improving sliding performance, the fabric enables easier dressing than conventional suits so firefighters can begin working as quickly as possible.
Teijin Techno Products, which commands more than 60% of the Japanese market for firefighting suits, envisions sales of 100 million yen for its TRIPROTECH for use in the new firefighting suit in the first year. Going forward, the company also plans to expand its business into overseas markets, including emerging countries such as India, Russia and Brazil, as well as developed countries in Europe, where the comfort of firefighting suits is highly valued.
Firefighting suits not only must be flame-retardant, they also must provide a heat barrier to minimize burns. Teijin Techno Products and Akao have a proven record of developing and selling firefighting suits with aramid fiber fabrics for superior heat-barrier performance.
In the past, firefighters typically fought fires from the outside of buildings, but the spread of high-rise apartment buildings and reinforced concrete houses has forced them to enter buildings and often get extremely close to the fire source in order to extinguish the fire. As a result, the severity and the degree of risk in firefighting are both increasing. Furthermore, Japan's firefighting force is growing older.
There is an increasing need for more comfortable firefighting suits that promote maximum freedom of movement and reduced fatigue. While firefighting suits generally are not very heavy, weighing about 3kg compared to about 15-20kg of total equipment, improved comfort can have a significant impact on the firefighter by helping to reduce their fatigue.