SABIC Innovative Plastics today announced that its versatile, high-performance Ultem* polyetherimide (PEI) fiber has found an important new application in high-end work wear and protective clothing. Japan Wool Textile Company, a division of NIKKE Group, is now blending Ultem fiber with wool and other materials to produce yarn, fabrics and garments that offer a unique combination of comfort and protection, including permanent, non-halogenated flame retardance (FR) and excellent ultraviolet (UV) resistance.
Unlike traditional aramid materials, Ultem fiber can be easily and cost-effectively colored in a wide range of shades using conventional polyester dyeing processes, enabling Japan Wool Textile Company to enhance the aesthetic appeal of its new line. SABIC Innovative Plastics continues to penetrate and grow new market segments and expand the range of applications for its globally proven Ultem resin technology to give customers innovative new options for product differentiation and exceptional performance.
"The work wear and protective clothing sector has outgrown traditional materials, and our Ultem fiber offers a significantly better option," said Kim Choate, global product marketing manager, SABIC Innovative Plastics. "This flexible, soft and colorable fiber provides superior comfort and aesthetics, plus sustainable FR technology and the highest level of protection and durability for workers in safety-focused industries such as oil and gas and chemicals. We foresee many other uses for this versatile fiber, which has already broken new ground in composite aerospace boards for aviation interiors, filtration media and other demanding applications."
"Following a rigorous development process, we launched a completely new flame-retardant material by using Ultem fiber," said Takanobu Matsumoto, general manager, Japan Wool Textile Company. "Particularly in the areas of improved comfort and colorability, our new work wear products will provide major benefits for customers and address unmet market needs. This SABIC Innovative Plastics technology has also helped us to establish an overseas market for our work wear."
Japan Wool Textile currently offers shirts, trousers, jackets and coveralls in an Ultem fiber-rich blend, as well as yarn and woven fabrics.
Tough on Protection, Easy on the Worker
Ultem fiber's unique combination of properties fills a longstanding need in the high-end work wear marketplace. Traditional work wear, particularly clothes made from meta-aramids, are stiff and uncomfortable. They also are difficult to dye, thus limiting the ability to produce custom-colored items that support a company's brand. In contrast, Ultem fiber is soft and flexible for improved wearability, and can be dyed in many different colors using existing infrastructure, helping to drive down system costs. It resists degradation from UV light, making the material a potential candidate for outdoor wear.
Ultem fiber is inherently and permanently flame retardant. It utilizes proprietary technology that avoids the addition of environmentally hazardous halogens and cannot wash out of the garment, as many FR agents in low-end fabrics can.
This material offers excellent heat resistance meeting the European Union (EU) EN 531/ISO 11612 and U.S. National Fire and Protection Association (NFPA) 2112 standards, and provides low smoke and toxicity performance.
* Trademarks of SABIC Innovative Plastics IP BV.