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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Intelligent Fabrics

Climatex® LifeguardFR™ meets the most stringent flame-retardation standards, as well as those for environmental sustainability.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Assistant Editor

qofm_1312I n an effort to eliminate materials and processes that generate pollution or waste, initiatives are being taken to manufacture “intelligent” fabrics that use environmentally sustainable processes as well as eco-friendly raw materials such as biodegradable or recyclable fibers and optimized dyestuffs/auxiliary chemicals.

Biodegradable materials are returned to the earth as “biological nutrients” at the end of their useful lives. Recyclable materials, or “technical nutrients,” are reused over and over in new textile products.

A number of players within the industry — such as visionary architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), Charlottesville, Va.; textile manufacturers Rohner Textil AG, Switzerland, and Victor Innovatex Inc., Quebec; textile distributor DesignTex (a Steelcase Company), New York City; and others — are collaborating to introduce at competitive prices such fabrics for use in contract furniture and transportation applications. These fabrics include Rohner’s fully biodegradable Climatex® LifeguardFR™, a blend of wool and Austria-based Lenzing’s Redesigned LenzingFR™ — a beechwood-based cellulosic fiber containing a flame retardant derived from a natural source and developed by Switzerland-based Clariant. Rohner has granted Victor Innovatex exclusive rights to manufacture the jacquard-woven fabric in North America.

Climatex LifeguardFR is a redesign of Rohner’s award-winning Climatex Lifecycle™, a wool/ramie climate-control seating fabric that complies with MBDC’s Sustainable Design Protocol™ for environmental soundness of materials and processes used. The fabric is dyed using 16 dye chemicals from Switzerland-based Ciba that are free of negative environmental impacts, while complying with industry standards for lightfastness, durability and color process reproducibility. All colors except black can be produced.

Flame retardation has been among the least environmentally compatible properties found in commercial fabrics. Rohner claims the addition of Clariant’s sustainable flame retardant meets the most stringent flame-retardation standards, including those for aviation applications.

Climate-control properties are inherent in the fibers used. Wool conserves heat and absorbs moisture, while Redesigned LenzingFR transports moisture.

Victor Innovatex is introducing Climatex LifeguardFR as part of its Eco Intelligence™ Initiative (EII), which also includes fully recyclable Eco Intelligent™ Polyester made using titanium, a safe alternative to antimony, a toxic heavy metal. The fabrics are among others the company is developing for Steelcase and DesignTex.

For more information about Climatex® LifeguardFR™, contact Jean François Gagnon (418) 227-9897; or Beth McInnis (212) 741-4016, Ext. 21.

January 2002