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The Rupp Report: "Human-centered Textiles" Become World Champions

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

The objective of the Rupp Report is to communicate with the global textile community. The column is driven mainly by the input and the feedback of its 21,000-plus readers. Last week, the Rupp Report reported about the glorious idea of the Germany-based Groz-Beckert Group to invite its apprentices to ITMA 2011 in Barcelona, Spain. Readers were invited to send in similar stories. And again, the feedback has been lively. However, this week, the Rupp Report has another story to report.

Human-centered Textiles
Since its appearance on this planet, humankind has been in the center of attention. Humans have been a focus especially in textile products. Many companies around the world are producing yarns and products to benefit humankind in the broadest sense. The Rupp Report calls them "human-centered textiles." And they are not only connected to the human body, but they are also products that protect the globe from environmental problems. For the next decade, geotextiles are one of the big solutions for protecting the environment from erosion; and agrotextiles are protecting food and other crops. The list is virtually endless.

However, textiles that have a direct link to the human body — such as medical textiles, hygiene products or similar applications — are in the foreground of attention. One of the most important end-uses is the protection of the body — for example, for firefighters. Protective apparel for firefighters must fulfill numerous requirements. One of the most important is the wearer's comfort and freedom of movement while working, which allows the firefighter to work much longer and more effectively. The author of the Rupp Report was a volunteer firefighter for nearly 25 years. And you can be sure, dear reader, working with a heavy, polyvinyl chloride-coated old-fashioned jacket is probably more difficult than the job itself.

New Products Are Needed
The task to find new materials for firefighter gear has not been easy. Austria-based viscose producer Lenzing AG found another way to solve this problem with success: The company has become a world champion for firefighters and police. As Lenzing reported, athletes wearing firefighter apparel made with its protective Lenzing FR® fiber and workwear made with Tencel® fiber won world championship titles at the World Police & Fire Games 2011 in New York City. This event, held since 1985 for members of public safety organizations, includes some 70 different athletic events and 16,000 participants. It is said to be the largest international sports event after the Olympic Games.

Lenzing sponsored Austrian firefighter Herbert Krenn, who wore protective apparel made with Lenzing FR, and police officer Gottfried Post, who wore T-shirts made with Tencel. Both athletes won gold medals. According to Lenzing, the integrated flame protection in Lenzing FR offers superior performance in extreme situations, and the fiber is said to be skin-friendly. Over the past year, Lenzing has equipped Krenn with its Lenzing FR apparel to wear various competitions. Krenn said "the fiber offers protection from overheating and excessive perspiration." But more importantly, he said, the apparel "doesn't inhibit me or irritate me during the competitions, so nothing interferes with my complete concentration. These advantages are not only important in contests. Since I am also a member of the voluntary fire brigade, these properties could also save lives when I am on a job." Speaking as an experienced fire fighter, the author can only emphasize this statement. It is nice to know that Herbert Krenn defended his world champion "Ultimate Firefighter" title and won the gold medal again.

Policeman Gottfried Post — the other gold medalist, who won the Pistol Police Action event highlighting practical pistol shooting — wore a T-shirt made with Tencel. Post said his Tencel polo shirt was pleasant to wear and kept his skin cool and dry. Indeed, he won a second gold medal for the Austrian team. The fiber is used in a wide range of applications including corporate fashion, professional apparel in the food service industry and in uniforms. Tencel features properties that are important in both competitive activities and actual working conditions, and that include reduced bacterial growth, skin-sensory properties, and excellent moisture-management performance, according to Lenzing. Are there any other gold medalists around? Write to the Rupp Report jrupp@textileworld.com.

October 25, 2011

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