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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Flame Resistance And Comfort With Polartec® Thermal-FR™

Workrite Uniform Co. uses Malden Mills' flame-resistant fleece in new workwear.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Assistant Editor

A new lightweight, comfortable, flame-resistant fleece from Malden Mills, Lawrence, Mass., was introduced at the National Safety Council Congress & Expo 2000 in Orlando, Fla. Polartec® Thermal-FR™ represents a revolutionary breakthrough for protective clothing.

"With the development of Polartec Thermal-FR, we have taken the best of Polartec performance attributes and added flame-resistant technology for the safest, most comfortable garment one could wear,” said David Costello, director of product marketing and specialty fabrics, Malden Mills.

Workrite® Uniform Co., Oxnard, Calif., is using the new fabric in a jacket intended for the petroleum/refining, chemical, electric/gas utilities and steel/welding segments of the industrial clothing market. It is the first flame-resistant fleece product to be offered by the company.

“The launch of Polartec Thermal-FR fabrics opens up a whole new market for Workrite,” said Laura Kinney, co-CEO, Workrite. “We’re very excited to offer the utility and work industry a product that has literally revolutionized performance benefits in outdoor apparel for extreme athletes, adventurers and military forces for more than a decade.

Fire Protection Using Nomex And Comfort To Boot
The knitted fleece fabric, made with DuPont’s flame-resistant Nomex®, will not melt or drip under intense heat. At DuPont’s test lab in Richmond, Va., a mannequin was dressed in 7-ounce Nomex protective coveralls and one of Workrite’s 7 1/2-ounce Polartec Thermal-FR jackets, constructed of a single layer of the fabric. In an extremely rigorous 4-second flash-fire test, the legs of the coveralls were scorched, but the jacket — which also showed scorching — completely protected the upper part of the garment. According to Costello, while scorching of the Polartec Thermal-FR fabric can occur in extreme conditions, the fabric shows no effects in lesser conditions. When placed in a 500°F oven for five minutes, it was unaffected. A standard Polartec fabric completely melted under the same conditions.

Besides providing total fire protection, Polartec Thermal-FR is extremely soft and comfortable, having all the attributes of Polartec’s 200-Series fleece, including breathability and lightweight thermal insulating properties that are retained even after numerous launderings. Along with Nomex, the fabric also contains Kevlar® and the anti-static fiber P140.

Other Projects In The Works
Costello said Malden is actively pursuing other possible lines for its new fabric, including protective apparel for use by the Armed Forces. The military is currently testing the fabric, and it is expected that protective clothing made of Polartec Thermal-FR will be issued within the next year.

For more information about Polartec Thermal-FR fabrics, contact David Costello, Malden Mills, (978) 659-5765. For more information about Workrite’s flame-resistant jacket, contact Lori Ambriz, Workrite, (805) 483-0175, ext 112.
February 2001