he Militex Division of New York City-based Gehring Textiles Inc. has added five new
constructions to D3, its line of open, three-dimensional spacer fabrics for various medical, sports
and industrial uses. The new fabrics replace neoprene foam in sports-medicine applications.
D3 fabrics can combine as many as three different fibers in each construction, exploiting
the particular properties of each fiber in the facings and the spacer yarns between them.
Cushioning, compression and recovery, breathability, insulation and other performance properties
can be structurally integrated into one fabric, depending on the intended end-use.
D3 spacer fabrics, two separate face fibers are combined with an inner spacer yarn or yarns in a
warp-knitted construction. The spacer yarns contribute engineered properties such as thickness,
elasticity, compression, and physical spaces and channels. The face fibers provide such qualities
as density, water-repellency, antimicrobial attributes, softness, breathability, UV or chemical
resistance, fire retardation and texture. A fabric can be antibacterial on one side,
water-repellent on the other and impact-resistant in between. One face can be Velcro®-compatible or
have a mesh construction. Possible face fibers include spandex, Kevlar®, Nomex®, PBI®,
monofilament, microdeniers and other performance fibers. The fabrics can be thick or thin, and the
thickness within a fabric can also vary across its width.
The manufacturing process, unlike that for most laminated fabrics, is environmentally
friendly. Because the materials used in the fabrics are all homogenous and no glues are used, they
can be recycled.
More Versatile Than Neoprene, And More Durable
D3 fabrics are more versatile than neoprene for sports-medicine applications, as well as
being more durable, said Skip Gehring, vice president. The fabric structure allows greater control
over such properties as elasticity. Neoprene stretches in all directions, but elasticity in D3
fabrics can be confined to one direction, or the degree of stretch in various directions can be
controlled to allow more in one direction than in another. Impact resistance can be incorporated
into the fabric without affecting elasticity or thickness.
As for durability, although neoprene is washable, repeated launderings cause it to dry out
and lose its stretch and compression properties. D3 fabrics retain their qualities even after
Other advantages of D3 over neoprene include breathability, as well as the ability to
control heat and moisture transfer. For medical applications, such qualities, along with improved
elasticity, promote healing.
Gehring said the company will also custom-engineer fabrics to meet specific end-use
requirements. The warp-knitted patterns possible are almost limitless.