Quality Fabric Of The Month: Customized FR

Alexium International’s Alexiflam™ FR treatments can be customized to meet particular specifications and may be combined with other treatments in a single-pass solution.

By Janet Bealer Rodie, Contributing Editor

Alexium International, Australia and Greenville, S.C., was founded in 2008 to develop textile solutions using Reactive Surface Treatment (RST) microwave technology. RST was originally developed by the U.S. Air Force to make fabric surfaces super-omniphobic to provide soldiers with durable protection against chemical and biological agents used in warfare. In the course of developing the technology further, Alexium’s vice-president of research and development, Bob Brookins, noticed that treated materials exhibited no-melt, no-drip properties. This observation led to development of RST-based flame-resistant (FR) treatments.

Alexium continues to develop RST-based chem/bio solutions for its military customers, but their application requires specialized equipment, which limited RST’s potential penetration into many textile markets. So, Brookins and his team turned their focus to chemical technology to develop an eco-friendly, phosphorus- and nitrogen-based, non-halogenated FR chemistry that can be applied using conventional textile equipment.

Branded as Alexiflam™, the chemistry is available in several iterations including Alexiflam-NF for cotton- and wool-rich fabrics, Alexiflam-SYN for man-made-fiber-based fabrics and Alexiflam SYN-FILL for plastics applications. The textile treatments are suitable for military, upholstery, transportation, bedding, contract, outdoor and workwear applications. They can be customized to meet particular specifications and may be combined with durable-water-repellent, antimicrobial and/or other treatments in a cost- and time-saving single-pass solution.

“There are very few one-size-fits-all solutions out there,” said Dirk Van Hyning, president, Alexium International. “There are so many different fabric compositions and constructions, and the same solution won’t work on every one of them.”

FR 50/50 NyCo uniform fabrics developed under an Alexium/US DoD partnership exceed military FR performance requirements while offering durability, comfort and cost advantages vis-à-vis inherently FR fabrics.

Applying Alexiflam to the fabric is relatively simple. “You drop the chemical into the pad, apply it, run it down a tenter range, and you’re done,” Van Hyning said. “From the variable cost standpoint, it’s about as easy as you can get. Our chemistries are very compatible with other components our customers might want to run, and we also have the ability to make them more compatible if there are any issues.”

Alexium partnered with the US Department of Defense (DoD) to develop non-halogenated FR 50/50 nylon/cotton (NyCo) fabrics that perform to the level of inherently FR fabrics while offering greater durability and comfort, as well

as lower cost. Recent third-party testing has shown that the FR performance of Alexiflam-treated fabrics exceeds DoD requirements, withstanding and even improving after 100 home launderings.

Alexium and the DoD are working to improve the weight and air permeability of the NyCo fabric. The company also is working with two industry partners to provide the requisite fabrics to the DoD.

In the outdoor arena, new Alexiflam treatments in development include one for durable cotton tent fabrics and another for nylon backpack coverings. Alexiflam also is featured on strapping manufactured by Murdock Webbing Co Inc., Central Falls, R.I., for military and commercial customers.

For more information about Alexiflam™, contact Bradi Dobson bdobson@alexium international.com; alexiuminternational.com.


March/April 2016