From outdoor apparel, via bedding, to underwear: temperature regulating textiles are suitable for more and more applications. We spoke about them with PCM manufacturer and Techtextil exhibitor Outlast. Three questions for Martin Bentz, President Outlast Technologies LLC:
Question 1: How do you assess the situation in your segment with regard to both economic development and inventiveness?
Textiles with sensible and evident additional features will always have a market. When that is appropriately combined with the power of a brand, it can lead to economic success. And there is always room for innovation, providing it is what the market wants and comes with the offer of good service provision. At all events, Outlast is the only supplier of temperature-regulating phase change materials in textiles and these offer a variety of possibilities. Whatever the application, Outlast always has an attractive solution available.
At the same time, we are increasingly finding that companies and brands are looking for additional functionality, like, for instance, our temperature-regulating function. On the one hand, people want to offer the end consumer ever better and more interesting, appealing products with additional value, products that are not just run of the mill. On the other hand, they want to distinguish themselves from the competition – in this case, with greater innovation and, indeed, functionality – and with all-round, good quality products.
Question 2: How would you define the position of your company in the market both from an economic point of view and with regard to new developments? Perhaps you could give an example or two?
Outlast is exclusively concerned with PCM technology (Phase Change Materials). In this respect, we cover the entire range of possibilities, which can be employed in textile processing. Be it PCM embedded in various fibres, printed on, coated or sprayed onto a wide range of substrates – Outlast offers numerous solutions. There have been lots of technical developments over the last few years, not least in terms of fibres: after the PCM viscose fibre there followed the world’s first PCM polyester fibre. Then came the whole new category of ‘filling materials’, predominantly for use in bed linen, but which can also be used for clothing. We therefore work on a number of different levels, but at the heart of what we do is always Outlast’s pro-active, temperature-regulating function, which offers greater comfort and reduces the extent to which people sweat or feel the cold.
Question 3: In which segments and from which markets can we expect to see further developments and innovations at the twin fairs Techtextil/Texprocess and what will be their key emphasis (assuming that the information can be made public at this stage)?
Outlast will again be showcasing a number of innovations and improvements at Techtextil. To be specific, however, it is always people that are at the centre of our concerns; the innovative textiles are all about giving them the most comfortable experience of wearing their clothes. This applies, first and foremost, to textiles that are used in the manufacture of clothing (from everyday apparel and accessories, such as gloves or helmets, to protective workwear and bulletproof vests), shoes, socks, bed linen and accessories. There is a lot of industrious further development work going on in this area. Outlast is also moving into a whole new area that still sounds a little ‘exotic’, involving, for instance, the use of PCM in electronic equipment. Nor should we forget that all products with Outlast® functionality are accompanied by an extensive marketing package, ranging from labels that are available free of charge to POS materials and training. Here, too, we are constantly adopting interesting new tools.