NexTex develops chemical-free wicking technology

By Jessica Owen 25 February 2021
?
Discovery Icon

NexTex Innovations brings technologies to life such as its award-winning chemical-free wicking technology and three-layer particle filtration system. Jessica Owen talks to CEO Chad Lawrence and Jordan P Lightstone, business development and marketing lead. to find out more.

Sweating is an essential bodily function that helps us to regulate our body temperature. Yet it is a process that makes us feel physically and psychologically uncomfortable thanks to the wetness aspect and how that often shows up on our clothes.

To help us feel more comfortable, moisture management fabrics have been invented, most of which are aimed at the sports and outdoor markets for obvious reasons. These special materials work by transporting sweat away from the skin for it to then evaporate into the surrounding environment.

Traditionally, chemical finishes or treatments are used to achieve this wicking process, but now a new company called NexTex Innovations has developed a natural alternative that relies on physics called TurboDry.

NexTex currently has two technologies called Particle Screen and TurboDry

“TurboDry mimics the process of how a tree pulls water up through its roots,” says Lawrence.

“Our innovation has three facets: firstly, the water drops break apart when they hit the material and then a capillary effect moves the water from the inside of the fabric to the exterior. Thirdly, this moisture then spreads out, helping it to evaporate quickly and efficiently.”

This permanent moisture transport technology relies on the yarn and fabric structure to do the work. A patented knitting process and yarns creates an inherent contact angle with the user that puts moisture into motion. This works by continually pulling sweat in one direction away from the body so that it can quickly evaporate, keeping the user dry and comfortable.

“It’s the next revolution in drying technology,” according to the company. So much so that it was awarded the 2021 Outdoor Retailer Innovation Award in the Function Category.  

Using one of NexTex’s 195 gsm polyester-spandex materials as an example, Lawrence demonstrates how the process works and you can literally see the water fading on one side, appearing on the other and then that slowly disappearing (evaporating) – it really does happen very quickly. With that in mind, these fabrics are ideal for baselayers and other garments such as soft shells, sports bras and leggings.

NexTex Innovations is still a relatively new company having launched in November 2019, and TurboDry is the company’s first technology. The technology was invented by Dr Jason Hu who is the chief technology officer (CTO) of NexTex. He patented the concept after years of studying how the root systems of trees are able to leverage capillary action to pull moisture in one direction towards the tree trunk. After studying this capillary action, Hu was able to invent the first TurboDry fabrics based on this principle. 

Once the team were happy with TurboDry, it announced it to the industry in January last year at Outdoor Retailer Winter 2020. The plan was to use the event to springboard the product into the market, however Covid-19 hit the world shortly after and so that plan didn’t quite work out.

“Covid-19 pushed us back about a year, but we’ve been working hard with some very well-known companies and so we hope to see TurboDry come to life from fall onwards,” Lawrence explains.

The plan for 2021 is to ‘ramp up partnerships with brands’ and to make up for lost time due to Covid-19

While the pandemic has disrupted the company in some ways, it has also provided it with new opportunities. For example, it’s given NexTex a chance to show off the benefits of incorporating TurboDry into other products such as face masks through its second technology: Particle Screen.

Patented in May 2020 and launched in a consumer product in the following November, Particle Screen is a three-layer fabric system that offers filtration and moisture removal capabilities that maximises comfort and protection. The inner layer comprises its TurboDry technology that moves moisture (sweat or condensation from the breath) away from the face to keep the wearer dry. 

“We already had TurboDry and so it made sense to make a particle blocking version of this and combine it with a film to provide that protection. We proved successful with this and so decided to patent this as well,” says Lawrence.

“The system nears the same level of the N95 masks in terms of the level of filtration, and so we can block up to 80% or more of airborne particles.”

In addition to this, the company also offers optional antimicrobial technology that can be integrated into the mask. The type of antimicrobial solution varies depending on the brand and its requirements, but this often includes either silver or zinc-based materials.

Moving forward, Lawrence says that the company ‘continues to build’ and ‘hopes to bring a new technology to every show’ – quite an ambitious plan but achievable considering that NexTex is primarily an inventor, co-creator, and licensor of textile technologies. This means that it can leverage its research and development, intellectual property and manufacturing capabilities to quickly respond to consumer demands and accelerate the commercialisation of concepts and products. In fact, NexTex has already developed multiple textile technology platforms and has a diverse library of ‘proprietary value-added fabrics’ for applications in sportswear, workwear, intimates and more.

“We have three concepts that we’re working on at the moment, one of which we’ll bring to life at this year’s Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show,” says Lawrence. The company can’t divulge any more information than that at the moment, but the team does say that it’s ‘interested in things other than moisture transport’.

One thing that Lawrence can talk about though is the company’s work with recycled polymers. These work similarly to virgin fibres and the hope is to create an eco-line using these one day. He is developing this ready for a time when fabrics must contain an element of recycled content.

“Sustainability is core to any material we bring to market,” says Lawrence. “It’s an integral part of the innovation. Performance is not enough anymore, it has to be sustainable, too.”

TurboDry mimics the process of how a tree pulls water up through its roots

In the meantime, the plan for 2021 is to ‘ramp up partnerships with brands’ and to make up for lost time due to Covid-19. Lawrence says: “We are getting a lot of interest in our technology and we’re making headway. So, you’re going to hear much more about NexTex and TurboDry as we move into the future.”

 

To find out more about NexTex Innovations, visit www.nextexinnovations.com

 

Have your say. Tweet and follow us @WTiNcomment

 

related articles

The Discovery Panel is a subscriber only feature.

If you would like to learn more about subscribing to the site and services, then please contact +44 113 819 8155 or email sales@wtin.com.

If you would like to learn more about the Discovery Panel features and how it works then please click here.