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Interview with Giulio Cesareo, CEO of Directa Plus

Innovation in Textiles spoke to Giulio Cesareo, Chief Executive Officer of Directa Plus, about the future of graphene based products.

24th October 2017

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Lomazzo

Sports/​Outdoor, Clothing/​Footwear

Directa Plus, a leading producer and supplier of graphene-based products for use in consumer and industrial markets, has completed the first phase of a study to better understand the possible uses of graphene membranes in the textiles sector. In February, the company was awarded a grant by Lombardy regional government to carry out further research into graphene for textiles and fashion.

The first phase involved identifying the characterisation of graphene membranes required to obtain the best performance. Now, the company says it is working on the second phase, which aims to develop new applications and better performing products, as well as considering potential strategic partnerships in this field.

Innovation in Textiles spoke to Giulio Cesareo, Chief Executive Officer of Directa Plus, about the future of graphene based products, like the company’s G+ membranes, in textile applications and the advantages they can offer to the market.

The company’s G+ is mainly seen being used by companies in sportswear and workwear segments. How do you see the future of graphene in these markets?

GC: Directa Plus is delivering tomorrow’s materials in today’s products. By this, I mean that graphene has significant potential for growth in the textiles market, but we can already benefit from some of its qualities. In particular, Graphene Plus can significantly improve thermal regulation when used in textiles, providing the user with a much greater level of comfort.

Because consumers place great value on wellness and comfort, which can be enhanced by the incorporation of Graphene Plus, we believe there are significant opportunities in sportswear and workwear, but also in city wear – where technology meets Italian design, fashion and attitude to elegance.

G+ products. © Directa Plus

Moreover, the textile sector has lacked any real innovation for a long time. If graphene is correctly positioned, meeting the supply chain needs, it will be a great success.

What are the main challenges of the industrial production of graphene based products?

GC: The main challenge is being able to supply graphene products of a consistent quality and morphology that meet the requirements of large supply chains, including at the right price point. However, thanks to our unique manufacturing process and approach to how we work with our clients, this is a challenge that we have been successful in overcoming.

How cost-effective is the production process of graphene for textile applications?

GC: Our Graphene Plus is designed around a blocking patent on a super-expansion process, which guarantees the production of large quantities at an acceptable cost.

From graphite to graphene. © Directa Plus

Sixteen months ago, we started what we call the Throughput Project, with the objective of maximising the quantity produced in the unit of time at each step of the production process. In this way, we can align ourselves with the needs of large supply chains and with an acceptable cost structure.

What advantages does use of graphene have over other thermal regulation fabric technologies? Is there an eco-friendly advantage?

GC: The foremost innovation that graphene has brought to the textiles sector is that it has revolutionised the whole concept of technical performance of fabrics and thus of garments. Traditionally, fabrics are not able to “talk” to the body. The focus has been on fabric performance in terms of the relationship between the human body and environment – that is, on through-plane properties – such as textile breathability or impermeability.

Now thanks to graphene, the body can “talk” to the fabric, and the textile can actively respond. The in-plane properties optimise fabric performance due to the interaction between the textile and the human body by distributing heat generated by the body to prevent the creation of hot-spots and dissipating it when needed. This approach to thermal comfort in garments, derived from the bi-dimensional and planar nature of graphene, is in itself revolutionary and extremely effective.

Company's production plant. © Directa Plus

In addition, due to the thermal circuit created by the graphene, which is placed in contact with the human body, it is possible to adjust the body temperature without using an external source of energy as batteries. Instead, it simply exploits the thermal flows naturally generated by the human body, and without affecting the fabric’s other features such as breathability and impermeability.

Our Graphene Plus is also totally eco-friendly as it is produced without using chemicals and it is also guaranteed as non-toxic and non-cytotoxic by independent lab tests. As a result, it’s safe for the environment, for the workplace and for the consumer.

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