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Smart Textiles

3M adds xerogel to Thinsulate

Highly porous structure is more than 99% air.

14th May 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Minnesota, USA

Protective, Sports/​Outdoor

As part of its growing textile insulation portfolio, 3M is launching a new xerogel technology insulation.

Comprised of 60% post-consumer recycled material, the new 3M Thinsulate Xerogel Insulation is characterised by its warmth under compression, lightweight construction, breathability, 60% post-consumer recycled content and ease of application for mills.

A xerogel is a solid formed from a gel by drying with unhindered shrinkage. Being more than 99% air, it is a highly porous structure that can actually inhibit air circulation, making it an excellent thermal insulator. In order to apply this material to apparel, 3M’s in-house researchers and engineers have developed a new formulation and composite that takes it a step further.

A key differentiator for the new insulation is its ease of application at the mill level due to its low dusting, flexibility, and minimal breakage. 

“Traditionally, when mills tried applying xerogel to textiles, they would run into some issues, including dusting and breakages,” explained Mike Mandanas, 3M laboratory manager. “3M science has addressed these and other hurdles.”

The new insulation’s development also falls into 3M’s wider sustainability initiatives. Today, the company’s Minnesota-based headquarters is powered by 100% renewable electricity, with an aim of achieving 50% renewable electricity in all global locations by 2025. Earlier this year, 3M announced it is pledging $1 billion over the next 20 years to accelerate environmental goals, including: 

-Achieving carbon neutrality in operations by 2050, with a 50% reduction by 2030 (versus a baseline year of 2019)

-Reducing water usage by 25% across all facilities by 2030 (versus 2019)

-Reducing dependence on virgin fossil-based plastics by 125 million pounds by 2025.

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