SABIC Innovative Plastics’ versatile, high-performance Ultem* polyetherimide (PEI) fiber has found an important new application in high-end work wear and protective clothing. Japan Wool Textile Company, a division of NIKKE Group, is now blending Ultem fiber with wool and other materials to produce yarn, fabrics and garments that offer a unique combination of comfort and protection, including permanent, non-halogenated flame retardance (FR) and excellent ultraviolet (UV) resistance. Unlike traditional aramid materials, Ultem fiber can be easily and cost-effectively colored in a wide range of shades using conventional polyester dyeing processes, enabling enhanced aesthetic appeal.
Ultem fiber’s unique combination of properties fills a longstanding need in the high-end work wear marketplace. Traditional work wear, particularly clothes made from meta-aramids, are stiff and uncomfortable. They also are difficult to dye, thus limiting the ability to produce custom-colored items that support a company’s brand. In contrast, Ultem fiber is soft and flexible for improved wearability, and can be dyed in many different colors using existing infrastructure, helping to drive down system costs. It resists degradation from UV light, making the material a potential candidate for outdoor wear.
Ultem fiber is inherently and permanently flame retardant. It utilizes proprietary technology that avoids the addition of environmentally hazardous halogens and cannot wash out of the garment, as many FR agents in low-end fabrics can. This material offers excellent heat resistance meeting the European Union (EU) EN 531/ISO 11612 and U.S. National Fire and Protection Association (NFPA) 2112 standards, and provides low smoke and toxicity performance.