15 July 2008
A technology that was field-tested on soldiers could be used to waterproof consumer electronics.
Originally developed to protect soldiers from chemical attacks, ion-mask is invisible to the naked eye and works by applying a molecularly-bound protective layer a matter of nanometres thick over the entire surface of a product by means of an ionised gas or ‘plasma’. This apparently transforms the surface of the product to display ultra low surface energy values down to one third that of PTFE. This means that it displays water shedding properties whilst leaving the other properties of the product unchanged.
It comes from P2i, a company that recently won an innovation award at the ISPO Show in Germany and was established in 2004 to commercialise super liquid-repellent treatments developed by the Ministry of Defence. On a commercial scale, the company claims that the process can be applied to a range of products in the performance textiles, filtration and bio-consumable markets.
“The technology is ideal for a broader range of synthetic materials and also in electronic devices such as iPods, mobile phones and PDAs that are required to work indoors and outdoors which poses the risk of water ingress and damage, ” said Dr Ian Robins, P2i’s business development director.
Ion-mask is also being employed by sports brand Hi-Tec to ensure its shoes do not absorb water but are also breathable without adding weight.
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