NASA Spinoff

Phase Change Fabrics Control Temperature

Most of the bedding products offered by Outlast are created with the original MCT process, which allows for the most loading of Thermocules. Fabrics using this process tend be stiffer and heavier and less ideal for soft items worn close to the skin, but the benefits of having more Thermocules are especially noticeable in car seat covers, outerwear (including jackets, hats, and shoes), rugged outdoor clothing (including winter boots), and bedding (including mattress pads, blankets, duvets, and pillows).

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In 2008, Outlast revealed its new MIC process to help improve the temperature-adapting qualities of natural fiber products and its mattress products, and to expand the types of fabric offering Thermocules in general. The MIC process, in essence, screenprints an advanced formulation of microscopic Thermocules onto flat fabrics, providing manufacturers a more affordable method of adding temperature regulation to existing fabric prior to garment construction. Previous coatings were often too heavy for next-to-skin applications, but this new process is lightweight, and according to Outlast technical director Mark Hartmann, “It gives the temperature-regulation benefits of Outlast technology needed for next-to-skin applications and the wicking capabilities of polyester.” It is especially useful for woven fabrics like cotton and polyester for polo shirts and sleepwear. Some of the brands offering apparel in this line are Reebok and Marks & Spencer. In spring 2008, Outlast announced this technology would be incorporated in the COCOON MummyLiner sleeping bag product by Design Salt USA; the MIC process allows these liners to be breathable and have wicking abilities, while keeping the sleeper comfortable in the outdoors.

The Outlast infusion technology, also initiated in 2008, is a spray process created for finished apparel such as t-shirts, socks, underwear, and shirts, and is not for thick or layered products. This technology offers manufacturers an easy way to apply Outlast technology to existing apparel without changing texture.

Outlast has seen success in its phase change products, increasing its sales by 400 percent from 2002 to 2008, and the company announces new products regularly. CEO Greg Roda says the company’s research and development team is regularly “innovating and developing new applications” for the phase-change technology. Other new products are motorcycle apparel, snowboarding boots, and wheelchair seat cushions and covers, which keep skin drier and cooler to prevent pressure ulcers (also called bedsores).

“Outlast is proud to be in the Space Technology Hall of Fame, which recognizes life-changing technologies emerging from America’s space program,” says Roda. He concludes, “The relationship with NASA gives us credibility within our various market segments to develop products that bring comfort to people on Earth.”

Outlast Infusion™ is a trademark of Outlast Technologies Inc.
Thermocules® is a registered trademark of Outlast Technologies Inc.
COCOON MummyLiner™ is a trademark of Design Salt USA.