FAQ NanoSphere®

All about NanoSphere®

What is NanoSphere®?

NanoSphere® is a finishing technology based on nanotechnology that provides a natural self-cleaning effect and an extremely high level of water and dirt repellence. By means of nanotechnology it became possible to transfer the non-stick and self-cleaning process of certain plants and insects observed in nature onto textiles. This process specifically alters the surface of the textile with nanoparticles.

How does NanoSphere® work?

The NanoSphere® finish leads to a structured textile surface. Like the surface of a lotus leaf, which is similar to a mountain range, fine nanoparticles form a rough structure. Water, dirt and substances of any kind cannot adhere to this “hilly” surface. They simply run off or can easily be rinsed off with a little water.

Where is NanoSphere® used?

Whenever fabric must repel water and dirt, NanoSphere® is deployed successfully. The technology is being used in clothing (sport and outdoor wear, business and workwear) as well as in many other areas (such as soft furnishings and upholstery).

What benefits does NanoSphere® offer?

The NanoSphere® finish gives an extremely high level of water and dirt repellence to textiles. In addition, the finish is highly abrasion-resistant. Nanosphere® is permanent on the fabric, even when subjected to considerable wear and tear as well as frequent washing and cleaning.

Where are products with NanoSphere® available?

Textiles with NanoSphere® technology are identified by hang tags or woven labels. Some of these consumer brands can be found on our website under customers. Should you require specific manufacturer or consumer brand information on NanoSphere®, please contact us by using our contact form.

What kind of care do products with NanoSphere® require?

Depending on the base material textiles with NanoSphere® can be washed without difficulty in the washing machine. In most cases they are also suitable for industrial laundering. Please read the care label on the garment.

Further Specifications

Is NanoSphere® suitable for all types of textiles?

Yes. NanoSphere® can be applied without difficulty to almost all types and compositions of textiles. Where desired, and in order to have absolute certainty prior to production, testing can be carried out.

How wash-permanent is NanoSphere®?

Depending on the base material, the finish lasts for up to 50 washes at 40°C. Even after serious use and frequent washing, the finish remains permanently active. After washing, the function can be reactivated by heat treatment, either in the dryer or by ironing. In most cases products with NanoSphere® technology are suitable for industrial laundering. Please read the care label on the garment.

Does NanoSphere® affect the breathability of textiles?

No. During the finishing phase with NanoSphere®, the textile goes through a water bath. Here the nanoparticles it contains wrap themselves around the individual fibers. The fiber interspaces are retained and breathability remains intact.

How friction or abrasion proof is NanoSphere®?

The finish can readily be exposed to severe abrasion (for example from the constant friction of a rucksack in the shoulder, back and chest area). Both when new and following mechanical testing with up to 5000 abrasion cycles, NanoSphere® displays an extremely high hydrophobic and oleophobic property.

What does “naturally self-cleaning” mean?

This can be compared to the natural non-stick and cleaning effect displayed by certain plants and insects. On the structured surface of a leaf or wing, water droplets sweep dirt particles along when they roll off. The NanoSphere® surface works in a similar way. With the aid of water, the dirt particles and substances of any kind can be simply rinsed off.

About nanotechnology

What do we mean by nanotechnology?

The word “nano” has its roots in Greek and means “dwarf”. In physics it describes the billionth part of a unit; a nanometer is one billionth of a meter. Between five and ten atoms can be accommodated on this length. In terms of size, a nanometer is to a millimeter what a football is to the globe. A human hair, for example, has a diameter of around 50,000 nanometers and the point of a pin encompasses one million nanometers. Nanotechnology is considered one of the key technologies of the 21st century and is based on particulate materials and/or structures. The size of the particles and structures lies in a dimension between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm).

What are nanoparticles and can they penetrate the skin?

AThe term ‘nanoparticles’ describes particles of all substance classes with a diameter of between one and 100 nanometers. The term ‘nano’ therefore only refers to the size of a particle. The potential danger of nanoparticles for humans and the environment is currently a controversial subject among experts. In this context, not only the toxicological potential of the relevant material is of significance, but also the specific reactivity of the particles due to their size-related characteristics. However, despite all the uncertainties, it must be remembered that this question only becomes relevant when the particles are released.

With NanoSphere® no nanoparticles are ever released. Throughout the entire manufacturing process, the particles used are securely bound and fixed into the fabric. The extremely large specific surface of particles of this kind prevents the escape of an individual particle from the binding matrix. This is confirmed both by our permanence tests and by anaylses of third parties such as the Hohenstein Institute.

For years NanoSphere® has been safely applied in the Swiss operation of Schoeller Textil AG. In order to proactively examine the working conditions and safety of our staff, further processers in the textile chain as well as the consumer: an additional sophisticated exhaust air system was installed by an independent company. Nanosphere® poses no risk to consumers, staff, air or waste water.

About fluorochemicals

Why are fluorochemicals used?

A high level of water, oil and dirt repellence are among the features commonplace in today’s clothing sector and are demanded by consumers. These properties are achieved through the use of classic fluorochemicals.

How are fluorochemicals produced?

Widely used fluorochemicals today are molecule chains known as C8. They consist of eight carbon atoms and 17 fluorine atoms. For some time now, C8 chemicals have been discussed in the context of PFOS (Perfluorooctane sulphonate) and PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid). C8 fluortelomeres are produced in a telomerization process, whereas PFOS-based chemicals are produced using electrochemical fluorination.

What chemicals are used in NanoSphere®?

NanoSphere® is based on future-oriented C6 fluorochemicals (i.e. molecule chains consisting of 6 carbon atoms and 13 fluorine atoms). Even with highly-sensitive measurement methods, which detect impurities as small as 25 ppb (parts per billion), neither PFOA nor PFOS was found. The NanoSphere® finish is therefore considered PFOA- and PFOS-free. It combines modern functionality and the ecological requirements which will apply to fluorochemicals in the future. The possible secondary components of a C6-chemical (for example PFHxA = perfluorohexanoicacid) do have a positive ecological profile.

What is PFOS?

PFOS (Perfluorooctane sulphonate) is a biopersistent, bioaccumulative and toxic fluoro-organic compound (PBT substance). On June 27, 2008, new legislation began in the European Union on that regulates the marketing and use of PFOS in all member states. It restricts the permissible level of PFOS in textiles and other coated materials to below one microgram per square meter (or to 1 ppm).

What is PFOA?

PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid), like PFOS, is biopersistent and has been detected at ppb levels (parts-per-billion*) in the environment and in human blood. For this reason, the responsible authorities, in particular the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), are searching for the sources from which PFOA originates and are attempting to clarify how PFOA makes its way into the environment and into the general population. At present, intensive investigations are underway to find the possible entry sources for PFOA. Initially, a withdrawal date for PFOA was established for 2010. However, testing is still ongoing.*

*On 25 January, 2006 the telomer and pluorpolymere manufacturers were invited by the EPA to participate in a global PFOA stewardship program. This program sought the total reduction of PFOA emissions and a 95 % reduction of the PFOA content in products by 2010 at the latest. From 2015 onwards, the use of PFOA is to be forgone completely. At the same time, in its PFOA Risk Assessment Draft the EPA says that based on the information available to date, there is no reason for the consumer to forego industrial or consumer products based on perfluorinated compounds.

How does PFOS/PFOA develop?

PFOS is produced by electrochemical fluorination (ECF process). PFOS-based materials are also involved in the manufacturing of water and oil repellent products. However, the largest manufacturer discontinued production of this raw material in 2002. PFOA has been used for decades as an emulsifying agent in manufacturing polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and has been explicitly manufactured for this purpose. Although neither PFOA nor PFOS is used in manufacturing C8 fluortelomeres, PFOA traces can occur as contamination.

FAQs for licensees

How can I as a manufacturer use the NanoSphere® finish on my own textiles?

In order to use NanoSphere® on your textiles, you, as a manufacturer, are required to sign a Technology License Agreement with our distribution partner Archroma.

What is a Technology License Agreement?

IIn this agreement, our distribution partner Archroma (licensee) grants the manufacturer (sub-licensee) the right to apply the patented textile technology NanoSphere® on its products. If you, as the textile manufacturer, are interested in the NanoSphere® finish, please send your inquiry by using our contact form. We will contact you as quickly as possible and connect you with the right partner at Archroma, our distribution partner.

Who is Archroma?

Archroma is the distribution partner of Schoeller Technologies AG. Archroma is a globally-operating company in the area of dyes and special chemicals. The company is based in Reinach near Basel (Switzerland) and employs ca. 3.000 staff in over 35 countries. With three core businesses – Textile Specialties, Paper Solutions and Emulsion Products –Archroma supplies specialised service and colour solutions, tailored to the requirements of customers in their local markets.

How is the quality of textiles with NanoSphere® finish guaranteed for licensees?

Every fabric finished with NanoSphere® is recorded in a global test system. Directly after production, these textiles are submitted to the responsible Archroma laboratory and the functionality of the textiles is tested. Only when the quality complies with the NanoSphere® quality criteria worldwide the textiles are released for sale to the clothing manufacturer. Finished fabrics treated with NanoSphere® supplied directly by Schoeller Switzerland are strictly tested before they leave our factory.

How can I, as consumer brand, label products with NanoSphere® technology?

In order to label your products with the NanoSphere® brand, you must sign the free of charge “Trademark License Agreement” with Schoeller Technologies AG. If you are interested in signing an agreement of this kind, please send your inquiry by using our contact form.

What is a Trademark License Agreement“?

In this agreement, Schoeller Technologies AG grants the licensee the right to use the brand name NanoSphere® for the marketing and sale of its products. Only those products which correspond to the defined quality standards may be labelled with the NanoSphere® brand name.

How can I order NanoSphere® labels?

As a consumer brand with a valid Trademark License Agreement, you will be able to order hangtags and wovenlabels as soon as the agreement has been signed and once we have received the quality approval numbers. Please send your order directly to lab@schoeller-tech.com. If you purchase fabrics directly from Schoeller Switzerland, please contact the responsible sales contact.

Has the NanoSphere® technology been patented?

Yes. NanoSphere® is a patent-protected technology of Schoeller Technologies AG.

Is NanoSphere® bluesign® certified?

Yes. The technology complies with the bluesign®, the world’s most stringent production standard with regard to EHS requirements (Environment, Health and Safety). The bluesign® system guarantees the greatest possible exclusion of substances that could be harmful to humans or the environment and promotes the economical use of resources in manufacturing. Further information can be found under www.bluesign.com.

How can I obtain further information?

Please contact us by using our contact form.

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