Blauer - Fabric and Materials Technology
Gear that Stands Up to the Elements
Garments that are UV protective refer to the ability of the textile to block UV rays, just as sunscreen does for the skin. Specifically, the color and weave of the fabric dictates its ability to protect the wearer from UV rays. The darker the color – i.e. black, dark navy – the more UV protection the garment offers. For the weave of the textile, the tighter weave or knit a fabric has the more UV protection it will offer. Almost all Blauer uniform shirts and pants in darker fabrics are UV protective.
Water resistant fabrics are built to withstand quick bursts of rain or showers, keeping the fabric dry. Water resistant fabrics are tightly woven and often treated with water repellant chemicals. Water resistant garments are built to repel water, but they are not waterproof. In heavy storms and downpours, water resistant garments will allow water to leak in through needle-points along the seams. Water resistant products typically maintain their capabilities for 25-30 washes.
Waterproof textiles are impermeable, meaning water cannot penetrate through the fabric. Fabrics are enhanced with waterproof capabilities through the use of a recoating or film on the fabric. The garment seams are then sealed using seam sealing technology and specialized trim to keep water out completely. Certain products are also waterproof by design in components such as the collar, zipper, and seams of the garment. Blauer waterproof garments are guaranteed to maintain their waterproof capabilities for at least 3 years.
Wind resistance refers to the ability of air to pass through a fabric, or the air permeability of a particular textile. Wind resistance is measured using the Frazier Air Permeability Test for a fabric’s ability to resistant wind measured in miles per hour (mph). The categorization of fabrics as wind resistance as opposed to windproof varies across the board. Blauer categorizes wind resistance as the ability to withstand winds between 10-15 MPH. Wind resistant fabrics gain their capabilities through tightly woven fabrics or a coated fabric – similar to the process for waterproofing garments.
Windproof fabrics are built to be impenetrable to winds at any speed. Windproof fibers are very tightly woven so that air cannot penetrate through the garment. Similar to the testing of wind-resistant fabrics, windproof textiles are tested using the Frazier Air Permeability Test. When using this test to evaluate the windproof technology of a particular product or fabric, a lower the number translates to more wind-resistance. A zero on the Frazier Air Permeability Test means that the garment is completely windproof – letting no air into the fabric. One disadvantage to completely windproof fabrics is that sweat and heat cannot be released easily from the garment because of the tightly woven, impenetrable fibers. Wind-resistant apparel is typically better suited for warmer climates because of its ability to breathe, while windproof fabrics can stand up to severe winds and lower temperatures. Windproof fabrics and liners, like GORE-TEX, are utilized in Blauer outerwear products for protection from the harshest winter conditions.
System Outerwear refers to Blauer’s layering system to achieve a warm, dry, and breathable uniform. System outerwear consists of a mid-layer, insulating layer or liner, and an outer shell. With Blauer System Outerwear multiple layering options can be worn separately or zipped together for waterproof, breathable performance, and protection.
(Add image from catalog demonstrating zip in liner)
GORE-TEX is a waterproof, windproof, and breathable fabric that is built to keep you drier, warmer, and more comfortable in all types of weather. GORE-TEX fabrics utilize an inner membrane of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) which gives the fabric its waterproof and windproof capabilities. Keeping water and wind out through the use of the protective membrane ensures that heat won’t escape in frigid temperatures. GORE-TEX membranes are bonded with a laminate material before being constructed into linings and outerwear. For maximum waterproof protection, GORE-TEX outerwear seams are sealed with GORE-SEAM tape. Blauer’s extensive line of GORE-TEX products includes high-visibility rain gear, duty jackets, outerwear pants, and accessory products.
For law enforcement and public safety officers who often work long, demanding shifts, breathable uniforms and outerwear is imperative to stay cool. The ability of a fabric to breathe is typically measured in two ways – air permeability and moisture vapor transfer, or MVT. MVT measures how quickly moisture passes through a fabric in a 24-hour period. These breathable fabrics work like the human skin when exposed to copious amounts of water. When exposed to moisture or sweat, the fabric coating swells and becomes wet, releasing moisture from inside the fabric. This moisture must release from the body through the fabrics needle points or pores in the fabric, which is where the importance of air permeability comes in. If a particular fabric is air permeable, it will contain more room for air to enter the fabric to cool the body and for the sweat or moisture to release. Fabrics that have high MVT and air permeability will keep the body cool and promote breathability. Almost all Blauer uniforms, outerwear, footwear, and accessory products are enhanced with breathable or extremely breathable technology to keep officers cool and dry during tasking shifts.
Moisture Management refers to the ability of a fabric to take sweat from the body and move it away. Moisture management equipped textiles consist of treatments to the fabric and the construction of the garment or the yarns themselves having quick-dry abilities. Cotton, for example, is not a good fabric for moisture management as it becomes wet and stays wet. Fabrics that are able to dry quickly by spreading moisture throughout the garment have moisture management technology. The most common quick-dry fabrics are knits, some woven and synthetic fibers. Waterproof technology is the opposite of moisture management, as it allows for no water or moisture to enter the garment. Moisture management technology and quick-dry fabrics are often utilized in compression base layers and athletic-style clothing.
Superior Comfort and Wear
Mechanical stretch refers to the ability of a particular fabric to stretch due to crimps in the yarn or the type of yarn used in the weaving of fabrics. The mechanical stretch process takes a fabric of a larger width, typically around 80 inches, and in the finishing process the fabric will be steamed and heated to shrink the textile. This creates a stretch in the fabric when pulled as the textile contracts due to stretch but will bounce back to its original size when stretched.
Engineered stretch, also referred to as chemical stretch, refers to stretch created in the fabric fibers themselves. Unlike mechanical stretch, engineered stretch fabrics do not go through a heating or steaming process to create stretch. Common chemical stretch fabrics used in apparel are Lycra and Spandex. These materials are engineered stretch fabrics made of man-made synthetic fiber that can be wrapped around other fibers, such as polyester and nylon, and woven together to create a stretchable textile.
Soil release technology acts as an oil and stain repellant on woven and knit fabrics. Soil release is applied as a coating, or finish, on top of fabrics and repels liquid by reducing the speed to which the garment absorbs the stain. If a stain penetrates the fabric, textiles with soil release technology are much easier to wash and eliminate the stain.
Odor protection refers to different fabric treatments or textile constructions that work to block microbe activity and bacteria growth. This can be done using natural yarns with metal content, such as silver or copper, which are naturally anti-microbial and repel odor. Odor protective fabric is also achieved through chemical treatment on synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester. Because the human skin is acid based, acidic natural fibers like cotton or rayon don’t need an additional odor protection treatment. Many of Blauer’s performance polo shirts and tactical base layers made with synthetic materials are equipped with an odor protection technology.
Compression fit garments are most often created by athletic apparel or sportswear companies. Often used as base layers under clothing, compression shirts, bottoms, and undergarments, are form fitting and compress the body to keep the muscles warm and to wick away sweat. This type of apparel is typically made with knits or Lycra and worn very tight on the body.
A garment with an athletic fit is not extremely tight on the body, allowing for freedom of movement. Athletic fit garments are typically designed for individuals with a larger build and more muscular upper body. For police uniforms, an athletic fit means that the garment will be tailored to fit the body and won’t allow for anyone else to grab or pull on the uniform.
A comfort fit garment will be a looser fit, typically made with a heavy weight cotton fabric.
Public Safety Protection
High visibility garments provide safety to the wearer in two ways – through a fluorescent background fabric and retro-reflective trim. To be an authorized high visibility safety garment, the clothing or accessory product must have both of these components. In no light, high visibility garments do not provide safety or visibility to the wearer. Hi-vis apparel must have a light source, whether this is low-light or during full-day light, to make the fabric glow. Typically, the background fabric of safety vests and other hi-vis apparel is fluorescent yellow or green color. The garment will feature retroreflective trim or striping of some sort, which acts to reflect light back to the original source. ANSI, the American National Standards Institute, has published numerous standards for high-visibility clothing and denotes three classes for safety garments. All Blauer hi-vis products are Class II or Class III certified for protection.
llumiNITE® is a patented retro-reflective technology applied to the surface of the fabric that is unseen in the day and provides reflectivity at night. Printed reflective fabrics provide wearers with the added safety of silhouette reflectivity for improved nighttime visibility. illumiNITE technology captures millions of microscopic satellite dishes that act as mirrors, reflecting light directly back to its source. illumiNITE does not use trim or stripes for reflectivity, rather an allover fabric overlay. While typically used in athletic apparel and gear, Blauer utilizes illumiNITE technology in many of our GORE-TEX and CROSSTECH outerwear products for advanced protection and visibility for law enforcement and public safety professionals.
All of Blauer’s high visibility shirts, vests, and outerwear utilize 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material. Garments made with Scotchlite help to keep officers visible in low-light conditions when illuminated by a light source. The retroreflective material reflects light directly to the original light source. Retroreflective material is ideal for individuals working at dawn, dusk, or nighttime, as it requires a light source to maintain high visibility. Scotchlite and other retroreflective materials are combined with a high visibility background fabric to provide safety to the wearer and stand up to ANSI safety standards.
Bodily Fluid Protection
Body Fluid Protection:
Body Fluid Protection is the ability of a fabric to protect the wearer from blood and other bodily fluids that may transmit harmful diseases. NFPA 1999 is the widely used standard for the minimum performance of garments for protection against bodily fluids and blood-borne pathogens. These products, typically jackets and outerwear pants, are widely used by EMTs and paramedics who are often exposed to emergency medical situations. CROSSTECH is a common fabric used in body fluid protective apparel, as it provides blood, body fluid, and common chemical resistance certified under NFPA 1999 standards.
CROSSTECH is a unique fabric utilized in public safety garments for protection against blood borne pathogens, bodily fluids, and chemicals. CROSSTECH waterproof and windproof outerwear is also built to withstand the elements, even the harshest winter conditions. CROSSTECH fabric stands up to the wash, maintaining durability and capabilities through multiple wears and launderings. Blauer CROSSTECH outerwear is certified to NFPA 1999-2013 Edition standards for protection from airborne and liquid-borne pathogens. Blauer currently manufactures CROSSTECH jackets, hoods, and outerwear pants. This line is designed for first responders and EMTs who need ultimate protection on the job.
The BOA closure system is a unique lacing system used in all Blauer footwear. The BOA system consists of a 49-strand braided stainless steel cable, nylon guides, and a mechanical dial, replacing traditional zippers and laces. Turning the dial allows the boot or shoe to be tightened and created totally even tension amongst the eye rows, allowing for a customized, even fit for your foot. The BOA cable system is extremely durable and outlasts the life of laces or delicate zipper closures. Footwear that uses the BOA closure system is quick on and quick off – perfect for law enforcement and public safety officers who may need to put on their gear in seconds for an emergency situation.
Grant Eligible products typically must be certified to some kind of public safety uniform or gear standard, such as ANSI or NFPA. Link to Grant Information page