Way back in the 70s, I was a bit player in the Berghaus team that worked on the introduction of Gore-Tex clothing to the UK market. Sealing the seams effectively was a major stumbling block. Ultra-sonic welding appeared to be the solution but field testing exposed a serious flaw. Caught in a late blizzard in the mountains of Corsica, the prototype jackets my brother Paul and I were wearing came apart, literally, at the seams.
The cold had made the welded seams brittle and they simply snapped. The snow turned to rain as we dropped into the valley and it wasn’t only our spirits that were damp that day and those that followed. Eventually, the seam sealing problem was solved, along with the performance parameters of the laminate itself. It’s more than history now – it’s irrelevant.
Except that those memories excited my interest in Swiss mountaineering brand Mammut’s adoption of textile laser welding. The specially developed production machine sends a laser beam through the outer, laser-transparent textile layer. It hits an absorbing layer that converts the light into heat.
This brings the joints into the melting temperature range, which are then connected by mechanical pressure. In this way, the outer layer of the jacket is joined to the inner layer without visible seams.
Performance can be summed up neatly – 100% protection against moisture and wind, no loss of down and absolute freedom of design. It’s clear that Mammut Laser Fuse Technology has opened up a new era in down jacket production.
Technological innovation, that Mammut played a major role in developing, combines materials exclusively with light energy, without any yarn or glue. Weldable insulation chambers of different sizes allow different filling quantities to be placed as required.
For Autumn/Winter 2020/21, Mammut will be launching three down garment styles manufactured using Laser Fuse technology, which all carry the name Photics. And the icing on the cake, as it were, comes in its application to the evolving ‘urbaneering’ sector. Though the term’s a tad clumsy, it’s better that ‘urban outdoor’. As Mammut puts it, Photics ‘offers urban adventurers optimum protection for the city’.