In my last post I stated I was going to talk about testing on the Gore-Tex® membrane and cover what to do after you purchase that new Gore-Tex® wearable product. Actually, I decided to change things up just slightly. In this blog post I am going to begin talking about testing…but I decided the topic was just too much to cover in one blog entry.
Today, specifically, I’m going to cover how the folks at Gore® test new product concepts by visiting the Rain Room located at their Elkton, MD lab. Essentially, whenever a potential product needs testing or for that matter, any waterproof product needs testing in a simulated rain storm, Gore® has a high-tech, computerized lab that can simulate those inclement conditions.
What the Rain Room consists of is a small glass enclosed room with a floor drain the entire size of the room. Water falling into the drain is then recirculated up to a height of about a 2–story building where it is computer metered to fall from that distance to attain terminal velocity. In other words, the Gore® Rain Room is not just a shower…but a room designed closely for exacting real storm conditions controlled by computer.
Here’s a peak at the rain room as viewed from the top of the ceiling.
Now, you will notice in these pictures and in the video how the Gore® test jackets are divided into two halves. The entire suit contains the Gore-Tex® membrane, but the outer layer of the jacket shows two different types of material. One side, I believe it’s the yellow, has an outer material with higher water repellency. The blue side shows a material that shows some repellency, but over time most garments will lose the effectiveness of this treatment as the garment ages.
This is important because even though the membrane helps keeps the group dry, a garment with an outer material that saturates with water will feel heavier to the user and can feel cooler to the body when warmth might be critical. This is why the W.L. Gore company not only supplies its manufacturing licensees with the breathable, waterproof membranes, but controls what materials are used for outer covers and how this material is conditioned with water repellency properties.
The W.L. Gore company does extensive testing on their products to ensure the consumer gets the highest quality. I don’t think it’s any secret the consumer pays more for a product containing Gore-Tex®, but when you factor in all the testing and quality assurance elements that goes into a product’s manufacture…I believe it is usually money well spent to get the very best.
In the next post I will cover some more specific lab tests that I think will help gain a better understanding just how durable and effective the Gore-Tex® product really is. I guarantee there is much more behind the scenes in the lab than meets the eyes of most consumers. Stay tuned.
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