In our previous article, What is Innegra™?, we looked at the basic properties of this relatively new fiber and some common uses for it. Now we’d like to share some tips for deciding whether it’s right for your purpose.
Quick Overview of Innegra™
In case you’re not familiar with it, here’s a quick look at Innegra™. Many people aren’t familiar with it because it hasn’t been on the market long.
Innegra™ is the lightest-weight commercial fiber available. It’s a synthetic olefin fiber, meaning it’s made of polyolefin polypropylene.
There are two primary forms of Innegra™: Innegra™ S, which is the primary yarn, and Innegra™ H, which is a series of yarns that are combined with materials like aramid, basalt, carbon, or glass. Innegra™ shouldn’t be used to replace these materials but can be combined with them into a strong hybrid fiber.
The demand for Innegra™ is growing because many industries are seeing its benefits, like its lightness, impact resistance, durability, water and chemical resistance, vibration damping, and safety.
Products on the Market with Innegra™
You may have already come across something made with Innegra™ without even realizing it. The fiber is being incorporated into commercially-available goods like watersports equipment, ropes, protective shoe ware, and fabrics.
Here’s a list of products that may contain Innegra™:
Protective garments. Innegra™ is incorporated into fabrics, which are used in protective clothing and gear that is used for power washing, shipyard work, chemical control, and the oil and gas industry.
Ropes, netting, and webbing. It can be used in commercial fishing, ship rigging, sports nets and ropes, safety gear, and much more.
Impact gear. Items that are subject to high-energy impacts are candidates for Innegra™. This includes things like white water rafting gear, motorsports equipment, aerospace materials, and equipment used in police and fire safety.
Reinforcements. Anything with structural reinforcement could have Innegra™. This includes braids, scrims, off-angle reinforcements, unidirectional uses, and multi-axial applications.
Fabrics. There are pure-woven fabrics made with Innegra™ S, hybrid weaves with Innegra™ and another fiber, as well as Innegra™ H fabrics that are co-mingled with another fiber.
Innegra™ has many desirable properties, so it has quickly become a top choice across a wide variety of industries. But it’s not perfect for every purpose. Here are its key properties to consider.
Lightweight. This is probably the main reason many product designers and manufacturers choose Innegra™. It has a high strength to weight ratio and is so lightweight, it improves the options you have for the size and design of products.
Vibration resistance. It has a high resistance to vibration, which is good for factory machining and safety. If vibration is a major concern, Innegra™ is probably a good choice. However, if vibration is actually desired in the finished product - like in a musical instrument - it’s probably not ideal.
Reliable durability. Long-term durability is almost always a good thing. Innegra™ is durable because it resists wear and warping, with a high modulus that means it snaps back into shape under pressure without deforming.
High strength. If strength is critical, consider a hybrid blend of Innegra™ H. For example, a carbon blend would reinforce machine parts that experience rubbing. Innegra™ has a low creep of 3.2% at a 20% ultimate tensile strength.
Water. Innegra™ is hydrophobic, meaning it resists water. Because it won’t take on moisture in most applications, this makes it a good choice for marine use. But you wouldn’t want to use it in a fabric that’s supposed to wick moisture.
Chemicals. It’s also hydrolytically stable, meaning it is resistant to a wide range of chemicals and will strongly resist chemical breakdown. So it’s a good choice for chemical-resistant fabrics and gear that constantly come into contact with corrosive fluids.
Temperatures. Temperature is always a concern, so make sure Innegra™ matches the temperatures that will be used in processing, manufacturing, and end use. It has a maximum recommended processing temperature of 150°C or 302°F.
UV resistance. Many people don’t realize that Innegra™ is now offered in with a UV-stabilizer. You might choose this option if, for example, it will be used in a tropical climate with extremely high daily exposure to ultraviolet light.
Color. Currently, Innegra™ is only offered in black and white. The manufacturer ascribes this to the nature of an olefin fiber, which is extremely resistant to being dyed. The same thing that makes it water/chemical resistant makes it hard to dye.
Safety. When safety is of utmost importance, Innegra™ can be a good choice. Because it resists wear and is extremely tough, it can prevent catastrophic failure in manufacturing environments.
Value. Innegra™ is light and durable, so it’s a cost-effective choice. It adds value to your process and enhances the final product. Plus, your customers may view you as a more valuable vendor if you can provide materials made with an innovative new fiber.
Experiences in the Field
Many companies prefer to hear firsthand opinions about fibers before they’re willing to take a chance on them. For this reason, we’re including some testimonials about Innegra™ from companies that have actually field-tested it.
Let’s start with how it performs in fabrics. Jure Berk runs Berk Composites, which manufactures cycling gear. "Fabrics with Innegra help to increase impact resistance, and for our products it replaces kevlar perfectly,” Berk says. “In case the carbon product breaks, the Innegra fibers will hold it together, preventing the product to fall apart.”
Berk also notes that Innegra is helping the company maintain a safe and compliant environment. “It helps us to reach safety standards with lightweight products,” he says. “Innegra is easy to cut, and also sanding isn't problematic."
Greg Loehr, who is the owner of Resin Research and a well-known surfing champion, is also a fan of Innegra™ fabrics in manufacturing. "The fabric is perfect for anyone using carbon on a SUP [stand-up paddleboard]. The board came out at 15 pounds, it was easy to laminate, wet fine, lapped and sanded great.”
Loehr is also happy with the look of the Innegra™, which is sometimes a concern because it comes in a limited color range. “Cosmetics are simply cool to look at,” he says, adding, “Much easier than straight carbon to work with."
You might wonder about how well Innegra™ will adhere to other materials. So did Jurgen Honscheid, who runs the Northshore surfboard company and is a world champion surfer. But he tested it for a year and came out happy with it.
"Over a year I work[ed] with Innegra with the Entropy Bio-Epoxy and now have the best boardbuilding materials I have ever had,” Honscheid says. “Innegra is something like Kevlar or Dyneema, but it sticks incredibly to foam, glass or even a second layer of Innegra.”
In a multi-surface or multi-fiber use, Innegra™ performs well. “There is no adhesion problem like with other fibers, Honscheid observes. “It is super strong, gives the board really tough, elastic and clear superwhite structured skin."
For a product innovator or entrepreneur, Innegra™ offers huge possibilities. Wes Kouba, who is the inventor behind the TornadoPod, chose it for his prototype and product development needs. Here is his view of Innegra™ in his own words:
"More than five years ago we began the development of the TornadoPod. Our idea was to use modern material science to develop a safety pod for use by families and individuals to protect them from flying debris during a tornado. After several years of searching for a solution, we are pleased to announce that Innegra has been absolutely instrumental in helping us reach this point in our development.”
Deciding on Innegra™
If you need more information about this new fiber and how you can incorporate it into your application, Service Thread is available to help answer your questions. Our technical experts understand the product specs and can help you sort through your options.
We’re always here as a resource for you, so feel free to connect with Service Thread as you make a decision about Innegra™.