Although we've introduced several new functional garment innovations over the last few years, there are some applications that still present considerable challenges. One example: It's winter, the temperature is well below freezing – and I'm late for the bus. I have to run or I'll miss it. The bus is full and the heating is on. On the bus I start to sweat - after all I'm still wearing my thick winter jacket. Even opening the front zipper doesn't help me cool down. An apparently unsolvable problem, but to tell you the truth, I don't have the answer either! Nevertheless, these are exactly the kind of challenges that provide Gore's product specialists with an endless source of inspiration for new product developments. Once we've come up with a possible solution to the problem, we usually build a prototype. We want to find out as quickly as possible if our idea might work. Is there an obvious improvement? Have we been able to solve the problem? If the answer to both of these questions is “yes”, we've taken an important step in the right direction. If only things were that easy! New product ideas are often dropped at this point in the development process.
Is the idea unique?We want to find out whether the prototype really can solve the problem. Laboratory measurements that are in some way connected to the problem aren't sufficient. What we really want to know is whether the solution makes a noticeable difference to the wearer. We often take the best products currently available on the market and compare our prototypes to them.
Fitness for useThe next important step in the development of new product technologies is to ask ourselves the following questions: Does the new technology make a noticeable difference in solving the wearer's problem and will it produce a durable product for the intended end use? Will the technology also work in the long-term, so that the desired effect isn't just a one-off? Are we sure that other unexpected issues won't arise? The answer to all these questions has to be “yes”. But how can we know what the right answer is? How should we best proceed? Can we use the standard water column and breathability test methods? Testing the materials individually would help us determine the quality of the materials. But that wouldn't reproduce demanding, life-like conditions. That's why we don't just test the individual components. We test the product as a whole. Read more about it.