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Wetsuits - Materials Research

Finisterre wetsuits from wetsuits

At CALMARE we are passionate about sustainable water sports and aim to provide unbiased information about what material options are available and the impact of decisions on both sustainability and product performance. We carry out research to increase knowledge on materials, investigate new options and then share our knowledge to try and help the industry advance and consumers be more informed.

The video above is an example of the wetsuit project carried out in collaboration with Finisterre (see Guardian article), for which some of the key findings were published in an Ecotextiles Finisterre Article - Wetsuit Recycling . The work on wetsuits continues, and there are currently masters student projects ongoing, with support from SrfaceTM, looking at different materials including natural rubber. See our latest article, Wetsuits - A Materials Review for more details about materials available to consumers and how they are made. 

Example projects include:

At CALMARE we want to understand more about wetsuits, how they perform and how we can make a more sustainable option. From working with Finisterre on a Knowledge Transfer Programme (funded by Innovate UK) to develop wetsuits from used wetsuits (see Ecotextiles Finisterre Article - Wetsuit Recycling ), we are now continuing our own research looking at durability and thermal performance of various wetsuit materials, with the aim to get scientific data that accurately compares the key performance criteria of the various options and helps consumers make an educated choice based on performance and sustainability. The ultimate aim continues to be the same as the initial concept behind the Finisterre KTP - to develop a fully recyclable wetsuit, made from natural or recycled materials. 

We first started investigating how to determine the thermal performance of wetsuits during the KTP project with Finisterre. This has now developed and the group has a full bespoke test rig that can used to measure the performance of the wetsuit and the different materials. Initial investigations have shown good correlation between the latest Yulex materials and neoprene alternatives demonstrating that with regards to thermal performance there is minimal difference. Investigations continue into other variables to compare the performance of different materials, so that consumers can make informed decisions based on the performance, sustainability and cost.