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Microfibers in compression stockings Ultra-fine and highly functional

Issue 02/2019

Particularly in summer, some patients find it difficult to wear their compression stockings regularly. If, however, these have a high microfiber content , heat and moisture are accumulated to a lesser extent. This increases the level of wearing comfort considerably. The integration of the fine fibers is challenging in this respect. Bauerfeind solved this problem almost 25 years ago and put the first compression stocking of this type on the market.

Whether from sports and functional clothing or as a cleaning cloth – more or less everybody is familiar with microfibers,” says Dr. rer. nat. Uwe Möhring, Executive Director of the German TITV (Textilforschungsinstitut Thüringen-Vogtland) e. V. By definition, fibers are considered microfibers if they are finer than 1 decitex, i.e. if their weight is a maximum of one gram per 10,000 meters. This makes them around 100 times finer than a human hair. To be able to use the fine fibers, a great many individual filaments are combined to make a thread, which thereby gains a larger thread surface area.

Dr. rer. nat. Uwe Möhring, Executive Director of TITV e. V.

Feel-good material

In compression stockings, in particular, the fine fibers can show their strengths: “On account of their thermo-physiological properties, microfibers offer good wearing comfort. Their high water vapor permeability makes them particularly breathable, and they also have a pleasant , soft feel and are comfortable next to the skin,” Dr. Möhring explains.
So it’s not surprising that some manufacturers already tried to use microfibers in compression stockings in the 1990s – and kept on encountering barriers. “Integrating microfibers certainly is a challenge,” Dr. Möhring confirms. “Specially designed machines are required to be able to handle such fine, delicate threads at all. For example, the take-down cannot be too strong, to avoid pre-stretching the material too much. The dyeing process also has to be adjusted as a result of the larger thread surface area.” A suitable fiber material and the correct fiber strength have to be chosen for the individual types of compression stockings. Manufacturing methods have to be developed that take into account the physiological wearing properties of the product , as well as its color fastness, stability and dimensional stability.
The VenoTrain micro, launched by Bauerfeind in 1995, was the first compression stocking on the market to feature a high microfiber content. In this “feel-good stocking”, the mesh-forming thread is covered with a double layer of microfibers. This means that it comprises over 50 percent microfibers and is exceptionally soft , breathable and gentle on the skin.
Since 2011, patients with advanced vein problems have also been benefiting from a microfiber content of over 40 percent with the VenoTrain impuls. The short-stretch stocking is available in compression classes 2 and 3.

In the VenoTrain micro, the mesh-forming thread is covered with a double layer of microfibers.
In the VenoTrain micro, the mesh-forming thread is covered with a double layer of microfibers.

A pioneering achievement with flat-knit products

Bauerfeind set a further milestone in 2013 with the VenoTrain curaflow, the first flat knit compression stocking with microfibers. Lipedema and lymphedema patients value the pleasantly soft surface and the breathability of the compression products. Thanks to proprietary solutions for technical processes, it was possible to achieve the necessary stiffness of the material and high yet stable working pressure, despite the high microfiber content.
The use of microfibers ensures significantly greater wearing comfort for the patients – whether with venous or lymphatic disorders. In addition to good advice and a good fit , this also contributes to patient compliance. And this development story will undoubtedly continue. Dr. Möhring expects that the manufacturing of microfibers will become simpler over time. The textile expert is convinced that the potential of the fine fibers has not been exhausted by any means: “On the one hand, we expect exciting future developments in terms of the materials, such as biopolymer-based microfibers. And on the other hand, there will be plenty happening in the functionalization of the fibers – with regard to an antimicrobial or skin-friendly finish, for instance. The fiber cross-sections, which can be used to optimize the repelling of moisture, will also play an even more important role.”

Images: Michael Knabe, Bauerfeind, E. Rabe