W. L. Gore & Associates has opened a new state-of-the-art Biophysics and a Heat and Flame Protection laboratory in Elkton, Maryland. The new facilities are supposed to allow Gore engineers to very quickly assess the performance of component materials while developing new understanding and technologies.
The Biophysics lab helps predict the effects of apparel, activity and environment on the human body. The impact is measured through benchtop testing, mannequins with sensors and human testing in the environmental chamber. This chamber can simulate extreme environmental conditions, from frigid temperatures to blazing sun and heat or humidity. The environmental chamber is said to recreate between 85 and 95 percent of the environments on the earth's surface. Such a wide range of conditions are achieved through accurate control of temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and natural solar radiation.
The Biophysics lab also features a Rain Tower which can simulate realistic rainfall rates ranging from a light drizzle to a downpour. Simulating different and critical environmental conditions is key in testing the impact on garments and their features in terms of water protection, wind protection and comfort.
The Heat and Flame Protection lab helps Gore engineers test the ability of products to provide the three key elements of burn protection - flame resistance, thermal insulation and thermal stability. The lab features a cone calorimeter, which enables Gore engineers to measure heat release characteristics of the fabrics used in finished garments. The calorimeter also measures the smoke generated from a fire event involving these products. The Heat and Flame Protection lab also features a Pyrolysis Combustion Flow Calorimeter (PCFC) / Micro Combustion Calorimeter (MCC), which allows Gore to rapidly assess heat release and fire-preventing char generation in the raw materials used to make its products. Finally, the Stored Thermal Energy Tester at the new lab allows evaluation of time to burn in low heat flux scenarios.