Dope Dyed Yarn
The interior surfaces and most of the exterior surfaces of most wetsuits is covered in a woven synthetic fabric for comfort and durability. We primarily use recycled nylon and recycled polyester, and the majority of black fabrics are woven from dope-dyed yarn, a process introduced in 2016. As opposed to the wet processing technique that uses liquid to dye uncoloured woven fabric, using large volumes of water, chemicals and energy (due to the high temperatures and pressures required), dope dying (also referred to as solution or spin-dyeing) the yarn is colored as it is created in one single step. This drastically reduces and can almost eliminate the need for any water in the process. Recycled or virgin plastic pellets are heated and once molten a coloured pigment is added, before the hot plastic is extruded to create the yarn. This yarn has the colour pigment within it, so the colour is consistent and durable – it cannot be washed out. The yarn itself and final fabric is also more durable because it hasn’t been chemically treated.
This process not only significantly reduces the amount of water and energy required in the manufacturing process, but also the amount of water pollution and subsequent treatment required, in comparison to the traditional wet process. The chemical and colourant-laden water used in the dye baths and rinsing baths of the traditional wet process (as opposed to the pigments used in dope dyeing) should be treated and cleaned before the water can be discharged, presenting a pollution risk in the event of a leak or spillage. Some of the chemical compounds associated with the process (particularly for polyester) are azo compounds, which are amongst those targeted by Greenpeace for elimination as part of its Detox campaign. The dope dye process eliminates these risks from the production process and is the predominant process used across all ranges for black panels.