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Thinsulate fibers are about 15 micrometres (0.00059 in) in diameter, which is thinner than the polyester fibers normally used in insulation for clothing such as gloves or winter jackets. Advertising material suggests that Thinsulate is more effective due to the increased density of fibers with decreased size of fibers compared with more traditional insulation. Like most insulation materials, the gaps between fibers not only reduce heat flow, but also allow moisture to escape. The insulation properties are beneficial for retaining some of the heat produced by the body for comfortable warmth while the moisture produced, most likely sweat, is supposed to evaporate.
The thermal resistance R-value provided by Thinsulate products varies by the specific thickness and construction of the fabric. Values (US units) range from 1.6 for 80-gram fabric to 2.9 for 200-gram fabric. Thinsulate is considered "the warmest thin apparel insulation" available. In fact, when equal thicknesses are compared, it provides about 1½ times the warmth of down and about twice the warmth of other high-loft insulation materials.
Material safety data sheets from the manufacturer show that different varieties of Thinsulate are made from different mixtures of polymers, but most are primarily polyethylene terephthalate or a mixture of polyethylene terephthalate and polypropylene. Other materials in some include polyethylene terephthalate-polyethylene isophthalate copolymer and acrylic.
Thinsulate is now used in the fabric roof of the convertible automobile, the Porsche Boxster. The extra layer not only reduces heat loss but has also reduced noise levels inside the car by 3 decibels. Jaguar has also used Thinsulate in the roof of its F-Type convertible and claims: "a Thinsulate layer means thermal and sound insulation is akin to a solid roof."
In 1979, Thinsulate insulation was introduced, marketed as providing "warmth without bulk." Marketing material suggests it retains its insulating ability even in damp conditions.
- "What Is Thinsulate insulation?". 3M. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
- "Thinsulate™ Insulation" (PDF). indapac.com. 3M. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- "Insulation properties of Thinsulate from 3M". rockywoods.com. Rockywoods Fabrics, LLC.
- Calvi, Lisa (20 June 2012). "Lisa spends 90 minutes with "engrossing" Porsche Boxter S". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- "2014 Jaguar F-TYPE official from $69,000". SlashGear.com. 27 September 2012.
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