Air Flake, a biomimetic material

Concept

Born with hints
from nature,
Air Flake reflects our
respect for
nature and our
love of life.
Air Flake envelopes us
in warmth
with a soft and
intimate embrace.

Features of Air Flake

Air Flake is a biomimetic material
inspired by down.
It provides all the loft,
warmth and fluffy texture of down while
offering the functional benefits of
synthetic fiber.

  • Tecnology Award 2015
    “Technology Award”
    by the Textile Machinery Society of Japan

Softness

You can’t fully appreciate the softness of
Air Flake until you actually feel it.

Softness

Lightness

Compared with regular polyester insulation,
Air Flake provides more obvious loft at the equivalent weight.

Lightness

Warmth

The loft of Air Flake helps to trap warm air.
And it retains its insulating properties even when wet.

Warmth

Washable &
Quick-Drying

Unlike down, which is difficult to launder,
Air Flake can be laundered at home and requires only a few hours to dry.

Durable

Air Flake doesn't shrink, even after heavy use and repeated washing.
The picture shows comparison of the loft after 14 times washing.

Air Flake and Its Developers

Once we were visited by a businessman, Kazunobu Ishikawa, who asked for help realizing his dream of developing a substitute for down.

As Mr. Ishikawa worked for a duvet maker, he had always wondered why no suitable substitute for down had ever been developed.

The history of the textile industry was marked by the invention of three revolutionary substitutes for natural materials: nylon for silk, acrylic for wool, and polyester for cotton.

Mr. Ishikawa felt that the existing synthetic insulations were lacking:
“These materials match down in terms of warmth, and some even perform better than down when wet. None of them, however, has managed to replicate the soft and fluffy texture of down.”

Indeed, down is popular precisely because its texture is so highly valued.

In addition to his commitment to animal conservation issues, Mr. Ishikawa had been concerned about the work environment in down factories. Workers in these factories are exposed to feather dust suspended in the air at all times, and many eventually suffer itchiness, allergies or respiratory diseases. Moreover, at that time, the bird flu epidemic was threatening Japan and the price of down was rising.

In 2003, Mr. Ishikawa managed to convince Hideo Inoue of Kurabo to launch a project team to undertake the research and development of a synthetic substitute for down. The project team comprised members of the Hojo Mill (which later merged with the Marugame Mill) on the island of Shikoku.

The Hojo Mill had a very energetic expert, Hirokazu Onishi, who remained committed to this project and eventually led the project team to the development of a successful product. Once the project got under way, they adopted the “trial-and-error” approach. The team members engaged in an active exchange of ideas and recorded their observations carefully and patiently. They conducted more than a thousand trials to determine the optimal combination of materials.

Eventually, the team got close to approving a final candidate material, but everyone was convinced it would be impossible to automate production.

Mr. Onishi, however, was a person capable of developing something from nothing. With his own hands, he invented machines to automate production of this prospective material.

The original down ball was completed in 2005. We named it “Air Flake” because of its appearance. Later, it was modified into string form to achieve better loft and heat retention.

After a patent was granted for Air Flake in 2012, this outstanding R&D effort was recognized with an award from the Textile Machinery Society of Japan in FY 2015.

Today, we are confident that Air Flake is the most down-like insulation available on the world market. Its texture is as super fluffy and soft as down, yet it retains the advantages of synthetic fiber: it is washable, quick drying, odor-free, animal-friendly and non-toxic.

Air Flake and Its Developers

Once we were visited by a businessman, Kazunobu Ishikawa, who asked for help realizing his dream of developing a substitute for down.
As Mr. Ishikawa worked for a duvet maker, he had always wondered why no suitable substitute for down had ever been developed.

The history of the textile industry was marked by the invention of three revolutionary substitutes for natural materials: nylon for silk, acrylic for wool, and polyester for cotton.

Mr. Ishikawa felt that the existing synthetic insulations were lacking:
“These materials match down in terms of warmth, and some even perform better than down when wet. None of them, however, has managed to replicate the soft and fluffy texture of down.”

Indeed, down is popular precisely because its texture is so highly valued.

In addition to his commitment to animal conservation issues, Mr. Ishikawa had been concerned about the work environment in down factories. Workers in these factories are exposed to feather dust suspended in the air at all times, and many eventually suffer itchiness, allergies or respiratory diseases. Moreover, at that time, the bird flu epidemic was threatening Japan and the price of down was rising.

In 2003, Mr. Ishikawa managed to convince Hideo Inoue of Kurabo to launch a project team to undertake the research and development of a synthetic substitute for down. The project team comprised members of the Hojo Mill (which later merged with the Marugame Mill) on the island of Shikoku.

The Hojo Mill had a very energetic expert, Hirokazu Onishi, who remained committed to this project and eventually led the project team to the development of a successful product. Once the project got under way, they adopted the “trial-and-error” approach. The team members engaged in an active exchange of ideas and recorded their observations carefully and patiently. They conducted more than a thousand trials to determine the optimal combination of materials.

Eventually, the team got close to approving a final candidate material, but everyone was convinced it would be impossible to automate production.

Mr. Onishi, however, was a person capable of developing something from nothing. With his own hands, he invented machines to automate production of this prospective material.

The original down ball was completed in 2005. We named it “Air Flake” because of its appearance. Later, it was modified into string form to achieve better loft and heat retention.

After a patent was granted for Air Flake in 2012, this outstanding R&D effort was recognized with an award from the Textile Machinery Society of Japan in FY 2015.

Today, we are confident that Air Flake is the most down-like insulation available on the world market. Its texture is as super fluffy and soft as down, yet it retains the advantages of synthetic fiber: it is washable, quick drying, odor-free, animal-friendly and non-toxic.

Usage Examples

Winter Jacket

The loft can be modified to suit the style of garment. Because Air Flake is quick-drying, the whole jacket can be washed in the home laundry; no dry cleaning required.

Outdoor Wear

It’s not unusual to get caught in a sudden shower when hiking in the mountains. Air Flake dries very quickly even when it is worn, so you needn’t worry about losing heat through cold wet outerwear.

Duvet

Everyone appreciates a clean, washed duvet ? especially one that is washable at home and dries in only a few hours. What’s more, a duvet of Air Flake feels satisfyingly indulgent ? it’s clearly a popular item.

Sportswear

Those who participate
in sports inevitably become soaked in sweat.
For winter sports, warm but quick-drying and washable insulation is essential.
Air Flake fits the bill.

Denim Item

Since it's washable in garment,
Air Flake has good chemistry with denim. It enables us to create alternative fashion designs.

Hangtag

We offer hangtags for items that
contain Air Flake that certify the quality
and ensure customer satisfaction.

For detailed information,
samples, and inquiries

Kurabo Industries Ltd.
4-31, 2-chome, Kyutaro-Machi
Chuo-ku, Osaka 541-8581 Japan
TEL: +81 6 6266 5311