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Boot-Drying Technology Aids in Foot Health for Marines

By Tara Olivo, associate editor | March 19, 2015

Meltblown manufacturer Biovation produces product in partnership with Marine Corps.

Members of the armed forces will have a new product available to them to help combat unnecessary foot injuries such as foot blisters.
 
Biovation, a technology design and manufacturing company that produces advanced nonwoven fiber products with integrated anti-microbial chemistries, recently produced DryRight, a tactical boot-drying product.
 
Funded, developed, and tested in close collaboration with the U.S. Marine Corps, DryRight was successfully tested by the warfighters at a training center in Okinawa, Japan, in addition to other users in the Middle East, Scandinavia and the Sierra Nevada mountains.
 
The solution works by being rolled and inserted into a wet boot when it’s not in use. The construction is comprised of PLA (polylactic acid) meltblown nonwovens, allowing the entire structure to have a super-wicking performance. Because of its absorbing and moisture locking capabilities, DryRight doesn’t need to be rung out like a towel. The insert is also composed of an antimicrobial and antifungal chemistry that allows it mitigate odor caused by pathogens, and the lining, which is a woven outer layer previously accrued by the Marine Corps, according to the company’s CEO Kerem Durdag.
 
The opportunity to create the product for the Marines came when Durdag got a call in 2010 as the result of a referral from a colleague.
 
“They were looking for a company that had some expertise in fabrics and some expertise in chemistry because they knew that the chemistry had to do certain things,” he recalls. “They called us saying that they had an issue, they had a major problem that they needed to solve, and they didn’t have an articulation on what the solution should be, but they very clearly knew what the problem was. So from their perspective, we were a company that wanted to tackle on a very tough problem. And we have been very proud to have collaborated and partnered up with them; they have done a fantastic job of testing, validating and giving us product feedback.”  
 
Because users will be carrying DryRight around under particular conditions, the Marine Corps provided specific parameters that needed to be met by Biovation, including weight, size, usability, robustness, ruggedness and number of uses. The Marines also wanted it to have an element of sustainability, which is where the use of sustainable biopolymers came in.
 
“We had to do it in a way so that its weight is light and strong, and then it needs to be able to get folded up so they can stuff it in their backpack,” he says.
 
Durdag guarantees the product can be used up to five times under very wet conditions, but users can potentially get 10-15 uses if the boots are just dampened or moistened. Boots are completely dry after inserting the product into boots for six to eight hours.
 
The company spent a lot of time ensuring the structure was pliable and flexible, as warfighters would use them in various weather conditions and in fresh, brackish and salt waters.
 
“Whether you’re in the Arctic, in Afghanistan or in Okinawa, a lot of the tweaking and the testing we had to do was to ensure that the performance remains constant independent of weather conditions. That’s the tweaking of the chemistries; the way we make the fiber and resulting non-woven material from the PLA,” Durdag explains.
 
While it’s unclear whether the Dept. of Defense will purchase DryRight, Durdag says it will be available to them in June or July of this year. Biovation is also considering the production of civilian versions for hikers, fisherman, hunters and other commercial sectors.

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