After years of slow evolution in the world of neoprene, the TRD-Skin represents a Revolution.
Neoprene until today
Until today neoprene for wetsuits used in spearfishing and outdoor freediving has been mainly divided into two types: open-cell interior smooth exterior, and open-cell interior lined exterior.
The first has generally an exceptional softness and elasticity, and excellent capacity to dry quickly thanks to the external smooth surface, while its weak point is the very limited resistance to tear, especially during wearing and unwearing phases, and to abrasion on the rocks. Moreover, it is not possible to add seams on the open-cell smooth neoprene, but only bonding, which, if not perfectly done, with time can collapse, and is generally less resistant. On the other hand, the absence of seams represents an advantage in terms of thermal insulation, since the neoprene will not be repeatedly punctured, even if only superficially.
To the contrary, the open-cell externally lined neoprene has the enormous advantage of a very high resistance to tear and abrasion on the rocks, but it is a little harder and heavier than open-cell smooth neoprene, due to the external lining (nylon or lycra), which, by the way, once it is soaked with water, takes a lot of time to dry. Such situation is a big problem during cold season, especially in transfers with the dinghy. Moreover, if on one side the seams represent a guarantee of resistance to detachment of the pieces of neoprene sewed one to the other, the multiple holes made for the passage of the seam, even though only superficial, determine anyway points of reduced thermal insulation.
The attempts to innovate
Some attempts to fix the disadvantages of one or the other type of neoprene have been made in recent years, with only partially positive results, which actually have not permitted the complete success of such solutions. Two important examples are the three layer neoprene utilized both by Polo Sub and Top Sub, already presented by AP and respectively named Forza 3 and SH3. Both have a lining closed between two layers of neoprene, so that the final material is tear resistant. Forza 3 has a fixed thickness layer of 1 mm externally positioned, then the lining and then a layer of variable thickness neoprene depending on the total thickness of the wetsuit. In such a way the different parts of neoprene pieces can be sewed together with an external seam that needs to penetrate in the material just slightly more then 1 mm to reach and go beyond the lining, which gives resistance to the structure. The idea is extremely good, but the weak point is the fact that in case of a cut or opening in the external 1 mm layer, water reaches the internal lining, soaking it internally due to capillarity, and slowly the sandwich material will open up, with the layers detaching, compromising the entire wetsuit.
The SH3 partially solves the risk of the external layer tearing, positioning the thinner layer internally (in this case 0.8 mm thick) and the thicker one externally. In such a way it will be tougher for the external layer to tear, as it will be consistently thicker, and so harder for the water to reach the lining. Differently from Polo Sub, Top Sub does not use seams, but glues the neoprene parts together. Theoretically the final result due to seams versus glueing is better comfort, but lower resistance of the SH3 if the compared to Forza 3.
It is by the way true that the seams made on the smooth neoprene by Polo Sub will give more resistance, but will act on the open-cell smooth neoprene which is less resistant then the lined one, so that with time and continuous impact of sun rays, the wetsuit could tear more easily.
This year an important company such as Omer, with its top of the line brand, Sporasub, has decided to bring back the “Sandwich” neoprene, as already presented by AP, proposing a complete line of wetsuits and socks made with such material. Moreover, to avoid water penetrating in the layers of sandwich neoprene from wrists, ankles and face contour, Omer has decided to close these edges with open-cell lined neoprene. The novelty in the Sporasub solution in the total absence of seams, and the connection of the pieces of neoprene done only with bonding (except the lower part of the jacket, where the castor tail is, which is always reinforced with seams). Certainly a very comfortable and soft solution, but surely less resistant, and still at risk of cuts to the external neoprene and consequent soaking of internal lining. Also, the duration and resistance of the bonding will have to be verified, considering the material is made of three layers with different elongations (neoprene, lining, neoprene).
The Revolution: TRD-Skin
After having seen the good, but incomplete, attempts done until today, it has been Salvimartechnical department to invent what we can call today a revolutionary neoprene, the Tear Resistant Dry- Skin, or TRD-Skin. The idea is simple and ingenious at the same time, and consists of a material made of four layers: an extremely soft first quality neoprene (Yamamoto 39) open-cell internally and lined externally, with the lining soaked with an external layer of polyurethane, making the outside surface totally water resistant. The lining itself, in addition, is made of Ultrastretch texture, with incomparable elastic characteristics in all directions. On the polyurethane is then applied the Nebula camouflage coloring, homonym of the new revolutionary wetsuit made with the TRD-Skin.
The advantages are really remarkable: the Nebula wetsuit, thanks to the TRD-Skin, offers a resistance which is equal to the open-cell internal lined external neoprene. In addition, the seams, thanks to the external lining, penetrate in the neoprene less than 1 mm, so a lower value compared to the Forza 3 by Polo Sub, insuring a better thermal insulation. To the contrary of the Forza 3 though, the lining is external and protects all the neoprene from abrasion. Just as the SH3, the Forza 3, the Sandwich and any smooth exterior neoprene, the TRD-Skin is totally water-resistant and so dries quickly. The softness and elasticity of the Ultrastretch lining guarantees almost the comfort of an open-cell smooth neoprene. Finally, the additional soaking of the lining with an external polyurethane layer, from the testing done by Salvimar, shows additional thermal insulation. In conclusion, theoretically, the revolutionary TRD-Skin neoprene, waiting for the confirmation through the test in the water by AP, puts together the strengths of the open-cell smooth neoprene to the ones of the open-cell lined neoprene, as below:
1. Water resistant external surface for quicker drying
2. Absolute resistance to tear and abrasion thanks to the external lining and seams
3. Superficial seams with less than 1 mm depth to reduce to the minimum thermal dissipation
4. No risk whatsoever of infiltration of water in the layers of the neoprene
5. Additional thermal insulation thanks to the external layer of polyurethane
6. Ultrastretch lining for softness and elasticity comparable to open-cell smooth neoprene wetsuits
7. Yamamoto 39 for absolute softness and comfort
First impression of the TRD-Skin neoprene
All this is true theoretically, very logic and reasonable, but AP never stops to the theory and to the indications from manufacturers, so we have requested a sheet of TRD-Skin to deeply analyze it. We have been given a piece of 3.5 mm TRD-Skin, the minimum thickness, while Nebula is available in 3.5, 5.5 and 7 mm thicknesses. We have evaluated both the softness and elasticity, the resistance to tear, and the resistance to abrasion of the external polyurethane surface.
Elasticity is indeed remarkable. The TRD-Skin neoprene elongates easily up to double its length. Resistance is complete thanks to the external lining. Instead, attention has to be made avoiding nails cutting the internal part of the neoprene, where the Yamamoto 39 is amazingly soft, but not at all resistant to tear and cut, and bases all its resistance on the external lining.
The polyurethane external cover is resistant, even trying to carve it with a fork. Certainly a deeper test will be needed in the water with a duration analysis.