Feather and down make manufactured products precious and convey the unique lightness, warmth, fluffiness, and pleasure of natural materials. These practical, yet traditional qualities are not altered, but enhanced by today’s processing.
Today feathers are used for luxury accessories and garments, so were they in the past: they were used in public folklore performances, traditional rituals, ceremonies, their function being mainly decorative.
Feather and down for industrial processing are plucked from Anseres, geese and ducks, and preserve all their extraordinary thermal and heat insulating properties. Thanks to their structure, feather and down create a number of air cells with an insulating effect, thus allowing perfect comfort for the body.
Feather and down are normally imported from Eastern Europe, China, South East Asia, Chile and Argentina.
In terms of processing and product innovation, the Italian feather and down industry has made remarkable progress thanks to its traditional assets: creativity, style and good taste.
FEATHER AND DOWN CHARACTERISTICS
The Assopiuma quality trademark guarantees that the filling material is pure geese and duck, which means that landfowl feathers are not used. Feathers are essential for birds to fly and survive at all temperatures. The intertwined structure of feather and down creates a layer of small thermoregulatory air cells that keeps them warm and avoids dispersions of their body heat.
This heat-regulating function allows waterfowl like geese, ducks and the like to move from hot to polar weather without moulting. Birds can therefore fly at altitudes as high as 900-1500 metres, and in some cases, in India, as high as 9000 metres. Ducks and geese can fly no higher than 1300 metres. Feathers have other functions too: their structure, shape, dimension and colour characterise species and sex. In addition, they are a means of sexual attraction.
These characteristics particularly apply to down, which is the plumage forming the undercoating of waterfowl, consisting of clusters of light, soft filaments growing from one scantly sketched down core, but without any quill shaft or vane. Only a few birds possess this protecting bloom: geese or Anseres and Anatidaes. This product is ideal for warm, light and comfortable fillings.
When feather and down are used as filling, the tick and the manufacturing technique must enhance these unique and natural qualities. Physics gives evidence that thermal regulation depends on a good insulation, which is best ensured by feather and down and their natural property to retain air.
The air inside the filling is a perfect insulator. This explains why textile and natural materials with different physical structures and chemical characteristics can have insulating properties. Feather and down naturally have an ideal insulating property, as their intertwined structure allows them to capture and retain big quantities of air. In fact, birds are covered with feather.
FEATHERS AND DOWN AS FILLING MATERIAL
The following factors determine the quality of feather and down (separately or blended together): light weight and fill power, compressibility and elastic recovery, hygroscopicity, insulation, physiological and comfort.
Light weight – filling power:
1 gram of down can fill a volume of 0.4 litres.
Compressibility and elastic recovery:
Feather and down material is highly compressible given the great amount of air it can retain and its capacity to be restored to its original shape and volume.
Physiological properties and comfort:
The capacity to absorb moisture is a very important physiological factor as it allows it to wick away from the body.
Given its morphological characteristics, the filling can retain great volumes of air.
THE QUALITY OF MANUFACTURED PRODUCTS
Products filled with feather and down also have specific properties: light weight, warmth, good air-permeability, durability and reprocessability.
According to the use and the specific sectors (upholstery, clothing, bedding, leisure), there are standard requirements to be met:
Filling material for upholstery (pillows, sofas, etc.):
- A blend of goose and duck small feathers is the ideal filling composition for upholstery. They are light and have good air-permeability; they easily adapt to the shape of the body; they are naturally fire-retardant (due to their protein fibres); they last for a lifetime and are of enduring value; they are 100% biodegradable and can be reprocessed.
Filling material for clothing:
- The ideal filling composition for clothing is at least 70% goose and duck down and 30% small feathers. Light weight, warmth (high thermal insulation), air-permeability and durability are guaranteed.
Filling material for bedding:
- The ideal filling composition for bedding is 90% goose and duck down (which makes the product extremely fluffy) and 10% small feathers, and should in no case be less than 50% down and 50% small feathers. Thereupon, the product is very light (a top-quality double quilt should not contain more than 1250 gr. of feather and down, and therefore weigh 250 gr. on the whole body area), has good thermal properties, air-permeability (during the sleep the body releases up to 250 gr. of moisture through perspiration); it is beautiful, it can be used over and over again and reprocessed; it lasts for a lifetime and is of enduring value; last but not least, your bed is easy to make.
Filling material for outdoors and leisure products (in particular sleeping bags)
The ideal filling composition for outdoors and leisure products is based on the weight/insulation ratio, pure down being recommended for the most extreme weather conditions. In less extreme weather conditions, a 70-50% down content can be enough. The product is heavier; therefore its price is lower. Light weight, (essential in trekking and at high altitudes), compressibility, maximum thermal insulation (up to minus 35°), physiological comfort, good air-permeability, enduring qualities are nevertheless guaranteed.