Swiss knitwear specialist Eschler has teamed up with Austrian textile finishing firm Grabher Group to develop new sports and workwear fabrics that are treated with plasma technology to give high performance finishes that are also environmentally friendly.

The 'Plasma Technology by Eschler' process uses an ionised gas (plasma) to modify the fabric surface to make it water or dirt repellent.

Not only are the effects said to be extremely durable, but the process doesn't change the textile's handle - unlike traditional 'wet' textile finishing treatments that usually involve additives or coatings.

Eschler works exclusively with a so-called 'dry process', which uses a minimum of water and chemicals, saves energy and is free of fluorocarbon compounds (PFOA or PFOS).

"The new technology allows a great eco balance," explains product manager Markus Lutz. "The new high-tech fabrics are ideal for a broad range of sports depending on the plasma treatment: cycling, triathlon, running, functional underwear cross-country and alpine skiing, trekking, and mountaineering."

The first apparel pieces using this treatment will be available for consumers in summer 2012.