A new factory in Tuas, Singapore said it is to develop cotton clothes that don't retain sweat through a patented process developed by Nextec Applications, a US-based company.

The process coats fibres of cotton and other fabrics with a thin water-resistant plastic film. Cloth made from the treated fibres will not get wet or stained because of tiny holes that let air and sweat vapour pass through.

The fabric will be treated at Nextec's Tuas factory, which opened in July.

This new process, called Epic or encapsulated protection inside clothing, is being used in outdoor 'performance' nylon or polyester clothing like winter jackets and raincoats.

Recently, the Epic treatment has also been used in stretch fabrics and surgical gowns, as well as everyday clothing made of cotton.

Mr Tan Kang Fun, executive director of Nextec in Singapore, said the technology covers individual fibres.

'It makes the material more breathable than laminated fabrics and the treatment will not wear off like surface coatings.' Nextec also claims its treatment makes fabrics more windproof and they dry quicker than untreated fabrics.

A drawback though is that the material cannot be dry-cleaned or washed with fabric softeners.