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Testing/​Standards

Objectively evaluating fabric handle

The UK’s University of Leeds has developed an innovative system for the objective evaluation of fabric handle, which uses established and proven test equipment underpinned by scientific principles, which account for key material properties.

21st May 2013

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Leeds

Sports/​Outdoor, Protective, Medical/Hygiene, Transport/​Aerospace, Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable, Interiors

 

The UK’s University of Leeds has developed an innovative system for the objective evaluation of fabric handle, which uses established and proven test equipment underpinned by scientific principles, which account for key material properties. A prototype of the Leeds University Fabric Handle Evaluation System (LUFHES) is available for evaluation purposes and examples of the functional roles that the system can perform in characterisation of fabric properties include:

  • Quantification of fabric handle including softness and sponginess
  • Discrimination of fabrics in terms of tactile comfort
  • Benchmarking of fabrics in terms of their handle
  • Replacement of less reliable (subjective) fabric hand assessment

Technical features

“Currently people assess and discriminate fabrics based on their subtle sense of forces and energy consumed during various fabric deformation processes produced by the human hand,” explains the University’s commercialization partner Danny Connaughton of ConnauTech Ltd.

“Using this as a basis, the innovative system mimics the fabric deformations - but in a more controlled way.  This allows objective characterisation and discrimination of fabric handle which can be related to fabric hand for all of the deformations including compression buckling, shear, stretch, smoothness and texture.”

Figure 1 illustrates compression buckling only, for reference purposes.

LUFHES compression test

Figure 1: Compressive fabric deformations by human hand and objective handle methods

Benefits

The Leeds University Fabric Handle Evaluation System (LUFHES) is said to offer a number of commercial and technical benefits including:

  • Quantitative and objective characterisation & benchmarking of fabrics
  • More consistent and reliable results when compared to fabric hand
  • Increased garment sales (particularly on-line)
  • Relatively low cost
  • Simple to use and to understand the results

Test data

  • Data comparisons have been carried out for the objective and subjective evaluation methods (the latter using a panel of experts commonly employed by the garment supply chain) which confirm that the objective method meets the stringent requirements of garment suppliers and their customers. The objective data were also found to be more consistent and reliable.
  • Using the LUFHES prototype, data have been generated to evaluate the handle of a wide range of different materials including nonwovens, knitted and woven fabrics as well as paper and cling film.  These data demonstrate very clear discrimination of each material in terms of the main fabric handle indices adopted by the system: Fabric Crispiness (CR); Fabric Stiffness (ST); Fabric Flexibility (FL); Fabric Sponginess (SP); Fabric Softness; Fabric Formability; Fabric Smoothness; Fabric Surface Texture Features.
  • The subtle difference between fabric handle before and after washing is of interest to garment suppliers, fabric end-users and the laundry industry. The effect of washing conditions on various fabrics has been evaluated and the results for three cotton fabrics are illustrated (Figure 2).

LUFHES washing effect

Figure 2: Effect of laundry conditions on fabric handle indices:

Fabric Crispiness (CR); Fabric Stiffness (ST); Fabric Flexibility (FL); Fabric Sponginess (SP)

Opportunity

The University is seeking suitable partners to licence the technology.

For further information, please contact: 

Danny Connaughton; [email protected].co.uk , 44 (0)7747 757 118 or (0)1253 813 270

Sarah Jarmin; [email protected] , 44 (0)113 343 0905

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