Intended for the topographical analysis, the researchers use a state of the art 3D digital microscope that contains two components, an optical and a digital device with a camera and a personal computer. This type of microscopic lense is usually applied in the quality control in the electronics and metallic industry. “In the fabric industry, the 3D microscopic lense permits us to evaluate the structure of the textile surface in depth, from the micro to the macro structure. Furthermore, this kind of analysis makes it possible to forecast where and how a fabric will contact and rub against human pores and skin, specially when the textile is pressed down vertically on the surface of the skin”, explains Sandra Reich, project leader from Hohenstein Institute. It can therefore be calculated exactly which textile structure fibres will touch your skin when contact increases, and the percentage it.
“The 3D profilometry permits a quick 3D surface analysis of textiles. The results are pivotal especially for the development of surface-optimized textiles” says Reich. Why certain textile constructions have different properties – why some of them are scratchy and others are not – will depend on multiple reasons: Could it be a knitted (T-Shirt) or a woven fabric (blouse)? What kind of material has been used for the fibres or yarns? Furthermore, the sort of fibre is important (stapled fibres, filaments or textures). What type of structure is being used? What about the polishing off?
This type of analysis can be adapted to all fabrics directly worn on the skin, creating a regular mechanised strain on the wearer’s skin for instance in sports, work safety or when wearing orthoses, the prosthesis or support stockings. “According to studies, the value of skin sensitive clothing becomes more and more important because the number of human beings with very sensitive skins is constantly increasing”, adds Reich.
The 3D analysis is presently in the framework of a research project. “Many companies have already indicated their interest in the technology”, says Reich. In the near future, it might be possible to conduct studies on the interaction between skin and textiles as well as on the capillary results of textiles regarding liquids and smell.
Find more textile comfort testing instruments for details about the comfort tests of textile or garments.