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Research on neurophysiological perceptions of textiles
Oct '12
In addition to modern sportswear, the market is increasingly demanding functional undergarments for the fashion and business sectors. However, for this application textiles with special properties are required which clearly differentiate them from sportswear. These gaps in the market have now been closed by a current research project entitled (ZIM-Project KF2136724CJ2) which is investigating first-layer textiles.

The partners have placed high requirements on the laundry items which are worn directly next to the skin. For instance, outer garments such as business shirts or blouses should glide over them with as little friction as possible and should also mechanically interact with them a little.

To achieve this, the selection of fibre substrates, fabric manufacture and finishing must be finely-tuned to each other throughout the process. First-layer textiles should be as inconspicuous as possible under shirts and blouses and should appear invisible yet at the same time be pleasant to wear. In fact, wearer-acceptance is particularly important in this regard.

Furthermore, when used in conjunction with businesswear, these first-layer textiles must not negatively impair the concentration and attention of the wearer in the accomplishment of his/her duties. And last but not least the materials must ensure that the wearer feels fresh throughout the whole (working) day and does not smell of sweat.

In order to combine these material properties and implement them in a product range, the researchers at the Department for Hygiene, Environment & Medicine at the Hohenstein Institute together with Pro Feet Functional Wear GmbH, a designer of seamless functional sportswear, are working on a joint and publicly-funded project, which is investigating the complex interactions of first-layer textiles with the skin and outer garments.

The Hohenstein scientists are for the first time pursuing new approaches relating to neurophysiological product perceptions of textiles by the consumer. In the words of Prof. Dr. Dirk Höfer, Head of the Department for Hygiene, Environment and Medicine at the Hohenstein Institute, “We want to understand how direct body-contact clothing is accepted by the wearer and how it influences him/her.”

We are capturing this data in a research project by using state-of-the-art neurophysiological methods which have their origins in neuromarketing". In this context their investigations, which also cover the influence of first-layer textiles on people's daily working routine, are based on a recognised concentration and awareness test.

Finally the scientists have incorporated validated test systems for optimum textile sweat odour management into the project. Here the researchers have developed a test track via which the sweat build-up can be evaluated quantitatively via specially marked sweat odour molecules and qualitatively by trained panellists.

This enables a clear ranking of first-level textiles with a view to the intensity of sweat odour development in comparison to customary products available on the market. In this project the partners are pursuing a special functional approach for effective sweat management which on the one hand reduces the creation of a sweat odour, and on the other, inactivates the odour molecules in such a way that they can no longer be perceived by the nose, and all with the best possible skin-friendly properties.

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