SDL Atlas launched their latest instrument, the ThermaRate Thermal Barrier Test Apparatus at the Techtextil North America show last week in Atlanta, Georgia. The ThermaRate measures the burn injury protection of fabrics used in protective clothing worn by first responders, military personnel and industrial workers in the proximity of fires or extreme heat sources. The instrument gives fabric manufactures a lower cost and easier method of testing thermal protection than the more traditional thermal manikin tests.
The ThermaRate is designed to replicate the effects of fabrics being in the proximity of a fire and not necessarily being immersed in a fire as simulated by the Thermal Protective Test (TPP) described in National Fire Protection Association NFPA: 1971 Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting.
The system includes a closed-loop controlled IR radiant heat source, an automated shutter, a fabric sample holder, heat flux gage and skin simulant sensor, and a PC based data acquisition system with burn injury algorithms. The automated computer controlled system allows the user to select the radiant heat flux level at the fabric sample, the irradiation time, and choose and set precisely the air gap between the fabric sample and sensors. The choice of whether a skin simulant sensor or heat flux gage output is used in the burn injury algorithm is also user selectable. All of these are easily set via the graphical user interface.
Once the user has selected the input values and placed a fabric sample in the holder, the user starts the automated data acquisition sequence. The automated digital data acquisition system records the temporal data and provides graphical outputs during and after the test as well as automated archival storage. A green/red indicator on the computer screen provides a pass/fail indication based on the burn injury being under or exceeding second degree burn injury level in virtually real time.
The apparatus includes automated data analysis algorithms for burn injury calculations, e.g. integral and times to first degree burn and second degree burn that are used in assessing the protective performance of fabrics. The system has been designed for both research use by providing a user friendly graphical user interface that allows the wide selection of parameters for individual tests as well as repetitive use in quality assurance applications where pre-set testing conditions can be used repeatedly by minimally trained individuals.
Data is automatically plotted and saved by the computer including a pass/fail performance based on a selectable criterion. This system is ready to be used for research and development as well as quality assurance applications.