These allow objective analysis and evaluation of characteristic values which are important for the perception of comfort. The measurement values determined in the laboratory can be represented by a wear comfort vote which can be understood without any expert knowledge. This creates more transparency and comparability when buying textiles – for end consumers as well as for other users such as buyers from leasing firms or public procurement personnel.
The Hohenstein Institute is one of the pioneers in the field of quantitatively determining wear comfort, which is the interaction between the human body, the climate and the clothing worn. Many of the test methods, measurement devices and standards which are globally valid today are also the result of the Hohenstein researchers and their decades of experience. The evaluation of wear comfort of clothing is based on two central influential factors – the thermal-physiological properties as well as the skin sensorial characteristics.
The thermal-physiological aspects include heat insulation and moisture management, meaning how well the textiles will keep the wearer warm in defined wearing situations while at the same time storing sweat or wicking it away from the body. The measurements for this include water vapour resistance as a measure of breathability, sweat buffering and sweat transport as well as drying time of textile materials. The skin sensorial quality provides information about how the textile material feels on the skin, for example whether it will stick to the skin uncomfortably during sweating or if it is too stiff to suitably adapt to the wearer's body shape.
Product comparison made easy
The wear comfort vote also developed at Hohenstein provides an overall evaluation of the comfort properties of textile materials. The grading scale from 1 (very good) to 6 (insufficient) corresponds to the German school grading system, using certain formulas to provide a clear representation of the measurement results from the laboratory tests. The characteristic values and parameters which are decisive for the physiological comfort are weighted differently depending on the intended use of the test samples – functional sports clothing for example requires different formulas than fabrics which are used for protective clothing.
Comfort therefore depends on the different situations the wearer is exposed to: At lower ambient temperatures and with only little physical activity the clothing primarily has to have adapted thermal insulation and good breathability to obtain a good wear comfort vote. As the wearer perspires more as a result of rising ambient temperature and increasing activity, the thermal insulation has to be lower and the textile material should be more capable of buffering the increased accumulation of sweat.
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