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“Easy iron” fabric testing technology

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article image Hounsfield FT300 friction unit.

HOUNSFIELD Test Equipment, represented by PCS Measurement , has developed a simple test that enables washing powder and fabric softener suppliers to technically quantify the "easy iron" technology concept or the overall impact of conditioners on the performance of a fabric.

Test results accurately quantify the conditioner's ability, positive or otherwise, to soften a fabric and make ironing easier, as well as determining the potential negative impact of seam separation and reducing seam performance.

The test is carried out using a Hounsfield FT300 friction unit, which can be fitted to any Hounsfield tension or compression materials testing machine, and QMAT Pro materials testing and analysis software.

The friction unit attachment comprises a flat base to simulate an ironing board and an iron of a known and specified weight. The temperature of the iron, set and verified using an independent electronic thermometer, is recorded in the software.

When the test begins, the iron is pulled across the fabric automatically by the testing machine, travelling at a precise speed over a given distance. A real-time graph is displayed throughout the test, revealing the exact amount of "drag" and "friction" taking place between the iron and the fabric.

Once the test is complete, the QMAT Pro software automatically calculates a series of results, including static friction, dynamic friction over a given distance, minimum drag force, maximum drag force and more.

These test results can then be used and compared to quantify swiftly and accurately the "easy iron" concept and the performance of fabric conditioners.

A range of tests can be accomplished using a single FT300 friction unit by adjusting the variables involved, eg: testing at various temperatures, with and without steam, using different iron "plate" surfaces such as stainless steel or Teflon, etc.

Similarly, further analysis to measure the effect on performance of the conditioned fabric can be achieved by conducting tensile, tear, seam slippage and stretch tests.

This new friction testing capability has been developed in-house by the research team at Hounsfield's headquarters in the UK.

It has applications across various sectors of the textile industry ranging from commercial textile testing laboratories, fabric and garment manufacturers, as well as manufacturers and developers of the next generation of fabric conditioning treatments.

Ultimately, the consumer will benefit from a less laborious, yet more effective ironing experience without trading off any adverse effects on the structure and longevity of the fabric.

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