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Integrated Solutions for Improve the quality of the rest

Final Report Summary - ALL4REST (Integrated Solutions for Improve the quality of the rest)

Executive summary:

The present project, ALL4REST, is focused on the development of comfort-improved rest systems, using non-obstrusive technologies that promote deeper, more restorative sleep and prevent nocturnal awakenings. The successful solutions reduce awakenings and/or reduce time to sleep after an awakening and reduce sleep onset latency. Within the global comfort improvement, physical and thermal parameters have been investigated, establishing quantitative and qualitative evaluation of comfort and sleep quality system. To achieve it, use of biomaterials and research of new ones, eco-friendly technologies and processes in fabrics destined to rest allow the development of new products focused to obtain an improved rest system. Specific techniques of comfort evaluation have been implemented in final products characterization and validation. In addition new high value-added end products have been developed, based on the specific properties of the novel materials and technologies used. This route of constant innovation in products and processes is essential to strengthen the European textile industry and especially the SME companies.

Project context and objectives:

ALL4REST was focused on the development of comfort-improved rest systems, linking enhancement of tactile and thermal comfort given by innovative textile-based solutions with best sleep quality described by end-users. Physical and thermal parameters were investigated, establishing quantitative/qualitative evaluation of comfort and sleep quality in each textile system.

To achieve it, the solutions developed in ALL4REST have been based mainly in research on:
- New biofibres.
- Integration of PCM (phase change material)-based thermoregulating systems.
- New/functional hotmelts (HMs).
- Heatable textiles with electroconductive inks.
- Microencapsulated scents for aromatherapy, and
- Sensoring/monitoring of body temperature/pressure.

Objectives:

ALL4REST project was structured under 4 specific R&D lines:
- Research on 'green' materials and processing technologies, for development of improved comfortable resting systems. (Biofibres, nanofinishing, plasma and enzymatic technologies, renewable raw materials used as hotmelts with functional properties).
- Research and development of encapsulated systems for comfort improvement. (Suitable materials to develop microcapsules for thermal comfort improvement, suitable materials as scenting additives to develop scent inks for sleep quality improvement).
- Research and development of heatable/cooling textiles for thermal comfort improvement. (Suitable additives to formulate electroconductive inks, heatable/cooling textile systems).
- Development of sensors into textiles to monitor the sleeping quality, and react with a heatable/cooling device included in the rest system. (Measure the body movement and the room temperature to react with a heatable/cooling textile system, also developed in the project, improving the thermal comfort).

During the period covered by this report (15 months, from 01/10/11 to 31/12/12) the objectives above described were covered through the following work performed according to the work program:

- WP1 was focused to the development of different samples of knitted fabrics with selected biofiber-based textile materials. Some fabrics and compositions were investigated and also treated with enzymatic and finishing formulations to enhance tactile performance. Quantities of auxiliary chemicals and functional products for these treatments were established. General properties of the unfinished/finished fabrics were tested (washing fastness, antimicrobial properties) and some successful samples of knitted fabrics were obtained. On the other hand, functionalization and coating of mattress ticking fabrics with hotmelts was, in some cases, successful. It was concluded that flame retardant and antimicrobial additives can be added via the use of a double screw compounder. The application of the (functionalized) hotmelts on the mattress ticking substrates can easily be done with the slot-die technique at temperatures around 140 °C. The properties of the flame retardant (FR) compound were assessed via a smouldering cigarette test and the flame test (match flame equivalent). Obviously, the type of hotmelt and the coating thickness has also an influence: the thicker the coating layer, the better the ignition is suppressed. Hotmelt applications were done always like a coating and some mattress ticking with flame retardant properties were obtained.

- WP2 has investigated different formulations for finishing fabrics (mattress ticking) with novel-reactive Phase Change Materials (PCM) systems with enhanced linking force between binding resins and fibers. Thermal capacity of each application and sample was evaluated in order to select the best fabric substrate and the right concentration of microcapsules in the padding solution. Also the influence of the presence of softener on the impregnation bath was tested. Measurements and tests were done using advanced analytical techniques such as Scanning Electron Microscope SEM (the best way to observe the presence of microcapsules and preferred because we are dealing with small entities, microcapsules), Differential Scanning Calorimetry DSC (used to measure the phase change temperatures and energy storage capacities of the PCM-loaded textiles) and Thermographic camera (used to observe the thermal properties of the PCM-loaded textiles). Washing resistance was also tested. Within the study of scenting additives, some screen printing tests were successfully carried out adding microencapsulated fragrances, testing their washing fastness (inkjet printing of encapsulated scenting additives is not possible due to clogging of nozzles). Some scenting or thermoregulating PCM-based fabrics were done.

- WP3 was focused on optimizing electroconductive coatings and printings developed in the first period of ALL4REST, but also to study integration systems of metallic yarns on fabrics. Good conductivity in inkjet printing could be performed on the basis of silver particles. Sintering was investigated and can be performed to develop textile-based heating elements (by printing on PES-foil or PA-foil and its subsequent lamination on textiles). By applying a voltage of 5V temperatures up to 70°C could be obtained. The reductive deposition of metal salts directly on textiles works well. Therefore it was concluded that inkjet printing is a very flexible technique in terms of pattern design. This is an advantage that also the embroidering technique has: it was used to make a resistive heating element with stainless steel yarn on ticking fabric. The pattern design can easily be adapted to the requirements of the heating zone. Embroidery has proven to be a very flexible and promising textile technology to manufacture heating elements. Some heatable textile-based solutions to be integrated further into a mattress were obtained and a modellisation for heatable textiles included in a textile layered-structure was developed..

- Work done in WP4 allowed the design and building of a sensor system that enables the measurement of the temperature and movement of a sleeping person. Different material pairings were evaluated and the best outcome was achieved with a combination of different metallic yarns. Next to temperature sensors, movement sensors have been developed which can detect a movement of the sleeping person. The programming of software for storing the movement during the whole night in comparison with the time was possible. The movement and temperature sensors can be used to quantify the quality of sleep. The sensors have been developed for large-scale manufacturing. Therefore a sensor principle for the movement sensor has been chosen which is based on the conventional production of the mattress. The theoretically up scaling was done for the prototype obtained in ALL4REST. In further projects derived from ALL4REST, the production chain for the mattress with integrated sensors has to be prepared taking into account the special needs of the production company.

- The demonstration WP5 aims at validating the RTD Work packages results. Innovations developed in WP1 to WP4 of ALL4REST were characterized and validated by different analytical methods (including standardized tests, own methods, clinical procedures, consumer panels and surveys). It was observed that the application of finishing processes (like hotmelt coating or scenting microcapsules) was in direct relationship with a decreasing of handle/tactile performance (evaluated by KES). On the other hand, finishing with nanocompounds increases handle feeling, but also the use of biofibre-based textile materials (bamboo, chitosan or soya) when compared with a usual textile material (cotton). Regarding thermal comfort, Skin Model (to measure Ret and Rct) characterization showed that the application of a PCM-based finishing on mattress ticking samples was in direct relationship with a wide increasing of the thermal insulation when compared with reference samples. It also seems that the use of new biofibre textile materials on knitted fabrics can improve their breathable properties and their moisture management performance. With all the results obtained within tactile and thermal comfort evaluation of different ALL4REST samples and prototypes (including the auto-heatable textile prototypes developed in WP3 with capabilities to be continuously heated at a desired temperature), it seems that new mattresses including new PCM systems for thermoregulation effect and new nightwear cloths manufactured with bio-based textile materials could be realistic solutions, with clear possibilities to be integrated in the same rest system at industrial scale.

Clinical tests and consumer assessment were also carried out taking into account the experimental character of some ALL4REST developments and the prototyping performance of them. By this reason, clinical procedures (objective/analytical results) were restricted to test some different mattresses and the information obtained was complemented with a consumer assessment (subjective results) on the same samples. Subjective information collected was also completed with a consumer survey on the main developments, materials and advantages of all ALL4REST solutions. Objective and subjective positive sensations were assessed by potential customers to select a mattress with an internal spring system as preferred versus an internal foam system. People who slept on a spring-system based mattress said that their feeling and rest sensation was better, and polysomnographic (PSG)/actigraphy (ACT) tests results were in the same direction. In addition, direct positive relations established by KES+Consumer survey regarding improvement of tactile behaviour on knitted fabrics and direct positive relationships established by Skin Model+Manikin/Thermography+Consumer survey regarding improvement of thermal behaviour on mattress ticking were also obtained.

- WP6. Training, dissemination and exploitation, is in progress since the very beginning as dissemination activities are considered crucial. Among the different activities performed during the second period, we can point out the maintenance of the project website, the development of the project dossier, the dissemination of the project in several events and overall the final dissemination event in HOSTELCO fair in Barcelona.

- WP7. Project Management is also in progress since the beginning of the project. Among the main activities performed were the signature of the Consortium Agreements, the transfer of the pre-financing and mid-term funds, the organization of the consortium meetings and also the organization or conference calls for monitoring the work and a list of actions updated for the same purpose.

Project Results:

ALL4REST has achieved most of its objectives and technical goals for the period with relatively minor deviations. Regarding WP1, it was concluded that can be possible to develop new biofibre-based cloths for nightwear with improved tactile behaviour; on the other hand, commercial available bio-based hotmelts are not widespread and only 2 bio-based polyamides (grades of Uni-rez) from Arizona Chemicals and an experimental grade (under NDA) fulfill the processing requirements; however, functionalization can be obtained through FR and antimicrobial additives can be added via the use of a double screw compounder and fire retardant coated samples were successfully developed. Foreseen lamination tests were not realized because it was not required to bond fabric with foams along the project. In WP2, application of scenting products and PCMs was successfully achieved on fabrics through different finishing/printing (padding, screen printing) techniques, and only inkjet printing was unsuccessful (due to clogging problems on nozzles of the printer device). In WP3 it was possible to develop heatable textile-based devices with textile techniques (e.g. embroidering and printing of electroconductive inks) and in WP4 a combination of movement/temperature sensors were developed and integrated into the same textile system (mattress). In WP5, not all the developments and technical solutions obtained in ALL4REST were tested with all the analytical tools (due to technical reasons: metallic wires and electric connexions on heatable or sensoring textiles, industrial size of a sample required for a specific test, etc.), but characterization of tactile/thermal improvements and its relation on objective/subjective assessment of better comfort was successfully achieved. In some cases, there was coincidence between empirical data and perception of customers. PSGs/ACTs and consumer's assessment were found as powerful tools to validate rest products from an objective+subjective point of view.

At the end of the project, all the developments and technical solutions obtained were analysed about an estimation of their industrial cost and capabilities to be manufactured at industrial level, with positive conclusions for some of them (biofiber-based knitted fabrics, new PCM-finished mattress ticking and mattresses, integration of heatable devices, textile sensorizing for clinical purposes, etc.). Different technical developments have been proposed for a DEMO FP7-SME-2013 project (proposal ALL4RESTgo2MARKET): a) mattresses with thermoregulation performance, b) pyjamas manufactured with biofibre-based knitted fabrics giving soft touch/better hand (also skin benefits) than conventional materials, and c) bedclothes manufactured with biofibre-based yarns looking for enhanced touch/comfort or finished with PCMs.

Potential Impact:

The developed research generate high societal and market impact for the European SMEs, and enable major technological breakthroughs not only in the rest products market but in other sectors that could take profit of the developments such as technical textiles for cloths and automotive industry.

Main dissemination activities and exploitation of the results.

The dissemination activities of the project have been consistent with the originally planned dissemination activities of the project proposal as well as with the Dissemination Action Plan. The partners, as depicted in Table 1 below, have used an array of mediums and tools in order to successfully disseminate the project to the relevant audience. The presentation of prototypes and other relevant technology has been available for partners and has been promoted to customers and other stakeholders. In order to raise public awareness of the proposed technology, the partners have performed pre-marketing stimulation activities such as editorials, conference papers, sales, presentation in fairs and marketing contact with potential customers internationally, through the use of trade press, trade bodies and plant suppliers, approvals bodies, consumer groups and regulatory authorities. Activities include technology demonstration events, major exhibitions, stimulation events, presentations and conference papers, databases and the distribution of project promotional material.

Events

The project was noted with overall success in relation to the participation of the partners in events. A variety of different events took place such as conferences, participation in exhibitions and fairs as well as participation in seminars. The technology of the project has been presented thoroughly and throughout these events, with the partners aiming at maximizing the visibility of the project results. The partners also participated in notable and world-renowned brokerage events. The events helped to promote the project towards targeted audiences via personal fair stands and promotional material.

In relation to external conferences, the partners have participated in world-renowned conferences such as the European Technology platform for the future of textiles and clothing annual conference held in March 2011 in Brussels, the infoday 'Ten successful stories of applied research' Alcoy, March 2011, Smart textiles salon in Ghent (Belgium) in April 2011 the fair Techtextil in Frankfurt May 2011, ITMA fair (textile machinery fair) in September 2011 in Barcelona, Habitat fair in Valencia, September 2011, 6th European Congress 'Surf on the waves of innovation in coating and lamination', Belgium, September 2011, On the road to a bio-based economy. Belgium, October 2011, Bayern Innovative Kooperationsforum for textile&sensorik in Tegensburg (Germany) October 2011, the SYSTEX conference in Belgium November 2011, Aachen-Dresden International Textile Conference ADITC, November 2011, textile innovative symposium and fair Furth (Germany) February 2012 where the sensors and the project leaflet were presented, the infoday market trends surveillance, Alcoy March 2012, Smart fabrics conference, Miami USA March 2012, Infohappenings 'hotmelts' Zwijnaarde (Belgium), June 2012, Business Convention in Troyes France called CITEXT held in June 2012 the Business Convention brings together every 2 years more than 300 international participants, users or suppliers of technical textiles. During these days B to B meetings are organized with participants from 8 different countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA. Symposium 'Smart textiles and embroideries', Bregenz (Austria), September 2012, Reha care fair Dusseldorf (Germany), Hostelco Fair, Barcelona October 2012 where a corner of ECUS booth was fully dedicated to show the project and its prototypes. A dedicated leaflet was also developed as a dossier of all the project developments and also some totems with project information. ECUS customers had the opportunity to learn about the project and to know about ECUS perspectives. Smart medical textiles Aachen (Germany), November 2012, 'The use of functionalized hotmelts for different textile applications' Aachen-Dresden congress, November 2012, Medizintechnik Symposium, Dresden (Germany) December 2012, promotion of the project results related microcapsules through DEVAN most important customers on bedding market. December 2012.

Specific mention must be made in relation to the type of audience each event was targeted, since the dissemination activities performed approached an array of interested parties, coming from different fields and areas of interest. Universities and academic institutions, technology institutes and industrial partners are some examples of the type of audience the dissemination activities aimed at. Specifically for industrial partner, it is notable to mention that events took place such as participation in conferences, fairs and exhibitions satisfying industry.

All events had a wide geographic approach, targeting both audiences in Europe and the US. The well-received reactions of these audiences demonstrate that the ALL4REST technology is indeed innovative in various contexts and not only related to improving the quality of the rest but also in medicine, car industry, technical textiles for hard conditions.

Publications

Publications, either in the form of Press Releases or as scientific papers with the intention of being published and/or in the process of being published, have played a significant role in the dissemination of the project. The project has been disseminated in various newspaper articles, both in hard copy and on the internet. Many articles published concerned the distribution of the project’s press release in notable magazines, scientific journals and industrial blogs.

Press Releases were aimed primarily at the local audience, particularly professionals and industrial stakeholders. This medium has proved particularly useful since it has disseminated the project at large to a wide public which would not be easily identified via standardized methods of dissemination such as events and scientific conferences. All partners have maximized the potential for dissemination and visibility via the project's press release. A variety of academic, online and popular journals have published the All4REST press release.

Some of the articles published were:
- Article in Valencia I+D website
- Article in KMM-VIN newsletter (Knowledge-based materials)
- AITEX magazine
- Internet Melliand newsletter
- Improving our sleeping quality thanks to an European project.
- Centexbel info 'flame retardant hotmelts'
- Unitex magazine 'Functionalized hotmelts for different textile applications'
- Master thesis 'Study on textiles with phase change materials' by Mert Ozcelik. Ghent University and Istambul Technical University.

Dissemination material

For the purpose of effectively disseminating the project, the following materials were produced:
- Project logo: A project logo has been designed at the beginning of the project to be used in all dissemination material to enhance easy identification of the project among the members of the target groups. This logo can serve, as well, as product logo in the post-project phase The project logo was registered as a trade mark by ECUS with the acceptance of the other partners.
- Project leaflet: a three-fold project brochure has been created; it describes the Consortium partners and provides their main contact details as well as the general and technical objectives of the project. The brochure is user-friendly, compact and easy to understand.
- Project banners: A banners have also been prepared in order to properly disseminate All4RESTproject on national, European and international Fairs and Exhibitions it was used in ECUS booth in HOSTELCO to promote ALL4REST.
- Project presentation template: As a general overview about the project and its objectives, a presentation has been produced, downloadable from the project's website. This describes the general objectives of the project, the participating organizations and gives an outlook on the intended functionality of the system. This presentation can be used by all partners as starting point and it can be enriched based on the needs of the partners and the dissemination event.
- Project dossier: A project dossier was prepared with all the project results to serve as dissemination material for fairs at the end of the project. The dossier was produced in Spanish and in English because it has been used for the first time in HOSTELCO fair in Barcelona as final dissemination event.
- Demonstrators: Seven demonstrator prototypes have been developed using the technologies developed in the frame of the project: prototype materials finished with renewable hotmelts, prototype materials with biofibres / enzymes nanofinished, fabrics finished with microcapsules for thermal comfort improvement, textiles finished with scentic microcapsules, textile printed with electroconductive inks, heatable textiles with electroconductive threads, a mini-mattress with temperature and pressure sensors. The goal of these demonstrators, besides validating the technologies, is to provide a clear view of the potential use of ALL4REST in the respective market segments. They were shown in ECUS booth in HOSTELCO fair. The demonstrators will be used as the major dissemination tools of the project results after the project conclusion.

A Business Plan, IPR report and an Exploitation Agreement were developed during the project framework in order to help the SMEs in the Exploitation of the project results.

List of Websites:

The project website (see http://www.all4rest.aitex.net online) acts as a dissemination platform with the aim to establish an efficient and effective dissemination and communication tool for the ALL4REST consortium for the duration of the project. The website construction consists of one of the main dissemination tools of the project, which will ensure the successful use of project results and non-confidential information to the widest possible audience (including the industrial and academic community). The website has a clear structure with two types of webpage navigation depending on the type of user i.e. visitor (public), Consortium member or representative of the European Commission (members area). The potentials for navigation, document uploading and website alterations differ for each type of user. The aim of the website is on one hand to inform general public about the ALL4REST project and on the other hand to constitute a tool to communicate and to exchange information on the project between partners. The Technical Management of the ALL4REST website belongs to the Project Coordinator, AITEX. The Project Coordinator updates the website, inserts data and generally regulates the methodology for technically managing the website. Technical management is implemented through the Content Management System and also includes the registration of the website addresses and regular renewal of the subscription as well as any necessary arrangements for the website hosting, including the 2 GB storage capacity in order to ensure that all necessary documents are properly stored either in the Public documents area or in the Members Area. More detailed description of the project website is given in D6.1.

Some partners have also added a web link to the project on its organization's website.

The project has also been included in website platforms such as SYSTEX http://www.systex.org and the textile surveillance system http://www.tendenciashabitat.es