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    Evaluation of Thermal Comfort of Fabrics Using a Controlled-Environment Chamber

    Published: 2012

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    A critical characteristic of garments is thermal comfort, the ability to remain comfortable under conditions of elevated temperature and humidity. The traditional approach for assessing thermal comfort has required participants to exercise under conditions of elevated temperature and humidity while garbed in the candidate garments. The participants are subjected to stress, sophisticated equipment is required, and the measures, which have to be obtained in considerable numbers, require substantial time. In the present work, we report on the development of a potential alternate methodology to evaluate thermal comfort. Participants wore arm stockings of candidate fabrics and inserted their arms past the elbow in a controlled-environment chamber (CEC; Electro-tech Systems, Inc., Glenside, PA) under conditions of elevated temperature (40.5°C) and relative humidity (75 %). Participants assessed mittens made from eight different fabrics in 20-min testing sessions. Participants provided comfort ratings and judgments of specific perceptual experiences (such as warmth, sweatiness, stickiness, etc.) at separate specified times during the trial. Results revealed that fabric type was a significant predictor of thermal comfort ratings, with significant differences emerging after 10 min in the CEC. Further, thermal comfort was predicted by perceptual experiences of warmth, sweatiness, and stickiness. These results demonstrate the feasibility of the CEC approach in assessing relative fabric comfort as a viable alternative to whole-body testing under significant heat stress in an environmental chamber. This approach has further advantages of being more rapid, less stressful to participants, and not as complex as existing approaches.


    thermal comfort, Psychophysics, clothing, labeled magnitude scale

    Author Information:

    Pierce, John D.
    Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, PA

    Hirsch, Stephen S.
    Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, PA

    Kane, Sara Beth
    Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, PA

    Venafro, John A.
    Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, PA

    Winterhalter, Carole A.
    U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center, Natick, MA

    Committee/Subcommittee: F23.20

    DOI: 10.1520/STP104100