The water absorption and transport properties of fabrics are critical to wear comfort, especially for sportswear and protective clothing. A new testing apparatus, namely Forced Flow Water Transport Tester (FFWTT), was developed for characterizing the transplanar and in-plane wicking properties of fabrics based on gravimetric and image analysis technique. The uniqueness of this instrument is that the rate of water supply is adjustable to simulate varying sweat rates with reference to the specific end-use conditions ranging from sitting, walking, running to other strenuous activities. This instrument is versatile in terms of the types of fabrics that can be tested. Twenty four types of fabrics with varying constructions and surface finishes were tested. The results showed that FFWTT was highly sensitive and reproducible in differentiating these fabrics and it suggests that water absorption and transport properties of fabrics are sweat rate-dependent. Additionally, two graphic methods were proposed to map the direction of liquid transport and its relation to skin wetness, which provides easy and direct comparison among different fabrics. Correlation analysis showed that FFWTT results have strong correlation with subjective wetness sensation, implying validity and usefulness of the instrument.
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