Unitika Garments Technology is a Japanese research agency that examines the medical impact of textiles. Its research includes measuring the human body to assess the impact of garments on it as well as conducting chemical and bacteriological analysis to test hygiene levels. One recent study involved the testing of a particular compression sock. The client wanted to verify the effectiveness of their compression socks and understand their impact on the body, so Unitika set out to measure the level of swelling of the legs of a group of volunteers on a typical day, both with and without the socks.
First Unitika asked the group of volunteers to spend a day without socks so that the typical amount of leg swelling could be measured. They would then spend a day wearing the compression socks, and their measurements taken again. That wasn’t so easy, though – the standard liquid displacement measurement techniques, in which the volume of the legs was measured by gauging the water level in a container of water, didn’t work so well as the leg was too small to present an accurate measurement.
As an alternative, Unitika decided to try structured light scanning. They obtained a scan3Dmed 3D scanner from SMARTTECH, a metrologically certified device that can obtain high-quality color scans by projecting strips of light on a surface. In addition to being used in aerospace and automotive applications, it’s completely safe to use on human skin, and the 3D scanner’s large volume – 800 x 600 x 350 mm – means that a large area can be scanned, such as the legs, arms, chest and face. The short scanning time of less than 0.7 second helped as well, because such a short period of time reduced the impact of the respiratory system on the scan results.
Using SMARTTECH3Dmeasure software and a rotary stage, Unitika was able to automate the 3D scanning process. The results provided them with all the information that they needed for the study. The scans showed that without compression socks, the typical volunteer’s leg increased its volume by 2% from morning to evening, returning to its original state by 10 AM the next day. They tested two types of compression socks: Type B kept the leg from swelling, while Type A actually reduced its volume by 2%.
Software added to the optical scanner also allowed Unitika to measure the diameter of the perimeter of the leg for further investigation. The 3D scanner and its software, Unitika concluded, were fully sufficient to carry out all the tests they needed to carry out, and provided precise results that other methods of testing were not capable of. Unitika then compiled all of the data gathered and presented it to the client in the form of a report.
“The analysis not only made it possible to evaluate the effectiveness of the client’s textile products, but also provided a lot of additional data,” Unitika said. “In addition, thanks to the ability to store 3D models, we are able to conduct further tests without re-engaging volunteers, thus reducing costs and time needed.”
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