Present proposal ALL4RESTgo2MARKET addressed to Demonstration Action of FP7-SME-2013 call is a direct continuation from the successful ALL4REST project (FP7-SME-2010-1; Grant agreement: 262652) that finished by the end of December 2012. Manufacturers of rest products are looking for comfort-improved rest systems in order to promote deeper, more recuperative sleep, to prevent nocturnal awakenings, to reduce time to sleep after an awakening and reducing sleep onset latency. The integrated solutions developed in ALL4REST were focused on achieving comfort improvement (physical and thermal) establishing quantitative and qualitative evaluation of comfort and/or sleep quality of each solution investigated within the project. These solutions were mainly based on the investigation and the use of new biomaterials (biofibers), enzimatic technology and integration of thermoregulating systems i.e. microcapsules for thermal comfort improvement, but also on the use of renewable functionalized hotmelt adhesives and potential additives, electroconductive materials for auto-heatable textiles (in ink form for inkjet printing), research on heatable textiles and microencapsulated scents for aromatherapy and relaxing ambiences in bedrooms in the form of inks. And finally integration of temperature and movement sensors in mattresses to monitor the temperature and position of a sleeping person. All the developmentes were validated in quantitative (through polysomnographies) and qualitative forms (consumer panels).
The most promising results of the project have showed that different biofibers can be integrated in manufacturing processes to develop textile-based products like mattress ticking, knitted fabrics for pyjamas or plain fabrics for bedclothes. The use of these biofibres results into enhanced soft touch, handle and skin benefits compared to conventional fibers (cotton or polyester). In addition, new microencapsulated finishing systems with thermoregulating materials (like phase change materials, PCMs) were developed with increased linking force between PCMs and fibers; as a result washing and rubbing fastness of finished fabrics were enhanced and control of warm/cold feeling on mattress ticking was achieved. Specific techniques of comfort evaluation were implemented getting a well-balanced evaluation methodology (from analytical and clinical tests to consumer test panels).
The ALL4REST research project showed that:
- New biofibers could be used in the manufacture of fabrics for mattress ticking applications. Emerging new types of textile material like soya or chitosan are potentially suitable for mattresses. For end-products like bedclothes, pyjamas or pillow covers, referred fibres but also bamboo and their mixtures with cotton (CO) could be considered as innovative textile material, because it is very difficult to find end-products manufactured with them. Finishing processes with enzymes and nanosilicones can further improve their intrinsic soft touch and handle.
- For complementing the improvement on physical/tactile comfort it was found that thermal comfort of mattresses can be enhanced including some thermal systems, by finishing them with PCMs or by heatable metallic yarns/electroconductive inks. Safety reasons and non-completely successful acceptation of heatable systems by end-users were the most important issues to select only PCM-finishing solution as the most promising and upscalable thermic system in a further manufacturing process.
- A relationship can be established between experimental data of comfort measurements and ‘feeling’ or ‘rest perception’ by end-users. In addition, polysomnographies are a useful tool to evaluate rest quality, but it must be taken into account that some diseases causing serious sleep disorders cannot be avoided only with ‘textile-based’ solutions focused on rest systems (improved mattresses, clothing or bedlinen).
All developed solutions will not be integrated in one system (due to technical reasons but also due to high price of a ‘all-in-one’ system), however several improved solutions could be developed in terms of various end-products with potentially good acceptation by consumers and relatively easy-to-scale manufacturing processes. The selected solutions to be validated/implemented within ALL4RESTgo2MARKET in a pre-industrial stage are: a) mattresses with thermoregulation performance, b) pyjamas manufactured with biofibre-based knitted fabrics that show soft touch and better hand (also benefits for the skin) than conventional CO-based knitted fabrics, and c) bedclothes (sheets sets, bedlinen…) manufactured with biofibre yarns looking for enhanced soft touch and comfort over conventional materials (cotton 100% or mixtures CO/polyester) or finished with PCMs to improve thermoregulation performance of the end-user. These realistic solutions generated by ALL4REST project will also be under regulation of actual textile standards without any need for modification (instead of -for example- heatable systems that require strong standards or regulations).
Taking these considerations derived from the previous project, the SMEs need to prove the viability of the new solutions in order to get a potential economic advantage. And also to explore new ways of using the acquired knowledge e.g. in other products of the rest system such as pyjamas, bedclothes…which means that there is still a gap to fill to enable some ALL4REST SMEs to address this significant commerciallization opportunity.
Since in ALL4REST the most promising solutions developed (above mentioned) have been carried out and manufactured successfully only at small scale and over a limited range of process parameters, there is still a strong need to produce enlarged solutions and to develop and validate all the up-to-scale manufacturing processes. In addition there is a need to provide a ‘full-pack’ of resting elements to end-users as well as a large variety of textile-based materials in order to optimise the different manufacturing processes (mattress fabrication, knitting of clothes, weaving and finishing of fabrics) and to demonstrate that manufacturing processes/concept can be extended to a variety of end-products, costumers and markets.
Experimental data of ALL4REST solutions showing enhanced performance of tactile/thermal comfort and their relationship with an improved quality of rest have to be validated and verified on pre-industrial samples developed within ALL4RESTgo2MARKET project. This validation will allow to provide useful data to develop and validate a business plan and associated commerciallization strategy for the involved SMEs in this proposal. With thiese premises, they will be able to commercially develop and exploit products and supply them to their costumers (and end-users) after this Demonstration project ends. This will allow the Consortium (formed with two SMEs from the former ALL4REST consortium and some new SMEs specially involved in this Demonstration project enabling to produce the final products) to obtain a commercial advantage with respect to other suppliers and manufacturers of mattresses, knitted fabrics and bedclothes as well as chemical products for finishing who do not take into account comfort performance of end-users by providing alternative and innovative textile-biofibre-based end products with improved tactile/thermal comfort behavior.
Scientific and Technological objectives:
Having in mind that no further research and development tasks will be carried out, the ALL4RESTgo2MARKET project needs to achieve the following objectives to ensure that the improved resting textile-based elements could be exploited and put into market by the involved SMEs:
- Developing and implementing tools (at least 3) to obtain consumer attitudes and awareness concerning improved solutions for rest systems. To evaluate ‘pricing’ consumer reaction versus new, improved and ‘added-value’ resting products (how much extra price do they want to pay). Quantify consumer acceptance by segmentation of consumer groups at EU scale.
- Validation of thermoregulating PCMs systems in terms of concentration (in g/l) depending on the type of fabric to be finished (at least 2 types). Analysis of thermoregulation effect in different types of mattress ticking (improvement of at least 15% than conventional). Validation of manufacturing processes (finishing but also fabrication of thermoregulating mattresses).
- Knitting/weaving tests of a variety of pre-selected biofibres and compositions (at least 3 compositions). Validation of these manufacturing processes and subsequent processes (finishing/confection). Determination of improved tactile comfort (at least 15% more than conventional) in pilot end-products and of benefits for the skin obtained for each biofibre composition.
- To evaluate a quantitative market potential at EU scale which can be targeted by the advantages of improved rest systems, and develop the most probale sales channels to reach those.
- Development and execution of a strong Dissemination Plan for maximum impact within/outside the consortium, including countries of partners involved in ALL4RESTgo2MARKET and having in mind a pan-European point of view (EU-27 and non EU-27 countries). To ensure successful exploitation roads to the SMEs involved for their innovative ALL4RESTgo2MARKET end-products and processes, but also to ensure adequate/correct IPR protection for all of them.
- To ensure that the objectives are met in the agreed time scales, the results are effectively exploited, and the deliverables and milestones are achieved. At the same time, to establish and operate management structures and processes, to ensure ALL4RESTgo2MARKET milestones are achieved on time and that the budget is adequated managed, also to facilitate communication within the consortium and between the consortium and the EC; and to effectively manage financial and project reporting, technical risks and conflicts between the project partners.