Critical Evaluation of Wicking in Performance Fabrics
Simile, Craig Burton
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A method used to calculate the fundamental properties that predict the overall wicking performance of a fabric was proposed and executed. The combination of a horizontal and downward wicking test provided detailed measurements of the pertinent properties to wicking performance: capillary pressure and permeability. This method was proposed due to flaws found in standard vertical wicking tests as well as erroneous assumptions made in other wicking tests. Assumptions that capillary pressure and permeability are characteristic constants of porous structures are incorrect and will produce misleading information about that substrate. It was experimentally proven that these properties were a function of the saturation level found within the voids of a fabric. To obtain relevant capillary pressure and permeability data for a given fabric, a range of saturation levels were tested and analyzed. It was shown that saturation levels decreased as the vertical distance traveled by moisture increased. This phenomenon occurs as a result of capillary pressure within the voids dropping below the functional range needed to support flow in those voids at increasing heights. As height is increased, capillary pressure needs to also increase; therefore, only smaller radii pores will fill. Once saturation levels are known at specific heights, capillary pressure and permeability calculations were made using Darcys law and the Lucas-Washburn equation. Although this phenomenon is well known in civil engineering, it has not been widely addressed in the textile sciences, especially in its implications for wicking tests.