Bob Barker Company
Celina Bailis, Leslie Belmonte, Kate Morgan, Lauren Poeschl
Currently, the textile supplier Bob Barker supplies bed sheets, among other textile necessities, to correctional institutions. Customer feedback alerted Bob Barker to issues with the durability and longevity of their bed sheets. Inmates are able to destroy the sheets through tearing them into strips, unraveling them for thread, and staining them through extended use without washing. Some of the activities inmates engage in with the bed sheets have the potential to be life-threatening, so the Durable Linens Senior Design Team was keen to begin working on creating a safer and stronger bed sheet that would deter unauthorized, dangerous activity.
Working with Bob Barker’s Product Development Team, Team 8 was able to settle on a variety of measurable characteristics that defined a durable linen while maintaining important aspects of current production. The goal of the project was to improve bed sheet performance in: tear strength, ball burst strength, abrasion resistance, stain resistance, and microbial resistance. Features to remain similar included cost, washability, comfort, and dyeability. The team brainstormed a variety of ideas, starting with inspiration from durable animal skin and shells, refining into manageable textile forms involving composites and high-performance applications before settling on a ripstop fabric construction with different variables to adjust. In order to establish benchmarking data and a baseline to guide the prototyping process, multiple ripstop fabrics, standard bed sheets, and current Bob Barker bed sheets were tested in the measurable areas. Once a sheet to beat was determined, a small design of experiment was devised to test how a ripstop fabric could be modified during prototyping. Weave patterns in the body and reinforcing yarns in the warp and weft directions could be changed to draw conclusions on what aspects of prototypes were affecting the mechanical performance of the fabric.
Next, yarn was sourced from Bob Barker and McMichael Mills to use in ripstop prototype designs that had different materials and construction. After testing yarn properties, weaving of the ripstop prototypes began at the Wilson College of Textiles Weaving Lab. During production, the team began testing finishes and their effect on Bob Barker’s bed sheets to establish recommendations of treatments that could extend the sheets’ resistance to microbial activity and heavy soiling. With a plethora of data to interpret, the team could then justify a final design and finishes to Bob Barker that would result in a more durable linen with the capacity to give inmates a safer, while still comfortable, product.