A hand panel test seeks to obtain subjective response from human subjects as they touch / rub / squeeze swatches of the test materials.
The protocol used is developed using AATCC Evaluation Procedure 5 – Fabric Hand: Guidelines for the Subjective Evaluation of. This procedure describes guidelines for test subject preparation of hands, presentation of fabrics, and for the evaluation of fabric hand. The same protocol is followed for all test sessions scheduled to accommodate the entire group of enlisted subjects.
A response form is developed to obtain evaluator ratings and is tailored to obtain desired information regarding the sensory tactile qualities of fabric against the skin. A bi-polar rating scale between specifically selected adjective descriptor terms related to the fabric end use scenario is used. Examples include: warm – cool, damp – dry, hard – soft, stiff – flexible, rough – smooth, thick – thin, heavy – light, loose – dense, and nonstretchy – very stretchy
The response form may also compare fabrics in the sample set according to selected terms, ask fabric is most preferred, or which test item feels most like a certain descriptor term.
The process used to evaluate test samples can be described as follows.
- Conducted in an environmental chamber at temperature/ relative humidity conditions agreed upon and appropriate for the end use.
- Assembled swatch sets are conditioned for a minimum of two hours in the test environment prior to the test (handling).
- Test sessions are scheduled according to availability of qualified participants.
- Upon arrival, each evaluator washes and dries hands according to the required hand washing procedure.
- Evaluator enters the environmental chamber for a 30 minute conditioning and acclimatization period. Hands should be used minimally during the conditioning period.
- Each evaluator receives a swatch set with rating sheets for each sample. Samples are handled according to the specified handling procedure (illustrated pictorially in the environmental chamber). The test samples are evaluated, one at a time, on the selected bipolar terms and for any other items included on the response form. The ratings are recorded on the evaluation form.
- Ratings are averaged and analyzed for significant differences.
Typically 30 – 40 participants are used in a study depending on whether the study is for males or females or a combination of both. Evaluators are primarily NCSU students between 18 and 35 years of age, who through a screening process are determined to be healthy, nonsmoking individuals with no dermal contact issues.