Touch fastener technologies – also known as “hook-and-loop” or “hook-and-pile” fasteners – have widespread global applications from apparel to aerospace. Traditionally comprised of fabrics that are sewn or bonded to opposing surfaces to be joined, these fasteners are prone to wear, napping, agglomeration of dirt and debris, and generally diminished efficacy over long-term use. Furthermore, the material make-up of many current hook-and-loop products is such that environmental factors like high temperatures and required routine cleaning can result in accelerated degradation or debonding. Although some flame-resistant versions of the technology do exist, they can often degrade some critical performance characteristics and are therefore not universally viable.
NineSigma’s client seeks to identify technologies to replace hook-and-loop fasteners as a mechanism for creating secure closures on protective gear and apparel. Ideal solutions will incorporate onto a flexible textile matrix and form a demonstrable seal, closure, or fastening such that the end item’s edges are not readily separated without manual manipulation. The proposed approach should remain incorporated onto the based textile substrate in the presence of high or low temperatures, humidity, and airborne debris, as well as during repeated flexion and abrasion. The successful technology must also withstand repeated cleaning or laundering cycles without loss of efficacy. The client is interested in any proposals describing novel materials, designs, methods or mechanisms by which to achieve this goal at a cost competitive to that of commercial hook-and-loop. Developmental solutions are of interest, however any such proposals must include a reasonable description of solution provider’s ability to support efforts through proof of concept and commercialization.
Anticipated Project Phases or Project Plan
Phase 1 – Proof of Technical Concept
Phase 2 – To be determined in accordance with the proposed scope of work.
Criteria for Moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2
- Proof of concept against the client’s specifications
- Full technical report including:
- Efficacy of closure as compared to Hook-and-loop baseline
- Material specification, including regulatory
- Application methods
- Plan for optimization, manufacturing and scale-up