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Development of a washable, nonwoven-based absorbent product from incontinent women

Santamarta Vilela, R.; (2012) Development of a washable, nonwoven-based absorbent product from incontinent women. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Pantegrals – washable pant with built-in pad – are popular among lightly incontinent women for their good aesthetics and low per-use cost but their poor leakage performance relative to disposable products stops many women from using them [1, 2, 3]. This project aimed to develop a new pantegral with improved leakage performance – specifically, to match the reference menstrual pad in an earlier study [3] – while retaining the good aesthetics and low cost of existing pantegrals. The project involved collaborating with two other universities and five companies. Published clinical and laboratory data characterizing existing products were analysed to produce a design specification for an improved product. Subsequent laboratory bench-marking with a selection of existing products established the primary technical challenges as developing novel nonwoven fabrics with increased volume at leakage and improved wicking properties to enhance the leakage performance of the product. These challenges were addressed through systematically studying the impact of fabric structure (anisotropy of fibre alignment, fabric density variation, fibre geometry, fibre finish and use of composite structures) and fibre blend on fluid handling properties. There were four development phases: the novel fabrics from each phase were characterised in the laboratory (using absorption time, absorption capacity, retention at height, lateral spreading, vertical wicking, wicking anisotropy and spreading on the curved rig test methods). The best fabrics from each phase were built into prototype products for clinical evaluation to check that improvements seen in the laboratory translated into real use. Analysis of data at the end of each phase informed the next. The two main conclusions from the laboratory characterisation of the novel fabrics were that: (i) the use of trilobal viscose fibres improved the wicking properties; and (ii) the combination of high and low density areas (through fabric and in-plane) provided the best from both high and low density fabrics; that is, promoting wicking (high capillary pressure) helping in the redistribution of fluid and greater void volume contributing to a higher absorption capacity. The clinical leakage performance of the final prototype product was substantially better than that of the reference pantegral and close to matching the target performance of the reference menstrual pad. The aesthetics and projected per-use cost of the new product matched those of the existing pantegral. Two patent applications have been filed and two of the commercial partners are now working on commercializing the product.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Development of a washable, nonwoven-based absorbent product from incontinent women
Language: English
Additional information: Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Med Phys and Biomedical Eng
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1338991
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