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ASTUTE 2020 Update September 2020

Here at ASTUTE 2020, we can support your business throughout this period of uncertainty. Our world-class academics and technical experts from across our strong Welsh Universities partnership are available to support you through research and innovation activities. If you wish to discuss opportunities for working with us e.g. to modify your production to develop solutions to support the fight against COVID-19, you can contact us via email.

ASTUTE 2020

Image: Testing and Evaluation of the Physical Properties of an Innovative Modular All-in-One Coat and Sleeping System (ROOF)

Testing and Evaluation of the Physical Properties of an Innovative Modular All-in-One Coat and Sleeping System (ROOF)

Business: Red Dragon Flagmakers Ltd.

Academic Partner: University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Expertise: Advanced Materials Technology

Location: Swansea

Red Dragon Flagmakers (RDF) is a custom flagmaker manufacturer and social mission-led business based in Swansea.  Incorporated in its original format in 1969 and re-established as a social mission-led business in 2014, RDF produced custom and generic traditional stitched and contemporary printed flags, banners and bunting and manufactures high-end premium textile goods including most recently scrubs and apparel for the Welsh Government and donation through a fundraiser to care homes in Wales and the UK in general.

RDF has developed ROOF, an all in one padded coat with integrated sleeping bag including hood and hidden pockets, designed to pack away into a crossover, lightweight and portable shoulder bag. ROOF is an intelligent survivalist outerwear garment that enables the wearer to cope with living outdoors in all weathers securely and comfortably. The production of this ROOF Coatbag offers the opportunity to build a better life through training and sustainable employment within RDF – although receiving a ROOF unit and taking up the training opportunity are not directly dependent on each other.

RDF approached the ASTUTE 2020 team at UWTSD to engage with their extensive expertise in Advanced Materials and conventional and non-destructive testing (NDT) capabilities. The request was to collaborate on the optimisation of ROOF and to establish that the garment is fit for purpose and performs in the most extreme conditions.

Challenges


ROOF was in early development stages when ASTUTE 2020 became involved; RDF’s focus at the time was to deliver a fit for purpose garment suitable for unpredictable weather and social environments. This unique garment’s properties are key, combining a coat and sleeping bag for which standards are individually defined. Specific analysis, materials selection, composite structure and performance investigation were necessary to ensure the sustainability and efficiency of the product as a benchmark standard in its own right.

Solution


The ASTUTE 2020 team at UWTSD aimed to research and deliver information regarding the insulation capabilities of the textile composite used in the manufacture of the ROOF garment.

The first element involved ensuring that the composite was flexible, protective, comfortable and extremely tough in relation to knife attacks.

Body armour standard KR1-E1 for UK police was considered for depth and impact measurements within the stab proofing layers of the garment for extreme scenarios. Confirmation was required concerning the chosen composite: four layers of wire knit interfaced with five aramid-based cloths. The composite needed to resist a half energy blade impact, allowing full slash proofing capabilities with the option to double the thickness to meet the standard.

ASTUTE 2020 worked with the RDF team researching the optimisation of the composite’s insulation through NDT. State of the art infrared (IT) thermography was utilised – an NDT and evaluation technique - to estimate how differently constructed wads of composite made by RDM (in conjunction with a novel stab proofing composite element) would deliver the best insulation.

Alternative finishes and colours were examined to estimate insulation capabilities inside and outside of the ROOF garment. Moisture and wicking levels, movement, friction and resilience to water and fire were all assessed by UWTSD.

Impact


The impact of this research project has resulted in a significant breakthrough for RDF, allowing the business to demonstrate the unique nature of the garment and provide benchmark evidence that the combination of materials meets strict environmental and social requirements.

The novelty of the product will enable RDF to implement design improvements to ensure the garment will be:

  • Water, fire and slash-proof
  • Suitable and safe to wear when used in freezing temperatures
  • Lightweight and durable

UWTSD’s unique exploration of standards and methods have provided RDF with a mechanism to advance the product and assist with the selection of materials, composite structure and benchmark performance analysis.

As a social mission-led business, RDF’s specific goal with ROOF is to support people with their personal safety and ability to cope with living an outdoor life in all weathers as well as to achieve a long term objective to grow the business to enable people to escape the benefits trap associated with low paid employment and homelessness.

The advancement of ROOF has so far resulted in the employment of three dedicated machinists who assist the Production Lead in the development and production of ROOF. 

ROOF is a specialist product for RDF and potentially a game-changing lifesaver for individuals and communities locally, regionally and worldwide.

“The journey from design inception to initial discussions with UWTSD through to research, development and results have exceeded our expectations. We would have been lost without the patience and support of the team who delivered on ROOF.”

- Jo Ashburner
Managing Director, RDF

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