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The editors gratefully acknowledge information supplied by Polywarm Products Ltd and the considerable assistance and advice offered by David Houston of Daimor Sleeping Bags. Cover picture courtesy of Daimor Sleeping Bags.


Alan Stancliffe was sponsored by the British Plastics Federation, The Institute of Materials, British Plastics Training Association and the Polymer and Rubber Association.

The material was produced as part of the polymer industry education project at the Chemical Industry Education Centre Department of Chemistry University of York Heslington York Y015DD Telephone (01904) 432523

Editors Judy Jones Alan Stan cliffe With contributions

from Gill Thomas - CIEC information


Held by the University of York

Published 1995 ISBN: 1853427055 The copyright holders waive the copyright on teachers may reproduce this material for use the material was purchased, but for all other material in any form must be obtained from duplicated for lending, hire or sale. the material which follows to the extent that with their pupils in the establishment for which purposes permission to reproduce any of this the University of York. The material may not be



Page Foreword Resources Product design and development


Activities 1, 2 and 3 Analysis of general functional requirements for sleeping bags Materials selection in product design Development of a new product Development of a new sleeping bag design Factors influencing the development of a new product Materials used in sleeping bags Environmental extension activity The manufacture of sleeping bags

1 2 2

3 3 4

4 5 5

Student sheets for activities 1-3 Information sheet for activity 1 Information sheets (a) to (g) for activity 3



a) Factors influencing the development of a new product b) New product path a) The construction of sleeping bags b) Stitch constructions used with synthetic fillings


This package has been produced as a result of requests from design and technology teachers. They asked for case study resources which demonstrate the processes involved in industrial product design and selection of materials for manufacture. It consists of a teachers' booklet and separate student work sheets. The package is intended to provide background information for use by teachers and 14-16 year old students involved with design and technology courses which contain elements of product design. It could also be made suitable for younger students and post sixteen (A-level, GNVQ) students by modifying the level of expected outcomes in the suggested activities. Students carry out a critical investigation of the design and manufacture of sleeping bags as a product analysis exercise. This will help students to develop technological and scientific skills and understanding by exploring the properties of fillings, cover materials and processes used in the design and manufacture of sleeping bags. The teaching notes deal with the different stages of market research and product design in the sleeping bag industry, and with the selection of appropriate materials and manufacturing processes. They also offer further guidance on classroom management of the student activities and investigations. Separate student copy master sheets (AI-A3.2) are provided which contain background information and suggestions for analysis and problem solving activities. Additional information for activities 1 and 3 (yellow sheets) is also appropriate for product analysis exercises which can be devised by the teacher to suit particular circumstances. A second unit is available in the Making Use of Science and Technology series, also published by the Chemical Industry Education Centre,which contains scientific investigations based on the construction and properties of ma terials of sleeping bags.


Samples of materials for testing can be obtained from Tor Outdoor Pursuits 42 Widnes Road Widnes WA86AL Tel: 01514242225 This company will sell small quantities of fabrics and fillings. At the time of printing typical prices were: Fillings Hollofil insulation (DacronFF2H) width 150cm 170g 3~~0per metre 240g 4.5b per metre. Quilted insulation width 150cm 80g 3.80 per metre 150g 4.40 per metre Duck down 9.50 per 100g pack

Outer cover fabrics

Nevetex 110 polycotton Width 150cm 4.20 per metre 200 Nylon plain fabric Width 150cm 3.20 per metre Pertex 4 woven microfibre fabric Width 163cm 4.50 per metre

Tor Outdoor Pursuits are happy to receive enquiries about their products, but ask that a stamped addressed envelope be included for replies.

Teaching Notes
Activity 1
This is a group discussion exercise using the information on student sheet A 1to consider the factors which might influence the sleeping bag manufacturer's choice of material. An additional information sheet for activity 1 gives the relative costs of common materials.

Activity 2
This is an exercise based on the market research stage of the design and development cycle and is supported by student sheets A 2.1 and A 2.2. OHPI can be used in a class discussion to help students formulate a structure for their investigations. This activity could be carried out with students working in small groups and might include the following: a survey of existing stock kept by local retail outlets to determine current popular conditions of use, fashion and colour trends a survey to compare current costs to the customer a survey of use and preferences within the school population development of a marketing strategy from the information obtained

Activity 3
A teacher-led class discussion based on information on information sheets (a) to (g) for activity 3, and OHP2 forms an introduction to this activity. It is an analysis and investigative exercise designed to illustrate the considerations which are involved with materials selection. Ideally it should be done with students working in small mixed ability groups. This creates opportunities for students to support each other in an exercise that is quite complex. Using the information provided in information sheets (a) to (g), students are required to list the functional requirements which apply to sleeping bags. They must compare these requirements with the general properties and characteristics of cover and filling materials, and fabrication construction techniques. Samples of different cover, lining and filling materials can be examined under a microscope (8x and 20x magnification) to observe the characteristics described in the text of the student sheet. Groups can then be assigned one of the following working conditions and asked to produce a short report on the suitability of combinations of materials and fabrication structures for use in the design and manufacture of appropriate sleeping bags.

summer low level camping in the UK a Himalayan trekking expedition a polar expedition

ii) iii)

Reports can be produced in a written format, poster illustrations, verbal and/or video presentations, to cater for a range of ability levels. There is no definitive answer and a variety of acceptable solutions may be produced by the students. As a concluding exercise, each group can present its final report to the whole class, and compare and evaluate the different solutions offered. The following sections demonstrate design. how the activities relate to the real world of

Background information Analysis of general functional requirements for sleeping bags

Whilst many sleeping bags can be considered multi-functional, they are generally designed for specific outdoor conditions such as winter camping, mountaineering, summer walking expeditions or general travel. Therefore the first questions relating to functional requirements would normally be: What is the primary use for the sleeping bag? In which temperature range will the bag regularly be used? In which other conditions will the bag commonly be used? After considering these questions carefully a designer is in a position to look at cover fabrics and filling materials for a particular sleeping bag. As with most insulation, sleeping bags work by trapping and holding air as still as possible. They use the body's heat to warm this air. The efficiency of a sleeping bag relates to the amount of air it can trap; this is affected by the combination of filling material, and the design and construction of the bag.

Materials selection in product design

When designers are considering which materials to select for a particular product they normally liaise with a materials expert who advises on the development process. There are two fundamental concepts which are considered in the selection of materials. These are: materials must have properties which allow the designer to produce a required effect the choice of material will influence the manufacturing methods and vice-versa materials and of personal of processing while seeking

Designers are not normally experts in, but are familiar with, manufacturing processes. Most designers build up a number contacts with specialists in materials science, manufacturers equipment and mould makers, and draw on their experience solutions to problems.

There have been considerable developments in new materials over the past few years and these have found applications in almost every field of design and manufacture. This has made the process of material selection more complex for designers. When selecting materials for specific products the designer must consider which ones offer the best balance of properties. It is unlikely that any material will meet the specifications perfectly and the usual compromises are between desired performance and cost. Some of the main factors to be taken into account are listed in student sheet Al, and a class discussion on materials selection can be centred around this.

Development of a new product

Analytical studies of industrial management and business performance structures have identified three kinds of cycle times. These are time-to-market (i.e. design and development), production time, and delivery time (order processing). The first stage is the design 'and development cycle (or lead time). In the sleeping bag industry this usually takes from 1 to 3 months. A diagram (New Product Path) is given in student sheet A 2.1 which illustrates the various stages in this process. Student sheets A 2.1 and A 2.2 and the following notes can be used together to form the basis of a class discussion of the design cycle involved in the development of a new sleeping bag product.

Development of a new sleeping bag design

Typical working stages in the development of a new sleeping bag design are: a) A marketing strategy is developed by: identifying the customers who will buy the sleeping bag; b) c) d) identifying the type of image the product range will project. The designer is briefed and produces several concept proposals for consideration by the project managers. The designer develops the proposals approved by the project managers. The designer produces bag shape outlines and pictures of the product in three dimensional coloured images, possibly using Computer Aided Design (CAD). A prototype bag is commissioned, and further development considered. Prototypes are tested for performance and quality and assessed for consumer acceptability. Any necessary modifications are then made. Designs are produced for a range of sizes, shapes (rectangular/tapered! mummy), fittings and colours as required by the marketing brief. Tooling is organised in preparation for final production.

e) f) g) h)

The aspects which influence a new sleeping bag design can also be grouped into factors leading to production and factors controlling production. A diagram (Factors related to production) is given in student sheet A 2.2 to show this. According to commercial research, production time is the key to profitability. The research has shown that companies who have managed to reduce production cycle time by 50% have improved their return on investment by about 10%.

Factors influencing the deoelopment of a new product

The development of a new product range in the outdoor leisure industry is influenced by many factors, shown in the following diagram. These should be used in the class discussion outlined in activity 2, on student sheetsA2.1 and A 2.2.

Factors influencing the development of a new product Fashion and Society and environmental pressure

Environmental movements

Decision makers

Retailers distributors


Natural look

Technical factors

Perceptual trends

Comfort Sustainability

Materials used in sleeping bags

Designers now use a range of materials for covers and fillings in sleeping bag design. The information sheets listed below provide further details and information required for the investigation in activity 3. information sheet (a) information sheet (b) information sheet (c) information sheets (d) and (e) information sheets (f) and (g) materials used in sleeping bags - cover and lining fabrics filling materials - natural filling materials - synthetic the construction of sleeping bags the general manufacturing process

Environmental extension ativity

Synthetic fibres are now being produced from recycled materials. As an average estimate, 35 recycled 2 litre PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles can provide enough polyester fibre filling for 1 sleeping bag. An extension to ativity 3 could be to engage the students in a survey of existing sleeping bag products to determine which ones use recycled materials and to suggest possible ways of recycling old sleeping bags which have come to the end of their working life.

sleeping bag and can be used as the basis of a class discussion. intensive nature of the processes involved.

The manufacture of sleeping bags Information sheets (f) and (g) outline the main stages of manufacturing

a Note the labour


Activity 1 Materials selection in product design

Working in groups: 1. 2. Discuss how the factors outlined below might influence a manufacturer's choice of material for a sleeping bag. Prepare a report of the major outcomes of your discussion to present to the whole class.

When selecting materials for specific products the designer must consider which one offers the best balance of properties. Some of the main factors to be taken into account are: Note When designers are considering which materials to select for a particular product they normally consult experts in materials whose advice will influence the development process. Two of the main considerations are: The materials must have properties which allow the designer to produce the required effect. The choice of material will influence the manufacturing methods and vice-versa. appropriateness for the manufacturing process and quantity production (machining, moulding, extrusion, etc.) physical properties of the material (strength, hardness, chemical resistance, etc.) material form (sheet, rod, strip, liquid, fibre, etc.) aesthetic considerations such as colour, texture, pattern and shape environmental considerations such as weather resistance and ease of recycling safety such as flammability and toxicity cost (there is an information sheet to help you) and availability

Student sheet Al

Information sheet for activity 1

Properties and costs of some commonly used sleeping bag materials

Cover fabrics Material
Performance Matrix Taslan Tactel Milair Ski-tex Pertex Ripstop fabric Polycotton Nevetex 110 200 Nylon plain fabric

lightweight, waterproof, tear resistant breathable, durable, waterproof

mass (g/m2)
00 150 170 125 130

2.70 8.50 8.00 9.00 4.00 2.80 2.00 1.80 2.80 2.00


similar to matrix but heavier duty and more robust lightweight, breathable, breathable, ultralight, moisture shower proof draws away body waterproof

soft, light, shower proof, can retain down breathable, proof windproof and shower

68 120 110 200

strong, windproof and shower proof strong, tear resistant, not proofed
.. _-

Filling materials Material

K2 Fleece fabric Polar fabric Thinsulate Hollofil

wind proof, low water absorbency, dries easily, easy to sew soft, good insulator, easy to sew, machine washable good insulator soft, compressible, low water retention, very good insulator

mass (g/m2)
250 400 100 170

7.80 3.80 3.50 2.50

Duck down

excellent insulator,


800g needed fora 4 season sleeping bag

64 for800g

Activity 2
Development of a new product
The development of a new sleeping bag design will be influenced by the following factors: consumer requirements fashion and colour trends demands of retailers and distributors society and environmental pressures properties of materials technical aspects of manufacturing processes Carry out a strategy for following: survey of existing sleeping bags in order to develop a marketing a new product line. Your market research should investigate the consumer attitudes and preferences an examination of existing cover styles, constructions and fillings current costs to the consumer

Sleeping bag design involves the following two aspects: designs for the fabrication structure of the cover selection of the most appropriate material for the filling

The design and development cycle (or lead time) for a new product in the sleeping bag industry usually takes from 1 to 3 months. The diagram below illustrates the various stages of this process. CUSTOMER MACHINISTS PROTOTYPE MATERIALS "" FABRICATION STRUCTURE


I \


New product path

Student sheet A 2.1

The aspects which influence a new sleeping bag design can be grouped into factors leading to production and factors controlling production. These are shown below.

Factors Related to Production


Student sheet A 2.2

Activity 3
Characteristics ofmateria1s used in sleeping bags

1. List the desired properties of materials used in the manufacture of sleeping bags. 2. 3. Examine the functional requirements for sleeping bags given on student sheet A 3.2. Compare these aspects with the general list of properties you have identified. You could examine some of the available materials under a microscope using 8x and 20x magnification to help. Use information sheets (a) - (g) to help you select appropriate materials and construction techniques which will be suitable for producing cost effective sleeping bags to be used under one of the following conditions: summer low level camping in the UK a Himalayan trekking expedition a polar expedition


Designers now use a range of natural and synthetic cover fabrics and filling materials for sleeping bag design. Sleeping bags do not have to be thick to be warm. It is the types of filling and stitching construction used in the cover fabric which produce the required thermal insulation' properties. It is easy to adjust the characteristics of sleeping bags to suit specific working conditions using various permutations of cover fabric, filler material and stitching construction.

Student sheet A 3.1

General functional requirements for sleeping bags

1.Weight and bulk: if sleeping bags are heavy or bulky, they will be more difficult to carry, so a light weight material, which retains its elasticity after compression, is an advantage. Toughness: sleeping bags should be capable of withstanding rough treatment both in use and when folded for transit and storage (crush and compression factors). Comfort and shape: most sleeping bags are tapered, rectangular, or mummy shaped. They should be flexible enough to fit the body form, non-constrictive, and allow movement during sleep. Insulation: sleeping bags should possess thermal insulation properties which are related to the conditions of use. Most manufacturers classify sleeping bags according to the minimum comfort temperature (MCT). Bags should be designed to keep the occupant comfortably warm, when used at this temperature, provided they are in a tent and using a quality sleeping mat. The MCT classifications of use are as follows: Class MCT
I 2




Summer low level camping in the UK. Travel to warm/temperate climates. --------------------------------~ 3 season mountain cam ping in the UK. Travel to cooler climates.

3 4 5

-20oe -30oe

4 season camping in the UK. Alpine walking. Himalayan trekking. Winter mountain camping in the UK. Alpine mountaineering. Ski touring. Expeditions to all but the highest, coldest places. Expeditions to the highest, coldest places (e.g. polar).


5. 6. 7.

Waterproofing: some protection against contact with wet ground is

a desirable, though not an essential feature of sleeping bags. Drying time: sleeping bags should be capable of drying quickly.

to improve resistance to accidental tearing during use. 8. Flame retardation: this is a desirable property of the materials used to manufacture sleeping bags. 9. Breathability: the ability of the materials to transfer perspiration vapour from the skin to the outside of the fabric. 10. Zip together: some sleeping bags are designed to zip together with other bags. This requires right and left handed versions.

Tear resistance: good quality sleeping bags use ripstop materials

Student sheet A 3.2

Information sheet (a) for activity 3

Materials used in sleeping bags

Cover and lining fabrics' Cover fabrics Most sleeping bag manufacturers use a variety of polyester, cotton and nylon fabrics for the cover material. This is because of the strength and lightweight characteristics of these particular materials. The price and quality of a sleeping bag depends on the quality of the materials used, as illustrated in the following table.
Price range
Lower Medium Upper Polyester

cotton, quality nylon fabrics

Ripstop quality nylon for added strength Pertex and ripstop quality Pertex

Pertex is a lightweight fabric made from tightly woven nylon microfibre having almost 4000 filaments per square centimetre. It is water repellent, windproof, breathable and dries very quickly when wet. The material comes in three qualities, specified by weight as follows:




Pertex A dense weave of microfine filaments giving optimun pore size

Pertex 4 (54g/m2) Pertex 5 (69g/m2) Pertex 6 (80g/m2)

Pertex 4 is matt, silky and extremely comfortable, making it an ideal high quality sleeping bag cover fabric. For even higher quality and strength, with increased resistance to tearing, there are two 'ripstop' versions, Pertex RS4 and Pertex RS5. These are superfine, soft, immensely strong and were originally developed for use in parachutes. A hydrophobic coating of polyurethane can be applied to Pertex RS5 to produce a completely waterproof yet breathable fabric. This fabric is more expensive and known as Pertex 1000.
I Ijning

fabrics Lining fabrics should be comfortable, soft and pleasant to feel. Sleeping bags in the lower price range tend to use a brushed cotton, polyester cotton or viscose nylon for inner liners, in combination with an outer cover of polyester cotton or nylon fabric. Sleeping bags in the upper price range tend to use Pertex materials throughout, in particular Pertex 4 for linings.

Information sheet (b)for activity 3

Materials used in sleeping bags

Filling materials- natural Goose and duck down
Down is the lightest, warmest filling material available. However, it is also the most expensive. Down should be used where lightweight, warmth and lack of bulk are the priorities. The use of goose and duck down as a filling material in sleeping bags is because of their durability, softness (cushioning property), packability (resistance to compression damage) and loft characteristics. Down comes from the breast of the goose or duck and, in contrast to the feathers from other areas, has no quill. Loft is the ability of a filling material to maintain an even distribution when enclosed by a cover fabric. Down is normally used with a small percentage of feather added which improves the loft quality and prevents the down from clumping (gathering together in different areas of the sleeping bag). Down filling is normally specified as the percentage of down followed by the percentage of feather, e.g. 90/10 would represent 90% down with 10% of feather. The best downs give a very high loft, which in turn means more warmth for less weight. The insulating performance of a particular down is measured by its fill power. The fill power figure represents the volume (in cubic inches) occupied by 10z of fully lofted down. Some examples of commonly used specifications are shown below.
Fill type 85/15 DD 90/10 GD 90/10 DD 96/4 GD Fill power
450 550 650 700


= duck

= goose down


Thermal insulation is then governed by a combination of the total mass and fill power of any particular grade of down used in an individual sleeping bag. e.g. A sleeping bag with a total mass of 1000g filled with 90/10 DD, will give a higher thermal insulation than one with a total mass of 300g filled with 90/10 GD. This is because the first one has both greater mass and greater fill power than the second. A sleeping bag with 700g total weight of 96/4 GD will give a higher thermal insulation than one with BOOg total weight of 90/10 GD. In this case, the first one is lighter, but has a fill power of 700, whereas the second one, though slightly heavier, has a fill power of only 550.

Information sheet (c) for activity 3

Materials used in sleeping bags

Filling materialssynthetic

Polyester fibres
Some characteristics which account for the use of polyester fibres as filling materials for sleeping bags are as follows: toughness with good compactability and recovery less expensive than down combines lightness and comfort (but heavier than down) is a thermoplastic with a natural feel good thermal insulation properties and 'mildew resistant' dries much quicker than down machine washable (usually at 40C) Polyester fibres used in sleeping bags can be either solid or hollow. Although the hollow fibres are more expensive they trap more easily the thermal insulation properties, and are softer. Sometimes a combination of solid and hollow fibres are used to combine a lower cost with increased thermal insulation, softness and resilience. DACRON QlJALLOFIL 4 and 7 are all year round suitable polyester fibres with a unique construction which combines the qualities of down with the easier care and quicker drying characteristics of synthetic fillings. Each tiny fibre incorporates four or seven air channels which trap air and provide excellent loft and resilience. They are lighter in weight than other polyester fibres, have 20% more thermal resistance, and are used with stitch constructions normally associated with down filling. Although more expensive than other polyester fillings they are a cheaper alternative to down.

Hollow fibres

QUALLOFILfibres with 4 channel construction

QUALLOFILfibres with 7 channel construction

Synthetic fillings are normally specified as the number of layers (Batts) of filling followed by the mass in grams per square metre of each layer. Some commonly used specifications for synthetic filling materials are: 1 x 90 2x 125 Lx 180 2x 180 1 x 270 2 x 270 1x 170 + 1 x 240 e.g. 1 x 90 means 1 filling layer (Batt) with a mass of 90g per square metre and 2 x 125 means 2 filling layers (Batts) each with a mass of 125g per square metre.

Information sheet (d) for activity 3

The construction of sleeping bags

General construction
Sleeping bags comprise an outer cover, a filling, and an inner lining.
Outer cover

Stitch constructions used with down filling

Cover fabrics for use with down fillings are stitched into channel constructions to allow maximum loft. Each independent channel is known as a baffle. The different arrangements illustrated below are used to help create an even loft and a minimum of cold spots.

Box Wall

Double Offset Box Wall

Slant Box Wall (enhances overall insulation)

V Baffles

Double Box Wall (2 layers - increased thermal insulation)

The vertical side walls of the baffles are usually made from a lightweight knitted fabric material, different from the cover and lining. Elasticated thread is often used on high quality sleeping bags to sew the baffles in place. This allows the fabric more flexibility to gently contour around the body shape and thus reduce heat loss.

Information sheet (e) for activity 3

Stitch constructions used with synthetic fjUing Sewn Through constructions are used for the cover fabric with synthetic fillings. Any line of through stitching creates cold spots which reduce the insulation properties of the materials. To overcome this, Double Offset Layer
constructions can be used.

Sewn Through

Double Offset Layers

Intermittent stitch patterns are other alternatives used to gain maximum loft

with minimum restriction. These consists of a series of short, alternate zigzag lines of stitching to hold the cover, filling and liner together and produce a high efficiency of thermal insulation.

Intermittent Stitch Construction

The combined materials are then overlock stitched around the edges, creating a large internal air space.

Information sheet (t) for activity 3

General manufacturing process

Shape The shape for a particular sleeping bag is marked out on the materials and cut by hand, using template patterns in a similar manner to that used in the clothing industry. Down filled sleeping bags

Pertex material is normally used for down filled bags. Prior to sewing, the Pertex is 'down proofed' by passing through a set of rollers, one of which is

slightly heated. During this process the surface fibres on the inner side of the material are fused together, which prevents the down from infiltrating the fabric. This produces a 'wet look' appearance on the inside whilst leaving the outer surface of the Pertex in its attractive natural matt state.

The box channel constructions are individually sewn. using heavy duty sewing machines. The down is weighed out and placed into the box channels by hand in a still air environment (otherwise the down disperses into the air). Fibre filled sleeping bags

Fibre preparation

Synthetic fibres (which look like cotton wool) usually arrive at the factory in bales. Fibres of different types and densities are mixed together to create specific percentage blends for particular jobs. The blend mix is then passed through a carding machine (as in the wool industry) to produce flat layered sheets of different layer thicknesses. To keep the fibres in place the carded sheets are either sprayed with a quickdry resin to bond the fibres on the outer surfaces, or special hot melt fibres are included at the blending stage which melt when the layered sheets are passed through an oven, creating an integral bond with the other fibres.

Resin spray Fibre layered sheet

Information sheet (g) for activity 3

The outer cover material, fibre filling sheet and the lining material are assembled together like a sandwich. The materials then pass through a multi-needle quilting machine which is set to stitch either straight lines or an intermittent zigzag pattern.
Movement of needles for intermittent stitch patterns

Sleeping bag materials "'-~~ ~ Flatbed

To produce the intermittent stitch pattern, the needle heads descend and move a fixed distance sideways in one direction, then lift and descend at another point before moving in the opposite direction to return to their original position, as the materials pass through. This sequence repeats and the intermittent zigzag stitch pattern is built up. The process is computer controlled. The materials are then manually overlock stitched around the edges using heavy duty sewing machines.


Fashion and colour trends

Society and environmental pressure


Environmental movements

S u

Decision makers

Retailers distributors


Natural look

Technical factors

Perceptual trends

Comfort Sustainability



the development

of a new product




I \






New Product Path


The Construction of Sleeping Bags







Box Wall

Slant Box Wall (enhances overall insulation)

V Baffles

Double Box Wall (2 layers - increased thermal insulation)





Sewn Through



Double Offset Layers