The objective of FOCuS is the development of a new test method for the appearance change of rigid textile floor coverings.

In current test methods for the appearance change of textile floor coverings, the test specimens have to be bent to fit into a drum. However, the floor covering market in Europe shows a tendency to rigid products in plank form. The textile floor covering industry has to develop new products addressing this tendency in order to regain lost market shares. Without a suitable test method for the appearance change, the new, rigid floor coverings have to be developed using many trial and error circles and complaints from end-customers are inevitable.

The innovation target of FOCuS consists of three parts: Primarily, the appearance change of current products and prototypes of rigid textile floor coverings caused in field tests and by various existing test methods is analysed. Based on the knowledge gained by these analyses and on fundamental knowledge about human gait, a new method for producing appearance changes on rigid textile floor coverings is developed in the second part. As a third part, a guideline for the classification of the rigid textile floor coverings into use applications is outlined.

Materials are selected together with the SME UC and prototypes of rigid floor coverings are produced for the laboratory tests and the realistic field tests. Test methods suitable for producing appearance changes of other sectors (e. g. other textiles, other floor coverings, artificial turf, shoe sole testing, automotive testing) are determined and reviewed subsequently. A system specification for the new method is compiled.

An elaborate scheme for subjective-visual assessment in excess of the existing assessment standards of the appearance change is developed prior to testing the selected materials with the reviewed methods. Field tests presenting different influencing factors using the same materials are installed and maintained during at least a period of one year.

Simultaneously, the new test method is developed using knowledge of human gait and adapting gradually the results gained in laboratory tests and field tests. The works are finalised by optimising the test method on the basis of the evaluation of the comprehensive assessment results. In a concluding workshop with the SME UC the outline of a classification scheme for the rigid textile floor coverings into use applications is drawn.

The new test method enables the industry to develop new textile floor coverings in plank form with less trial and error circles and reduces the probability if complaints from end-customers. These products will find a ready market since the plank format has boosted in the last years.

The project consortium consists of research centres with profound knowledge of floor coverings from German and Belgian production and a research centre specialised in shoe testing. The SME Users Committee is composed of companies of the textile, resilient and multi-layered floor covering industry, coating industry, mechanical engineering and mechanical components, testing and certification of flooring systems, shoe soles, associations of textile floor covering industry and of multi-layered floorings.