Fabric Structure, Properties and Testing

September 8, 2017 | Author: Fabric Club | Category: Textiles, Yarn, Weaving, Stiffness, Yield (Engineering)
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13 Fabric Structure, Properties and Testing

After covering the design and manufacturing of woven fabrics in the previous chapters, it would be proper to analyze the fundamentals of woven structure in this chapter. The most important fabric properties are explained. Testing principles, methods and equipment for fabric testing are summarized. The purpose of this chapter is to relate the fabric properties to the manufacturing process and end use performance. Fabrics are flexible yet strong. Flexibility is one of the most important characteristics of woven fabrics. The fabric flexibility is mostly due to flexible fibers and yarns in the fabric. Due to their polymeric nature and fine diameters, fibers are quite flexible. A staple yarn is a lot more flexible than a monofilament yarn of the same count. A multifilament or staple yarn may consist of several hundred or thousand fibers in its cross section. Although the fibers are twisted together in a staple yarn, there is still room for the fibers to move relative to each other (called fiber migration) under different types of loading, including bending, which results in a flexible structure of yarn. Increasing twist increases the stiffness of the yarn and therefore of fabric. Restricting fiber movement or slippage in the yarn, which is the case in sizing of warp yarns, increases the stiffness of the yarn. Fabric weave structure also affects flexibility to a certain extent. The major factors that contribute to fabric strength are fiber inherent strength and yarn strength.

Weave design also affects fabric strength, especially fabric modulus. 13.1 WOVEN FABRIC STRUCTURE Woven fabric technology is deeply rooted in geometry. A fabric consists of millions of fibers assembled together in a particular geometry. The properties of a fabric depend on material properties, fiber and yarn structure and properties and fabric structure and geometry as shown in Table 12.1. Peirce [1] specified eleven structural parameters that represent fabric construction as shown in Figure 13.1: L : length of yarn between yarn intersections P : projected length of yarn between the intersections C : yarn crimp H : distance between the center of yarn and fabric plane α : angle between horizontal direction and the yarn axis D : sum of the warp and filling yarn diameters The first five parameters are for both warp and filling. These eleven interdependent parameters can be used to impart the major properties to the fabric. Although fabrics are considered to be two361

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Fabric Cover Factor and Density

FIGURE 13.1 Geometry of the unit cell for a plain weave.

dimensional for practical purposes, they are indeed three-dimensional. Warp count is the number of warp yarns per unit width of fabric and filling count is the number of filling yarns per unit length of the fabric. Today, using optical/electronic technology, fabric yarns per unit length can be measured rapidly with extreme accuracy and repeatability. 13.2 WOVEN FABRIC PROPERTIES

Fabric Weight and Thickness Fabric weight can be expressed in two ways: direct and indirect system. In the direct system, the fabric weight per area is given, e.g., g/m2 or oz/yd2. In the indirect system, which is used less in practice, usually the running length per weight is given. However, in this case the fabric width should also be specified. Fabric weight is affected by the following: • • • • • • •

fiber density yarn size contractions fabric construction weave pattern tensions during weaving finishing

Fabric thickness is important since it affects permeability and insulation characteristics of fabric. The standard test method for measuring thickness of textile materials is given in ASTM D1777 [2]. The thickness measurement is done at a specified pressure of the thickness gauge. The gauge pressure and area are usually reported along with the measured thickness.

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One of the most important functions of fabrics is the covering function. There are two types of cover functions of fabrics: optical cover and geometrical cover. The reflection and scattering of the incident light by the fabric surface is called optical cover function. Optical cover characteristics of fabric depend on the fiber material and fabric surface. Dyeing and finishing can change the optical cover properties. Geometrical cover is the area of fabric covered by fibers and yarns and is characterized by fabric cover factor. Fabric cover factor (CF) is defined as the ratio of projected fabric surface area covered by yarns to the total fabric surface area and given by the following equation (Figure 13.2): (13.1) where Cw is the warp cover factor and Cf is the filling cover factor.

where nw : warp count nf : filling count dw : diameter of warp yarn df : diameter of filling yarn

FIGURE 13.2 Cover factor diagram of a plain weave.

13.2 Woven Fabric Properties 363

The maximum cover factor is 1 in which the yarns touch each other. This situation is called the jamming state. Theoretically, the cover factor can be larger than 1 in which the yarns pile up on each other giving multilayers of yarns. The property of a fabric that is affected most by the cover factor is the permeability. Liquid and gas (air) permeability depend on the cover factor to a great extent. The density of a fabric is the weight per unit volume of the fabric. The unit volume is calculated by multiplying the unit area with fabric thickness. Theoretically, the fabric density can be very close to fiber density.

Crimp Due to the necessity of interlacing in a woven fabric structure, at least one of the two yarn sets must have crimp. In most of the cases, both warp and filling have crimp. However, theoretically it is possible to have straight filling and crimped warp and vice versa as shown in Figure 13.3. The amount of crimp in each yarn can be largely controlled by controlling the yarn tensions during weaving. Crimp ratio between warp and filling can also be changed to a certain extent for some yarns such as monofilaments with heatsetting or finishing processes. Tensioning a yarn causes its crimp to be reduced. This will result in tension increase in the other yarn set. Another method to change crimp ratio is to relax and shrink

FIGURE 13.4 Crimped structure of a plain fabric.

the fabric with water or heat. Changing the ratio of crimp between the warp and filling yarn is called crimp transfer or crimp interchange. Yarn crimp is also affected by the pattern of yarn interlacing in a fabric; high frequency of interlacing increases yarn crimp. For example, the plain weave has the highest frequency of interlacing and therefore the highest yarn crimp level in both warp and filling yarn. Satin (or sateen) weaves have the lowest frequency of interlacing and hence lowest degree of yarn crimp. Increasing yarn crimp in a particular direction decreases the fabric modulus and increases the elongation in that direction. This is because the tensile load is initially used to decrimp the yarn which is relatively easier than extending the yarn. It should be noted that the fibers in a staple yarn also have some crimp. Moreover, in addition to the crimp due to interlacing, the yarn itself can also be wavy which could be considered another type of crimp. Crimp affects the weight, thickness, cover, flexibility and hand of fabric. The American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) makes two types of definitions related to crimp: percent crimp and percent take-up as shown in Figure 13.4 [2]. (13.2) (13.3)

FIGURE 13.3 Possible yarn crimp variations in fabrics.

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In practice, another related term, yield, is used quite often during manufacturing. Yield is defined as the ratio of woven fabric length to the warp length. Yield affects the fabric modulus. The yield, along with fabric design, material type, weave, thickness, warp diameter and tension, determines how much a fabric will stretch in a heatsetting operation. This will affect the fabric modulus and the fabric final sizing to


achieve the proper length. This, in turn, determines fabric stability. The uniformity of the yield is important because of the interaction among fabric properties. Changes in yield can cause differences in fabric thickness, air permeability, filling count, fabric width and appearance, as well as in fabric modulus. Yield can be measured with a simple method: make a mark on the warp yarns and on the fabric at the same time; after, say, 10 cm of warp has come off the warp beam then make a mark again on the fabric. Measure the amount of fabric which was made in 10 cm of warp and divide this by 10 which gives the yield in the fabric.

Tensile Strength Tensile strength is the most important property of a fabric. In almost every fabric development and manufacturing, tensile properties are reported. Modulus, breaking strength and elongation at break are widely used for quality control. There are different types of fabric tensile tests that are used depending on the fabric and purpose: strip tensile test, grab tensile test and wide width tensile test. In the strip tensile test, a narrow strip of fabric sample is used (ASTM D5035 Breaking Force and Elongation of Textile Fabrics). The jaws of the tensile testing machine, which are wider than the fabric sample, clamp the sample on both ends and a tensile load is applied until fabric breaks. In the grab tensile test, the jaws are narrower than the fabric width to reduce the effect of Poisson’s ratio (ASTM D5034 Breaking Force and Elongation of Textile Fabrics). Grab tensile test is more widely used for heavy industrial fabrics such as geotextiles. Wide width tensile tests are also used mostly for industrial textiles (e.g. ASTM D4595 for geotextiles). Narrow fabrics such as webbings, ribbons, etc., are usually tested at full width. Fabric modulus is measured using ASTM Test Method D 885 [2]. Specifications of textile machines for tensile testing are described in ASTM D 76. The terminology of tensile properties of textiles is given in ASTM D4848. Other ASTM test methods related to tensile testing include:

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ASTM D 1775 Standard Test Method for Tension and Elongation of Wide Elastic Fabrics (Constant Rate-of-Load Type Tensile Testing Machine) ASTM D 4964 Tension/Elongation of Wide/Narrow Elastic Fabrics by Constant Rate of Elongation Type Tensile Testing Machine

When fabric is extended in one direction (uniaxial load), first, crimp in that direction decreases. Fabric is relatively easy to extend during crimp decrease. After that, the yarn material starts bearing the load which would reduce the extension rate of the fabric. While crimp is decreasing in one direction (load direction), it increases in the opposite direction. Crimp interchange continues until a force equilibrium is attained. In biaxial loading, force is applied in two directions. In this case, the crimp interchange depends on the magnitude of the forces. Warp and filling yarns exert forces onto each other at the crossover points. Since yarns are compressible, these forces cause the yarns to deform and take an elliptic shape in the fabric structure rather than a near round shape. The height and width of the yarn’s elliptic shape depend on the twist level. The ratio of height/ width is called the aspect ratio. Fabric cover factor is affected by the width and the crimp is affected by the height.

Tear Resistance In a relatively dense fabric, individual yarns oppose to the tearing load one by one, that is why propagation of tear is relatively easy. If the number of yarns per unit length is low, then the yarns are allowed to displace themselves and form groups to resist the tear in groups rather than individually. This increases tear resistance of the fabric, that is why loosely woven fabrics have better tear resistance than dense or coated fabrics. For example, a gauze fabric is difficult to tear because of low number of yarns. Fabric weave also has an effect on tear resistance. A 2×2 basket weave has higher tear resistance than a plain weave since two yarns act together against tear. The tests that are used to measure tear resistance of fabrics are tongue (ASTM D 2261), and

13.2 Woven Fabric Properties 365

Elmendorf test (ASTM D 1424). The first method uses a tensile testing machine to measure the tearing force. Elmendorf uses a pendulum and measures the tear energy. The trapezoid tear test, which uses another method, is not used anymore.

Fabric Bow and Skew (Figure 13.5) The condition in which the filling yarns lie in the fabric in the shape of an arc is called fabric bow. Bow is expressed as: (13.4) Fabric bow can be symmetrical or non-symmetrical. The condition in which the filling yarns in a fabric do not lie perpendicular to the warp yarns is called skew. Skew is expressed as: (13.5) Fabrics with bow or skew are not acceptable in today’s quality conscious business environment. If not corrected, bowed or skewed materials become seconds or reruns. Bow and skew detection and correction machines are used for this purpose. Figure 13.6 shows a single width terry towel bow and skew control machine. This particular machine detects and corrects bow and skew error by monitoring the cut bands oriented in the filling direction of the single width web. Using an optical detection system, the exposed portion of the cut band’s filling yarn is electronically monitored. Correction signals are sent to the machine

FIGURE 13.6 Terry cloth bow and skew control machine (courtesy of Mount Hope).

where straightening of bow and skew distortions occurs automatically [3]. A bow and skew optical sensing system consists of a sensing unit through which the fabric is threaded. The sensing unit consists of light sources that project light beams through the fabric and optical receivers that read the filling angle at each sensing point. The light sources and receivers are mounted at a fixed angle to the fabric to optimize the signals through dense plain and twill fabrics such as denims. Light intensity can be automatically adjusted based on the density of the fabric for proper signal generation. The receiver heads on the opposite side of the fabric have lenses to focus the image of the fabric on a semiconductor silicon chip. The chip has an array of radially oriented photosensitive lines that generate electrical signals proportional to the light received through the fabric. These signals are amplified and sent to the angle computer card for calculation of the filling angle. Figure 13.7 shows a high intensity optical sensing system for denim and other dense fabrics.

Air Permeability

FIGURE 13.5 Fabric bow and skew.

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Air flow through a fabric is very complex due to the complicated structure of the fabric. The air flow through a fabric at a pressure difference between


FIGURE 13.7 High intensity optical bow and skew sensing system for denims and other dense fabrics (courtesy of Mount Hope).

the two surfaces is directly proportional to the open area of the fabric and square root of the differential pressure. High differential pressure further complicates the air flow since the viscoelastic fibers may deform under pressure. Fabric air permeability is a measure of air flow through the fabric at the standard pressure drop. The air permeability is measured as the air flow in cubic feet of air per square foot of fabric per minute in the standard system and in cubic meter of air per square meter of fabric per minute in the metric system. Air permeability is of considerable value in predicting insulation characteristics of a fabric. Increasing twist in the yarn increases the air permeability of the fabric. Air permeability test of textile fabrics is described in ASTM D737.

Void Volume Void volume is the amount of space in a volume of fabric that is not occupied by solid material (Figure 13.8). Both fabric thickness and internal structure affect absolute void volume. Void volume can be calculated as follows:

FIGURE 13.8 Void volume.

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13.2 Woven Fabric Properties 367

Abrasion Resistance Both the fiber material and fabric geometry affect the abrasion resistance of a fabric. Some polymers are intrinsically better abrasion resistant than others. The twist level, yarn crimp and weave design affect the abrasion resistance of the fabric. The amount of fiber and yarn surface that is in contact with the abradant is important. Increasing surface contact increases the abrasion resistance of the fabric. Low twist yarns may present greater surface to the abradant; however, too little twist may leave loose fibers protruding from the yarn body which may be snagged or broken during abrasion. High twist reduces the abrasion resistance of the yarn. With today’s technology, it is possible to arrange abrasion resistant fibers on the sheath while having fibers with high tensile strength in the core. Abrasion resistance of fabrics is measured in terms of visual appearance, number of cycles to open a hole in the fabric and residual strength of the fabric. There are several tests for abrasion resistance: • • • • • • • •

Inflated Diaphragm Test (ASTM D3886) Flexing and Abrasion Method (ASTM D3885) Oscillatory Cylinder Method (ASTM D4157) Rotary Platform Double Head Method (ASTM D3884) Uniform Abrasion Method (ASTM D4158) The Accelerotor (AATCC 93) Martindale Abrasion Tester (ASTM D4966) Special Webbing Abrader

Burst and Impact Resistance Some applications require resistance of fabrics against pressure forces which are perpendicular to the fabric plane. Filter fabrics, geotextiles, parachutes, transportation bags, air and tension structure fabrics must often withstand considerable bursting pressure. Bursting loading is similar to biaxial tensile loading in which fiber and yarn moduli play an important role. For better burst resistance, fabrics are designed to have equal properties in warp and filling directions. There are two types of tests to measure burst resistance of fabrics: the diaphragm

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test (ASTM D3786 Mullen burst test) and the ball burst test (ASTM D3787). Some fabrics are designed to withstand impact loading. Ballistic protective fabrics, airbags and seat belts are examples of these types of fabrics. The key to high impact resistance of a fabric is good energy absorption in a short time. The energy absorbing capability of a fabric is indicated by the area under the load-elongation curve. There are different test methods to measure impact resistance of fabrics including free falling weights, dropping pendulums and shooting devices [4].

Flexibility and Stiffness Strength and flexibility are the two properties that make textiles unique. Fabric flexibility is affected by the flexibility properties of the constituent fibers and by the yarn and fabric structure. To measure the stiffness of fabrics, two methods are used: either the fabric is bent under its own weight or an external load is applied to the fabric. In the cantilever test (ASTM D1388), a strip of fabric is bent under its own weight. Bending length is onehalf of the resulting overhanging length. The stiffness (flexural rigidity) is obtained by multiplying the cube of the bending length by the fabric weight per unit area. The Heart Loop Test method is described in ASTM D1388 which requires no commercial tester. Another fabric stiffness test, the Circular Bend test, is done according to ASTM D 4032.

Drape and Hand Drape and hand are extremely important for apparel fabrics. Drape can be defined as the ability of a fabric to bend under its own weight to form folds. Hand or handle is a subjective property that can be related to the comfort perception of the fabric. An analysis of fabric hand has been described by the ASTM as being composed of eight components: compressibility, flexibility, extensibility, density, resilience, surface contour, surface friction and thermal properties. The measurement of these properties does not give one an evaluation of hand. Sueo Kawabata of Japan approached the task of providing a single value for hand by starting with


the development of instruments that would be capable of evaluating the desired fabric properties under low load conditions. He believed that this would more closely relate to the human concept of hand. His instruments were designed to measure the hand related properties: tensile and shear behavior, bending behavior, compressive behavior, and surface roughness and friction. These properties are similar to those listed by the ASTM with the exception of thermal characteristics. Kawabata developed an equation that gives a weighing to each of the measured properties and called the resultant summation Total Hand Value. The weighing factors were developed through extensive human subjective evaluations of a range of fabric types and the ranking of characteristics. The weighing factors are believed to be appropriate for the population within which the data were taken but there is some question as to the application of the same weighing factors in a different culture. The instruments of the Kawabata Evaluation System (KES) can be used for determining the listed fabric properties and are useful in providing relative data for fabric comparisons. Compared to other types of fabrics such as knit, braided and nonwoven, woven fabrics wrinkle and retain crease more. This is a good property when crease is wanted, e.g., ironing. However, for the most of the time besides ironing, wrinkle resistant fabrics are desired. Fabrics with high extensible fibers that have good elastic recovery usually have good wrinkle resistance. Fibers with high secondary creep have low wrinkle resistance. Fabric wrinkle resistance is also affected by temperature and relative humidity. Densely woven fabrics have less wrinkle resistance due to low freedom for fiber movement.

Flame Resistance Flame resistance can be obtained in two ways: a) by using inherently flame resistant fibers such as Nomex® aramid b) by treating (coating) the fiber or fabric with flame resistant chemicals The disadvantage of using fiber/fabric coating is the decrease in flame resistance with repeated washings. However, this method may be less

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expensive than using inherently flame resistant fibers. There are numerous standard test methods that deal with fire and flammability. A compilation of over 100 ASTM standards is given in the book Fire Test Standards published by the ASTM. One of the beauties of textile technology is that it allows mixing of materials in almost every stage of fabric production. In staple yarn manufacturing, different fibers can be intimately blended together to improve certain properties of yarns. For example a cotton, nylon and carbon fiber blend yarn can have comfort properties due to cotton, good abrasion resistance due to nylon and flame resistance due to carbon fiber. Another example is Nomex® III by DuPont, which is made of 95% Nomex® aramid for flame resistance and 5% Kevlar® aramid for strength. Morever, during yarn manufacturing, different single yarns can be plied together to alter properties. In fabric manufacturing, different warp and filling yarns can be chosen. Moreover, filling mixing of several filling yarns is possible with today’s technology. 13.3 WOVEN FABRIC IDENTIFICATION Table 13.1 lists the more commonly produced fabric types by name. Woven fabric structures can be identified with the naked eye or with microscope. The following guidelines are generally applicable in identification of various characteristics of woven fabrics.

Determination of Warp Direction If one set of yarns have ply in the fabric, it is usually the warp yarns. Warp yarn needs to be stronger than the filling yarn due to heavy forces acting upon them. In general, the warp density (ends/unit length) is more than the filling density (fillings/unit length). In the fabric, warp yarns are usually straighter than filling yarns since filling yarns may have more tendency for bow and skewness. The selvage of the fabric runs parallel to the warp direction. In greige fabrics, the warps may still have the size material on them which makes the yarns stiffer. Prominent stripes or marks are usually in the warp direction. Reed marks also run in the warp direction. If the crimp levels are

13.3 Woven Fabric Identification 369

TABLE 13.1 Common fabric type names.

different, it is a high probability that there is more crimp in warp yarns.

Determination of Face and Back of Woven Fabrics In general, the fabric design is more visible on the face. For example, in a twill fabric, twill lines are more prominent on the face. Ribs are more visible on the face in a ribbed fabric. Satins are smoother on the face than the back. Slub yarn fabrics are more distinct on the face. The face of the napped fabrics is fuzzier and softer. The face is usually finer and more lustrous on double fabrics. The face would have less reed marks than the back. In finished fabrics, the face has better finish quality. In printed fabrics, the prints on the face are more clear and the colors predominate.

main body of the fabric for this purpose. Starting at a randomly selected point on the lower left side of the fabric, the interlacing pattern of the warp and filling yarns is determined until a repeat is found in both directions. Warp yarns are numbered from left to right and filling yarns are counted from bottom to top. The selvage design is determined in a similar way. However, it is usually drastically different than the rest of the fabric.

Determination of the Presence of Size and Finish Sometimes observation by the naked eye is enough to detect the size or finish on the fabric. The next step would be to determine the hand properties of fabrics such as stiffness, smoothness, etc. If necessary, the sample can be observed under a microscope.

Determination of the Order of Interlacing (Weave)

Standard Test Methods

Order of interlacing can be determined with the naked eye for coarse fabrics or using a magnifying glass or a microscope for fine fabrics. It is important that an undistorted sample that is larger than the repeat unit (by estimation) is examined from the

Tables 13.2 and 13.3 list the ASTM and AATCC (American Association for Textile Chemists and Colorists) standard fabric test methods. Company test methods are not included in these tables.

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TABLE 13.2 Standard test methods used for fabric testing (copyright ASTM).

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TABLE 13.3 Standard AATCC test methods used for fabric testing [5] (copyright AATCC).

371 © 2001 By Sulzer Textil Limited Switzerland

TABLE 13.3 (continued).

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Review Questions 373

TABLE 13.3 (continued).




1. Derive Equation (13.1). 2. What fabric properties are affected by the crimp? Explain. 3. Which fabric design would have the highest modulus? Why? Assume that all the other fabric properties are the same. 4. How can you increase the tensile strength of a fabric? 5. What is rip stop fabric? Explain. 6. What equipment is used to correct fabric bow and skew? 7. How is air permeability of fabrics measured? What is the significance of air permeability? 8. What are the factors affecting abrasion resistance? 9. For what kind of application of fabrics are burst and impact resistance important? Why? 10. How can you measure the hand of a fabric?





Peirce, F.T., “The Geometry of Cloth Structure”, JTI, Vol. 28, T45, 1937. American Society for Testing Materials, Annual Book of ASTM Standards (Volumes 7.01 and 7.02), published yearly by the ASTM, Philadelphia, PA. “Application of Weftrol™ for Single Width Terry Towel Bow and Skew Control”, Mount Hope, 1996. Adanur, S., Wellington Sears Handbook of Industrial Textiles, Technomic Publishing Co., Inc., 1995. American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists, Technical Manual of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists, published yearly by the AATCC, Research Triangle Park, NC.


Ganssauge, D. et al, “How Do Fabric Attributes Influence the Handle Characteristics of a Fabric?”, Melliand International (2), 1998.

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