Blog • August 30, 2020
What’s a “high-performance” textile? There’s no simple definition. Making sense of the term and choosing the right high-performance textile for a specific application can be challenging.
So, let’s break it down. Three elements collectively define high performance.
Organizations that want long-lasting textile solutions often define durability as the ability to withstand daily wear and tear for years.
Measuring durability used to be fairly subjective. Nowadays, the Wyzenbeek test in North America and the Martindale test in Europe can quantify a fabric’s ability to resist abrasion, down to the number of rubs that results in the first sign of damage.
The Association of Contract Textiles creates performance guidelines that serve as the industry standard and guide the selection of durable fabrics. For example, ACT recommends that woven fabrics intended for use in high-traffic, public spaces hold up to at least 30,000 double rubs through the Wyzenbeek method or 40,000 cycles through the Martindale method.
ACT also clarifies durability depending on where a textile is specified. For instance, upholstery fabrics that meet 30,000 double rubs are sufficient for a single-shift corporate environment, a hotel room or a conference room. But some spaces have constant traffic, like 24-hour healthcare facilities, airport terminals, lecture halls, fast food restaurants or casinos. For these environments, ACT recommends textiles with abrasion resistance higher than 30,000 double rubs.
2. Fibers and Cleanability
A wide variety of synthetic fibers makes it easier than ever for designers to select cleanable fabrics without sacrificing aesthetics. Synthetic textiles hold up to stringent cleaning methods and can help minimize the spread of infection.
Each type of synthetic fiber translates to a unique aesthetic, look and feel. A few options include the following:
Solution-dyed fibers are entirely saturated with color in the dyeing process to create a vibrant material. These fabrics don’t weaken or fade when cleaned with bleach. Solution-dyed fiber constructions include nylon, polyester, acrylic and polyolefin.
In particular, solution-dyed nylons have a slight iridescence to them, almost mimicking the aesthetic of rayon. Pallas patterns of this type include Spontaneous and Demeter.
Bleach-cleanable polyesters tend to offer a wider range of aesthetic options because they have a higher sheen and appear more texturized. Pallas patterns of this type include Fuse and Mod from the Minim Collection, as well as Glitz, Glam and Chic from the Atelier Collection.
Bleach-cleanable Crypton® fabrics are made of 100 percent polyester and infused with Crypton® processing to meet cleanability and antimicrobial standards from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These fabrics handle a cleaning solution that’s up to one part bleach for every 10 parts water. They also offer superior moisture and stain resistance. Pallas options of this type include Unspun and Surface.
Non-woven fabrics are constructed with polyurethane, vinyl and silicone. These offer a wide range of aesthetics without compromising cleanability. For instance, Pallas’s Wander pattern offers a distressed leather design and can stand up to a 5:1 bleach cleaning solution.
3. Finishes for Stain and Moisture Resistance
Chemical finishes help textiles repel moisture, dirt, spills and stains. Using nanotechnology, scientists can transform and protect the structure of fibers at the molecular level. High-performance finishes generally fall into two categories:
- Stain and moisture resistance: INCASE™, Nano-Tex®, GreenShield® and Teflon®.
- Stain resistance with a moisture barrier: Crypton®, Nano-Tex® with DuraBlock and GreenShield® or INCASE™ with Balance moisture barrier.
Advances in emulsification allow manufacturers to apply textile finishes thoroughly, evenly and precisely. As a result, our industry has been able to produce textiles that are more resistant to stain and microbes than ever before.
Fabric Performance Is at an All-Time High
As our industry advances, the definition of a high-performance textile will continue to evolve. For now, consider how durability, cleanability and stain- and moisture-resistance will affect the performance of your textiles.