How is the durability of fabric determined?

On certain fabrics on our and other web sites you might see that durability or abrasion resistance of the fabric is listed. Various methods are used to determine the durability of a fabric. Two of the most common are the Martindale method and the Wyzenbeek method. What is involved in these tests and how do they help you determine if a fabric is durable enough for you?

The Martindale Method is used on a variety of fabrics including woven, non woven, household fabrics and industrial fabrics, although difficulties arie with fabrics having a pile more than 0.08 inches deep. This method employs the Martindale abrasion tester. Abrasion is measured by rubbing a flat fabric in a figure eight pattern (Lissajous figure). The number of cycles endured before the fabric begins to show objectionable change (yarn breaks, holes, pilling) determines the abrasion rating. A piece of worsted wool is commonly used as the abradant. The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) uses this method.

Martindale machine

Another commonly referenced test involves the Wyzenbeek Method. This test is performed using an oscillatory cylinder (Wyzenbeek machine). The machine pulls test samples of the fabric tight. Individual samples from the warp and weft of the fabric are then cut out and rubbed back and forth using a cotton duck cloth as the abradant. The number of double rubs the fabric endures before breaking or showing noticeable wear determines the abrasion rating. For vinyl, polyurethane coated upholstery fabrics and olefin fabrics a wire screen abradant is recommended. The Wyzenbeek and Martindale methods generally do not translate one to another.

Two other methods used to determine the abrasion rating of a fabric are the Taber and Schopper methods. The Taber Method uses two circular abrading wheels operating in opposite directions. The abrading wheels are made from rubber/aluminum oxide abrasive particles. The Schopper Method uses fine emery paper moved in a reversing circular motion.

Taber machine

Of course, it is important to remember that how a testing machine measures abrasion in a fabric is only one of several factors that contribute to a fabric’s long term performance. Important factors in determining a fabric’s lifespan include fiber content, maintenance, furniture, cleaning, weaves, finishes, and usage.
Here are some sections of our web site where you will find fabrics that use these methods to rate their durability:
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