What is fabric dimensional stability?

If you work in the textile industry you know how your production and process processes are influenced by the quality of the materials used. Therefore, it is important that you know the concept of fabric dimensional stability, as it influences the production and user experience.

Problems with shrinkage, tears and contraction of fiber, seams and threads can result in additional costs and a negative impact on your production. To prevent tissue-related problems, understand what dimensional stability is and how this assessment can be made.


What is dimensional stability?

Dimensional stability is the ability of polymers to maintain their original dimensions under various environmental and force conditions. In the context of fabrics, this concept refers to the change in size of the material when subjected to contraction force or thermal changes.

The better and greater the dimensional stability of a fabric, the less shrinkage it will have during processing and handling. It can be washed and stretched several times to maintain its original size and shape.

On the other hand, fabrics with low stability may shrink completely or show damage and changes to their seams when washed, ironed or used.


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What causes fabric shrinkage?

The dimensional change in the fabric is the result of faulty production, which underwent mechanical, chemical or thermal actions. The factor that most causes shrinkage is the absorption of moisture in the fibers or threads of the fabrics.

Generally speaking, the tighter the fabric structure is designed, the greater the material shrinkage will be, as the expansion of the fabric will cause the yarn to increase in height and length.

Another reason for shrinkage is processing stress on the fabric. If this factor changes, the deformation, internal and elastic tension and the degree of retraction will also suffer damage.

dimensional stability
Mechanism of tissue shrinkage. Fonte: www.uem.br


All these factors that alter the dimensional stability of the fabric can occur at different stages of material production, such as dyeing, weaving, development of yarn thickness and finishing, as fibers, especially synthetic ones, are easily deformed.

Furthermore, it is also necessary to consider the exposure time of the fabric. The longer the material is subjected to force, steam, humidity and other factors, the greater the shrinkage, which may become irreversible.


Why is dimensional stability testing necessary?

Fabric shrinkage tests are used to measure the dimensional stability of the product. This process guarantees the quality of the material and also acts as a process to prevent failures in the designed models.

By reducing failures and reviewing fabric development, it is possible to have better control over product changes and identify the best ways to store and handle each type of fabric.


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What are the types of shrinkage tests?

To evaluate the dimensional stability of the fabric, tests are carried out to determine the rate of contraction and shrinkage when subjected to different exposures and forces.

Mechanical shrinkage method

Test carried out in a clothes washer, so that the device agitates the fabric that is immersed in water, detergent and a controlled temperature. This way, it is possible to evaluate the degree of shrinkage by simulating a domestic or industrial wash.

Immersion contraction method

This technique is used on fabrics that need to be washed more drastically and with more force. To do this, the material is immersed in water that does not exceed 5/100000 calcium carbonate. After this, the fabric is folded, still damp, and only then dried..

Steam shrinkage method

This method “cooks” the material in steam, as the dimensional stability of the fabric is affected by this variable. Next, the sample passes through preheated cylinders and is placed in a flat, smooth place to cool.


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Which tests are most efficient for dimensional stability?

All three methods can be proven efficient, as they are based on calculations that evaluate shrinkage and contraction factors. However, for satisfactory results to be achieved it is necessary to consider the use that the fabric will have, so that the test used provides the degree of dimensional stability according to the activity to which the material will be subjected.

In this sense, we cannot fail to mention industry 4.0, which foresees not only the automation of production, but the construction of a database with information from suppliers to internal quality inspections. This way, it will be more efficient to maintain control of production processes.

Assessing the degree of dimensional stability of the fabric is a key factor in knowing whether the material will perform well and is suitable for use. This way, you can reduce costs due to waste and production failures.

Need to optimize production and reduce waste? Check out our article on how to avoid problems in textile production and reduce negative impacts.

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