Articles | science and technology | Textile Industry

Threads of Trust: Unveiling the Science Behind Your Clothes

Published: April 26, 2024

By Tanvi Munjal 

Textiles, the ubiquitous materials that clothe us, furnish our homes, and fuel countless industries, play a vital role in our daily lives. Yet, the journey from raw fibre to finished product relies heavily on a silent guardian of quality: textile testing standards. These standardized procedures ensure that textiles meet specific criteria for safety, performance, and durability.

What are Textile Testing Standards?

Textile testing standards cover a wide range of parameters, including but not limited to:

  • Strength and durability: Testing the tensile strength, tear strength, abrasion resistance, and seam strength of textiles to ensure they can withstand wear and tear.
  • Colorfastness: Evaluating the colorfastness of textiles to various factors such as washing, light exposure, and rubbing to ensure the colors do not fade or bleed.
  • Flammability: Testing the flammability of textiles to ensure they meet safety standards and do not pose a fire hazard.
  • Chemical content: Testing for harmful chemicals and substances in textiles that could be harmful to human health or the environment.

Dimensional stability: Testing the dimensional stability of textiles to ensure they do not shrink, stretch, or distort after washing or use.

The Diverse World of Textile Testing Standards

One of the most critical aspects of textile testing standards is consumer protection. Tests like flammability standards assess a fabric’s resistance to ignition, preventing potential fire hazards in nightwear, upholstery, and other household items. Chemical testing identifies harmful substances that could cause allergic reactions or skin irritation, ensuring the safety of individuals with sensitive skin. Colorfastness tests evaluate dye stability, guaranteeing that colors won’t bleed or fade prematurely, preventing consumer disappointment and potential health risks associated with low-quality dyes.

Beyond safety, textile testing standards empower manufacturers to develop products that meet specific end-use requirements. These standards establish benchmarks for properties like tensile strength, tear resistance, and dimensional stability. Tensile strength testing determines a fabric’s ability to withstand pulling forces, crucial for activewear designed for high-impact activities. Tear resistance testing evaluates a fabric’s vulnerability to rips and tears, a necessary consideration for upholstery fabrics. Dimensional stability testing ensures fabrics resist shrinking or stretching excessively after washing, maintaining garment shape and fit.

Textile Committee 

The Textiles Committee, established under the Textiles Committee Act of 1963 by the Indian Parliament, succeeded the former Cotton Textiles Fund Committee created under the Cotton Textiles Fund Ordinance under the Government of India Act, 1935. Offering a range of testing services to the trade and industry, the Textiles Committee operates through its 17 laboratories, including 9 eco-labs, focusing on research and development and test method development. 

Actively involved in committees of the Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS), the Committee collaborates on test standards formulation. Embracing new technologies, the Textiles Committee has introduced Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) to enhance workflow automation and management in its laboratories. Accredited with ISO 17025 by NABL, 14 of the Committee’s labs, while also extending consultation for establishing test facilities, the Committee also facilitates programs such as the Integrated Skill Development Scheme (ISDS) and Cluster Development Programme (CDP) in the textile industry.

ISO Textile Testing Standards

ISO textile testing standards are a wide range of technical specifications that apply to various aspects of textiles and textile products. These standards are created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a non-governmental organization that sets international standards for a wide variety of products and services.

ISO textile testing standards ensure the quality, safety, and performance of textiles. They are used by manufacturers, retailers, and consumers alike to ensure that textiles meet specific requirements. There are ISO standards for a wide variety of textile properties, including:

  • Fiber content
  • Yarn count
  • Fabric construction
  • Colorfastness
  • Dimensional stability
  • Flammability
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Tear strength
  • Water resistance
  • Shrinkage
  • Soiling

ISO has published 436 standards out of which 177 under the direct responsibility of ISO/TC 38. Let us take a look at some of the most common ISO textile testing standards:

  • ISO 10002:2004 – Textile testing – Tensile properties of fabrics – Test methods
  • ISO 13934-1:2012 – Textiles – Tensile properties of fabrics – Determination of maximum force and elongation at maximum force using the strip method
  • ISO 13934-2:2012 – Textiles – Tensile properties of fabrics – Determination of maximum force and elongation at maximum force using the grab method
  • ISO 18516-1:2013 – Textiles – Determination of tear force – Part 1: Single tear method
  • ISO 18516-2:2003 – Textiles – Determination of tear force – Part 2: Trapezoidal tear method
  • ISO 7373:2020 – Textiles – Colour Fastness to washing – Tests in commercial laundering and multiple domestic washing machines and domestic tumble dryers
  • ISO 11092:2014 – Textiles —  Protective clothing — Performance requirements for clothing protecting against heat and flame
  • ISO 9073-1:2019 – Textiles — Test methods for nonwovens — Part 1: Determination of thickness
  • ISO 13934-1:2012 – Textiles — Tensile properties of fabrics — Part 1: Determination of breaking force and elongation at break (strip method)
  • ISO 13934-2:2012 – Textiles — Tensile properties of fabrics — Part 2: Determination of breaking force and elongation at break (grab method)

Bureau of Indian Standards

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the national body of India for the standardization of goods and services. They publish a wide range of textile testing standards that cover a variety of aspects of textiles, including:

  • Fibres
  • Yarns
  • Fabrics
  • Garments
  • Made-up articles

These standards are used to ensure that textiles meet the required quality and safety standards. Some of the benefits of using BIS textile testing standards include:

  • Improved product quality
  • Enhanced safety
  • Increased consumer confidence
  • Fair trade practices

Global Textile Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) Top Companies 

  • SGS Group 
  • Bureau Veritas SA  
  • Intertek Group Plc 
  • TUV SUD Group  
  • TUV Rheinland Group

Various Textile Standards Across the Globe

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