Personal protective equipment (PPE) fabrics and garments are critical for protecting first responders and military personnel in hazardous environments. They must possess specific functional attributes, such as flame resistance, thermal protection, breathability, and water resistance. They must also be tested to ensure that they meet the necessary standards for effectiveness and safety. The construction of these fabrics and garments is complex, often involving specialized techniques and a combination of fibers to achieve the desired characteristics.
Global growth in more advanced protective wear, particularly for military and emergency services sectors has led to the continued development of James Heal textile testing equipment. Accurate, reliable testing is needed to ensure fabric properties in specialist garments meet their intended purpose, which are often critical to the survival of the wearer.
The Performance Testing Range from James Heal Ltd., Halifax/UK, was first established having recognized the shift in consumer behavior with trends towards ‘athleisure’ wear, and more advanced properties becoming commonplace features of everyday garments. The range has continued to expand, creating a suite of instruments that together cover a very different type of performance wear.
Further development of the range has been made to include new aspects of performance testing to incorporate the market for technical textiles in protective wear, particularly for first responder and military kit that has very specific challenges and testing requirements.
Each of the 6 performance testing instruments in the range has its own unique features. In particular, WickView has moved ahead of the current test standard for moisture wicking behavior in fabric, and AquAbrasion tests the effects of wet abrasion to better replicate real-life wear situations. Having developed their own test methods, the company is working with the industry to establish new standards in these areas of textiles testing. In addition, the TruRain sustainable water repellency tester recycles water, cutting waste by 99%, and creates efficiencies to reduce operating costs by 83%. Test instruments for hydrostatic head, air permeability and drying rate complete the range.
To assist the industry with this specialist area of textile testing, James Heal has released a free whitepaper: The lab manager's guide to performance testing.
Running alongside this innovation and complementing James Heal’s line up are the more traditional textiles testing instruments, such as for flammability, abrasion, tensile strength, and tear resistance, which together are widely used across the protective wear sectors for numerous applications to test for safety, durability, as well as comfort of the wearer.