The Wyzenbeek and Martindale tests are the two methods commonly used to predict wear-ability. Actual performance is determined by many factors such as fiber content, weaves, finishes, furniture design, maintenance, cleaning, and usage. Durability of an upholstery fabric is a complex interaction (combination) of a number of performance tests that, in addition to abrasion, includes seam slippage, piling, tensile strength, and usage.
A Wyzenbeek machine is used for this test allowing sample of the test fabric to be pulled tight in a frame and help stationary. Individual test specimens cut from the warp and weft direction are then rubbed back and forth using an approved fabric as the abradant. The number of double rub cycles achieved before two yarn breaks occur or noticeable wear is observed is recorded as the fabric’s abrasion rating.
Martindale uses an oscillating test. Fabric samples are mounted flat and rubbed in a figure eight like motion using a piece of worsted wool cloth as the abradant. The number of cycles that the fabric can endure before fabric shows objectionable change in appearance (yarn breaks, piling, and holes) is counted. Number of cycles determines abrasion rating.
For Heavy Duty Usage 30,000 double rubs Wyzenbeek method; or 40,000 cycles Martindale method. End use examples of heavy-duty installations are: single shift corporate, hotel rooms/suites; conference rooms; and dining area usage. There are extreme wear situations that may require higher levels of abrasion resistance: 24 hours transportation terminals, 24 hour telemarketing, 24 hour healthcare emergency rooms, 24 hour casino gambling areas, and such public gathering places as theatres, stadiums, lecture halls and fast food restaurants.
Abrasion levels are often over specified in the faulty assumption that abrasion tests predict a product’s overall durability and life span. A recent industry survey indicated that for many end-use applications, factors other than surface abrasion are more likely to result in fabric failure and therefore should be considered when evaluating product durability.
Considerations before Specifying
Abrasion resistance is only one component of durability. Considering this in combination with other factors will enable you to choose the most suitable fabrics for your project.
- Always consult with your supplier to confirm that the fabric you are considering should perform well in the onsite environment.
- Review the results of the other ACT recommended physical property tests for durability. Abrasion results alone do not predict a product’s lifespan.
- Consider the style and quality of the furniture the specified fabric will be used on; seat pans with a waterfall edge and upholstered arms of a chair are common areas of wear. Is there adequate padding to support the upholstery?
- Take into account the amount of traffic in the environment and the wear the fabric is likely to receive. Keep in mind, the ACT recommended physical tests for durability do not indicate how a product will perform in an abusive environment. • Determine whether or not the fabric will receive regular professional cleaning. Dirt is the enemy of fabric, but improper cleaning will also shorten the durability/lifespan of the product.
- Evaluate whether or not the end use requires a fabric treatment. Applying treatments, finishes or backings to a fabric may enhance durability, but may also negatively affect flammability resistance, appearance or environmental properties.