Natural Easy Care (NEC) fabrics are designed to retain all their aesthetic and functional properties after machine washing and tumble drying. Performance testing provides assurance they are fit for this purpose.
NEC fabrics, developed at AgResearch in Christchurch for Australian Wool Innovation Ltd. (AWI), are tested using the Woolmark Company test specifications. The Woolmark is an internationally recognised brand that gives consumers a guarantee of quality.
Testing NEC fabric properties
Traditional wool fabrics are likely to shrink, mat and pill when they are machine washed and show signs of fibre breakage with wear over time. NEC fabrics are designed to be more durable and easy care, so scientists use standard tests to ensure they meet the performance standards specified for these fabrics. The main properties they test are machine washability, shrinkage, abrasion and resistance, stretch and recovery, and tensile and tear strength.
Fabric testing a stage-by-stage process
Testing is fundamental to the research, and researchers test NEC fabrics at many stages throughout their development, not just in their finished state.
From early in the development, researchers trial many different. Each time something is changed, they carry out testing and analyse the results to decide how they will refine and improve the fabrics.
Testing of the finished fabric is also carried out at a number of stages:
- fabrics: Smaller quantities of fabric are produced first until the required performance properties are met.
- Pilot plant trials:
- Mill trials: When the technology is transferred to a company for commercial production, the final fabric produced is also tested. Sometimes processing adjustments are necessary to ensure the fabric meets the specifications.
- Final fabrics: Ongoing testing of final fabric is carried out as required.
Find out more in this aricle, Developing Natural Easy Care fabrics.