How to identify a waterproof fabric and use it for different purposes?

Waterproof fabrics are made by coating or laminating a fabric with a waterproofing material that prevents water from penetrating the fabric. There are different methods used to create waterproof fabrics, but some of the most common techniques include:

  • Coating
  • Lamination

How Can You Tell If The Fabric Is Waterproof?

The ability for water penetration defines waterproof fabrics. But, to determine if a fabric is waterproof and its resistance level is necessary to apply different tests, for example:

  • Water drop test
  • Water resistance test
  • Hydrostatic head test
  • Breathability test

Professional tests such as AATCC127, JIS L1092, ISO811, and the Hydrostatic Pressure Test are also available to obtain water resistance certifications. These tests help to determine the degree of water pressure resistance of waterproof fabrics. Higher water pressure levels during the test generally indicate better waterproofing protection. For example, the waterproof coefficient of some outdoor equipment is 10,000mmH₂O, which means it can withstand a water column of 10,000 millimetres before water begins to penetrate.

Significance of Waterproof Fabric in our lives:

The name of the fabric itself speaks for its importance. The waterproof fabric is handy in harsh weather conditions like heavy rainfall or thunderstorms. Water can damage many materials; hence, waterproof fabric is necessary as an overcoat to protect from getting wet. Besides, the fabric is widely used in military, aerospace, and medical aspects. Breathable waterproof jackets and coats are very fashionable. Waterproof fabric is also resistant to mould and mildew growth. The durability of these fabrics is excellent. It is resistant to wear and tear, and there is no concern about washing, drying, and shrinkage.

How to buy waterproof fabric?​

When choosing waterproof fabric, you must consider your needs and ensure it performs well in your intended application. The factors that you should consider are:

1. Level of Waterproof

The waterproof fabric is measured in terms of its hydrostatic pressure, which is the amount of water pressure the material can withstand before it leaks. Generally, the higher the hydrostatic head, the more waterproof the fabric. A highly waterproof fabric may be more critical for hiking and climbing in wet or rainy conditions.

2. Fabric Breathability

Breathability is the capacity of a fabric to allow moisture and vapour to escape, which helps to prevent overheating and discomfort. Highly waterproof fabrics can sometimes be less breathable, so choosing a material with a balance between waterproofness and breathability suits your needs is essential. Selecting a highly breathable fabric for high-intensity activities like running or cycling is important.

3. The Durability of the Fabric

The fabric’s durability refers to its ability to withstand wear over time. A durable fabric will withstand repeated use and exposure to the elements without losing its waterproofness or other properties. Generally, woven fabrics are more tear-resistant than knitted ones. Water-repellent or other functions assisted by chemical dyeing, finishing, and post-processing, such as coating and lamination, will affect the functional performance due to washing. After 20 home laundry cycles, conventional DWR only retains 80% efficiency, but SOLAPEL can maintain 70% efficiency even after 120 home laundry cycles.

4. Fabric Weight

The weight of a fabric is an essential factor to consider, especially in applications where weight is a concern, such as backpacking or other outdoor activities. A lightweight, waterproof fabric is generally more convenient to carry but may sacrifice some durability or waterproofness.

5. Fabric Cost

The cost of fabric is also an essential factor to consider, particularly if you are on a tight budget. Some high-performance fabrics can be expensive, so choosing a fabric that balances performance and cost is essential.

For example, suppose you are a student who likes to trek in summer. In that case, the price and water pressure function may be your first choice, and it does not matter if there is no moisture permeability function and weight. On the other hand, to climb Everest mountain. Water pressure, moisture permeability, and weight are all necessary options; as a result, the clothing will be expensive.

Types of Waterproof Material:

Earlier, we mentioned that coating and lamination processing methods could make materials waterproof and moisture-resistant. However, the effectiveness may vary depending on the type of substrate. Below are some types of waterproof materials for clothing.

  • PU (Polyurethane)
  • TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane)
  • TPEE (Thermoplastic Polyether Ester Elastomer)
  • Nylon & Bio Nylon

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