High-performance materials, specifically high-performance textiles, have a wide range of applications across various industries. Manufactured with the use of traditional fabric-making processes — such as spinning, weaving, and knitting — these engineered fabrics can be designed to meet specific strength and corrosion-resistance requirements and can be made to provide superior protection against natural elements.
These cutting-edge textiles find applications in areas including protective-clothing manufacturing for military and firefighting applications, stain- and moisture-repellent coatings for industrial applications, and corrosion-resistant membranes for corrosive chemical processes. Thanks to this great versatility, the high-performance textile industry is showing sustained annual growth rates close to 20%.
In chlor-alkali processing, in particular, high-performance fabrics play a critical role in ensuring optimal efficiency.
Understanding Chlor-Alkali Processing
Chlor-alkali processing is essentially the electrolysis of sodium chloride (NaCl), allowing for the creation of chlorine and sodium hydroxide, along with hydrogen. All three of these chemicals have many large-scale industrial applications.
The chlor-alkali process makes use of brine and a membrane cell. The anode oxidizes the chloride ion, which loses an electron to become free chlorine gas. The hydrogen ions are pulled from water and reduced at the cathode, forming hydrogen gas. The semi-permeable membrane at the center permits the sodium ions to travel to a second chamber, where they react with water to produce sodium hydroxide.
All of the materials involved in chlor-alkali processing — both raw materials and final products — are highly reactive and corrosive. Therefore, inert materials are essential for successfully carrying out the process.
Tex Tech produces an array of high-performance fabrics specifically suited for such applications. These carbon fiber-based woven materials are resistant to corrosion and can be significantly stretched, improving flexibility and formability. These nonporous woven textile membranes can greatly improve the efficiency of the chlor-alkali process.
Common Applications for Chlor-Alkali Materials
It’s critical to work with a fabric that is compatible with chlor-alkali processing to ensure optimal quality of the resultant chemicals. As mentioned earlier, all three products produced — chlorine, hydrogen, and sodium hydroxide — are widely employed across various industries.
In fact, chlorine is used in roughly 55% of all industrial chemical processes and has applications in the manufacturing of plastics and resins, water purification processes, and the production of pure silicon, which is used in electronic components and solar panels.
Similarly, sodium hydroxide, or caustic soda, is widely used in food manufacturing, aluminum manufacturing, and the textile industry, in addition to serving as a cleaning agent.
Hydrogen, as a combustible gaseous fuel, is used in fuel cells, and in the manufacture of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide.
Given the critical nature of chlor-alkali processing and the corrosive nature of the materials involved, it’s essential to make use of a woven fabric that is completely compatible with the process.
As an industry leader in cutting-edge, high-performance materials, Tex Tech offers a wide range of innovative products to suit all types of industrial needs. With over a century of experience and over 7,000 textile products under our belt, we are uniquely qualified to assist clients in the material selection process.
To learn more about our high-performance textile products, including those for chlor-alkali processing, contact the team today.
Many workers are presented with thermal hazards such as molten metals, arc flash, hot liquids, and flame. In environments where these hazards are present, flame-resistant (FR) personal protective equipment (PPE) is of paramount importance. When selecting such gear there are many important terms that one may be confronted with. The most common distinction is inherent fabric vs. treated fabrics.
A piece of protective equipment can be classified as an inherent fabric if it is woven using some percentage of a fiber that is itself chemically flame-resistant. These are generally oxidized fibers or fibers synthetically derived from petrochemicals that have been chemically altered. In such garments, the flame-resistant properties are inherently present in the fiber’s polymer structure and can never be lost due to washing the garment.
Protective equipment may be labeled as a treated fabric if fibers have been chemically treated to achieve FR properties, either before weaving or as a chemical finish on the garment. Some treated fabrics can lose their FR capabilities over time or with frequent or improper washing, although advances in the FR field have produced treated fabrics that retain their protective qualities for the entire lifetime of the product. The first such treated fabric was introduced in 1987, and the difference in efficacy between treated and inherent FR fabrics has been shrinking ever since. Even so, many purchasers of FR equipment turn instead to inherent fabrics or inherently flame retardant fabric due to the ongoing misconception that all treated FR garments will lose their protective properties over time.
Inherent vs. Heat Treated Fabrics
Heat-treated fabrics are materials made from the addition of flame-retardant chemicals to provide some level of flame resistance. The additive forms a strong bond with the polymer of the fiber, which is often itself not flame-resistant. This bond is difficult or impossible to remove when proper laundering and care is applied. One potential pitfall of such gear is that there is no way to visually inspect that the FR quality of the equipment is intact. If outside the useful lifetime of the equipment, or if improperly laundered, the FR qualities may be reduced or removed with almost no way to determine that this has happened.
This problem is not present with inherent FR fabrics, as the chemical properties of the fibers themselves cannot be washed out. This may cause inherent fabrics to sell at higher costs since they typically offer longer useful lifetimes. Since there is no regulatory body governing the use of this term, however, it has often been applied loosely—often to garments containing no more than 15% FR fibers blended with naturally flammable fibers. Some garments that are woven of natural fibers treated before the weaving process have even been marketed as inherent, so to some extent, the term has lost meaning.
Inherent FR Fabrics: Pros and Cons
The primary advantages of inherent FR fabrics include:
- High level of protection from thermal hazards
- Often present higher thermal protective performance (TPP) scores than treated fabrics
- Long service life
- FR properties will never wash out
- Garments will not ignite in normal O2 concentrations
- May char or expand (typically garments created with oxidized fibers) to provide increased thermal resistance under continuous exposure to a thermal hazard
The most notable disadvantages of inherent FR fabrics include:
- Higher upfront cost (albeit offset by longer useful lifetime)
- Purportedly less comfortable than some treated fabrics of cotton or other cellulosic origins
- Inconsistency in application of the term ‘inherent fabric’ or ‘inherently flame retardant fabric’ that is often driven by marketing motives, rather than science and metrics relating to performance
Treated FR Fabrics: Pros and Cons
Here are some of the primary advantages of treated FR fabrics:
- Cheaper than most inherent garments
- Many available treated fabrics now provide life-of-garment FR protection
- Generally considered more comfortable
- Many available treated fabrics now only char similar to inherent fabrics, rather than combusting when exposed to a heat source
- Most treated fabrics will spontaneously extinguish a flame when the source of heat is removed
The largest disadvantages of treated fabrics include:
- Some treated fabrics will lose their protective qualities over time
- Some treated fabrics off-gas as a method of flame retardancy, producing harmful gases that in some cases include gaseous cyanide
- Many treated fabrics use increased mass as a means of increasing FR metrics such as TPP, which can increase heat strain and decrease comfort when wearing a heavier garment for extended periods
- Some 88% cotton, 12% nylon (88/12 FR) and 100% cotton blends, in particular, lose their protective qualities over time with even proper laundering
- If the flame-resistant capabilities have diminished, there is no way to tell upon visual inspection
Tex Tech: The Industry Leaders in FR Fabric Technology
Even with an understanding of the differences and usages of terms such as treated and inherent, the key factor is ultimately the safety and protective value offered to the wearer. In this regard, a more important distinction is proven vs. unproven. Tex Tech and our CarbonX brand have repeatedly proven effective in laboratory testing, as well as in the field—all with the added benefits of comfort and affordability. We work primarily with inherent fabrics.
- CarbonX’s range hoods, gloves, undergarments, and other protective garments for industrial, motor-racing, and firefighting are superior in comfort and durability and made with inherent FR fibers.
- Tex Tech provides aircraft seat fire blocking with only inherent fibers—and nothing else blended in—that lasts for many years on an airplane
- Tex Tech offers high-tech Thermal Protection System (TPS) fabrics and materials for space launch vehicles to withstand rocket burn and the thermal stresses of re-entry
Tex Tech Industries has been a leader in the engineered textile industry for over a century. Throughout this time, we have devoted enormous resources to research and development in the areas of textile and fiber solutions. We have pioneered more than 7,000 of the best performing products in the marketplace and a wide range of high-performance materials.
We provide innovative solutions for all engineered fabric requirements, backed with best-in-class customer service. We invite you to contact our experienced engineers to discuss how Tex Tech can provide the material solutions you need.
The textile industry manufactures products from a wide range of natural and synthesized materials which have typically been derived from one or more of four primary sources: animal, plant, mineral, and synthetic. These textiles are treated and shaped into myriad products, including but not limited to clothing, upholstery, and industrial fabrics.
The addition of polymer coatings in the manufacturing process greatly enhances the value of textile materials by extending their useful life and preserving their aesthetic appearance. Coating methods and technology have evolved alongside the increasingly stringent needs of manufacturers and design engineers.
For example, textile coating technology has begun to incorporate eco-friendly options as manufacturers seek more sustainable and efficient coating solutions. Textile coatings can be custom-engineered to provide specific benefits and enhancements that improve the performance of textile products, which makes them useful in a wide range of industries.
Benefits of Polymer Coatings for Improving Textile Performance
Textiles may be subject to a number of external pressures and abrasive elements during everyday use. For this reason, a number of coatings have been developed to reduce the wear of textile materials. Polymer coatings, in particular, offer enhanced protection on the surface of textile products while still allowing for water evaporation through the fabric—a process that is often hindered by other coating materials. Here are the 10 primary benefits of polymer textile coatings:
1. Abrasion Resistance
Abrasion resistance is measured by rubbing flat materials against the fabric in question to determine the rate at which the fabric erodes. Polymer coatings create a layer on top of the textile fabric to add increased resistance to abrasion. It is particularly useful for materials that experience a great deal of friction, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), power transmission belts, backpacks, footwear, and synthetic leather products.
2. Adhesive Qualities
Textile fabrics can be coated with polymers to increase their adhesion and tack to other surfaces or polymers. For this reason, rubber polymer coatings are ideal for use in high-performance vehicle tires, power transmission belts, and seals and gaskets.
3. Air-Holding Capabilities
Polymer-coated textiles can incorporate resistance benefits to stop items like air or water from passing through the material. This makes them particularly useful in products that need to be capable of holding air, this would include items such as SCUBA buoyancy compensators, life vests, airlift bladders, blood pressure cuffs, pressure infusor bags, aerostates, etc.
4. Antimicrobial Properties
Polymers such as chitosan—a naturally occurring biopolymer derived sea creatures—display measurable antibacterial activity, sometimes with a reduction of up to 99%. Since surfaces coated with these materials remain clean and virtually free of bacteria, they are particularly useful in medical textiles, such as bandages, blood pressure cuffs, braces and prosthetics.
5. Flame Resistance
Polymer coatings may be combined with flame-resistant agents to create highly flame-resistant materials, which make them important in the manufacture of protective clothing for firefighters, fabric used in vehicles and airplanes, thermal ablatives for rockets, and safety curtains and carpeting.
Polymer coatings make textiles more sturdy and corrosion-resistant, significantly extending the service life of finished products ranging from household goods like towels and sheets to outdoor camping equipment and outerwear.
7. Noise Abatement
Textiles coated in polymer blends possess sound reduction properties. When sound waves are directed toward the materials, they are absorbed due to its porous nature, thereby preventing the movement of sound. This can be particularly useful in soundproofing layers in automotive, aerospace, and industrial applications.
8. Thermal Resistance
Materials coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or perfluoroalkoxy alkane (PFA) blends are able to withstand temperatures of up to 500° F. Like flame-resistant coatings, these polymer-coated textiles are particularly useful for safety products, automotive and aerospace fabrics, and firefighting apparel.
Polymer coatings provide an excellent means for waterproofing textiles. Their hydrophobic nature ensures that materials coated in certain polymer blends easily repel water and other liquids.
Polymer coatings may need to be bonded through the use of adhesives, RF, ultrasonic or hot air weldable. These types of fabrics are ideal where a durable sealed seam is required and normally sewn seams create unwanted holes in the surface. These weldable coated textiles are ideal for items such as weatherproof outerwear, inflatable vests, rafts, medical devices, and recreational BC vests.
Polymer Coating Applications
Polymer coated textiles are used throughout a wide range of applications and industries, including:
- Home furnishings
- Industrial and manufacturing
- Sports and leisure
- Protective materials
Superior Polymer Coatings From Tex Tech
At Tex Tech, our knowledgeable and experienced specialists possess an exceptional understanding of fabric manufacturing and treatment processes, allowing us to offer a wide range of material processing capabilities. Our advanced equipment can apply multiple coating applications in a single pass using multi-surface and impregnation coating methods. Our film lamination services offer up to 8 films per pass, and we can process materials with widths up to 100 inches. We offer surface enhancements such as embossing and peel ply, and a wide range of custom processing options, including bias shifting, edge treatments, and slitting.
In addition to our extensive experience and wide range of services, we are proud to maintain the following:
- IATF 16949 Quality Registration
- ISO 14001 Certification
- Zero-Landfill Status
- Six Sigma Black Belt Certification
- A2LA Accreditation
For more detailed information on our outstanding textile products and services, download our eBook, “The Essential Guide to Textile Coatings.” Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about our products or capabilities.
What Are Medical Textiles?
The term “medical textile” refers to materials that are engineered for use in medical applications. It includes anything from versatile fibrous fabrics designed to safely treat wounds to coated and laminated materials used in air holding applications, PPE, and more.
Since these textiles are designed with medical use in mind, they have a number of properties that non-medical textiles do not. For example, they are non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, non-allergenic, antimicrobial, and biocompatible. These qualities ensure they are safe for personnel and patients.
Medical textiles are found in many medical devices and supplies. Below, we highlight some of the typical applications of these textiles.
Non-Implantable Fabric Applications
Non-implantable medical products are used for various external patient care and treatment purposes, including monitoring patient conditions, protecting against infection, and promoting healing. Examples include tourniquets, blood pressure cuffs, inflatable casts, and COPD vests. The materials from which these products are made must be suitable for out-of-body applications and, depending on the application, contact with skin.
Tex Tech medical textiles fully meet these requirements. They exhibit the following properties:
- Air holding capabilities
- Filtration capabilities
- Low to no virus/blood penetration
- Thermal resistance
- Flame retardance
- Radiation shielding
- Abrasion resistance
- IR/RF/Heat weldability
Healthcare and Hygiene Medical Fabric Applications
In the healthcare industry, maintaining clean and sanitary conditions is important to ensuring the health and safety of patients and personnel. Medical fabrics for health and hygiene are used not only by hospitals but also by healthcare facilities and individuals for home use. Products for use in healthcare and hygiene should be clean, contamination-free, and prevent the spread of contaminants and pathogens. They may either be washable or discarded after a single-use.
Tex Tech offers healthcare fabrics that are used in the following applications:
- Medical Isolation Gowns Level (Level 1-4)
- PPE face masks
- Medical beds (inflation chambers to reduce bed sores)
- Pressure Infuser Bags (PIB)
- Shoe covers
- Medical tray covers
- COPD vests
- Medical braces
- Inflatable tourniquets
- Blood pressure cuffs
Our fabrics are cleanable, comfortable. and antimicrobial. Additionally, medical fabrics from Tex Tech can be either reusable or disposable for reduced or eliminated virus/blood penetration.
Contact the Tex Tech Experts for Your Medical Fabrics Needs Today
Looking for quality fabrics for your medical application? Turn to the engineered textile experts at Tex Tech Industries! Equipped with over 100 years of experience, we have the knowledge and skill necessary to develop the appropriate products for nearly any application or industry, including non-implantable and hygiene-focused medical products.
Medical treatment requires close contact between the patient and health workers. That’s why every product used in this industry must meet strict standards. Medical devices often require fabrics treated with a polymer coating to impart the necessary characteristics for proper form fit and function.
Tex-Tech is a leading medical fabric coating manufacturer, utilizing different polymers like urethane, PVC and silicone. We use state-of-the-art technology to create coatings with exceptional durability, microbial resistance, and air-holding capability. We offer a comprehensive range of coated medical fabrics for medical device manufacturers to enhance patient care and safety.
Common Equipment Coatings Used in the Medical Industry
Tex-Tech utilizes industry-leading textile coating and lamination processes to ensure our products meet the highest quality and standards. Tex-Tech applies various polymers to the fabric surface to enhance the underlying material’s capability to hold air and liquid and allows the material to be fused or welded using hot or radio frequency welding. TPU (urethane) is the most common type of polymer in RF or hot welding.
We offer a range of polymer coating options, including:
- Rubber (Including EPDM, Fluoroelastic, and natural nitrile)
The Purpose of Medical Coatings
Medical coating is crucial to uphold the sanitary and health standards of the industry. All medical instruments must meet certain sterility levels and standards to be suitable for use in medical settings.
Polymer coating allows the welding of fabrics to make them capable of holding air. Some devices that require this capability include blood pressure cuffs, pressure infuser bags, inflatable tourniquets, hyperbaric chambers, casts, and cold/ice therapy devices.
Medical coating also prevents liquid penetration and maintains antimicrobial properties for the devices. Other applications for medical coating include:
- Chemical stability: Medical devices should withstand different chemical environments. Medical coating adds a hard surface that protects the devices from abrasion, chipping, or scratching.
- Decoration and marking: Medical coating manufacturers use their techniques to add markers on their devices to ensure that defective devices can be isolated and traced back to the source. Medical coating is also crucial in providing as much information as possible to facilitate proper use.
- Hospital furniture and treatment seating: From treatment tables to chemotherapy chairs to bedside seating, hospital furniture must be durable enough to withstand frequent cleaning and sanitization while keeping patients and visitors comfortable.
- Medical professional wearables: Medical professionals need comfortable, durable wearables to protect them from exposure to hazardous and biohazardous substances. Wearables include surgical gowns, aprons, shoe covers, protective shielding, and more.
Benefits of Medical Coatings
Textile coating can enhance a material’s characteristics and improve its performance based on the specification and application of the target product. Some of the typical characteristics that textile coating can improve in a medical device include:
- Flame resistance
- Thermal resistance
- Abrasion resistance
- Air holding capabilities
- Noise abatement capabilities
- Antimicrobial properties
Medical coating is also crucial in the biomedical field to make implants better suited to interact with bone tissues. Besides that, here are other additional benefits of medical coating:
- Rapid bone growth
- Accelerated healing
- Engineered bond strength
- Low oxide coating
- Interconnected porosity
Medical Coating with Tex-Tech
Medical coating is a crucial process in the manufacture of medical devices to deliver high patient safety standards required by the industry. Several methods are used in medical coating, with textile and polymer coating being the most notable options.
Tex-Tech is a trusted supplier of medical coatings for medical device manufacturers. With more than a century of experience and cutting-edge technologies, and we’re capable of providing superior-quality textile solutions that meet all our customer’s needs and standards. Request a quote to get started or call us at 336-992-7500.