The coated-fabrics industry has realized significant growth in the past decade, largely propelled by the rising safety standards in the aerospace, protective clothing, and transportation industries. This discussion goes into depth about coated fabrics, highlighting the different types of coatings for specific applications.
Coated Fabrics Explained
Coated fabrics can be made from woven, knit, and non-woven textiles to which a polymer or resin is applied to impart additional characteristics. This can be done to:
- Generate greater protection such as corrosion resistance, strength, thermal resistance, durability, abrasion resistance, etc.
- Coatings can also be used to make materials capable of being welded or to make them air or water-holding or resistant.
Commonly used coatings include:
- Solvated rubber
Depending on their end-use, coated fabrics can offer numerous benefits. For example, they can be anti-fungal, anti-static, or antibacterial. They can also provide the following:
- Resistance to environmental challenges
- High visibility
- Enhanced elasticity
- Improved weldability
Polymer Coated Fabric
Depending on specific material requirements, different substrates can be selected to cater to desired end-product attributes. The correct polymer system can then be selected and the coating can be applied to one or both sides depending on their intended use. Examples of such fabrics are:
- Wovens (2D and 3D)
- Circular knits
Polymer coatings represent a wide selection of polymer-based materials with unique functions. Popular polymers include:
- Rubber polymers
- Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)
Coated fabrics are used to enhance the properties of dynamic fabric products, providing benefits such as antimicrobial properties, metallic or electrically conductive attributes, and even phase-change capabilities. With the advancement of coating technology, smart textiles are becoming increasingly prevalent, allowing fabrics to be more reactive to electrical impulses and electronic commands.
Rubber Coated Fabric
Rubber-coated fabrics are manufactured using calendar coating or spread coating processes. Bonding agents are applied to the fabric substrate. Different rubber compounds can be used to coat the fabric depending on the product’s intended use.
The coated fabrics then undergo a curating process to strengthen the bond between the rubber and the fabric. Advantages of rubber-coated fabrics include:
- Great stability
- Low penetration and diffusion
- Electrically non-conductive
- Temperature, oil, and weather resistant
Silicone Coated Fabric
Silicone is an outstanding polymer for enhancing a fabric’s heat resistance and providing anti-stick or anti-slip properties. It is also chemically inert and can resist water absorption. Popular uses include aerospace Thermal Protection Systems, gaskets, airbag fabrics, thermal insulation barriers, medical coatings, and more. Some of the top benefits of silicone-coated fabrics include:
- Silicone has superior dielectric properties
- Silicone offers excellent resistance to weather, chemicals, ozone, and aging
- Silicone is neutral, non-toxic, and non-stick
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) Coated Fabric
Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a very versatile polymer that offers increased durability, flexibility, tensile strength, or make your coated fabrics hold air or water, and many other performance enhancements. Depending on your specific requirements, the compound can be designed using softer TPU’s, such as polyether or polyester, or harder compounds utilizing aromatic or aliphatic urethanes.
TPU coating compounds can be water-based or solvent-based. Solvent-based coatings have strong adhesion to fabrics which is ideal for products that will utilize welded seams. These PU-coated materials are ideal for applications that need to be air or water holding. PU-coated fabrics are commonly used in medical fabrics (blood pressure cuffs, cold therapy devices, etc), defense materials for air/water sealing (ballistic vest heat weldable materials, anti g-suit bladders, life vests/rafts), recreation markets (SCUBA buoyancy compensators, life vests, sporting pads).
PVC Laminated Fabrics
PVC coatings offer enhanced abrasion resistance, durability, flexibility and weather resistance. These materials are commonly used for architectural applications, tents, geomembranes, or inflatable structures. PVC offers a cost effective solution that is a good solution in acidic applications or applications involving food or drinking water.
Note that applying a finishing topcoat offers better resistance against dirt particles. Other finish coatings offer UV resistance, making the fabric more durable.
High-Performance Coated Fabrics from Tex Tech
At Tex Tech, we pride ourselves in our ability to seamlessly integrate process engineering and material design to produce a final coated product that will make your product stand out in today’s marketplace.
We specialize in coating fabrics with a wide selection of polymer-based materials such as PVC, polyurethane, silicone, rubber, and more. Contact us today for more information about our services and to request a quote.