The Three layers of fabrics

Most of us in the tactical gear world are working with woven nylon fabric, whether Cordura or otherwise. So here’s some education on the three layers that make up this fabric. 

Top Layer:
Typically the top coating will be a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) that serves as a stain release and water resistant barrier. It could also be an anti-microbial, anti-static, anti-fungal, or wicking layer.

Middle (Woven) layer:
The woven fabric is the meat of the textile. It will provide the durability (often dependent on the denier weave). Typical denier weights are 210, 420, 500, or 1000. Ballistic nylon is 1680D.

Bottom Layer:
In most fabrics, the bottom layer is a water proof barrier made from an applied film or coating, typically polyurethane (PU). It can have a multi-ply configuration that might include a waterproof/breathable film and a protective and wicking layer. Many of the attributes of the Top Layer are often added or duplicated in the Bottom Layer. If the fabric is treated with Fire retardant, the back of the fabric often looks like it has a milky residue.

There’s a lot of acronyms and jargon in the fabric world. Remember to ask if your fabric is IR rated ansd or solution dyed as well. The good Made in USA fabric and web typically have it. The overseas knock-offs typically do not. Know what you have so you can sell the benfits of your superior fabric. Or save the money if your customer doesn’t need it.

Hope this helps a little bit next time you talk to a fabric vendor.

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