Are you 100% certain that your products meet the many necessary international, national, and regional standards?
Almost all softline and hardline consumer products require some type of mechanical or physical testing to ensure they qualify as ‘fit for sale’ on the international market.
One of the ways to be confident that your products meet the relevant international, national, and regional consumer health and safety standards, is getting them certified through a mechanical testing laboratory.
In this article, we'll explain the testing standards you may need for your softline and hardline products.
Mechanical testing usually involves using machines to apply force to a sample piece or part of a product, or the entire product. The results are recorded to establish acceptable limits for durability under normal everyday use, as well as determining whether the materials used will qualify to be certified according to destination market standards.
A professional mechanical testing laboratory carries out physical tests on products in line with testing methods outlined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
Variations of the ISO and ASTM standards are used depending on the type of product being tested – be they garments, furniture or other consumer products.
Here are some of the standards used in mechanical testing methods for various fabrics and textiles.
Garments, textiles, and leather
Break strength testing
Determines the ‘failure point’ or ‘break strength’ using tensile or compressive loads. The failure point can be a sharp break (snap), or in the case of plastic material, may be a percentage from its peak load measurement; usually 5%.
Compressive strength testing
This mechanical testing method determines the failure point or break strength of a sample when crushed. A force is applied and held for a specified amount of time.
The results of compressive strength testing may include load and deflection at rupture, maximum load, stiffness, and stress.
There are several types of hardness tests which can be performed on materials; the materials are indented until an impression is formed. These tests can be performed on a macroscopic or microscopic scale.
The Vickers test is used to observe a material's ability to resist plastic deformation from a standard source. It has one of the widest scales among hardness tests and can be used for all materials of hardness, including all types of metals.
The Knoop hardness test is a microhardness test used particularly for very brittle materials or thin sheets, where only a small indentation may be made for testing purposes.
The Janka hardness test is used to measure the resistance of wood to denting and wear, which is useful for determining if a particular species of wood is suitable for flooring.
The Shore test uses a device called a durometer for measuring the hardness of materials such as polymers, elastomers, and rubbers.
The Barcol hardness test measures the depth of penetration of an indentor on composite materials such as reinforced thermosetting resins or to determine the extent to which a resin or plastic has cured.
Izod Impact testing is an ASTM standard method of determining the impact resistance of materials. The sample material is tested until it breaks, which is done by releasing a pivoting arm from a specific height. The energy absorbed by the sample is calculated from the height the arm swings to after hitting the sample.
The Charpy Impact test is widely used in industry to determine the amount of energy absorbed by a material when it fractures. In this destructive test, the absorbed energy is measured.
When you’re designing and manufacturing a product, mechanical testing gives you and your manufacturer a better understanding of the merchandise. You can also identify vulnerabilities and establish practical quality control standards for your manufacturer to adhere to during the production process.
Whatever your product, you have to know its ‘failure point’ or ‘break strength’ – the point at which the product will rip, tear, snap, etc. – depending on forces or loads applied to it. When you know your product’s failure point, you can determine pass and fail criteria for your quality control standards.
Your products must be labeled with appropriate warnings and care instructions for handlers and consumers. If you know your product’s limitations, you can include that information on the labels. This has the added benefit of mitigating potential legal claims from any losses, damage, or injuries caused by abnormal use by the consumer.
Mechanical testing is usually performed at a laboratory during the product development stage, before production, to set quality control standards which the manufacturer should follow when production begins.
However, there are some physical and mechanical tests which quality control inspectors can perform on-site during or after production, and before the products are finally packaged and put into containers for shipping.
On-site physical and mechanical testing for garments, for example, can include pull tests to check the strength of material and attachments such as buttons, zips fasteners, rivets and sewing thread.
To perform these physical tests, quality control inspectors use specialist hand-held tools for precise measurements, or if necessary, perform the tests manually, using their judgment based on experience.
Pre-shipment tests are especially important if your manufacturer is in a different location where you can’t personally supervise the manufacturing process, particularly if you're outsourcing your production to overseas countries like China, which is notorious for sub-standard production.
Whatever your product, mechanical testing is most likely essential to ensure your product can be labeled and certified to meet international standards. The only question is, which type of mechanical test to perform depending on the materials that need to be tested?
Don’t wait until it’s too late!
Neglecting to have your products tested before shipping could cost you a lot more in the long run if your shipment is rejected by customs or you are forced to recall your product after it has reached retailers and is already in the hands of consumers.
Testing garment sizes
Before shipping your products, you should check that the sizes correspond with production dimensions, as well as the care instructions and dimensions on the labels.
Testing product dimensions
For products other than garments, dimensions may be much more important, so this is when the dimensions of the finished product can be measured and compared with your original specifications.
Physical and mechanical testing of garments
The quality control inspectors physically check the strength of buttons, zippers and other accessories on garments with pull tests, fatigue tests, and stretch tests.
Fabric density and composition tests determine the density or thickness of fabrics used in garment production. Special tools are used to measure fabric density. The quality control inspectors can also physically count the number of stitches per inch.
A fabric that’s too thin or not dense enough could mean your manufacturer has used an inferior fabric or textile that won’t stand up to normal wearing and washing.
We operate three ISO accredited in-house laboratories in the U.S., Hong Kong, and China. Our laboratories are fully equipped for mechanical testing of all types of textiles to help you meet international compliance requirements.
Tests can also be conducted at labs in our extensive worldwide network of vetted lab associates. See our lab locations here.
We’ll tell you whether your products or parts of your product require mechanical testing, and which specific tests should be performed on your product materials.
You’ll get transparent results with a rapid turnaround time that will save you time and money in the long run.
Contact us to find out more about our fixed-price options for your onsite product testing and lab testing needs.
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