Almost all textile products sold in the EU, the US and other international markets have to be certified as fit for sale. Fiber identification lab tests are an essential part of the certification process so products can be properly labeled and allowed on the market.
Know Your Fabrics are Authentic
Identifying and classifying fibers used in fabrics gives manufacturers valuable data on the quality and authenticity of materials used in production. Fiber lab tests identify and differentiate natural fibers such as wool, silk, and cotton from synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester.
Avoid Defects and Impurities
Fiber identification lab tests detect defects in textiles that may not be apparent to the human eye and require scientific analysis to be spotted before materials are used for manufacturing.
Comply with International Safety Standards
Textiles must meet stringent worldwide health and safety standards that restrict the presence of toxic substances. Fiber identification lab tests ensure that fabrics don’t contain excessive amounts of those substances.
Products Requiring Fiber Identification
Here are some of the types of products that require certification from a fiber identification lab:
Fiber identification is done through a variety of lab tests, depending on the fabrics used, the type of product and its purpose.
1. Testing Fiber Strength and Durability
Mechanical tensile tests and other physical testing methods are used to test the strength of samples, abrasion resistance, colorfastness, stitching strength, flammability, stiffness, and more.
2. Chemical Tests
Various chemical testing methods are used to detect fiber types and the treatments they underwent during production. Solubility tests on fibers reveal which chemical substances were used for processes such as tanning and dyeing. These are important to ensure that textiles meet the requirements of health and safety directives.
3. Testing Fiber Authenticity
Product labels, especially for clothes, shoes and other items that will come in close contact with the skin must contain accurate information about the composition of the materials used in the product. Natural and synthetic fibers must be differentiated and labeled as such, especially for leather, cotton, wool, silk, linen, nylon polyester and others.
4. Testing Fiber for Restricted Substances
More than 20 toxic aromatic amines derived from Azo dyes commonly used in textile manufacturing are severely restricted by the EU’s REACH directives. The limit for aromatic amines is 30 mg/kg (0.003 % by weight) for each article.
Different testing methods are used to detect aromatic amines from azo dyes in synthetic fibres and imitation leather. Synthetic fabrics must now go through a chemical extraction process before reductive cleavage, whereas natural fibres such as cotton, wool and silk can be cleaved directly.
The REACH restrictions on aromatic amines (Appendix 8 of Annex XVII) is a benchmark standard for countries outside the EU as well.
REACH now also lists 7 substances of very high concern (SVHC) with new directives for compliance for manufacturers by the end of 2019. These chemicals are classified as: Carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic (CMR); Persistent, Bio-accumulative and Toxic (PBT); and vPvB: Very Persistent and Very Bio-accumulative.
5. Testing Fabric for Defects
Drop stitches, missed stitches, holes and shade variation are defects that can easily occur in fabrics, and should be prevented at source.
QIMA sends quality control inspectors to factories all over the world to test textiles on behalf of clients. QIMA inspectors use the Four Point System, recognized worldwide as ASTM D5430 – 07(2011), to inspect and grade fabrics for commercial shipments.
|Four Point System ASTM D5430 – 07(2011)
|Size of Defect (length / width)
|Up to 3 inches
|Up to 75 mm
|3.1 - 6 inches
|75 - 150 mm
|6.1 - 9 inches
|150 - 230 mm
|More than 9 inches
|More than 230 mm
6. Microscopy Tests for Fiber Identification
Different kinds of optical and electron microscopes are used to identify and distinguish between individual fibers used in samples of fabric. This method can detect natural and synthetic fibers.
Optical Light Microscopy uses light and conventional microscopes to determine different types of fibers that may be combined to produce fabrics with particular characteristics.
Infrared Spectroscopy is used for qualitative and quantitative analyses of fiber orientation and crystalline structure to identify the properties of individual fibers.
Atomic Force Microscopy or electron microscopy is used to identify specific characteristics of synthetic fibers such as stiffness, light absorption, conductivity and heat resistance.
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) gives flawless quality analysis with high-resolution images of the elements in a fabric. Thousands of fibers can be checked in a short time using this method.
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) examines the structure of natural fibers on a cellular level to determine their quality and durability.
QIMA is fully accredited to carry out fiber identification lab tests and certify products according to the requirements of product safety legislation such as REACH and regulatory bodies such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
Click here to see the full list of laboratory tests QIMA provides for textile manufacturers.
Sending Samples is Free and Easy
Samples for testing can be sent free of charge to our regional labs. Click here to find the most convenient lab to send your reference sample to, and read about our inspection sample policy.
Our quality control experts can also carry out on-site inspections at the source to ensure that the fabrics supplied to you are free of defects.
Transparent Testing Costs
We offer affordable lab testing prices, with flat rates and tailor-made tests depending on your requirements. Contact us for an instant quote.
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