Fabric Test Methods

Certification and testing

Tests methods are simply nominating how a fabric is tested. They do not give a pass or fail, simply an assessment. There is however an accepted industry standard. Materialised has test results available by request for each of our fabrics specific to their end use.

Flame Retardancy

In Australia and New Zealand there are 3 commonly required test methods. AS/NZ1530 pt 2, AS/NZ1530 pt 3 and Cone Calorimeter test. Different regulating authorities will nominate which of these tests they require and usually would nominate the minimum result outcome. Some authorities will accept tests conducted from recognised overseas laboratories.


Abrasion resistance is the ability of a fabric to withstand surface wearing from rubbing/abrasion. Please note that it is not possible to compare the results of different test methods.
See our video on Martindale and Wyzenbeek testing here.

  1. Martindale Test Method: The fabric to be tested is placed in the upper fabric holders of the Martindale machine. A standard abrasive wool fabric is placed in the lower fabric holders. A 12kPa weight is applied and the machine is run in lots of 5000 cycles. After each set of 5000 cycles, the test fabric is observed for wear and broken yarns. The test is continued until an end point of 2 non-adjacent broken yarns. The number of cycles completed when this occurs determines the fabric’s abrasion rating.
  2. Wyzenbeek Test Method: The fabric to be tested is pulled taut and rubbed in both the warp & weft directions, using a piece of cotton duck fabric or wire mesh as the abradant. The number of cycles or double rubs endured before the fabric shows “noticeable wear” is counted. This number determines the fabric’s abrasion rating.

Colourfastness to Light

Colourfastness to light refers to a fabric’s ability to resist fading when exposed to light and this is tested using the Blue Wool Scale which measures and calibrates the permanence of colouring dyes.

This is achieved with the fabric exposed under specific conditions to a controlled light that simulates the sun’s rays. At timed intervals, the test swatch is compared to a Blue Scale and the degree of fading is rated.

The Blue Scale is a set of reference blue fabrics, which fade at a known standard rate. We test with Blue Scale 4, 5 and 6. This Blue Scale is placed with the test fabrics and exposed in the light box at the same time. The colourfastness rating is determined by comparing the degree of fading in the test fabric with the degree of fading in the blue scales. For example, a fabric that is given a Grade 4 means that the degree of fading is most similar to the fading shown in Blue Scale 4.

On the Blue Wool Scale the lightfastness is rated between 1–8. 1 being very poor and 8 being excellent lightfastness.


Pilling is the formation of fuzzy balls on the surface of the fabric. Pilling occurs when loose fibres in the fabric work their way to the surface when the fabric is abraded. These loose fibres then entangle themselves forming small or large pills.
In Australia, we can use the Martindale machine to test for Pilling and Abrasion of woven fabrics. When the machine is used to test for pilling, the fabric to be tested is placed in both the upper and lower fabric holders. No extra weight is applied to the sample. The machine runs for 1000 cycles at which time the small upper sample is graded for pilling. The fabric is graded according to the level of pilling which has occurred with Grade 5 = no pilling, and Grade 1 = severe pillingFor the testing of knitted fabrics, the ICI Pill Box is used. Small rubber tubes are covered in the fabric to be tested and are tumbled within a cork lined box for a predetermined length of time, generally 14400 revolutions. When the test is finished, the samples are graded according to the level of pilling that has occurred with Grade 5 = no pilling, and Grade 1 = severe pilling.
In both cases, it is up to the supplier and customer to determine whether the generally recognised level of a ‘pass’ grade is going to be suitable for the products end use. Sometimes it might be necessary to agree on a higher or lower required standard to prolong the products life.

Seam Slippage

Refers to the condition when fabrics pull apart at a sewn seam. To measure a fabric’s ability to resist seam slippage, a seam is sewn in the fabric to be tested. These sewn fabrics are then clamped at one end and pulled by weights at the other end. This test is performed in both the warp and weft directions. The weight is increased until the seam separates a specified distance. The number of kilograms or Newtons required to cause this separation determines the fabric’s rating.

Tear Strength

Tear strength is the force required to start or continue a tear in a fabric under specified conditions. After starting a cut in the centre, the opposing tails are gripped in the instrument and pulled apart. The Elmendorf Tear Tester is commonly used for this test.