Characteristics of Nonwoven Fabric Applications of Apparel Industry


Nonwovens Fabrics:

The term ‘nonwoven’ implies something that is simply ‘not woven’. Nonwoven fabrics are one of the oldest and simplest textile fabrics. It is one of the fastest growing branches of textile production. Nonwoven is a sheet of fibers, continuous filaments or chopped yarns of any nature or origin, that have been formed into a web by any means, and bonded together by any means, with the exception of weaving or knitting. Non woven fabrics are engineered fabrics that may be a limited life, single-use fabric or a very durable fabric. Non woven fabrics provide specific functions such as absorbency, liquid repellency, resilience, stretch, softness, strength, flame retardancy, wash-ability, cushioning, filtering, bacterial barrier and sterility. Non wovens are used extensively in the apparel industry for interlinings, clothing and glove insulation, handbag components and shoe components.

Characteristics of Nonwoven Fabric:

The particular set of properties that a non-woven fabric may have is dependent upon the combination of factors in its production. The range of characteristics is wide.

  • The appearance of non-woven fabrics may be paper like, felt like, or similar to that of woven fabrics.
  • They may have a soft, resilient hand, or they may be hard, stiff, or broadly with little pliability.
  • They may be as thin as thin as tissue paper or many times thicker.
  • They also may be translucent or opaque.
  • Their porosity may range from low tear and burst strength to very high tensile strength.
  • They may be fabricated by gluing, heat bonding, or sewing.
  • The drapability of this type of fabrics varies from good to none at all.
  • Some fabrics have excellent launder ability; others have none. Some may be dry-cleaned.

Applications of Nonwovens in Apparel Industry:

There are versatile applications of nonwoven fabrics or materials in apparel sector due to their unique characteristics. Their versatility, lightweight nature, and cost-effectiveness make nonwovens an integral part of the apparel industry, contributing to improved performance and enhanced wearer experience. Nonwovens are widely used as interlinings, providing structure and stability to garments without adding bulk. These are also employed as insulating layers in outerwear, enhancing warmth and comfort. Additionally, they serve as disposable components in hygiene products like masks and surgical gowns, offering protection and breathability. Moreover, nonwoven fabrics are utilized in shoe manufacturing, providing cushioning and moisture-wicking properties

Important applications nonwovens in apparel:

Nonwoven interlinings:

Nonwoven interlining defines materials based on nonwovens that are incorporated into articles of clothing during production to fulfill a range of functions. Nonwoven interlinings are therefore one of the oldest successful applications of nonwovens. It is used for stabilizing is to reinforce or stiffen certain parts of a garment in the desired way. Moreover, these areas, often the most visible on a garment (for example collars and cuffs on shirts and blouses), should look good and should not lose their appearance after the care cycle.

Nonwovens for protective clothing:

Protective and safety textiles of the most diverse kinds are classed as technical textiles with a high-tech character. Protective clothing are used mainly in personal protective equipment (PPE) in the following areas:

  • Protective clothing (body protection)
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective headgear
  • Protective footwear
  • Protection against falling
  • Protection against drowning

Protective clothing manufacturing, mainly against fire and chemicals, is the major driver of the apparel manufacturing market for nonwoven fabrics. Nonwoven fabrics are further utilized for manufacturing of masks, surgical gowns and also as protective clothing against chemicals, pesticides, manufacturing electronics, and in all laboratories.

Nonwovens for Agriculture:

Nonwoven fabrics are used in agriculture for crop protection, weed control, and soil stabilization. They are often employed as agricultural mulches to regulate soil temperature, conserve moisture, and suppress weed growth. Additionally, nonwoven fabrics are used in fruit and vegetable covers to protect crops from pests and harsh weather conditions.

Nonwoven support materials for footwear:

Nonwoven materials play a crucial role in footwear as support components. They are used as insoles, providing cushioning, comfort, and shock absorption to the wearer’s feet. Coated textile support materials – summed up under the term “artificial leathers” – compete with “genuine leather” in most diverse applications, e.g. as shoe upper and upholstery cover materials. For their lightweight nature, flexibility, and versatility, nonwovens have become essential support materials in the footwear industry, enhancing overall performance and wearer satisfaction.

Advantages of Nonwoven Fabrics in Apparel:

Nonwoven provides a numerous advantages contrast to woven fabrics, particularly with respect to cost benefits, owing to its direct fiber to fabric formation process, high volume of production and less manpower requirement. This difference in cost is sufficient for them to completely replace woven fabrics for fashion apparel applications, if they were not suffered by the distinct disadvantages in terms of their mechanical properties, poor drape or flexibility. Design and production of a nonwoven fabric to mimic a woven cloth for apparel uses have to meet the following requirements such as:

  • Physical requirements
  • Thermo-physiological requirements
  • Biomechanical requirements
  • Psychological requirements

In the nonwoven, the combined contribution of neighbouring fibers depends totally on the extensibility of fiber and bond and is accordingly very restricted. The mechanism of nonwoven fabric fitting is represented by the fiber rotation, fiber straightening, bond rotation, bond expansion and fiber extension. The nonwoven can’t simply accommodate in-plane compression without buckling as it does not have the easy shear path. The incapability of nonwovens to distribute the stress at a tear, leads to premature breakdown in outer wear. To put it plainly, the nonwoven structure is not in a superior position to withstand tears, stitch gatherings and transfer of stresses in a fabricated garment in day to day service.

Few of the nonwoven fabrics developed with various kinds of fibers are mentioned below:

  • Cotton-polyester blended nonwoven fabric
  • Polyester nonwoven fabric
  • Silk nonwoven fabric
  • Wool nonwoven fabric
  • Polyester durable nonwoven fabric


The applications of nonwoven fabric span across a multitude of industries, from healthcare to agriculture, construction to fashion. Non woven fabric is a silent hero that touches our lives in numerous ways. Its remarkable versatility, ranging from medical applications to fashion, from agriculture to automotive, is a testament to its importance. As technology continues to advance, we can only anticipate even more innovative uses for this unassuming material, improving our lives and our planet. So, the next time you encounter a nonwoven product, take a moment to appreciate the hidden wonder of this fabric that shapes our modern world.

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