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The need for proper classification of fabrics
By :   Prof. D. V. Muniswamy
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Textile Industry has spread all over the world, of which fabric manufacture is the most important segment both in spread and variety. Efforts have been made to classify fabrics from different viewpoints, viz., Consumer, Trader, Manufacturer, Technologists, Engineers and Standards.

From Consumers viewpoints, fabrics are classified earlier as:

i)         Apparel

ii)       Household

iii)      Industrial.

This classification is subsequently modified as:

i)         Apparel

ii)       a) Bedding b) Home textiles

iii)      Technical textiles, which include:

a)       Mobile textiles

b)       Geo textiles

c)       Construction textiles

d)       Industrial textiles

e)       Medical textiles

f)         Safety textiles

g)       Smart or Intelligent textiles, etc.

From the Traders viewpoint, fabrics are classified according to specific Trade/ Brand names. From the Manufacturers viewpoint, fabrics are classified according to the method of manufacture as: i) Woven a) Hand loom b) Power loom c) Khadi ii) Knitted a) Warp knit b) Weft knit iv) Embroidery v) Lace vi) Crochet, etc.

From the Technologists viewpoint, fabrics are classified as: i) Structure ii) Texture. From the Engineers viewpoint, fabrics are classified into: i) Width/Breadth, ii) Length, iii) Yarn size, iv) Weight, v) Thickness, vi) Setting, vii) Face. From Standards viewpoint, fabrics are classified as i) Set, ii) Weight, iii) Strength, iv) Condition, v) Application or End use. There is the possibility of overlapping of fabric characteristics under these different viewpoints.

In the present paper, it is proposed to have a universally- acceptable classification of fabrics based not on aesthetic characteristics which involve subjective assessment, but on verifiable characteristics which involve the determination of the following characteristics:- i) Type/Variety, ii) Materials-used, iii) Weave, iv) Yarn Numbers (N1, N2,Na), v) Loom set a)Reed (R), b) Pick wheel (P), vi) Threads (n1, n2,T), vii) Width [Reed Width (RW), Cloth Width (B)], viii) Crimp % (c1, c2) ix) Diameter (d1, d2, β), x) Thickness (G), xi) Weight (W W), xii) Cover Factors (K1, K2 Kc, FQI), xiii) Weight Factors (w1, w2, w, w1/w2), xiv) Length/unit weight ( Y, Y), xv) Effective Length/unit weight of fabric (BYT, BMT).

Based upon the above characteristics, it is possible to set up norms for the following characteristics under different groups i)Fabric Weight (W, W), ii) Average Count (Na), Setting (Warp, Weft, Fabric), iii) Face, iv) Fabric Thickness, v) Effective Length / unit weight of fabric (BYT, BMT), vi) Fabric Condition, vii) End use. Each fabric can be classified according to the above classification and certificate issued by an authorized organization. Illustrative examples are given to show how this classification can be implemented.

Among the three characteristics of Fabric Weight, Average count and Effective length/unit weight of fabric. Fabric weight is used in cost calculation and average count is used for levying excise and other duties. However; from Consumers viewpoint, costing of fabrics needs to be done based on effective length/unit weight of fabric, since its value varies even for the same fabric weight and fabrics are sold by length overwhelming and only in certain cases they are sold by weight. In Technical textiles there is absolute necessity for proper classification of fabrics on functional basis.


Textile Industry is next in importance to Agriculture, since it is the second largest provider of employment. It has spread far and wide in the world, of which fabric manufacture occupies the most important segment in both breadth and variety. From India the export of fabrics is estimated to fetch US $ 17 billion and export of readymade garments to fetch US $ 34 billion by 2011-12. There is severe competition among exporting countries to increase their share in the world market for textiles and apparels. In view of the appreciation of the value of Rupee against US $, it has become increasingly difficult to face the stiff competition among the exporting countries.

The present paper is confined to classification of fabrics.


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