Fabric is what results from a weaving process. There are many different types of weaving processes which result in different types of fabrics. Due to the many different types of fabric that result from the different weaving processes, there will also be different fabric uses.
One major factor that determines fabric uses is the material from which it is made. Fabric materials are made from plants, animal fur or hair and skin, minerals and synthetic fibers. Examples of plant sources of material include jute, cotton, hemp, bamboo, seaweed, grass, straw, sisal and flax. Animal sources include silk (from the silk worm), wool (from sheep, goats and rabbits), mineral textiles are made from glass fiber, asbestos, metal fiber and basalt fiber. Synthetic materials are made from acrylic, polyester, nylon, aramid, spandex, lurex and carbon fiber.
Fabric uses are not determined per se by the material it is made from but from the qualities and characteristics of the material. The material from which the fabric is made of will determine characteristics such as absorbency, workability, weight, thickness, insulation, flammability and so on. The manufacturers of the fabrics determine their fabric uses by testing these characteristics. Manufacturers will subject fabrics to various treatment methods to change or improve their characteristics.
Treatments to enhance fabric uses include flame retardant treatments, stain treatments, backings, antimicrobial treatments, fabric lamination, UV (ultra violet) inhibition treatment.
Antimicrobial treatment is most often done on natural fiber fabrics as these are the ones that are most susceptible to disease causing micro-organisms. This treatment also makes the fabric less prone to discoloration, staining and destruction. Fabric uses for materials that have received antimicrobial treatment include use in medical facilities such as hospital bedding, surgical scrubs and other surgical clothing. These fabrics are also used in households and in other products that need to be protected from contamination.
The fabric uses for mildew resistant finished fabric will include upholstery and shower curtains. This treatment also protects against fungi and mold. Fabric lamination treatment is to prevent against stains and to make fabric easy to clean. This treatment is sued for fabrics that are used in commercial settings such as restaurants, for child care and for upholstery.
A formaldehyde finish is applied to fabric to increase its crease resistance. Flame retardant treatment is applied to fabric so that they may be used to make children’s pajamas, upholstery, window treatments (curtains and drapery), wall coverings and work clothes for individuals who have jobs that are near flames or sparks.
Fabric backing treatments are used on light or fragile fabrics such as silks and cottons. Backing adds durability, makes the fabric more workable and may also increase the fabric’s life.
A recent technological invention has lead to the development of fabric treatment that involves embedding nano particles in fabric to make it water resistant, crease resistant, stain resistant and resistant to disease causing pathogens like bacteria. Fabric uses have changed over the centuries with the technology and will more than likely continue to do so.