Specialty Fabrics Review June 2020 - 32

There are some amazing
fabrics out there that
you would never know
have performance
qualities, plus they are
budget-friendly.
ROBERT BURKART,
SEWLINE UPHOLSTERY LTD.

The MorCareā„¢ collection of health-care
vinyls from Morbern is designed for the
high demands of hospitals and institutional
environments with enhanced resistance
to normal dilutions of chlorine bleaches
and quaternary-ammonia based cleaners.
Photo: Morbern.

biodegrading in 3.5 years rather than
several hundred years for regular polyester.
As part of its sustainability efforts,
Milliken considers every aspect of the
product and the process-from the fibers
and yarn to manufacturing-when
engineering a sustainable, effective and
long-lasting fabric. The company's Breathe
by Millikenā„¢ collection features engineered
fabrics rather than fabrics with a finish, so
the performance attributes are inherent in
the fabric itself and will not wear off over
time, like those with spray-on finishes.
Sustainability can conflict with other
performance needs of upholstery fabrics.
For example, while fabrics often require
coatings to meet performance demands,
those coatings and other performanceenhancing additives may result in
a product that is less sustainable.
According to Flack, trade-offs need to
be considered on a case-by-case basis. For
example, adding an acrylic coating to the
back of a polyester fabric may limit how
this fabric can be recycled, because it would
be considered mixed content: polyester
and acrylic.
"A recycler may choose to downcycle
the fabric versus recycle it," Flack says.

"A better choice for sustainability would
be to choose a polyester backcoating so
that the material is 100 percent polyester
and can be more easily recycled."
Duval notes a shift toward sustainable
coatings, given that sustainable products
need to preserve their environmental
attributes. But not every performance
need has a sustainable solution-at least
yet. For example, sustainable alternatives
to C6 stain repellents don't match the
performance, especially in terms of oil or
grease stains, he says.
"We do offer a couple of coatings that are
more sustainable than others," he says. "We
offer nylon backcoating that can be applied
to nylon fabrics and we also offer polyester
backcoating that can be applied to polyester
fabrics, which make them more sustainable.
In theory they could be recycled whereas
most of the other coatings prevent fabric
from being truly recyclable."
Duval expects more alternatives that
provide less or no toxicity to become
available. These demands are driven by
movements in certain market segments,
such as the Healthy Hospitals Initiative
(HHI), which seeks to guide hospitals to
adopt environmental best practices such as
reducing energy and waste, choosing safer
and less toxic products, and purchasing and
serving healthier food.
IN OR OUT?
When new performance characteristics
for indoor upholstery fabrics become
available, it's often the case that they
have developed from innovations in
fabrics intended for the outdoors.
Outdoor fabrics need to be exceptionally
durable. While that's a positive attribute
for any fabric, indoor upholstery fabrics
have a set of requirements distinct from
outdoor fabrics.
"In terms of performance needs,
interior fabrics have much greater
focus on abrasion and flammability,"
Duval says. "Also, there is much greater

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Specialty Fabrics Review June 2020

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Specialty Fabrics Review June 2020 - 1
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