When talking about textiles, the “finish” refers to the functional and aesthetic characteristics of the fabric achieved after all production and processing operations are complete. Depending on what finishing and treatment processes are employed, the final fabric can exhibit properties that vastly differ from the raw fabric, including in regard to color, texture, and performance.
The following article provides an overview of common fabric finishing and treatment processes and fabric finishes.
Types of Fabric Finishing and Treatment Processes
Textile manufacturers employ a wide range of finishing and treatment processes to attain different fabric finishes. Some examples include:
. Mending and Burling
Prior to finishing operations, textiles are often rough around the edges, with loose threads and knots that must be removed and smoothed. Depending on the fabric, various mending, burling, and scouring processes may be required to rid the fabric of any imperfections.
. Washing and Drying
Once smoothed and repaired, textiles are washed in a variety of chemicals. Bleaching, as the name implies, uses chlorine bleach and other chemicals to whiten and brighten. Similarly, scouring uses chemical detergents and heat to remove contaminants left over from the manufacturing process.
Textiles may be dried several times throughout the finishing process, using air or heat to ensure that there is no excess moisture remaining in the material. Since temperature, drying time, humidity, and tautness differ depending on the desired textile, specialized equipment is used to dry the fabric and closely monitor these conditions.
After washing, textiles must be stabilized to ensure consistency and structural integrity. Calendering—one of the most common stabilizing processes used for fabrics—entails the use of heated pressurized rollers to condense the fibers within the fabric. Depending on the fabric, different rollers are used to create different surface finishes.
. Coating and Glazing
Textiles can be treated with a variety of coatings and glazes, including waxes, oils, and plastics or starch, glue, and shellac, respectively. These compounds further enhance the appearance of the fabric (such as by adding glossiness), alter existing characteristics (such as changing the texture), and/or add new properties (such as flame retardance or UV resistance).
Types of Fabric Finishes
Once finished and treated, textiles can have a variety of different finishes. For example:
- Texture can range from soft to coarse
- Weight can range from light to heavy
- Firmness can range from soft to firm
- Colorfastness can range from weak to strong
- Various resistances (e.g., water, UV, fire, etc.) can range from low to high
The final properties of a textile depend on its intended use.
Technical Textile Finishing and Treatment Considerations
Technical textiles are designed and manufactured for specific non-decorative purposes. During the finishing and treatment stages for any technical textile, it is important to keep the intended function in mind to ensure the finished fabric performs as expected.
Some of the most common types of fabric finishes for technical textiles include:
- Antibacterial: retards the growth of odor-causing bacteria
- Anti-static: prevents the buildup of static charge
- Chemical resistant: minimizes damage from chemical compounds
- Fire resistant/flame retardant: reduces the risk of fire starting and spreading
- UV resistant: withstands exposure to UV radiation without damage or degradation
Choose Jason Mills for All Your Knit Textile Needs
At Jason Mills, we are a preeminent manufacturer of knit textiles suitable for use in a wide range of residential to industrial applications. We offer an extensive selection of stock styles as well as research and develop custom fabrics to meet unique needs. Equipped with decades of industry experience, we have the knowledge and skills to provide a textile with the right finishes for any application.