Knits vs. Woven vs. Non-Woven Fabrics: What’s the Difference?

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When choosing the correct material for a project or application it is important to understand the differences between knits, wovens and nonwovens (and how the physical differences of the materials will ultimately affect the performance of the final product).

What Are Knitted Fabrics?

Industrial knit fabrics are designed and manufactured for use in a variety of applications. These fabrics are typically made from strong and durable yarns  such as polyester and nylon.

In addition to industrial knits durability, some of the advantages of these materials include stretch and breathability.

Knitting machines are machines used to create knitted fabrics. They can create a wide range of knitted fabrics, from lightweight and delicate apparel to heavy and bulky industrial fabrics. Industrial knitting machines  are computer-controlled and come in various  widths and types. The most common types of knitting machines include:

  • Weft knitting machine: This machine produces fabric from a tube with loops generated horizontally.
  • Warp knitting machine: Opposite to weft knitting, loops are made vertically in warp knitting, and the resulting fabric has an open width.
  • Flat knitting machine: This machine can create fabric in a flat or two-dimensional form.
  • Circular knitting machine: This machine can create cylindrical or three-dimensional fabric.
  • Raschel knitting: This type of knitting is done on Raschel machines, which use a combination of needles and latch hooks to create various fabric types, including netting and mesh, and other industrial and commercial applications.
  • 3D knitting: This machine makes 3D structures such as tubes and spheres possible. A few samples of products with unique shapes and properties include airbags, gloves, and custom-fit products.

In summary, industrial knitted fabrics are made from strong and durable  yarns and created using knitting machines. These fabrics have various uses and advantages suitable for different industries, depending on the end product and application required.

Knitted vs. Woven Fabrics

It is easy for designers to distinguish between knit and woven fabrics, as the two types have distinct visual characteristics. However, there are some instances where it may not be immediately clear to differentiate the two, especially if the fabrics have a unique or complex construction. In such cases, it may be necessary to examine the fabric more closely or to consult with a textile expert.

Knit fabric is made of interlocking loops from  continuous  yarn that is looped back and forth to create the  material. This structure allows the knit fabric to stretch and move in multiple directions, giving it a unique elasticity that woven fabrics lack.

Contrarily, woven fabric is made by interlacing two sets of yarns to form a grid-like structure with little inherent stretch and can only stretch slightly along the diagonal or “bias” direction. This structural difference also means that woven fabrics have  very little give when compared to knits.

Knit fabrics are cool and breathable, but woven fabrics are typically thick and wind-proof.

At Jason Mills, LLC, our knit fabric manufacturing technologies allows us to manufacture near zero-stretch, high stretch,  fire-resistant, anti microbial and highly UV-resistant fabrics.

Woven vs. Non-Woven Fabrics

Although woven fabrics have existed for as long as people have made textiles, contemporary versions provide far more functionality and adaptability. However, the weaving process is still the same.

In a warp-weft pattern, perpendicular threads can be crossed across one another to create a highly organized structure of tear-resistant  fabrics.

On the other hand, non-woven textiles are not regarded as fabrics in the literal sense, even if they may appear, feel, and function like fabrics. This is because their organizational systems are different.

The  yarns in woven fabrics form a closely spaced grid. In non-woven fabrics, the  fibers come together through mechanical, thermal or chemical bonding to form a disorganized web or net of interwoven fibers. They are often less resilient than a comparable woven or knit..

How To Differentiate Knit, Woven, and Non-Woven Fabrics

Here are some quick indicators to help you identify and differentiate the three types of fabric:

  • Knits feature a continuous loop.
  • Wovens are made of interlacements of warp and weft yarns.
  • Non-wovens are made of tangled or bonded fibers.

Industrial and Specialty Textiles by Jason Mills, LLC

Jason Mills, LLC is a trusted provider of industrial knit fabrics used in industries as diverse as healthcare, occupational safety, indoor and outdoor recreation, filtration, automotive, aeronautical and marine, and more. Some of our specialty materials include antimicrobial finishes (both topically treated and inherent), fire resistance, and UV resistance to fade and material degradation.

For your industrial and specialty textile needs, contact us today! You may also request a quote to start working with us.

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