Understanding Fabric Abrasion

If you work in a textile factory or are involved in researching and developing textile fabrics, one of your daily tasks will be to select fabrics with suitable abrasion resistance for products. This article will guide you through the principles and mechanisms of fabric abrasion, as well as some practical experience from actual operations.

What is Fabric Abrasion?

When you notice that a new piece of clothing purchased by your end customer gets torn simply from a fall or a rub against a wall, while an old garment remains undamaged despite prolonged wear, what causes this difference? This situation is a result of the difference in the abrasion resistance of the fabric. Fabric abrasion refers to the damage caused by the fabric rubbing against itself or external materials. Abrasion resistance is an important parameter in evaluating fabric quality.

The Mechanism of Fabric Abrasion

The abrasion of fabric starts from the outer layer of the float yarns on the surface, at the peaks of the bends or the protruding arcs of the loops, and gradually moves inward. Some fibers are worn and break. The ends of the fibers stand up; the surface of the fabric becomes fuzzy; fiber fragments fall off; some fibers are pulled out from within the yarn; the yarn and fabric become loose. With continued friction: fiber pull-out intensifies; the yarn disintegrates, and the fabric becomes thinner and lighter until holes appear.

If the cohesion of the fibers is weak and the structure of the yarn and fabric is loose, friction will pull fibers out of the yarn or fabric, making it even looser. The fibers that are pulled out, after repeated squeezing and pulling, eventually fatigue and break, turning into fiber debris.

If the cohesion of the fibers is strong, the fabric structure is tight, and the abrasive is sharp, the fibers will break under repeated stretching and bending.

Suppose the cohesion of the fibers is strong. In that case, the fabric structure is tight, and the abrasive is soft and fine, the surface of the fibers at both ends and the bent parts will show a regenerated fiber structure under repeated stretching and bending, making the fibers brittle and very prone to breaking.

In any of the above cases, heat is generated, raising the temperature and causing increased wear on the fibers.

The wear is manifested in changes in the fabric’s form, mainly including damage, loss of mass, changes in appearance such as discoloration, and the formation of fuzz and pills.

Importance of Understanding Fabric Abrasion

After understanding the principles and mechanisms of fabric abrasion, you should consider the product’s usage scenarios more when designing and selecting fabrics with appropriate levels of abrasion resistance. This is a crucial step in ensuring the durability and abrasion resistance of the final product.

Testing Methods

Flat abrasion is the most widely used standard at present. For example, the American standard ASTM D4966, the European standard ISO 12947, and the Chinese standard GB/T21196 all use the Martindale Abrasion Tester. They apply a certain pressure to the fabric to create friction with an abrasive, and the fabric’s resistance to abrasion is determined based on three endpoints (holes, color change, and severe damage). ASTM D3884 is also a flat abrasion method, but it is not commonly used. Martindale Tester

martindale abrasion counts

Flex abrasion has two commonly used standards: ASTM D3886 and ASTM D3885. The principle is to let the fabric repeatedly rub against an abrasive in a bent state to examine the fabric’s abrasion resistance.

Tumble abrasion simulates the frictional damage that clothes undergo during the washing and tumbling process. A typical standard for this method is AATCC 93.

Comparison of Abrasion Resistance

Material: The most critical factor in the abrasion resistance of fabrics depends on their material. The ranking of fabrics from highest to lowest abrasion resistance is as follows: nylon > polypropylene > vinylon > polyethylene > polyester > acrylic > chlorofiber > wool > silk > cotton > hemp > strong fiber > cuprammonium fiber > viscose fiber > acetate fiber > glass fiber.

Geometric Structure: This includes thickness, warp and weft density, weight per unit area, apparent density, and the content of fuzz. The greater these factors are, the more abrasion-resistant the fabric will be.

Organizational Structure: Plain weave > Twill weave > Satin weave

Fiber: Fibers with a circular cross-sectional structure have the best abrasion resistance.

Factors Affecting Abrasion Resistance

Toughness: In the context of fixed fibers, the most significant factor affecting the abrasion resistance of a fabric is its “toughness,” meaning whether the fabric has suffered chemical damage. For example, post-processing treatments like wrinkle resistance and flame retardancy can greatly diminish the “toughness” of cotton and linen fabrics, thereby significantly reducing their abrasion resistance. The change in a fabric’s tensile strength directly affects its abrasion resistance. Therefore, in situations where it is inconvenient to test for abrasion resistance, one can assess the changes in abrasion resistance by testing the fabric’s tensile strength.

Softening: Softening typically reduces a fabric’s resistance to flat abrasion. It weakens the cohesion of the yarn, making fibers more likely to be pulled out during friction, which leads to decreased abrasion resistance. However, softening significantly improves the fabric’s resistance to flex abrasion. This is because softening enhances the fabric’s fatigue resistance, making it more pliable and less likely to form weak points during flex abrasion.


Choosing fabric materials is the result of a comprehensive consideration of various factors. Abrasion resistance of the fabric, as a fundamental measure, is a primary factor to consider from the style sampling to the mass production stage. I hope you have gained some insights from the above content on fabric abrasion resistance.

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