Film Manufacture

Films are generally added to fabrics to increase their strength, durability and environmental resistance. It is usually a synthetic coating that is applied, but the existing fabric can be either natural or synthetic.

Polyurethane is the most common type of film applied to fabrics. It is laminated to the fabric by applying heat and adhesives to make sure the two are bonded together. It was initially created for use in the medical industry but it was then realised that it could be used for garments, especially ones where waterproof qualities were necessary.  Most of the Polyurethane fabric is made by applying the film to a lightweight breathable polyester interlock knit. This was the fabric retains some of the properties from the polyester whilst gaining the properties from the film.

The film is around 1mm thick so that it is flexible enough to be used in garments. Polyurethane films are also used to apply logos or images to garments. These can either be done by the manufacturer or at home by the consumer, but the process in basically the same. Heat and pressure are applied to the transfer, which already has the adhesive on and the image is transferred to the garment.

The company Gore-tex uses Polyurethane film in its outdoor clothing as it is breathable and water repellent. Other types of films used in the clothing industry are Polyester and Polytetrafluorothylene, which is also known as Teflon.

Properties of Film

  • Strong
  • Durable
  • Resistant to environmental factors
  • Can be flame retardant
  • Usually waterproof
  • Good tear resistance
  • Harmful to the environment
  • Lasts well
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Thin
  • Resistant to UV light
  • Lightweight
  • Withstands laundering
  • Reusable
  • Available in a range of colours

End Uses of Film

  • Handbags
  • Waterproof Coats and Jackets
  • Weather resistant clothing
  • Garments with logos on them

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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