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Basic Principles


There are various factors that determine abrasion resistance, and academic studies that have attempted to determine their influence have often produced contradictory or conflicting results. This is because the tests have been carried out under different circumstances and conditions. Despite this, each study agrees that the factors described below influence abrasion resistance. 

Abrasive Resistance Chart

(Click here for hart print version)

Abrasion usually follows three distinctive stages,  described below:

Abrasion Resistance 2

In stage 1 the textile is slightly worn and microfibers begin to protrude from the surface. In stage 2 the wear has increased and the broken fibres begin to fray and split. The protruding fibres are called fuzz. In stage three the fabric has worn so the ends of the frayed fibres entangle. At this point the abrasion will likely be quite obvious.

It is important to remember that increasing abrasion resistance may affect other properties, including breathability, drape, touch comfort, recyclability, cost, thickness, weight, air permeability and compressibility. It is a difficult balancing act to maintain high performance in each of these areas.

Abrasion tests

Many different abrasion tests exist, though the correlation between them is often poor. They differ in the following characteristics:

• Type of abrasion – in plane, flexible, or edge abrasion
• Type of abradant – different severities and types of action
• Applied pressure – from very high to very low. There is a complex relationship between pressure and abrasion as doubling pressure does not necessarily double the rate of abrasion
• Speed - from very high to very low. There is also a complex relationship between speed and abrasion as doubling speed does not necessarily double the rate of abrasion
• Tension – tension must be reproducible
• Direction of abrasion – whether in warp or weft direction, or machine and cross directions

It is essential that the abrasion reflects the end-use of the material and that the abrasion test used across samples is consistent.

Tests assess the impact of abrasion by measuring a change in mass, by measuring the decrease in fabric strength, or by a change in appearance.

Common Abrasion Tests

There are many machines for abrasion testing. Each tries to replicate a different type of abrasion that might be encountered in use.

The Martindale Abrasion Tester  gives controlled abrasion over a surface and abrasion is determined by eye or by the number of cycles undergone before a predetermined state of abrasion occurs. See a video of a Martindale machine in action at:

The abradant and pressure can both be changed easily. The Martindale forms part of many international standards, despite initially being designed for testing wool samples.

Another often-used abrasion testing apparatus is the Accelerotor.  The test sample is put in a drum with an abrasive material and rolled around the apparatus. The results generated from it correlate well with slow-moving forces encountered in wearing, laundering, or dry cleaning or textile garments. Also, it causes relatively uniform abrasion.

The other major abrasion testing apparatus is the Taber abraser ,   which wears a sample between two wheels. It is somewhat similar in action to the Martindale tester, though initially gives very severe abrasion