Flame resistant (FR) fabrics play a crucial role in the protective clothing industry, providing safety to those who work in environments with ignition sources, molten metal, and arc flash hazards.
This FR fabric guide aims to help you understand the different flame resistant materials and their applications, covering inherently flame resistant fibers, treated fabrics, and their fundamental properties. We will discuss silicone coated fiberglass fabric, silica fabric, aluminum foil fiberglass fabric, and Kevlar fabric, as well as the factors contributing to the garment's life.
Inherently flame resistant fabrics are made from FR fibers that possess flame resistant properties by their very nature. These resistant materials do not require flame retardant chemicals or treatments to resist fire. Examples of inherent FR fibers include aramid fibers, such as Kevlar and modacrylic fibers.
Kevlar, a synthetic fabric made from aramid fibers, is well known for its high strength-to-weight ratio and remarkable heat resistance. Kevlar fabric can withstand temperatures up to 800°F (427°C) and is inherently flame resistant. It is widely used in love-resistant clothing for firefighters, bulletproof vests, and protective gear for law enforcement and military personnel.
Treated fabrics are standard materials that undergo a process in which flame retardant chemicals are applied to achieve flame resistance. These fabrics, such as 100% cotton, may lose their flame resistant properties over time and with repeated washings. However, fabric treatment technology advancements have improved durability and performance.
Silicone coated fiberglass fabric combines the strength and durability of glass fibers with silicone's flexibility and heat resistance. This material can withstand high temperatures and extreme conditions, making it an ideal choice for protective clothing in the aerospace, automotive, and electrical industries. The silicone coating also offers excellent water and chemical resistance.
Comprising 96% silica, silica fabric is a heat resistant material capable of withstanding temperatures up to 2300°F (1260°C). This fabric exhibits remarkable resistance to heat and flame, making it perfect for fire resistant clothing, welding blankets, and fire curtains. Its high silica content makes it incredibly durable and resistant to abrasion, chemicals, and oxidation.
Aluminum foil fiberglass fabric merges the thermal properties of aluminum with the strength and flexibility of glass fibers. This fabric is designed to reflect radiant heat, making it ideal for insulation and heat shielding applications. Often used in automotive, aerospace, and industrial settings, aluminum foil fiberglass fabric protects sensitive components from extreme temperatures and provides excellent flame resistance.
Various industry standards set the performance requirements for flame resistant garments. These standards help ensure that protective clothing offers the appropriate level of protection against hazards such as arc flash and molten metal splash. It is crucial to select FR garments that meet the specific standards relevant to your industry and workplace.
The life of an FR garment depends on several factors, including the type of fabric, proper care and maintenance, and the frequency of use. Inherent FR fabrics typically have a longer lifespan than treated fabrics, as their flame resistant properties do not diminish with washings. However, following the manufacturer's care and maintenance guidelines is essential to ensure the FR garments' continued effectiveness.
Selecting the right FR fabric for protective clothing is crucial for ensuring safety in hazardous work environments. Understanding the differences between inherent and treated fabrics, as well as the properties and applications of materials like silicone coated fiberglass fabric, silica fabric, aluminum foil fiberglass