A spacer fabric is a double-faced fabric knitted on a double needle bar machine. The distance between the two surfaces is retained after compression by the resilience of the pile yarn (usually mono-filament) that passes between them.
One reason for the development of spacer fabrics was an attempt to replace toxic, laminated-layer foam with a single, synthetic fibre type fabric, thus facilitating future re-cycling (Fig. 30.5).
Spacer fabrics are manufactured according to their function and have three variable components: fabric construction, yarn material and finishing. The hollow centre of the fabric may be filled with solid, liquid or gaseous materials (air can be used for insulation). Yarns with good moisture transportation properties may also be employed.
Partly-threaded guide bars can produce open-hole structures on each surface and air circulation can occur in the two millimetre space between the two surfaces. An important advantage is the low weight in proportion to the large volume.
The compression resistance can be adjusted by using different yarn counts in the rigid, synthetic mono-filament spacer yarns that connect the two surfaces of the fabric. Additional spacer yarns can be used where the choice of type of yarn determines properties such as moisture transport, absorbency, compression resistance, drapability, and thermal conductivity. The spacing can be up to 60 mm and widths up to 4400 mm. Fine fabrics knitted on E 32 raschels range in thickness between 1 and 4 mm.
End-uses for spacer fabrics include moulded bra cups, padding, and linings . Medical applications are also being investigated .
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