Fabric is a man-made material developed in ancient times and still has innumerable uses to this day. As a contract manufacturer, we have years of practice sourcing the perfect textiles for a project based on the needs of the client. The main fabric distinguisher is whether the fabric is woven or non-woven. The way that the fabric is created can contribute to what it is used for.
Woven fabrics are the more traditional of the two fabrics. Weaving numerous threads together perpendicularly to each other creates woven fabrics. The threads that run vertically through the fabric are the warp threads, and the weft is the thread that runs horizontally. Simply put, the weft is the traverse thread and the combination of warp threads is the base. To weave, you simply alternate going over and under a warp thread with a weft thread. Preferably, the process of weaving would occur with the warp threads stretched on a loom. The strength of the woven fabric depends on the type of thread or yarn used, and the fact that it can be crafted from many different fibers makes a woven fabric very versatile. A great majority of clothing fabric is created using weaving, including shirts, pants, and even denim.
Non-woven fabrics are long fibers that have been bonded together using some sort of heat, chemical, or mechanical treatment. There is no weaving or manual construction involved. Non-woven fabrics have many different uses; including liquid repellence, stretch, thermal insulation, and can act as a bacterial barrier. Non-woven fabrics have a range of strengths, and can be made stronger by adding additional support backing. They also tend to be the more affordable choice, as these fabrics are less expensive to produce and quicker to manufacture. In most cases, woven fabrics are more durable and strong than non-woven. This is due to the fact that woven fabrics are reinforced by thread crossing thread, which creates a strong barrier.
While there are incidents that a non-woven could be stronger than a woven fabric, non-woven fabrics durability is entirely dependent on how it is made. For example, a disposable plastic bag and a surgical gown are both examples of non-woven materials, but it is obvious which needs to be stronger.
If you are designing a product, it’s important to weigh the features that you need the product to have in order to decide what type of fabric you need. “Woven” and “non-woven” are umbrella categories to different types of fabrics – nylon, denim, cotton, polyester, etc. Deciding whether to use a woven vs. a non-woven is a great place to start the fabric decision process.