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Military Fabric: What You Need to Know

Combat and military procedures can potentially expose service members and their equipment to harsh environments, so excellent military fabric performance is paramount. In the past, manufacturers made military uniforms of a cotton twill fabric exclusively, and this heavy fabric met the necessary durability requirements. However, cotton twill isn’t ideal for function or comfort. Infrared light can rebound off shiny synthetic fabrics, creating security concerns. Also, the weight of cotton twill increases when wet, and it can become uncomfortably hot to wear. Today, military uniforms as well as Mil-Spec products incorporate materials that are better suited to their applications.

military fabric

What Fabrics Are Military Uniforms Made Of?

While cotton and nylon are particularly commonplace in military uniform construction, uniforms are also available in numerous other materials, such as:

  • Acrylics
  • Canvas
  • COOLMAX®
  • Kevlar®
  • Lycra®
  • Nomex® and other meta-aramids
  • Polyester
  • Polyester vinyl composites
  • Vinyl

These materials compensate for the issues experienced with previous fabric compositions while providing military personnel with a broader range of motion.

Military Fabric: Applications

The military relies on specialty fabrics for much more than uniforms. If military supplies don’t feature the right fabric construction, they’re more likely to sustain damage and require repairs while increasing the risk of distraction and harm. Other applications for military fabric include:

  • Additional apparel, including hats, ponchos, body armor, utility belts, footwear, and gloves
  • Bags, such as backpacks, duffel bags, or water storage bags
  • Bedding or sleeping bags
  • Covers for helmets, engines, tanks, and turret guns
  • Flags
  • Parachutes
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Rocket linings
  • Ropes, cords, and cables
  • Straps and sheaths for carrying weapons
  • Tents
  • Welding curtains for submarines

Military Fabric: Properties

Ultimately, manufacturers design military fabrics for protection. These materials must hold up under the many potential stressors of military duty, which can include harsh conditions like heat or cold, rain or UV light, as well as military engagements. 

To address temperature, manufacturers of military-grade fabrics can use lighter-weight, breathable materials. In uniforms, this allows for air and water permeability, and moisture-wicking to handle sweat. Regarding environmental concerns, waterproofing for materials like tents and covers keeps service members and military equipment dry, also warding off mildew. 

Military fabrics can have numerous other resistance properties as well. Manufacturers can design fabric to be resistant to ultraviolet rays as well as fire. For PPE and other applications, antimicrobial treatments can be beneficial. Also, fabrics like cotton offer electrical resistance and, in uniforms, are even advantageous for sensitive skin.

Even when they are lightweight, military fabrics are durable enough to protect uniforms and supplies from tears, abrasion, or general wear that may otherwise develop over time. Military personnel can focus on their missions without any concern over fabric performance.

Military Fabric From HLC Industries

HLC Industries, Inc. meets the needs of contractors and manufacturers responsible for supplying the U.S. Armed Forces, along with other international military organizations. We provide a wide array of materials based on our customers’ specifications, specializing in light- to heavy-weight woven textiles for a range of applications that are specific to each mission.

All of our products are made in the U.S. and are Berry Amendment Compliant. We also offer superior nylon woven fabrics as an ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturer, with the ability to produce fabrics ranging in weight from 1.1 oz. to 12 oz.

To manufacture our products, we use top-of-the-line machinery in our fully equipped facility. We also offer finishing services using a variety of finishing equipment, including contact heat dryers, pin and clip tenter frames, and calendars. This equipment enables us to provide water-repellent finishes, fire-retardant finishes, dip and face finishing, resin finishes for military boots, and wickable and antimicrobial treatments. 

To find the right military fabric for your application, view our product line in our extensive catalog. For assistance with product selection and to receive material samples and swatches, request a quote and we’ll connect you with one of our sales representatives.

What Fabrics Are Parachutes Made Of?

Parachute fabric has to be flexible, lightweight, and durable, and there are several different materials that offer those benefits. Originally made of canvas, then silk, today’s parachutes may be made of ripstop nylon, terylene, or Kevlar, and manufacturers continue to innovate and experiment with materials to find the most effective, affordable, and reliable options for parachutes. 

The material itself isn’t as important as what the material can do. Manufacturers look for certain characteristics when developing and using parachute fabrics.

parachute fabric

Properties of Parachute Fabric

Parachutes have an important job to do, so the fabric must exhibit certain properties to ensure it can withstand the extreme environment while protecting the people wearing the parachute: 

  • Strength: The parachute fabric must resist the forces of gravity and drag over the course of hundreds or even thousands of falls. Strong, lightweight materials are easier to repack. 
  • Tear Resistance: Parachute fabric should resist corrosion and abrasion. A small tear can become a big problem mid-flight—to avoid this issue, ripstop nylon is woven in a regular crosshatch pattern to create small squares that serve to prevent a small tear from becoming larger. 
  • Elasticity: The fabric must open quickly, and elasticity helps distribute the load more evenly.
  • Permeability: Tightly woven fabric helps prevent moisture and dirt from passing through it.

Materials Used in Parachute Fabric

Silk replaced canvas as a parachute fabric because it was lighter, more elastic, thinner, and easier to repack. When the silk supply ran low during World War II, nylon became a go-to choice for parachute fabric. The fact that it’s still used extensively today, even with the availability of options like Kevlar and Dacron, is a testament to its many favorable qualities:

  • Elasticity
  • Excellent strength-to-weight ratio
  • Abrasion resistance
  • Chemical resistance
  • Wind resistance
  • Fire resistance
  • Mildew resistance
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable

Ripstop nylon is specially woven to offer additional resistance against tearing. It’s available in a variety of colors, thicknesses, and textures ranging from silky to stiff, making it suitable not only for parachutes, but for tents, tarps, flags, banners, and even clothing. Because nylon is so strong, it’s also commonly used for parachute harness straps and other components as well.

For more than 80 years, nylon parachutes have been delivering people and packages safely to the ground. While fabric innovations continue, nylon remains a trusted, economical choice for parachute fabric.

HLC Parachute Supplier of Military-Grade and Commercial Aerial Delivery Systems

As the global leader in parachute fabric supply for both military and commercial aerial delivery systems, HLC is proud to be a fifth generation family company. For more than 100 years, our materials have been trusted in the most demanding and mission-critical applications for military, tactical, and industrial purposes. We’re committed to ongoing research and innovation to provide the best options for our clients. All of our fabrics are woven on state-of-the-art looms under ISO 9001 standards, and they’re finished and tested at U.S. government-certified facilities to ensure they’re safe and effective. 

We’re known for creating high-quality products that meet extreme demands, and our customer service team is friendly and responsive. Contact us to learn more about our parachute fabrics, customized solutions, and long history as a leader in mil-spec fabrics, tactical nylon, and more.

Industrial Textile Fabrics: Specifications and Applications

Industrial textile manufacturers utilize fiber as the underlying composition for their fabrics. Given the wide array of options for fiber creation and the treatment processes available to manufacturers, companies can create versatile fabrics with features tailored to a customer’s specific application.

industrial textile fabrics

Fibers

Fibers are long, thin materials that manufacturers spin to bond into yarn. The fibers that manufacturers choose for this process can imbue the resulting fabric with certain functional qualities, such as durability, breathability, electrical conductivity, and thermal insulation, as well as aesthetic qualities like drape and shine. These fibers come in natural and synthetic options, each having its own advantages.

Natural vs. Synthetic Fibers

Composed of renewable animal (protein) or plant (cellulose) material, natural fibers such as wool and cotton are structurally strong, chemically resistant materials. Their stiffness also lends natural fibers to applications requiring bending stiffness. However, natural fibers are less durable than synthetics and can have market price fluctuations. To help fabrics hold up over time, then, manufacturers can put the material through fiber treatments.

Synthetic fibers are chemically processed polymers that are reliably strong and durable as manufactured yarn, woven textiles, bulk fibers, and other products. While they also provide resistance against chemicals, these fibers can melt under heat and have adverse environmental implications. 

Industrial Textiles: Types and Specifications

With all the custom fabrics and fiber treatments available, it is important to choose an industrial material with features that best serve your needs.

Fiber and Fabric Types

  • Batting. Batting comes in sheets of thick, loosely webbed fiber layers for thermal applications like bedding or liners.
  • Monofilaments. Manufacturers utilize monofilament threads, a single spooled strand of fiber or filament, for woven or knit textiles.
  • Natural. Natural plant- or animal-based fabrics include cotton, linen, wool, and silk.
  • Rope and cordage. Cordage is composed of twisted yarn strands, with rope being a more durable type of cordage.
  • Roving. This fabric consists of continuous filaments in tows.
  • Sleeving. Sleevings are insulating fabric wraps that manufacturers make from braided, woven, or knit fibers.
  • Thread. Thread comes in mono- or multi-fiber filament constructions of twisted yarn for sewing.
  • Webbing. Webbing is an unravelable fabric manufactured as ribbons, tapes, or straps of textile fibers.
  • Yarn. Manufacturers generate yarns with standards of interlocked fiber filaments or fabrics and they are available in a wide range of plies for weaving, knitting, and more.

Fabric Characteristics and Features

Manufacturers can custom-make industrial textile fabrics to be:

  • Absorbent. Manufacturers can treat signature fabrics to enhance moisture absorption.
  • Waterproof. Alternatively, waterproof fabrics won’t degrade in the presence of water but repel it.
  • Insulators. Industrial textiles can provide thermal insulation, electrical or dielectric insulation, and soundproofing capabilities.
  • Resistant to chemicals and flame. Some materials naturally resist chemicals or fuel, or manufacturers can enhance this resistance with coatings or treatments. Also, flame-retardant fabric resists igniting and can slow the spread of fire.
  • Resistant to environmental conditions. In addition to moisture resistance, fabrics with UV treatments won’t degrade when exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light, making them ideal for exterior applications. Fabrics can potentially withstand temperature fluctuations as well.
  • Electrically conductive. Conductive fabrics are useful in anti-static or electrostatic discharge (ESD) applications, offering low levels of electrical resistance.

Industrial Textile Fabric Applications

Manufacturers customize industrial fabrics for applications in a wide array of industrial sectors, including:

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Chemical
  • Clothing
  • Construction
  • Electrical
  • Healthcare
  • Marine

Industrial Textile Fabrics From HLC Industries, Inc.

At HLC Industries, we produce high-quality industrial textile fabrics for use across a diverse array of industries and applications. Some of the fabrics we provide include:

  • Mil-Spec fabrics. Our fabrics are Berry Amendment-compliant and we can custom-engineer them to meet Mil-Spec standards for military applications.
  • Tactical nylon fabrics. We have light- and heavy-weight weave options in our nylon fabrics for high-tech applications.
  • Parachute fabrics. We produce specialty fabrics for military and commercial parachutes.
  • Commercial fabrics. We manufacture textiles in various weights and weaves with anti-static, anti-microbial, fire-retardant, nIR, and other enhancements.
  • INVISTA™ CORDURA® fabrics. These solution-dyed fabrics have a water-repellent finish for nIR spectral reflectance.
  • Commercial OCPX camouflage fabrics. These fabrics meet MIL-DTL-32439B specs, with polyurethane fibers and a water-repellent finish.

Learn More About Industrial Textile Fabrics From HLC Industries

HLC Industries is an ISO 9001:2015-certified company that produces Berry Amendment-compliant industrial textile fabrics in the USA. Contact us today to learn more about our 1.1-ounce to 12.0-ounce nylon woven fabrics or to request a quote and start your order.

Berry Compliant Fabric Overview

Berry Compliant fabrics are necessary for manufacturers entering into contracts with the Department of Defense (DoD). The Berry Amendment outlines requirements for purchasing U.S.-produced textiles to support domestic industry. Learning more about what Berry Compliance is and why it matters can help you choose the right material for your application.

berry compliant fabric

Berry Compliance Definition and History

The Berry Amendment is a statutory requirement that Congress passed in 1941 mandating that DoD projects use materials that are made or processed in the U.S. This requirement was originally meant to protect U.S. textile interests during times of war, and it still applies today, for products such as tools, food, tents, clothing, and other textiles.

If you are manufacturing products for use by the DoD—or you’re fulfilling a contract that uses DoD funding—the materials you choose typically need to be Berry Compliant. Companies that have DoD contracts must certify that their goods are 100% domestically produced. 

However, there are exceptions. Purchases might be exempt if they are for small contracts totaling below a defined minimum, contracts providing emergency products or perishable items to personnel abroad, production contracts with allies, and contracts that can’t be compliant because of a product’s domestic unavailability.

What Is Berry Compliant Fabric?

For a fabric to be Berry Compliant, that fabric and its components (such as the yarns and fibers, fabrics, and other textiles used to make the material) must have been domestically grown, made, or processed. As the U.S. has a diverse agricultural and industrial sector, a lot of different fabrics can be Berry Compliant. Some examples are:

  •     Clothing, to include outerwear, hats, belts, shoes, hose, and undergarments
  •     Coated synthetic fabrics, and the textile fibers that make up those fabrics
  •     Cotton and other natural fiber items
  •     Spun silk for cartridge cloth
  •     Tarps, tents, and related fabric parts
  •     Woolen yarns and fibers, or products produced using wool
  •     Woven silk and silk blends

Berry Compliant materials can also include equipment made up of or used in the production of these domestically made textiles.

Berry Compliance: Why It Matters

Since 1941, the Berry Amendment has been protecting the textile industry from foreign competition. Berry Compliance continues to encourage DoD contractors to prioritize domestic purchases.

For commercial and industrial entities or consumers not doing business with the DoD, being aware of which products are Berry Compliant can help them support the production of U.S.-generated goods should they prefer to do so.

Berry Compliant Fabrics

There are numerous domestic materials that are Berry Compliant. These fabric types include:

Mil-Spec Fabrics

Mil-Spec fabrics comply with a wide array of military standards based on the type of material and intended application. These mission-specific fabrics utilize light- or heavy-weight fibers and a high-quality weave, with uses in parachute systems, bags, netting, covers, linings, and more. Along with standard natural and synthetic fabrics, custom-engineered options are available.

Parachute Fabrics

Military and commercial organizations need high-quality parachute fabrics they can rely on for failure-proof applications such as aerial delivery. These materials pass testing at domestic government-certified locations.

Commercial Fabrics

Compliant commercial fabrics come in a wide range of weight and weave options for use in car covers, clothing linings, duffel bags, tents, parachutes, and more. Specialty fabric finishes are also available, including anti-static and fire-retardant coatings as well as antimicrobial treatments. Some materials have an nIR spectral reflectance finish, cloaking the wearer from infrared technology detection.

CORDURA® Fabrics

CORDURA® fabrics are available in various weights and Mil-Spec, Berry, and even nIr compliant options. Because of its durability, this material is often used in making bags, ideal for backpacks, luggage, and duffels. Flags and banners, outdoor clothing and gear, wallets, and windsocks are some additional examples of products that make use of these textiles. Again, manufacturers can add finishes for benefits such as water resistance.

Berry Compliant Fabrics From HLC Industries

At HLC Industries, Inc., we guarantee that our fabrics are domestically produced and compliant with the Berry Amendment. We offer Mil-Spec compliance and high-quality fabric solutions, along with fabric finishing services to help customize materials to your specifications. Our company is an ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturer of 1.1-ounce to 12.0-ounce weights of nylon woven fabrics. If you’re in need of Berry Compliant fabrics or are looking to buy our American-made products, contact us today or request a quote to start your order.