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Overview of Moisture Permeability and Breathability Testing in Performance Textiles

The performance textiles market has seen rapid growth, driven by the demand for multifunctional fabrics in sportswear, outdoor clothing, and even medical and home textiles. 

Commonly, how breathable is a fabric is determined by how quickly it dries up the swat and passes air through it. In summer, sports or outdoor clothing, uniforms, or clothes to be worn in harsh weather, breathability is a thumb rule for customers. 

The fabrics are engineered to enhance functionality through various methods such as fiber selection, chemical treatments, and different production stages including dyeing, coating, and lamination. 

Among the key performance features of these performance textiles, moisture permeability and breathability are important for ensuring comfort and functionality, particularly in active and outdoor settings.

What are performance textiles?

Performance textiles are specially engineered fabrics designed to meet specific functional requirements. These textiles are integral to a wide range of applications, including:

  • Outdoor clothing: such as mountaineering jackets and gear

  • Sportswear: including swimwear and gym attire
  • Accessories: like leggings and socks
  • Medical textiles: including masks and gowns
  • Home textiles: such as pillowcases and bed linens

The concept of Water Vapor Permeability / Breathability:

These two concepts are essentially the same and both refer to moisture permeability.

Breathability comes from the description of outdoor functional fabrics, waterproof and breathable (Waterproof and Breathable), breathable at home and abroad in the public information of fabric manufacturers are used (g/m2/24hour) that is, the weight of water vapour per unit of area through the 24 hours to express this description and the functional fabrics in the actual use of the requirements are matched, the main requirements of outdoor sports at the same time as waterproof. Outdoor sports mainly require waterproof at the same time, the sweat can be quickly discharged, to avoid producing a stuffy feeling.

Note that the description of the breathability (Breathabil) and our conventional air permeability (air permeability) test data unit mm / s is different, the main test of air permeability is air, not water vapour, so waterproof and breathable in the air permeability refers to moisture permeability that is, water vapour transmission rate.

Take the breathability parameters of different specifications of well-known Gore-Tex fabrics as an example, it can also be proved (waterproof, breathable (water vapour permeability), windproof, long life is the Gore-Tex official website on the introduction of fabric features):Gore-Tex Breathability Rating

All Gore-Tex fabrics have a waterproof rating of 28,000 mm which is significantly higher than almost all other materials.The breathability of the different variations of Gore-Tex does differ slightly as you can see below.

  • Gore-Tex Pro 2-Layer-25,000(g/m2/24 hours)
  • Gore-Tex Pro 3-Layer-25,000(g/m2/24 hours)
  • Gore-Tex Performance Shell-17,000(g/m2/24 hours)
  • Gore-Tex Paclite-15,000(g/m2/24 hours)

Breathability Vs. Permeability

Breathability: Breathability refers to a fabric’s ability to allow moisture vapor (such as sweat) to pass through it. This is crucial in activewear and outdoor clothing because it helps keep the wearer dry and comfortable by letting sweat evaporate and escape from the body. The breathability of a fabric is typically measured in grams per square meter per 24 hours (g/m²/24h), indicating how much water vapor can pass through a square meter of fabric in a day.

Permeability: Permeability, in the context of textiles, often refers to two types: air permeability and water vapor permeability. Air permeability measures how well air can pass through a fabric, while water vapor permeability measures how well moisture vapor can pass through. For performance textiles, water vapor permeability is the focus, as it directly impacts the breathability of the fabric.

So as a matter of fact, both breathability and permeability relate to a fabric’s ability to manage moisture, ensuring comfort and dryness during physical activities.

The importance of breathability in performance fabrics

Breathability/moisture permeability maximises the comfort and functionality of outdoor and sportswear.

As your body moves during outdoor activities, you will feel heat and sweat. If you choose a fabric fabric with poor breathability, sweat will not escape quickly and you will feel stuffy and uncomfortable. Fabric  with good breathability will evaporate sweat quickly and keep your body dry and comfortable.

Breathability/moisture permeability features have become a major consideration for customers when purchasing functional apparel and footwear. High breathability will undoubtedly maximise the comfort and functionality of outdoor and sportswear. For quantitative measurement, air permeability or water vapour permeability is used to express the breathability of textiles and footwear.

In addition to Gore-Tex ®️, some common high performance waterproof and breathable fabrics are

BHA’s eVent®️

Polartec’s Neoshell ®️

Toray Dermizax™ from Japan

The North Face (DryVent™);

Columbia Columbia (Omni-Tech™, OUTDRY™ EXTREME);

Mammut Mammoth (DRYtechnology™);

Marmot Groundhog (MemBrain® Eco);

Patagonia Patagonia (H2No);

Kailas Kailite (Filtertec);

Millet (DRYEDGE™) and more.

Below are some of the test standards for air/moisture permeability

ISO 15496:2018 Measurement of water vapour permeability of textiles for the purpose of quality controlTextiles Measurement of water vapour permeability of textiles for the purpose of quality control

GB/T 12704.1-2009 Textiles Test method for water vapour permeability of textiles Part 1: Moisture absorption method

GB/T 12704.2-2009 Textiles Test method for water vapour permeability of textiles Part 2: Evaporation method

BS 7209:1990(1998) Specification for Water vapour permeable apparel fabrics

JIS L1099 A-1 (CaCl2)

JIS L1099 A-2 (water)

BSI – BS 3424-34 Method for testing the water vapour permeability of coated fabrics Testing Coated Fabrics – Part 34: Method 37. Method for Determination of Water Vapour Permeability Index (WVPI)

BS 3546 Coated fabrics for use in the manufacture of water penetration resistant clothing

ASTM E96/E96M-22a Standard Test Methods for Gravimetric Determination of Water Vapor Transmission Rate of Materials

JIS L 1099 Standard Test Methods for Gravimetric Determination of Water Vapor Transmission Rate of Materials Testing methods for water vapour permeability of textiles

JIS L1099 B-1/B-2 (Potassium Acetate)

CNS 12222 Test Method for Moisture Permeability of Textiles Test Method for Moisture Permeability of Textiles

KS K 0594-2021 Test Method for Water Vapour Permeability of Textiles Test Method for Water Vapour Permeability of Textiles

Water Vapour Permeability Tester, also called Water Vapor Transmission Rate Tester (WVTR Tester) is to determine the water vapor permeability of various textile and garment fabrics, coating fabric, composite, sportswear, and industrial fabrics. This moisture vapor transmission rate tester complies with ASTM E96, GB/T 12704, JIS L1099, etc.

This Vapour permeability testing machine is also suitable for conducting the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate Test of medical protective clothing.  We are a professional Auto Water Vapour Permeability Tester supplier, please feel free to contact us for a competitive price of this WVTR Tester.

Conclusion

The breathability and moisture permeability of performance textiles are crucial for ensuring the comfort and functionality of sportswear and outdoor clothing. These characteristics are measured using standardized methods, and top-performing fabrics like Gore-Tex, eVent, and Neoshell set the benchmark for the industry. As the demand for multifunctional textiles continues to grow, the importance of these performance attributes remains a key consideration for manufacturers and consumers alike.

For more information on textile testing methods/standards
or textile testing machines, contact us:
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