Textiles in transportation are classed as technical because of the very high performance specifications and special properties required. Seat coverings, for example, are not easily removable for cleaning and indeed in automobiles they are fixed in place and must last the lifetime of the car without ever being put in a washing machine. In trains, aircraft and passenger vessels they are exposed to much more rigorous use than domestic furniture. In addition they have to withstand much higher exposure to daylight and damaging ultraviolet radiation (UV) and because they are for public use they must satisfy stringent safety requirements such as flame retardancy.
Fiber Requirements in Transportation Textile:
For seat coverings the main technical requirements are resistance to sunlight (both colour fading and fabric degradation by UV), abrasion resistance 1.5 and, for public transport vehicles, reduced flammability. Seats frequently get damp from contact with wet clothing and, in the case of seats in public transport, subject to abuse by vandals and other irresponsible individuals. The fabrics need to be resistant to mildew, hard wearing and strong with high tear strength. Soil resistance and easy cleanability are also necessary. Composite materials are widely used transportation textile.
Resistance to Sunlight and UV Degradation:
Resistance to sunlight is perhaps the most important property a fabric must have. Choice of the wrong fabric can lead to breakdown of the seat cover within weeks, depending on the intensity and spectral distribution of the sunlight. Spectral distribution of sunlight varies with geographical location, cloud cover and even the time of day.
Seating fabric needs to be of the highest standard of abrasion resistance.Only polyester, nylon and polypropylene are generally acceptable, although wool is used in some more expensive vehicles because of its aesthetics and comfort.Wool has other specialist properties such as non-melting and reduced flammability which, as will be seen, make it suitable for aircraft seats. Fabric abrasion is influenced by yarn thickness, texture, cross-section and whether spun or continuous filament.
Reduced flammability testing has become much more sophisticated as the mechanisms of fire disasters and the causes of fatalities are analysed.Thus it is now important to test for toxicity of smoke generated and its effect on visibility as well as for ignitability and rate of propagation. Heat generated has also been identified as important and tests have been developed to measure this.Testing of whole assemblies such as seats is now carried out in addition to testing of the individual components.
Applications of Transportation Textiles:
- Upholstery, car interior, carpets
- Tires, car elements, filters,
- Heat, cable & sound insulation,
- Safety systems – airbags, seat belts
- Protective covers for land crafts, boats, aircrafts
- Sailcloth, inflatable boats
- Envelopes of balloons
- Special equipment for military vehicles,
- Usage in railway
Some of these textiles are visible while the others are concealed.
Visible components: upholstery, carpets, seat belts, headliners etc.
Concealed components: tyre cords, hoses, belts, airbags, air and fuel filters, noise and vibration dampening and body panel reinforcement in composites etc.