College of Social and Behavioral Sciences


Textile and Apparel Product Development and Materials Analysis Laboratory


Purpose of Materials Analysis Laboratory
  • Equip the UNI Textiles and Apparel Program with the capacity to test textile materials across the major dimensions of physical properties known through research and experience to be predictors of performance.
  • Make available for UNI TAPP majors a laboratory where they can develop technical expertise in the physical analysis of textile materials.
  • Create an environment supportive to the research interests of both students and faculty.
  • Use the special capabilities of the laboratory to build meaningful relationships with textile and apparel companies for the express purpose of developing the skills and capacities of UNI TAPP majors.

Contact: Dr. Annette Lynch   Phone: 319 273-2358

  • The funding for this laboratory was derived from a grant awarded by the National Science Foundation and matching funds from the University of Northern Iowa.  The grant awarded was under the aegis of the NSF's Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement Program (CCLI).
  • The grant was the combined effort of the TAPP faculty and represents the culmination of several years of work. View a summary regarding the impact of the new laboratory.
  • The analytical equipment in the laboratory falls under several different categories:
    • Durability Analysis
    • Color and Colorfastness Analysis
    • Safety and Comfort Analysis
    • Optical Analysis
  • Given below are descriptions and images of the various devices available in the Product Development and Materials Analysis Laboratory.

Laboratory Facilities

Durability Analysis

Durability testing evaluates fibers, yarns, or fabrics under conditions that are assumed to measure its permanence by virtue of the power of the material to resist stress or force. The procedures typically subject the material to stress of some kind, and measures the amount of force at which a material fails. The procedures focus on the physical-mechanical aspects of materials. Results reflect the amount of force the material experienced at failure. Durability testing is often used to determine whether a material is acceptable to a buyer. Most common are measures of strength and abrasion resistance.

The UT350/10L Micro-standard Universal (tensile) Testing Machine is used to determine tensile properties of fibers, yarns, and fabrics. The tensile tester is equipped with a dedicated computer to run data recording and analysis software. Typical tests performed by students include fabric tensile tests and fabric tear tests. View the fabric tensile test data and the fabric tear test data.

Universal Tester

The Martindale Abrasion tester is used to assess the response to abrasion of textile structures. Samples are rubbed against known abradants at low pressures in continuously variable directions and the amount of abrasion or pilling over time is ascertained. This particular abrasion tester (unlike any other) has a hosiery attachment that makes is suitable to test sock abrasion. Martindale Abrasion tester

The Atlas Random Tumble Pilling Tester is used to determine the pilling and fuzzing characteristics of textile fabrics. Pilling Tester

Color and Colorfastness Analysis

Color measurement is the process of assigning numerical values to a color so that it can be assigned a specific location in three-dimensional space.  A common method for measuring color uses a spectrophotometer specially designed for the purpose. Color management software will permit, for quality assurance purposes, color matching for color reproduction, and shade sorting, which is the physical grouping of materials by color. Colorfastness tests focus on the resistance of a material to change in any of its color characteristics, which is a major consumer expectation.

A Spectrophotometer and Color Management Software is used to perform basic fabric color analysis, including color classification, color matching and shade sorting. The spectrophotometer has a dedicated computer to run data recording and analysis software. Allows us to conform AATCC EP 6 for instrumental measurement of colored textile materials. SF 300

The Atlas LEF Low Temperature Launder-Ometer is used to determine color fastness to washing or dry cleaning using an accelerated method. Fabric samples are placed in canisters with a detergent or solution and steel balls to provide agitation. Samples are then evaluated for color change. This device can also be used to simulate industrial dyeing procedures.


The Atlas S3000 Weather-Ometer is a device for testing the lightfastness of textile materials, or how well dyed materials resist fading to light. It has internal humidity and temperature controls, as those variables interact with a dye's lightfastness. This tester is equipped with an air cooled xenon arc lamp, which is industry recognized as best emulating the energy pattern of sunlight.


The Perspirometer is used to determine colorfastness of textiles to water and perspiration. This device applies pressure to samples that have been wetted with a simulated perspiration solution, sea water, or plain water as its heated. Results are visually or instrumentally evaluated for color change.


The Electronic Crock Meter is used to determine the color fastness of textiles to dry or wet rubbing. This electronic crock meter will replace the department's outdated and damaged manual device. Crock Meter

A Color Matching Cabinet is used for the visual assessment of color under standard lighting conditions. AATCC Gray and Chromatic Scales are typically used in these cabinets. Light Cabinet

Safety and Comfort Analysis

Comfort and safety are product performance dimensions that have significant impact on consumer satisfaction. Measuring a material's reaction to conditions of use provides information that can be used to predict product performance. Comfort includes physical, physiological, and psychological factors; it describes how materials interact with the human body. The relationship between comfort and materials can include how a material retains or conducts body or environmental heat, absorbs or repels moisture and feels next to the skin. Safety addresses the physical risks to which the user of a textile product is exposed. For the majority of textile products, the major safety issue is flammability.

The Sweating Guarded Hotplate System is used to measure the insulation value and evaporative resistance of fabric systems. This device will allow faculty and students to study the impact of fabric design and structure on the thermal properties of those materials. sweat hotplate

The Air Permeability Tester determines the resistance to the passage of air of woven, knitted and nonwoven textile materials. This property is of importance to clothing comfort, thermal, and wetness sensations of human wearers. Air Permeability Tester

The "Umist" Wettability Tester is used to determine the rate of spread of a liquid through all directions of a horizontally mounted fabric. The presence of moisture in fabric greatly affects clothing comfort sensations by human wearers. Wettability Tester

Flammability is evaluated by both the 45 Degree and the Vertical Flammability Testers. The 45 degree Tester is used to distinguish explosively flammable textile materials from others, whereas the Vertical Tester is a more stringent test for assessment of children's wear. Fabric flammability is a safety issue that is regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, consequently flammability testers are important elements of a comprehensive product development and physical analysis testing facility.

45 flammability Vertical Flammability

Here's some interior views of the Vertical Flame Tester:

FTMS Burner VFC Front



A Digital Thickness Tester is used to measure the gauge or thickness of a fabric which is directly correlated to fabric insulative properties, as well as a fabric's capacity to drape over a three dimensional form. The measure of fabric thickness is an essential element of a fabric's usefulness in product form. Thickness Digital Tester

Optical analysis
The lab is equipped with a Video Microscope System  for the micro-analysis of textile materials. Study of fiber morphology, yarn and fabric physical structure are essential for an effective product development process, since the physical properties of those materials affect the consumer behavior of finished products. The system permits analysis of product defectiveness, which will be useful in quality assurance aspects of the curriculum. This system will also project an image on a computer screen for purposes of student-group analysis projects, and will permit archiving of images in electronic format for effective dissemination. Video Microscope

A new precision microtome is available to produce fiber cross sections of varying thickness for microscopic examination and identification. This device is used to improve the understanding of fiber structure, which is an important element of a textile material's physical properties.


Laboratory Location

The laboratory which is located in Room 230 Latham Hall, was renovated, including clearing of one end for the installation of an environmentally controlled temperature and humidity chamber.  

Latham 230 Enviro Chamber
Old Image of Latham 230 Before Renovation Image of New CTH Chamber

The material shown on this webpage is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9952283. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.