- Open Access
Facile fabrication and comparative exploration of high cut resistant woven and knitted composite fabrics using Kevlar and polyethylene
© The Author(s) 2018
- Received: 18 October 2017
- Accepted: 15 December 2017
- Published: 28 February 2018
Composite materials offer a number of distinct advantages in a wide range of low and high technology engineering applications. Considering the fact, in this study, a facile fabrication method of highly cut resistant composite fabrics using Kevlar and polyethylene is reported. 100% Kevlar, 100% Polyethylene and 50% Kevlar/50% Polyethylene composite fabrics are fabricated by weaving and knitting techniques. These fabrics were tested for cut index, abrasion, and puncture resistance for comparative exploration. Owing to higher mechanical strength and greater number of interlacements; the woven fabrics demonstrated twice cut resistance in contrast to knitted fabrics. The surface morphology of deformed samples investigated by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) also proved that the woven fabrics of all types offered much resistance towards cutting than the knitted fabrics. Moreover, it is found that greater thickness of fabrics leads to intensification of the cut resistance. Furthermore, the effect of fiber type on cut resistant property of the fabrics was also measured and it was found that the composite fabric exhibited double cut resistance than 100% Kevlar and 100% Polyethylene fabrics. The 50% Kevlar/50% Polyethylene composite woven fabric resisted up to 35 consecutive strokes of sharp steel cutter whereas the knitted fabric completely torn apart at 20 strokes only. Thus, the as synthesized 50% Kevlar/50% Polyethylene composite woven fabric exhibiting superior cut resistance property offer a judicious choice for the preparation of efficient cut resistant fabric for industrial and domestic applications.
- Cut resistance
- Composite fabric
- Protective fabrics
Several sports, domestic, and workplace activities put personnel at a danger of injuries to their arms, hands or fingers which might be harmful superficial cuts or deep lacerations. Although the injuries incurred during domestic chores are not given much attention, whereas wounds instigated at industries (Ceballos et al. 2014; van Holland et al. 2015), sports, like snowboarding, skiing etc. (Loyd et al. 2015) and medical centers (Fritzsche et al. 2012) have attracted a great deal of researchers.
The conventional protective clothing based on metallic wires, ceramics, rubber or leather were thick, bulky and rigid (Chediak et al. 1998; Stansbury 1980); thus reducing both dexterity and grip of the wearer. In spite of the fact that metallic wires absorb the impact energy and diminish the sharpness of blade, it has a detrimental effect on the comfort level of the wearer.
In present scenario, the protective clothing’s are mostly based on high performance fibers. Special organic fibers such as para aramids, carbon, high molecular weight polyethylene (HMWPE) and inorganic fibers like glass are used for such purpose (LaBarre et al. 2015). To better comprehend the effect of material on the cut resistance behavior, Shin et al. (2003, 2006) and Mayo et al. (2014) characterized the cut resistance behavior of high performance multifilament yarns and single fibers. Mayo et al. reported different cut resistance behavior of organic and inorganic fibers due to their isotropic and anisotropic structure of fibers. They also highlighted the cut resistance dependency on various factors like blade sharpness, slice angle and pre-tension in the yarn. Among the various high strength polymer fibers, Kevlar and polyethylene are widely used for the manufacturing of protective materials. Kevlar is a highly crystalline poly-aramid fiber with exceptionally high strength (Lim et al. 2011) and remarkable thermal stability, widely used in stress bearing applications such as bullet proof body armor (Colakoglu et al. 2007; Jia et al. 2013), shielding for sports equipment, and fiber reinforced polymer composites in the aerospace industry. On the other hand, polyethylene (PE) is one of the most versatile and widely used thermoplastics in the world because of its toughness, near zero moisture absorption, excellent chemical inertness, low coefficient of friction, ease of processing and unusual electrical properties (Cwik et al. 2016; Golovin and Phoenix 2016; Huang et al. 2007; O’Masta et al. 2015).
Apart from material selection, researchers have found significant results by exploring the structure of fabric in different applications (Carvalho et al. 2015; Rebouillat et al. 2010; Wang et al. 2010). Background study reveals that the cut resistant fabrics were more often fabricated in knitted structures owing to the advantage of low weight, greater flexibility and wide area protection of the knitted products (Fangueiro et al. 2015). Single layered knitted fabrics provide insufficient cut resistance, which emerged the idea of stacking multiple layers. However, these concepts significantly increased weight and reduced breathability. Attempts for enhancement of cut and stab resistance was further continued by familiarizing shear thickening fluids (Decker et al. 2007; Sun et al. 2013), plasma treatments (Wu 2004) and thermoplastics (Mayo et al. 2009); however researchers found that these impeded the windowing property and significantly reduced materials flexibility (Mayo et al. 2009).
Very few researchers have come forward and carried out research using woven fabrics in the case of cut resistant fabrics specifically, despite the fact that they possess superior mechanical properties in both in-plane and transverse directions compared to knitted fabrics. It has been reported that woven fabrics based on high strength and high modulus fibers with dense structures have the advantage of shear resistance (Tien et al. 2010). Also due to interlacement of tows or yarns, woven fabrics offer high resistance to damage, superior energy absorption (Karahan et al. 2008) and remarkably high values of strain at failure in tension, and loadings (Chou and Ko 1989; Dixit and Mali 2013). With the rapid advancement in the field of textiles, woven fabrics can be fabricated to near knit shape, which could exhibit high degree of flexibility. Therefore, in the present study the comparison of cut resistance behavior of high performance knitted and woven fabrics are analyzed. 100% Kevlar, 100% PE and 50% PE/50% Kevlar composite knitted and woven fabrics were produced on electronic flat knitting machine and shuttle loom, respectively and the cut resistance behavior is clearly highlighted with a comparative analysis between knitted and woven fabrics.
High performance filament yarns of Kevlar and Polyethylene were used to produce knitted and woven fabric for a comparative study of their cut resistance behavior. DuPont Kevlar filaments (K-29) of 1000 denier with 90 GPa modulus and 3.0 GPa tenacity and Polyethylene filaments (SK60) with a molecular weight of 2 × 106, 400 deniers, 75 GPa modulus and 2.8 GPa tenacity. These filaments were purchased from a local supplier, Technical Textiles, Sialkot, Pakistan.
Specifications of knitted samples plain knit
Specifications of woven samples plain weave
The surface deformation of cut Kevlar and polyethylene filaments was characterized by field emission-scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM, JEOL JSM-6700F) with a very thin coating of Platinum at accelerating voltage of 15 kV. Blade cut resistance test was performed on SATRA STM 611 Circular blade cut resistance tester. This test was performed in longitudinal and transverse direction with 5 N load. For each direction, an average of five readings was taken. Five different knitted and woven cut resistant fabric samples made of Kevlar, Polyethylene and Kevlar/PE were chosen and tested for cut resistance as per BS EN 388. In the BS EN 388 test method the cut resistance is demonstrated in terms of cut index value. Cut index is defined as the ratio of number of cycles of a circular blade required to cut through the sample to the mean cycles required to cut through a reference cotton fabric (Standard 2003). Abrasion resistance was performed on Martindale Abrasion Tester M235. Pressure of 9 kPa was applied on the specimen. Four samples of each specimen were tested, and an average value was reported. Testomeric M250 3CT was used to analyze the puncture resistance. Circular specimens with a minimum of 40 mm diameter were prepared. An average of four readings was recorded with 100 mm/min stylus speed.
Comparative analysis of cut resistance
Comparative analysis of abrasion resistance
With respect to its structure, abrasion resistance also depends on the fabric geometry (Abdullah et al. 2006) and co-efficient of friction (Manich et al. 2001). Significant difference is not seen as illustrated in Fig. 10, in abrasion resistance of knitted and woven samples. Slight difference may be accredited to the elasticity in knitted samples and comparatively greater GSM than the woven samples.
Comparative analysis of puncture resistance
Knitted and woven cut resistant fabrics were fabricated indigenously from Kevlar and Polyethylene, and a 50/50% composite of them in order to compare their cut resistant properties. The cut index, abrasion resistance, and puncture resistance properties were measured for comparative analysis. It is concluded that the woven fabric possess better cut resistance property compared to the knitted fabric of same gauge. Composite woven samples (Kevlar/PE) show highest cut resistance index compared to both pure Kevlar and PE. Moreover, it is seen that cut resistance depends on the thickness of fabric. By increasing the thickness of the fabric, the cut resistance property was increased. In view of the superior cut resistance behavior of woven composite fabric, it can be considered as the substantial choice for the sportswear, industrial and domestic applications.
AAM, MHP and SHJ designed, planned and carried out the work. Moreover, they have also done the data analysis, interpretation and presentation part. IAS finalized the final draft. SA contributed in the data analysis of some test results. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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