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Textile tests in relation to acoustic properties, fire safety and possible harmful substances

6/10/2014


Testing verifies the safety of textile products for authorities, approvals, consumer safety and marketing.

Interior textiles improve acoustics


Interior textiles and decorative textile elements that are placed on hard surfaces such as concrete walls, can reduce echo and noise, in particular high-frequency noise.

"Their ability to absorb high-pitched sound makes it easier to follow and understand speeches and discussions in the room. Due to the limited thickness of textiles, their quality to absorb low sounds is limited. Their sound-absorption capability mostly depends on the relation of their surface to the surface area of the hard surfaces as well as their ability to absorb sound," says Product Manager Pekka Sipari from VTT Expert Services Ltd.

"We measure the sound absorption ability of textiles, tapestries and other such materials in laboratory conditions. For example architects use these results to facilitate the planning of acoustic qualities of public facilities."

Identify harmful substances


"We use tests such as chemical analyses to identify harmful substances in textiles. Textile safety is verified by, for example, verifying their quality in terms of hygiene, as well as by identifying the chemical substances used in textiles and emissions thereof," says Product Manager Helena Järnström from VTT Expert Services.

Examples of testing of harmful substances include the following:


  • ​Testing the hygienic quality of textiles (e.g. textiles used in hospitals); 

  • Chemical safety of textiles (e.g. use of antimicrobials, formaldehyde); 

  • ​Identification of emissions from furniture and indoor textiles; 

Fire safety requirements for textiles vary depending on where they are used.


In Finland, any mattresses, mattress protectors or upholstered seats sold to consumer must not ignite from a cigarette, i.e., be at minimum classified at class SL2 (ordinarily ignitable). There are no fire safety requirements for other domestic decoration elements.

The fire safety of textiles and interior furnishings in public spaces is usually assessed during fire inspections. The fire safety of both surface materials and furnishings must be addressed when choosing products. If shortcomings are identified during the inspection, the inspector can issue recommendations or requirements for the safety of furnishings.

Separate fire safety regulations apply to interior textiles of vehicles, such as boats, buses, trains and air planes.

Textile fire testing in practice


"We test, for example, the inflammability and flame spreading characteristics of fabrics used to manufacture items such as curtains and apparels, as well as the fire safety of mattresses, sheets, upholstered furniture and different furnishings and decorative items. Our equipment meets the requirements of international fire testing standards and can be used to verify the fire safety of interior design and textile products in terms of regulations, rules, guidelines or classifications, " says Product Manager Tiia Ryynänen from VTT Expert Services Ltd.

"Our laboratories also carry out fire safety testing of interior design and textile products for ships according to international IMO methods as well as type-approval testing for materials used in buses."

Examples of textile fire testing and classification


  • Upholstered furniture: EN 1021-1 and 2, IMO 2010 FTPC Part 8 

  • Upholstered beds and mattresses: EN 597-1 and 2, IMO 2010 FTPC Part 9, EN ISO 12952-1 and 2, EN 14533 

  • Curtains, drapes, textile membranes and tents: EN 1101, EN 1102, EN 13773 and IMO 2010 FTPC Part 7 

  • Vehicle interiors: ECE regulation no. 118 on the burning behaviour of the components used in the interior compartment of buses Annexes 6, 7 and 8, FMVSS 302, ISO 3795, DIN 75200 

  • Fabrics for apparel: EN 1103 

  • Children's nightwear: EN 14878 

  • Sleeping bags: SFS 5431

​More information:


Acoustic properties:  Pekka Sipari, tuotepäällikkö, 020 722 4849, pekka.sipari@vtt.fi
Fire safety:  Tiia Ryynänen, tuotepäällikkö, 020 722 4827, tiia.ryynanen@vtt.fi
Harmful substances: Helena Järnström, tuotepäällikkö, 020 722 6123, helena.jarnstrom@vtt.fi​

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