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Martindale Test: Purpose, Types of Materials Tested, and Standards Used

Xomety X
Written by
Team Xometry
 8 min read
Edited June 1, 2024
Durable fabric. Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/Oleksandr Berezko

The Martindale test is a method used to evaluate a material’s durability and abrasion, wear, and resistance. It involves a rotating disk with an abrasive material like sandpaper, a wire mesh, or worsted wool on it. The abradant is used on the surface of the material being tested in a figure-eight motion. The amount of cycles before visible wear occurs indicates the fabric’s wear resistance or durability.

This article goes into more detail about the Martindale test, its purpose, the materials that are tested, and the standards that apply to this test. 

What Is the Martindale Test?

The Martindale test is a method used to measure the durability and abrasion resistance of textiles. This test simulates natural wear and tear by rubbing the textile sample against a standard abrasive material under controlled conditions. The process involves subjecting the fabric to a specific number of rubs or cycles, after which the material is evaluated for signs of wear, damage, and pilling (formation of small, fuzzy balls on the surface).

What Are the Features of the Martindale Test?

The Martindale test has several key features, including:

  1. The test replicates the wear and tear that fabrics undergo in everyday use by rubbing the material against an abrasive surface. This helps predict how the fabric will perform in real-world conditions.
  2. The number of cycles (rubs) can be adjusted to suit different testing requirements. Fabrics can be tested for varying levels of durability, from light to heavy use.
  3. The test assesses both the fabric's resistance to pilling (formation of small balls on the surface) and abrasion (wear leading to thinning or holes).
  4. The Martindale test is suitable for a wide range of fabric types, including: woven, knitted, coated, and non-woven textiles. 
  5. Results from the Martindale test allow for the comparison of different fabrics in terms of their durability and resistance to wear. This information is valuable for manufacturers in product development and for consumers in making informed purchasing decisions.
  6. The Martindale test is widely recognized and complies with international and national standards.

When Was the Martindale Tester First Introduced?

The Martindale tester was first introduced in 1942. This testing instrument, designed by Dr. James Graham Martindale while working at the Wool Industries Research Association (WIRA), was developed to test the wearing properties of carbon-impregnated fabric, a textile intended for protection against gas attacks during World War 2. The first Martindale abrasion tester was constructed by Stanley Dilworth, the head of the WIRA workshop.

What Is the Purpose of the Martindale Tester?

The main purpose of a Martindale tester is to test for fabric pilling and the abrasion resistance of textiles. This means that it is used to test the durability of fabrics, so users can make informed purchasing decisions. 

How Do You Read Martindale Test Results?

A Martindale test machine uses sandpaper, worsted wool, or a wire mesh disk to controllably abrade the fabric’s surface. The Martindale test score indicates how durable the fabric is. The higher the score the more resistant the fabric will be to abrasion. The score is determined by the number of cycles the sandpaper, worsted wool, or wire mesh disk makes by rubbing the surface of the fabric before there is any indication of wear.

The rub score numbers mean the following: 

  1. 10,000 Rub Score: Fabrics with a rub score of up to 10,000 are considered suitable for decorative purposes, such as scatter cushions or accents. These fabrics are light and can be easily damaged, hence are not recommended for heavy usage.
  2. 10,000–20,000 Rub Score: Fabrics within this range of 10,000 to 20,000 rubs are appropriate for light domestic furnishings. This includes items like: curtains, cushions, blinds, and furniture that receives light, and occasional use, such as dining chairs and bedroom furniture.
  3. 20,000–30,000 Rub Score: Fabrics with a Martindale rub count between 20,000 and 30,000 are suitable for general domestic use. This category is ideal for chairs and sofas in a living room, being durable enough for regular use but not for furniture that experiences specific stress, like a recliner chair, or for commercial settings.
  4. 30,000 or More: Fabrics with a rub test score of 30,000 or more are designed for use in commercial settings, such as furniture in restaurants and hotels. Some fabrics may have Martindale scores as high as 100,000, making them extremely durable for both home and commercial environments.

What Type of Materials Are Tested With a Martindale Tester?

A Martindale tester can be used to test the following materials:

  1. Wide variety of textiles 
  2. Wood
  3. Leather
  4. Paper
  5. Carpets
  6. Coated upholstery

What Are the Benefits of Martindale Testing?

The benefits associated with Martindale testing are as follows:

  1. For quality control.
  2. Used to measure a fabric's durability. 
  3. Assists consumers and designers in making informed choices about fabric selection based on wear resistance.
  4. Allows for consistency and comparability of results across different fabrics and manufacturers.

What Are the Challenges With the Martindale Test?

The Martindale test has its challenges. Some of these are:

  1. Although the test simulates wear and tear, it may not perfectly replicate all real-world conditions and stresses fabrics might encounter.
  2. Slight variations in test conditions, like pressure and abrasion materials, can lead to different results, affecting consistency.
  3. Can be time-consuming, especially for fabrics requiring a high number of cycles to show wear.
  4. While effective for assessing abrasion resistance, it does not measure other important fabric characteristics like: colorfastness, stretch, or moisture absorption.

How Different Is the Wyzenbeek Test From the Martindale Test?

The Wyzenbeek and Martindale tests are both abrasion or rub tests used to predict the durability of upholstery fabrics, but they differ significantly in their methods and the properties they test. The Wyzenbeek test makes use of a linear motion, rubbing fabric samples along the warp and weft directions using a standard fabric as the abradant. It measures durability by counting double rub cycles until two yarn breaks or noticeable wear occurs. In contrast, the Martindale test uses a figure-eight motion with worsted wool cloth, sandpaper, or a wire mesh as the abradant. This test counts the number of cycles until the fabric shows a significant change in appearance, such as: yarn breaks, pilling, or holes. While Wyzenbeek separates tests for warp and weft, Martindale's figure-eight motion is non-directional. 

What Are the Technical Requirements of Martindale Testing?

The technical requirements of Martindale Testing include:

  1. Test Specimens: Properly prepared fabric samples of specific dimensions.
  2. Abradant Material: Standard abradant materials, typically worsted wool, sandpaper, or a wire mesh.
  3. Pressure: A defined weight is applied to the test specimen for consistent pressure.
  4. Motion: The tester uses a Lissajous figure-eight motion for abrasion.
  5. Number of Cycles: The test runs for a predetermined number of cycles or until wear is observed.
  6. Calibration and Maintenance: Regular calibration and maintenance of the Martindale machine for accurate results.

What Standards Does the Martindale Test Follow?

Some of the key standards that Martindale tests follow include:

  1. ISO 12947: This is an international standard published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), which specifies the method for determining the abrasion resistance of fabrics using the Martindale method.
  2. ASTM D4966: Published by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), this standard outlines the procedure for conducting the Martindale abrasion test, primarily used in the United States.

Is a 40,000 Rubs Martindale Test Result Good?

Yes, in general, if a fabric scores around 40,000 on the Martindale scale, the fabric is considered to be both hard-wearing and durable. 

Does Kevlar® Fabric Use the Martindale Abrasion Test?

Yes, Kevlar® fabric can be tested using the Martindale abrasion test to evaluate its abrasion resistance and durability.

Summary

This article presented the Martindale test, explained it, and discussed its purpose and the types of materials tested. To learn more about the Martindale test, contact a Xometry representative.

Xometry provides a wide range of manufacturing capabilities and other value-added services for all of your prototyping and production needs. Visit our website to learn more or to request a free, no-obligation quote.

  1. Kevlar® is a registered trademark of the DuPont de Nemours Company  

Disclaimer

The content appearing on this webpage is for informational purposes only. Xometry makes no representation or warranty of any kind, be it expressed or implied, as to the accuracy, completeness, or validity of the information. Any performance parameters, geometric tolerances, specific design features, quality and types of materials, or processes should not be inferred to represent what will be delivered by third-party suppliers or manufacturers through Xometry’s network. Buyers seeking quotes for parts are responsible for defining the specific requirements for those parts. Please refer to our terms and conditions for more information.

Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.

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