Types of Technical Fabrics

  • May 15, 2019

Technical fabrics are materials that offer a specific function, such as water resistance, or UV (ultraviolet) protection. We aren’t talking about fabric for Paris Fashion Week, but fabric whose function is more important than how it looks.


What characteristics to look for in a technical fabric

In general, you want to look for fabrics that are light-weight, easy-care, breathable, pill-proof, and have great color-retention (color fastness). Color fastness means how well a fabric can resist fading or running. If you have ever washed different color clothes together only to find your new red blouse has turned the rest of your clothes a slight pink tinge—this is color fastness.


Types of Fabrics

Ultraviolet protection fabric (UPF fabrics) protects you from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. UPF fabrics have a rating to help determine the level of protection you need. Generally, a fabric with a UPF rating of 15/20 is labeled ‘good’, a fabric rated 25/30/35 is ‘very good’, and a rating of 40/45/50/50+ is excellent. This is determined by the percentage of effective UV transmission (EUV). Good is 6.7-4.2, Very Good is 4.1-2.6 and Excellent is less than 2.5 percent.


Performance fabrics describe a type of fabric where there are a wide variety of uses and how well the fabric performs. You will see these fabrics used for active wear, military wear, mountain, hiking and trekking activities, on the job protection and many more uses.


Moisture wicking fabric pulls moisture away from the body to the outside layer of the garment. This allows the moisture to evaporate quickly and easily. Such fabrics include:

  • Polyester
  • Polypropylene
  • Wool
  • Nylon
  • Spandex
  • Bamboo

As you can see from the list, most of these fabrics are synthetic. These fabrics resist the penetration of water. Wool and Bamboo are natural fabrics, which have some natural wicking properties, but are not as effective as synthetic fabrics.

close up of rain pooling on fabric

Characteristics of Synthetic Fabrics

Lets take a look at good ole’ polyester. Polyester is a common fabric with many good qualities: lightweight, breathable, non-absorbent, repels UV rays, and resists wrinkles. The big drawback is that it can smell by harboring bacteria.


Bamboo is really considered synthetic due to the way it is processed. Bamboo has many of the characteristics as polyester, without the smell. Bonus—it is UV protective!

Spandex is synonymous with work-out wear and the 80s. It can expand to over 500% of its original size, and THEN can pop back to its original shape. Breathable and moisture wicking—the perfect fabric for active lifestyles.


If you want a fabric that is made from plastic and water resistant, choose a garment made from polypropylene. This fabric forces moisture through its fibers to the surface of the garment, where it evaporates.


You probably associate Nylon with women’s stockings. This fabric is very soft and dries really quick. It is much stronger in garment form than when used as stockings!


These fabrics are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Additionally, there are many company engineered and patented performance fabrics out there, such as PolarTec, Gore, TransDRY, Adidas Performance Tech, and many others.


Rely on the experts at JQ Designs to choose the best fabric for your end use, and then customize it with your company logo. Contact us today at 847/742-4880!