How Important is UV Resistance?

UV Resistance

At Acadian Industrial Textiles, we are proud to be a source of knowledge and information to help our customers find the right products for their customers.

In this article, we’ll talk a little bit about the importance of UV resistance for textiles.

What is UV resistance?

UV rays can cause significant damage to fabric fibers by breaking down polymer chains. A fabric’s ability to resist this damage is an especially important factor to consider when selecting a fabric for high UV applications in higher UV latitudes, such as cattle shade in the southern US.

The level of UV resistance of a fabric is determined first and foremost by the native material’s inherent resistance to UV radiation, and then by added UV inhibitors. For example, base nylon has good UV resistance. If UV stabilizers are added, its UV characteristics improve even more.

Let’s get technical

UV inhibitor additives and overall yarn thickness are the two most influential factors that determine a fabric’s UV resistance. Because UV radiation oxidizes the material, the more material that is present (i.e. thicker yarns), then the longer it will be before oxidation destroys the material.

In addition to UV inhibitors and yarn thickness, the following properties can influence a fabric’s UV resistance to a lesser degree:

  • Basis weight: The heavier the weight of a fabric, the greater barrier it has to UV penetration.
  • Weave: A closed weave provides a higher resistance to UV rays.
  • Stretch: The more a fabric stretches, the more it wears down and becomes vulnerable to UV radiation.
  • Color: Darker colors typically absorb more radiation than lighter colors. The composition of dye can also have an effect on UV resistance.

How are UV inhibitors used?

UV inhibitors can be added as finishing treatments – resistant particles can be applied to fabric in order to increase its UV resistance. The coating reflects, absorbs or scatters the radiation, helping to protect the fabric.

Additionally, synthetic fibers can be modified to include UV inhibitors in the material when the yarns are extruded during production.

Most fabric that is used outdoors is either a material that has a naturally high UV resistance, such as nylon, or it has UV inhibitors added. For example, in Polypropylene (PP) and HDPE, carbon black is a very common UV inhibitor. This works well for black fabric. If colored fabrics are needed, hindered amine light stabilizers are typically added instead of carbon black.

How long will my fabric last?

Most monofilament agricultural shade is warranted for 5+ years and will last many more years, depending on the latitude and the overall climate.

What if I need additional information?

That’s what we’re here for. If you ever have questions about how to choose the right fabric for a customer, or how to navigate and interpret various technical specifications, we are more than happy to help.