One of the most valuable raw materials for garment manufacturing is, without any doubt, "fabric"! Instead of depending on the supplier's word, it is often best to ensure that the quality of the fabric is at the grade you are paying for! Let's start with the basics – what is fabric inspection and grading?
Fabric inspection is nothing but examining the fabric visually for any defects or issues that can potentially ruin the quality of the final output. The main reason why grading fabric is crucial in common factories is that if any defects are found in the last stage rather than the start, this will cost money and time and ruin their relationships with our customers if laid off. Mostly, inspection and grading of fabric are followed in almost all the factories by sampling some of the roles in the entire fabric. If the fabric passes all the tests, the rest of the rules are then visually checked by spreading it on a cutting table. Most of the time, these fabrics are inspected after cutting to ensure maximum quality.
But for ideal inspection, the fabrics should be inspected before spreading through a fabric inspection machine for lesser costs and better visibility of any defects. Once the fabric has been inspected, any defects are labelled, so the fabric needed is cut around these defects. This process will also help us know the width of the fabric roll. Based on this, the fabric grouping can be done effectively to ensure that it is used optimally by lay division and marker making.
There are many grading systems and inspection methods that can maximise the probability of high-quality first-grade fabrics. Let's get into the process and purpose of grading fabric and inspection for a better understanding.
What is the main reason for fabric inspection?
The main reason for inspecting fabric is to prevent any unexpected loss or rejection in the final manufacturing stages. Fabric inspection involves inspecting the colour, construction of the fabric, shading, length, width, feel of the fabric, appearance and print defects. By doing so, the result ensures quality and timely delivery of fabrics and apparel. In most cases, common manufacturers solely depend on their suppliers to deliver good graded fabric and produce quality garments. In case the quality isn't ensured properly by the supplier, this can hinder the quality of the final product by the manufacturer.
Process of grading fabric and inspection
The ideal process for checking the quality of the fabric is inspecting it before the cutting process. The fabric is mapped, inspected and marked for any defects because:
Instead of checking manually, using a fabric grading or inspection machine reduces time, offers better visibility and saves energy. The most popular fabrics grading systems in the textile industry are:
Out of all four, the four-point system is one of the most widely used fabrics grading and inspection systems used in the garment industry.
Four point system
This inspection method is done following the standard test methods for grading fabrics visually. Every defect is identified at a clear distance of 36 inches and is marked instantly. Each defect has a negative point, which is detected, thereby lowering the grading of the fabric. To use the system properly, the inspector should know the following features:
How do classify the defect in the four-point system?
There are four negative points in the system according to the quality, size, and nature of the defect found. The defect can be noticed either by measuring the weight or length of the fabric. There are no penalty points for minor defects, and only the major errors are noted. Each time the error is noticed in the fabric roll, the defect should be noted under four points depending on how bad the defect is. Here's a table for a better understanding:
|Inches ( length/ width)||MM||Points|
|From 0 to 3 inches||Up to 75 MM||One point|
|From 3.1 to 6 inches||75 MM to 150 MM||Two point|
|From 6.1 to 9 inches||150 MM to 230 MM||Three point|
|More than 9 inches||More than 230 MM||Four point|
Most textile and apparel industry people consider that 40 points per hundred square yards are acceptable. According to the standards, each manufacturer from textile mills or apparel brands has its acceptable points. Most suppliers grade the fabrics based on first and second quality instead of considering the fabric has passed or failed the acceptance level. International buyers would specify their standards in some cases, stating that any defect for more than 4 yards will not be accepted.
In the case of denim/cotton fabric, 28 points per hundred square yards are acceptable in a single roll of fabric.
In the case of synthetic fabrics 20 points per hundred square yards are acceptable in a single roll of fabric.
In the case of grading wool, The spinning count system is used. In this procedure, one roll of clean wool is spun on the equipment, and as the wool becomes thinner, the number of yarns that the machine can spin will be considered the spinning count. For instance, one roll of clean wool produces a thousand feet of yarn, and the higher the count, the higher the grading.
Every defect is recorded in a check sheet, which includes the general details, sizes of the defect, nature of the defect, details of the fabric, penalty points, the number of fabrics inspected etc.
General procedures to follow while grading fabric.
Certain qualities such as length, finance, appearance, colour, and length determine the fabric's quality and value. The fabric grade determines whether it can be used for apparel, textiles or any other use. One of the most common methods used to evaluate fabric grade is the four-point system. Here the defects are calculated by using four points and graded accordingly.
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