Upholstery fabrics that cover cushions, chairs and sofas need to be able to cope with the everyday demands of customers. Repairing or replacing a product because of problems with the fabric can be very expensive – a cost that can be dramatically reduced by having a fabric properly tested before manufacturing begins.
The Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA) was established 60 years ago by the furniture industry, for the industry. As it stands today, FIRA International provides a wide range of independent expert services that are not only dedicated to the global furniture supply chain, but also to furniture consumers, and continues safeguarding the industry through managing the association's membership activity.
Part of the expertise the Stevenage-based business offers, is fabric testing. FIRA’s testing laboratory carries out tests to help ensure that upholstery fabrics can stand up to customers’ requirements, grading the fabric to indicate whether it is suitable, from light domestic to severe contract use. FIRA’s comprehensive range of tests help identify common problems with upholstery fabrics, including wearing out too quickly, excessive piling (bobbles), splitting seams, tearing easily, suffering from colour fading or colour transfer to other fabrics or carpets.
Steve Cotton, FIRA’s technical specialist for flammability and physical upholstery, says: “We test a fabric to British Standards for strength, abrasion and colour fastness, providing detailed information about its performance. This allows designers and manufacturers to make a judgement on the fabric before it is used.
Testing upholstery fabric is inexpensive, so I would recommend finding out about FIRA’s upholstery testing services to help avoid problems with your upholstery later down the line. If you don’t test the fabric, then you can be sure that your customers will.”
The FIRA testing laboratory provides a service for all types of furniture and related products for the domestic and contract markets. This includes flammability and fibre performance tests on fabrics and foams, performance tests on adhesives and boards, and structural testing on finished products. Highly skilled technicians also develop bespoke testing equipment for use in the UK and other countries.
In addition to FIRA’s UK-based centre of excellence, it has test facilities and accredited testing partners throughout the world.
Tel: 01438 777700