Developing a reliable wet testing laboratory that provides accurate and correlatable results is a critical part of any business strategy for brands, garment manufacturers and independent test houses alike.
“A good testing laboratory allows a factory to have control over every aspect of its operations”, explains Sara. “If the factory is under control it has satisfied customers, increasing business, a growing reputation and maximum profit.”
Tests such as colour fastness to washing, colour fastness to rubbing, colour fastness to light (weathering), rain repellency testing and many more – must be conducted in a controlled wet laboratory environment to ensure the efficacy of the test and reliability of results. A water supply is crucial for these types of tests.
“Laboratories where Wet Testing is carried out have no special requirements in terms of air conditioning or decoration,” explains Sara. “However, there are important considerations you need to make, for example; they need to be easy to clean, have surfaces and fittings that are chemical resistant and should allow sufficient space to add extra large items, such as additional washing machines, at a later time.”
Sara examines the 9 crucial things you need to consider for your wet testing lab.
It’s not a good idea to locate the testing instruments in the same open location as the laboratory dyeing and finishing machines, as there is always the possibility that dye or chemical can contaminate the fastness testing instruments – and this may give false results.
In warmer climates there is a lot of hot machinery, and the work involves a lot of standing and walking. Providing a comfortable temperature for your employees to work is an advantage.
3. Size and Construction
The space available for this room should be the maximum available, not just to allow for the installation of additional machines but also because it may have to allow for the drip, flat and line drying of shrinkage tests and this can require a lot of space.
4. Floors & Walls
The floors and walls should be ceramic tiled in an appropriate light colour, maybe reflecting the Company’s logo/corporate image to a height of 1.5mts. and can be painted above this height with semi-matte light-coloured paint.
5. Electrical Supply
The electrical supply and other relevant services should be carried in trunking around the walls with double electrical sockets spaced two metres apart. If computerised instruments will be installed a protected supply should be provided for these. Machines such as the Wascator should be connected through a Direct On-Line Supply incorporating and isolator in order to protect the machines electronic components.
Lighting can be basic fluorescent tubes or LED, so long as the area is well lit. Any colour assessment should be carried out in a specialist light cabinet.
In most laboratories, the water necessary for general use may be drinking water though for some specific applications softened water is preferred.
The water used for making all test solutions and also for detailed chemical analysis should be pure water produced by a de-ionisation, (or in some circumstances, distillation), and a good standard of drinking water is appropriate as a supply for the de-ioniser.
Note that water produced by reverse osmosis for use in dyeing machines is not pure enough for laboratory work.
A lot of water is used in this room and consequently, there has to be an appropriate drain system – this may be from the testing machines, the drains and also for floor areas used for areas where shrinkage tests are dried.
Sinks, preferably made from stainless steel, should have hot and cold water supplies and high level taps. A 4″ free drain will be required for a Wascator, and Whirlpool Washers drain pipes must be connected into the laboratory drains above the height of water that is in the machine when it is full. This is to prevent siphoning effects that may empty the machine during operation.
When installing Whirlpool Washers, and Wascators for Marks and Spencer Accreditations, it is necessary to have a supply of hot water because Whirlpool machines do not have heaters and M & S Test Methods specify that the Wascator must be supplied with both hot and cold water. In these situations, it is necessary to provide a supply of hot water or install a water heater that is capable of producing sufficient hot water to fill all of the washing machines at the same time.
If you enjoyed this article, you may also like our free download, “12 steps to constructing a conditioned laboratory”:
Sara Williams is a Technical Specialist at James Heal, working closely with Alice and Peter as part of the Technical Team.
As our ‘Core Instrument Technical Specialist’, Sara uses her experience within the garment and textile industry, to provide expertise and support to James Heal’s customers, colleagues and channel partners.
“I’m happy answering any of your technical questions“
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