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PUL fabric goes by different names, but its purpose never changes: to provide a breathable and stretchy material for waterproof applications. Ideal for runners, doctors, and mechanics alike, this fabric is versatile, practical, and durable.
But what exactly is PUL fabric? What does the “PUL” stand for? And what makes it so versatile and durable? That’s what we’re discussing in today’s blog. We can learn a lot about PUL fabric, so we’re including all the essentials in this blog. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about PUL fabric.
The need for a PUL-type fabric first became apparent in the medical industry. Employees in the medical field needed a fabric that could endure frequent washing and autoclave or regular cleaning.
Autoclave cleaning uses high-heat steam for sterilization, which is a must in many – but not all – medical settings. Having both options increased versatility, use, and function.
Thus, PUL fabric was born, or rather created, for the first time. And, of course, when you discover something as great as PUL, it grows in popularity.
PUL stands for polyurethane laminate. It’s a fabric (usually a polyester interlock) laminated to a TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) film. Usually, one to two layers of fabric is laminated to the polyurethane film, which is generally one to two mil thick. For reference, one mil is equivalent to 0.0254 inches.
Some fabrics have one side laminated to the polyurethane film like our 2-Layer PUL fabric, while others have two fabrics laminated on either side of the polyurethane film, like our 3-Layer PUL or CORE PUL.
In both fabrics, the polyurethane film acts as a hidden waterproof layer. While both versions work, having the waterproof layer sandwiched between two fabrics (like CORE PUL) provides additional protection with a longer lifespan.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is unique because of its waterproof nature and ability to stretch & recover when necessary. This action is possible because of the nature of the polyurethane fibers, sometimes called spandex or elastane.
However, there are still tiny pores in the structure that are too tiny for water but allow air to permeate through. That’s how PUL fabric is waterproof and breathable at the same time.
Polyurethane laminate is a bit – but not excessively – stretchy. This characteristic is advantageous if you use it for clothes, such as scrubs or athletic wear. They’re less likely to rip from stress on the seams.
While polyester, cotton, or bamboo viscose are usually laminated to the PU film, there are tons of blends and resins to choose from for the film. The type of blend and resin determines how durable the fabric is, so this is an essential factor to pay attention to when selecting your PUL fabric.
Additionally, while PUL fabric can be a great option, it’s not indestructible. Properly taking care of it will ensure that it lasts for a long time!
Because PUL fabric involves laminating fabric to polyurethane film, there are two sides. This is contrary to some fabrics with a single layer with a clear front and back. So, which side is the front, and which is the back?
That depends on how the fabric is laminated and your design preference. Is the PUL fabric laminated on just one side? In that case, the non-laminated side would be the front since the color is more vibrant. But if the PUL film is used for clothing, you’ll want the laminated side to face outward as it can feel sticky on the skin, and water will run off it.
If you’re using PUL fabric under a car in an auto body shop, you might still have the laminated side facing up so that car fluid can hopefully drip off the fabric. But that depends on what kind of fluids are coming from the vehicle's underside.
If you’re using PUL fabric where fabric is laminated to both sides so that the PUL layer is hidden between them, it doesn’t matter which side is front-facing. There won’t be a sticky side since the polyurethane is in the middle. Both sides will feel the same.
PUL fabrics are durable but are subject to wear and tear like any other fabric. Over time, if the care instructions are not followed, the film can separate from the fabric after repeated washing and drying.
To slow down this process, you can wash your PUL fabrics in the same garment bags you would use for lingerie, silk, or other delicate materials. Wash them with other fragile items on a delicate cycle.
Not every PUL fabric is eco-friendly. To determine if a fabric is eco-friendly, look at what materials are used, and research if they’re biodegradable film. Since not all PUL fabrics are made alike, this question can only be answered individually. Wazoodle Fabrics are 100% eco-friendly. In fact, the newest iteration of eco-friendly PUL fabrics includes our Recycled PUL Fabrics.
Wazoodle Fabrics offers some of the highest-quality PUL fabrics available. Our polyurethane coating is done on both sides of the film, making them equally comfortable. There’s no need to worry about your scrubs or exercise shorts feeling sticky against your skin, which is great since that would be very annoying!
Wazoodle Fabrics is 100% eco-friendly. We’re certified through the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission for lead, phthalates, and flammability. Additionally, while most PUL fabrics are made with toxic solvents, we bypass all harmful chemicals and finishes in our process. The lack of toxins makes our fabrics better for your skin and the environment.
We believe fabric should serve your needs while being eco-friendly and American-made. All of our fabrics are made in controlled conditions in American textile mills, so you can rest assured that you’re buying high-quality fabric without making any compromises.
Ready to get started with Wazoodle Fabrics? Check out our range of PUL fabrics, and be sure to contact us if you have any questions. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you find the right fabric for your needs, whether you’re sewing for personal use or you run your own business. Wazoodle Fabrics is here to help you get the job done.