What is Fastness? | Color Fastness Scales | Colour Change Grey Scales | Degree of Staining Grey Scales

Fastness is the resistance of a textile material to specific chemical agencies. Poor colour fastness in textile products is a major source of customer complaint. The fastness of a colour can vary with the type of dye, the particular shade used, the depth of shade and how well the dyeing process has been carried out. Dyes can also behave differently when in contact with different agents, for instance dyes which may be fast to dry-cleaning may not be fast to washing in water. It is therefore important to test any dyed or printed product for the fastness of the colours that have been used in its decoration.

There are a number of agencies that the coloured item may encounter during its lifetime which can cause the colour either to fade or to bleed onto an adjacent uncoloured or light coloured item. These factors vary with the end use for which the product is intended. For instance carpets and upholstery are cleaned in a different way from bed linen and clothing and therefore come into contact with different materials. The agencies that affect coloured materials include light, washing, dry-cleaning, water, perspiration and ironing. There are a large number of colour fastness tests in existence which deal with these agencies and a full list will be found in the British Standard. A further group of tests is connected to processes in manufacturing that the coloured material may undergo after dyeing but before completion of the fabric, processes such as decatising or milling. Despite the fact that the list of colour fastness tests is very long, most of them are conducted along similar lines so that the main differences among the tests
are in the agents to which the material is exposed.

Colour fastness is usually assessed separately with respect to:

1 changes in the colour of the specimen being tested, that is colour fading;
2 staining of undyed material which is in contact with the specimen during the test, that is bleeding of colour.

In order to give a more objective result a numerical assessment of each of these effects is made by comparing the changes with two sets of standard grey scales, one for colour change and the other for staining.

1. Colour Change Grey Scales
These scales consist of five pairs of grey coloured material numbered from 1 to 5. Number 5 has two identical greys, number 1 grey scale shows the greatest contrast, and numbers 2, 3 and 4 have intermediate contrasts. After appropriate treatment the specimen is compared with the original untreated material and any loss in colour is graded with reference to the grey scale. When there is no change in the colour of a test specimen it would be classified as '5'; if there is a change it is then classified with the number of the scale that shows the same contrast as that between the treated and untreated specimens. 
Fig: Gray Scale
2 .Degree of Staining Grey Scales
A different set of grey scales is used for measuring staining. Fastness rating 5 is shown by two identical white samples (that is no staining) and rating 1 shows a white and a grey sample. The other numbers show geometrical steps of contrast between white and a series of greys. A piece of untreated, unstained, undyed cloth is compared with the treated sample that has been in contact with the test specimen during the staining test and a numerical assessment of staining is given. A rating of 5 means that there is no difference between the treated and untreated material. If the result is in between any two of the contrasts on the scale, a rating of, for example, 3-4 is given. Sets of grey scales, examples of which are shown in Fig: can be supplied by the British Standards Institution. 
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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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