Industrial piping

Science Is Key

Engineering Flame-Resistant Fabrics

Three scientists collaborating in the lab.

Why the Science Behind FR Matters

The FR market has grown significantly over the past few years, which has led to dozens of fabric manufacturers entering the global market. With an increased number of fabrics in the FR market, it is more important than ever that you become aware of who manufactures your garments and what fabrics they use.

Many companies use one or two words to over-simplify the decision-making process.

Fabric details

Beware of Simple Answers

These words DO NOT actually tell you anything about the specific fabric or fabric supplier.

Image highlighting FR/AR PPE watchouts

Why Some Fabrics Aren't Good Enough

Regardless of the type of fabric, a garment’s performance depends on the scientific knowledge of the FR fabric manufacturer. Manufacturers with the right scientific knowledge, advanced, state-of-the-art equipment and specialized staff are all factors in the science of life-saving FR technology.

At Westex®: A Milliken Brand, our focus on science and education is an important part of why we are all in when it comes to FR safety.

How We Guarantee Flame-Resistance for the Life of Garments


Using high-quality fibers and yarns constructed to custom specifications


FR protection is embedded into the cotton structure


Through a unique balance of chemical and mechanical procedures

Broad Testing

At numerous intervals, both internally and in independent labs

Image showing Westex FR Engineering process

Using the highest-quality dyes ensures optimal light and colorfastness.

FR Guaranteed

Proprietary process guarantees FR for the life of the garment

Shrinkage Control

Proprietary technology reduces shrinkage over the life of the garment

Learn more about our fabrics
Oil and gas worker in UltraSoft shirt.

Why the Company Behind Your FR Matters

Knowing the fabric manufacturer behind your FR is key to maintaining an effective clothing program with a consistent product. We are proud to utilize our deep scientific knowledge and our FR engineering expertise to help ensure workers stay safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, Westex: A Milliken Brand FR fabrics are guaranteed flame resistant for the life of the garment. Be careful when evaluating FR fabrics as many fabrics in the market are only tested to minimum industry standards which only require a certain number of launderings. Although standards are good, they represent a minimum bar of performance. Look for fabrics brands that are guaranteed to maintain their flame-resistant properties for the life of the garment.

No, 88/12 refers to only the content of the raw material before any FR engineering; it does not tell you anything about the FR process, properties or durability of the final fabric. You should know what fabric brand is in your garment and be very cautious if the only information provided is “88/12”.

Fabric sold as “88/12” can be non-FR, it can be FR that lasts only until it gets wet, it can be FR for up to a hundred washes or it can be FR for the life of the garment. Don’t rely on this one-word designation; specify a brand, not a category.

Performance qualities of FR fabrics such as durability of the flame resistance, protection, comfort, shrinkage, breathability, softness and durability vary significantly between fabric brands. Be sure you evaluate the different FR fabric options first and then specify to your provider which FR fabric brand you need.

Westex: A Milliken Brand uses proprietary state-of-the-art processes to engineer flame-resistant fabrics:

  • Our proprietary multi-step FR process ensures much deeper penetration and distribution of the FR polymer into the cotton structure.
  • Our proprietary advanced fabric softening process involves a unique balance of chemical and mechanical procedures. This advanced technology dramatically improves softness and comfort.
  • Our proprietary shrinkage technology preshrinks fabric which allows for greater long term shrinkage control.

While it is true that cotton must be engineered to be flame-resistant, this does not mean that flame resistance will wash out of all cotton-based FR fabrics. FR technology varies among fabric manufacturers so it is important to know which FR fabric brand is in your garment. Some FR technology is designed only to comply to basic standards with self-submitted test samples, and a maximum number of launderings under laboratory perfect conditions; many of these fabrics fare poorly in the marketplace. It is important to know if your fabric is guaranteed flame-resistant and by whom.

Westex: A Milliken Brand’s state-of-the-art proprietary FR process ensures much deeper penetration and distribution of the FR polymer into the cotton structure which enables us to guarantee flame resistance for the life of the garment.

No, inherent FR is not the only path to guaranteed flame resistance. It is a common misconception that the FR in all treated or engineered fabrics is temporary and can be removed through laundering. When FR fabrics are not engineered or tested properly, laundering can cause issues that compromise worker safety and program efficiency. Westex by Milliken engineers its FR products to help eliminate degradation caused by laundering. Regardless of the type of FR, look for fabrics that are guaranteed flame-resistant for the life of the garment.

Cotton-based FR fabrics have been the product of choice in workwear for decades because they are comfortable, durable, cost-effective, have great appearance and are a great choice for hot climates. If you are worried about the FR washing out – don’t be. Just make sure that you are choosing a fabric that is truly guaranteed FR for the life of the garment. So, don’t limit your options to only clothing made from synthetic fibers or blends and don’t make your protective apparel decision on just one word like “inherent.” Be sure to evaluate multiple fabrics and choose the best option for you.

Westex: A Milliken Brand’s FR guarantee means that the garment will remain flame-resistant past the time it is taken out of service. Garments are removed from service for various reasons including appearance and normal wear and tear. You do not need to be concerned that our fabrics will be taken out of service because of loss of flame resistance. The FR properties are guaranteed and market-proven to remain intact well beyond the typical service life of a garment.

Wrong. All FR in common use in personal protective equipment (PPE) today is engineered to be flame resistant, including “inherent” FR products. People must intervene, at some step in the process, using chemistry, to engineer the fibers and embed the flame resistant properties within them.