Proban® – Fire Retardant Fabric Treatment

Pincroft and Proban®, for fire retardant fabric

We are Pincroft. We are a leading commission dyer, printer, and textile finisher for large commercial orders and we pride ourselves on offering the highest quality commission dyeing and finishing to the highest standards. We have 130 years of UK manufacturing experience and our production processes are designed to deliver the highest quality results.

What is Proban®?

Before we get into what Proban® is and what it does, first we must address the easily confused difference between Fire Retardant and Fire Resistant.

While Fire Resistant fabrics prevent the further spread of fire such as meta aramid, which will burn very slowly or self extinguish, Fire Retardant fabrics are typically chemically treated to give them inherent fire retardant properties.

Through processing fabrics with Proban®, it will transport your cotton-based fabric to a mighty Fire Resistant material by building this FR property into the structure of the fabric’s fibre.

As a licensed partner to Solvay, Pincroft completes the polymerization process required to treat cotton-rich fabrics to become inherently fire resistant on their Proban® range onsite in the Adlington dyehouse.

So what is Proban®? Proban® is a flame retardant chemical treatment that was developed in the 1950s; woven and knitted cotton or cotton blend fabrics are bulk treated at the finishing stage. It has a wide and almost all-encompassing range of applications, for industrial, sport, military uniforms and workwear, right through to civilian industries which include anything from hotels to hospitals and nursing homes. Essentially, anywhere there is a risk of fire or fire hazard, Proban® treated fabrics are useful to have in your corner.

Who can apply this fire retardant fabric treatment?

In order to maintain quality control, there are very few companies worldwide that have the specific licenses needed in order to apply the Proban® treatment. This select group of textile finishers includes us here at Pincroft. In fact, we are Europe’s leading manufacturer and experts in the application of this fire retardant fabric treatment.

With decades of experience behind us, we focus on the market’s evolving needs when it comes to flame retardant fabric. From Proban® overalls to fire retardant fabric being used in military and outdoor workwear. To do this, we work closely with our customers in order to better understand their needs, developing flame retardant fabrics that combine other properties, such as increased comfort, appearance and durability, to produce a finished fabric with superb performance.

And here at Pincroft, we are able to do this all in one of the world’s leading and most modern commission bleaching, dyeing, printing and finishing facilities. 

How to create a fire retardant fabric and how does it work?

The application of Proban® as a textile finish is a quality controlled and state of the art technological process that gives cotton-rich woven and knitted textiles fire retardant properties. These properties are durable and therefore are perfect for applications where repeated use is essential. 

Using licensed and patented technology, special cross-linked polymers are formed within the cotton fibres. The process is irreversible, and once formed, the polymer is 100% insoluble and embedded within the body of the textile, giving you a Proban® composite material right down to the base fabric level. As the polymer is inert, the base fabric is unaffected and therefore retains all of its previous properties. 

The resulting fabric is incredibly durable, however, if a Proban® treated garment comes into contact with flames or fire, it will still smoulder and burn. But critically, unlike cotton, they will not continue to burn nor melt and stick, which is an issue with polyester. During this charring, the flame retardant breaks down to form an acid in the fabric, masking the cellulose of the cotton which is what catalyses the char formation. The carbon is then coated by potassium, which prevents oxidisation and essentially acts as a localised insulating layer. 

For these reasons, Proban® treated textiles are ideal for applications where personnel are at risk of being exposed to fire for short periods of time, and when the garment is expected to have a long service life. Applications like firefighting, or having Proban® overalls when working in the oil, gas, chemical, electric and petrochemical industries are ideally suited for use of Proban® treated fabrics.

The Chemistry behind the clothing

  • The use of ammonia as a curing agent actively converts the monomers within the fabric into polymers.
  • As the monomers are trapped within the cotton fibre, right at the core, they are absorbed into the centre of the fabric, locking the polymer in.
  • This then forms a cotton-Proban® composite material at the very base stage of the make-up of the fabric. The result of this is that the fire retardant properties are wound throughout the fabric, thus delivering the flame retardant properties for the lifetime of the garment.
  • The final result? A fabric that has all the synergistic properties and benefits of the natural fibres, combined with the unique flame retardant properties and durable protection of the ingrained, flame-resistant polymers. 
  • Then you have your flame resistant clothing.

Pincroft and Proban®

Here at Pincroft, we work closely with a number of reputable suppliers in order to create excellent and durable fire retardant fabrics. Our strict quality control procedures and the unrivalled flame retardant properties of the fabric and textiles we treat are some of the reasons why we are Europe’s largest producer of Proban® treated fire safety wear. 

The Proban® treated fabrics we produce are able to maintain their strength, colour and flame retardant properties over time, even when exposed to UV light, which makes our textiles suited to both indoor and outdoor work environments.

At Pincroft we have 130 years of commission textile treatment knowledge and we pride ourselves on working closely with our customers to meet their exact fabric requirements.

To find out more about what we can do with Proban®, get in touch with one of our technical experts today, and find out what we can do for you.