Fabrics for coating: raw materials and certification
Paper is the coating material par excellence in providing numerous finishes (and therefore sensations) in publishing or, in some specific cases, packaging applications. Nevertheless, there are other substrates that can add even greater prestige to certain projects since they are related to a deluxe image. Thanks to the visual and tactile effect that they generate, fabrics are an option that delivers an excellent result.
However, just as paper can be certified to guarantee that it is more sustainable, does the same apply to fabrics? Can the FSC and PEFC certifications be applied? We examine the options provided by this material below. But before that, we need to know the different types that exist and why this material began to be used in binding.
Fabrics from different raw materials
The first thing that needs to be taken into account is that there are different types of fabrics depending on the raw material used to make them. Cotton, viscose, nylon or linen are the most common variations. Indeed, this factor predetermines whether a fabric for coating can be certified according to sustainability standards or whether, on the contrary, this aspect cannot be assured.
Guarro Casas has fabrics made from two base materials: with viscose (in the Setalux, Cialux, Assuan and Paradise ranges) and cotton (Africa, Bukram P Extra Fantasia, Canvas Extra R Fantasia and Cialinen).
Another factor that needs to be emphasised is that this binding material is no run-of-the-mill fabric. It has a lamination paper on the back which allows it to be applied to binding. This guarantees its adherence and strength.
The origin of binding fabrics
Book bindings were originally made with leather. When this material became more expensive, it was replaced by fabric, which offered the same elaborate and premium look, not to mention a special feel, but in a more affordable way. Only later, when this substrate also started to increase costs, did the use of paper as an alternative in these functions become widespread.
In fact, the name of our range of paper par excellence, Geltex, mirrors this tradition: it comes from “Gelida textil” (Gel-tex), since originally the materials that we made were textile-based. We could not overlook this nod to our past, which combines the location of our factory and the cloths or fabrics with which we started out in the binding world.
Despite the fact that paper, as we have seen, has gained ground thanks to its value for money, certain special projects continue to require textures and finishes that paper simply cannot provide in the same way. This is why fabrics continue to be used, particularly in hardback books that need to convey an image of prestige and presence (such as the ones to be found in museums or foundations, for example) or in deluxe packaging (boxes and cases).
By way of anecdote, some fabrics can be used as the inside of a book cover. In these cases, to guarantee their strength or resistance, they are lined with PVC or polyurethane to achieve a more flexible finish that will not break.
Fabric certification: two factors to be taken into account
The paper certifications we talked about previously in this Academy only apply to products made with raw materials originating from trees. Or in other words, only substrates whose base material is wood are eligible for the FSC or PEFC seals.
Does this mean that fabrics with a raw material that does not come from wood cannot be certified? To answer this question, we need to make a distinction between the two parts that make up this material for binding.
As we have already seen, these substrates are made of fabric, which provides the aesthetic part, and the lamination paper on the inside, which guarantees strength and mechanical properties. Therefore, both parts of this material, only one, or none of them, can be certified. How can this be?
Regarding the fabric, if it is viscose (and therefore a by-product of wood) it can be certified in the same way as paper. This means that it can hold the FSC or PEFC certifications if it comes from plantations that are controlled for industrial use. In the other cases this certification could not be secured.
As far as the inside paper is concerned, it can be certified in the same way as paper when it is manufactured separately. It is eligible for certification provided that it is sourced from sustainable forests.
Therefore, according to these premises, both parts of viscose fabrics can be certified while those of cotton cannot. However, what matters most is that the material be as sustainable as possible and that it does not harm the environment, as with all substrates used by industry.