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7 Uses for Wool Felt: Nonwoven Wool Felt for Industrial Applications

non woven wool felt gaskets

Wool is a unique all-natural fiber with qualities that outshine many of its synthetic alternatives. 60% of all wool is used in the apparel industry, but wool felt is widely used in industrial applications. It is especially used in thermal insulation, acoustical insulation, gasket materials, and even saddle pads.

A Brief History of Wool

herd of sheep wool felt

Humans first began domesticating sheep in Mesopotamia between 11000 and 8000 BC. Sheep were first bred for their meat, skin, and milk to solve the basic human needs of shelter and food.  It was not until around 4000 BC that sheep began being bred for their wool.

As the wool trade became profitable, the migration of sheep trickled from Asia to North Africa and Europe. Sheep arrived in America with Christopher Columbus and then by the British Colonies to Virginia in early 1600.

Today, wool is used in a variety of ways from clothing to carpets to industrial applications.

BIT is the largest manufacturer of industrial felt products in North America. We use the technical felting process of needling to produce our wool felt.

Needle-punching takes loose fibers and joins them together using a needle loom full of barbed needles. The needles move up and down through the fibers to mechanically entangle them.

Check out our post here to dive deeper into the needle-punching process.

The Benefits and Properties of Wool Fiber

man holding wool fiber

Wool’s durability and long-lasting properties surpass those of its synthetic alternatives. Here is why:

    1. Flame and melt resistant. Wool requires more oxygen than is present in the air to ignite.
    2. Retains its shape due to its natural “crimp” texture that allows for elasticity, durability, and shape memory.
    3. Water repellent: wool can absorb large quantities of water without feeling wet.
    4. Excellent insulator against cold, heat, sound, and vibration.
    5. Resistant to wear and tear.
    6. Anti-Microbial; wool will not support mold growth.
    7. Indoor environment regulation: Wool will almost act like a natural HVAC filter, purifying indoor air by absorbing noxious gases and regulating free moisture in the air.
    8. 100% natural, renewable and sustainable. It naturally decomposes in soil releasing nutrients back into the air.

Wool felt is manufactured in a variety of thicknesses, densities, and compositions. The most common wool felts are defined by SAE specifications. The SAE, which began as the Society of Automotive Engineers, sets a standard of requirements applied to felts that require higher durability and resistance to abrasion and wear.

Here are 7 markets where nonwoven wool felt is used.

Wool Felt and Its Industrial Uses

Green Roof and Agricultural Felt

wool felt green roof

Wool’s water-resistant properties (wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water) allow for permittivity and free water flow. This makes industrial nonwoven wool felts a perfect match for the green roof industry.

A green roof is any roof or wall that is partially or wholly covered with vegetation and a growing medium (a soil replacement such as nonwoven wool felt), planted over a waterproof membrane. In certain environments, using soil as the main growing medium is difficult. In this scenario, needle-punch felts act as drainage panels and facilitate the distribution and storage of water within the root zone as a “soilless” growing media.

Felt Gaskets

wool felt gasket

A gasket is a mechanical seal that prevents leakage from or into joined objects while under compression. Able to perform in all kinds of environments and found in virtually every industry from manufacturing to mining, oil and gas, to automotive, and others, gaskets help industry function.

Its fire-retardant properties help insulate against heat in these high-pressure situations. Simultaneously, wool can stand up against consistent oil exposure all while still maintaining its shape.

Boot liners and Accessories

boot with wool felt boot liner

Boot liners, whether it be for hiking shoes, rain boots, or anything in between, provide an extra layer of protection against a variety of weather conditions.

Nonwoven wool felt for boot liners will keep you warm without overheating in cold environments and keep out moisture in wet environments, making them a comfortable option for any situation. Unlike fleece or synthetic fiber-based liners, wool is antimicrobial making it odor-resistant even with long wears. It will naturally conform to the shape of the foot over time.

The same principles apply to fashion bags and totes. Using a nonwoven felt benefits the design of the piece while keeping it safe against the elements.

Equestrian Textiles

black and red felt saddle pad on horse

Used as a buffer between the saddle and the horse, a saddle pad, or blanket, is a must-have for any horse and rider. It offers an extra layer of shock absorption, increases the horse’s comfort, and improves saddle balance for the rider.

Nonwoven wool felt’s natural wicking properties keep the saddle pad cleaner and the horse cooler. Its multifunctional purpose of creating comfort for the horse and cleanliness of the saddle makes it essential for the rider.

Carpeting and Interior Needs

carpet under pad

While a pricier option for under carpet padding, wool felt has many advantages over traditional foam or even synthetic needle punch felt pad.

The thermal insulation properties of wool make them a great energy-saving option for any building while also creating comfort for the buildings’ occupants. Also and perhaps the primary advantage is in wool’s ability to help maintain a healthier indoor environment by absorbing odors and other noxious gasses (VOCs). Even in unventilated circumstance, it helps aid in indoor humidity control and temperature regulation.

To sum it up, nonwoven wool felt is key to the comfort, design, and overall safety of indoor environments.

Felt Dryer Seals

wool felt dryer seal

Dryer seals are vital to the proper functioning of a clothes dryer by preventing clothing from falling between the drum and the dryer cabinet. It maintains a certain level of heat inside the drum which reduces friction between the metal parts that come in direct contact with each other.

Wool is resilient, durable, and holds higher natural fire-retardant properties than those of synthetic fibers. As a result, it takes higher temperatures for wool to ignite making it an obvious choice for dryer seals.

Interior Design: Decorative Design Felt and Acoustic Paneling

wool felt acoustic panel

The best option for improving sound quality within a space is acoustic treatments. Acoustic treatment mitigate sound within a space by reducing reverb and echo as opposed to soundproofing which keeps unwanted noise from going in or out. Acoustic panels range from wall and floor coverings, hanging panels, baffles, desk dividers, and tiling while other acoustic treatments include soft surfaces and wraps.

Ten years ago, materials used to absorb sound were limited to foams, fiberglass, and other soft fabrics. Now with the use of nonwoven wool felt, you can achieve a balance of design and acoustic value from texture, saturated color (due to its ability to dye well), and take advantage of its natural acoustical dampening properties when used in acoustic paneling. They are also more cost-effective and lighter weight (making for easier do it yourself installation).

From virgin wool straight from the sheep to recycled fibers, we utilize the advantages of wool by custom manufacturing wool felt and wool blend felts of various grades, densities, and blend contents to match your specific needs. As the leader in the manufacturing of nonwoven technical felts in North America, we know there is not a one size fits all answer. We work with you from conception to completion.

Have questions or want to learn more about us? Contact us today.

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