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3D Spacer Fabrics – Innovative, Engineered, and Performance Driven

Learn More About Our Textiles

3D spacer fabrics go above and beyond to provide solutions for a wide variety of applications. If you’re looking for an innovative fabric that’s breathable, cushioned, absorbent, resilient – meaning it keeps its shape, soft to the touch, and pleasing to the eye, then look no further. A sustainable alternative to foam, spacer fabrics offer greater durability, retain their cushioning properties, and are recyclable, making them better for the environment. Checking every box, Apex Mills is the expert at constructing the perfect spacer fabric for your product.

What Is 3D Spacer Fabric?

3D spacer fabrics have three layers: two surfaces (a face and a back) that sandwich a layer of vertical filler yarns to provide varying levels of thickness for volume and cushioning. Each layer can possess unique characteristics, making the possible variations virtually limitless.

3d spacer fabric example
Considered a technical textile, spacer fabrics are engineered based on their end-use, with three main variables to consider. The first is fabric construction – the face and back of the fabric can be a solid knit or a mesh design. A mesh face allows for greater airflow, while a solid knit would enable the textile designer to apply a performance-enhancing additive to the center fibers, perhaps for insulation or molding properties. The fabric’s thickness can also be modified based on the application’s needs. Our spacers typically range from 1.5mm up to 10mm in thickness.

The next variable is the choice of yarns selected to address the performance goals of the textile. You might want a polyester or nylon fabric for strength and durability or a yarn with silver, copper, or zinc for inherent antimicrobial attributes. Yarns can be sustainable, made from recycled plastic chips, or even biodegradable.

3d spacer fabric
The process used to dye and finish the fabric is the third way to create the ideal fabric for its intended use. The finishing process selected can impact a fabric’s utility, texture, and color. You can learn more in our Guide to Fabric Finishes.

How Is Spacer Fabric Made? 

Spacer fabrics are made on double-needle bar (DNB) machines. These machines have two independent needle bar systems, each used to knit a side of the fabric. By traversing yarns, called spacer yarns, between the two fabric faces, the machine creates the innermost layer. Monofilament yarns are often used for the innermost, or pile layer, as they are more resilient and stiffer, enabling a greater separation of the two faces. Multifilament yarns can also be used, but they are softer and limit the thickness of the spacer to about 4mm.

What Are the Physical Properties of Spacer Fabric?

Spacer fabrics provide volume without weight; a benefit sought after by product designers across industries. They can be made with varying degrees of flexibility, stiffness, and breathability and contain acoustic, insulating, and cushioning properties.

3d spacer fabric
  • Flexibility: Combining the pile yarn’s stiffness with flexible face constructions creates a pliable textile that moves as needed for its intended application.
  • Stiffness: Yarn stiffness, or softness, is vital for spacer fabric form and function. Pile yarn must be stiff enough to maintain the separation of the two face layers in a resting position. In addition, the middle layer’s stiffness helps the spacer fabric keep its shape or bounce back after use.
  • Thickness: You can customize your fabric’s thickness by adjusting the gap between the needles on the double needle bar machine. The further the needles are set apart, the thicker the fabric.
  • Breathability: Spacer fabrics can be highly breathable, as air can easily flow through the gaps between the threads. Spacer fabrics allow for natural ventilation, letting heat escape through air circulation to support temperature regulation.


3D Spacer Fabrics

What Are Some Uses for Spacer Fabric?

Because spacer fabrics are highly customizable, they appeal to product designers across industries.

  • Footwear and Apparel: From running shoe uppers to orthotic padding and other shoe insoles, 3D fabrics help support feet and increase comfort. Spacers used in intimate apparel and athletic wear promote higher breathability, temperature regulation, and drapability.
  • Architectural: Spacer fabrics are soft, porous, and voluminous, making them ideal for sound absorption. Many buildings include insulation materials made from 3D fabrics to control noise indoors.
  • Automotive: While foams are common cushioning materials for automotive interiors, spacer fabrics are rising in popularity for this application, as they are lightweight and stay in good condition for more extended periods. Spacer fabrics are often used in car seat construction for their breathability, ideal for ventilation and passenger comfort.
  • Furniture: In place of foams, several furniture manufacturers use spacer fabrics for cushion pads, mattresses, and other body support furniture.
  • Medical: Spacer fabrics can be breathable and gentle, making them ideal for pressure wound protection products used in the medical field.
  • Geotextiles and Filtration: We have seen an increase in the use of warp knit spacer fabrics in the geotextile and environment protection sectors. With the ability to create each layer for a specific goal, spacers are becoming more widespread in erosion control, soil reinforcement, separation, filtration, and drainage applications.

Want to Know More? Spacer Fabric FAQs

Is It Waterproof?

You can customize select spacer fabric faces to be waterproof. Though 3D fabrics are naturally porous, you can coat them with waterproofing layers to increase their moisture resistance. Waterproof spacer fabrics are especially valuable in the medical industry, as health professionals use them to dress wounds and protect them from getting wet.

Is It Machine-Washable?

Spacer fabrics are machine-washable, so products made from 3D spacers can easily integrate into everyday life.

Is It Environmentally Friendly? 

3D spacer fabric is a viable replacement for foam in many industries. Foam degrades quickly and creates large amounts of waste. For a more sustainable option, you can choose spacer fabrics made from organic yarns, biodegradable yarns, or recycled yarns. For greater ecological sensitivity you can create colors with low eco-impact dyes. Find a textile manufacturer that will work with you to create quality products while reducing your environmental footprint.

Specialty Fabric and Textile Innovators

3D spacer fabric is your best bet for durable, flexible, and versatile textiles. When you need custom, high-quality fabrics for any industry, count on Apex Mills to provide smart solutions.

We design, construct and test all our fabrics in North Carolina, and we approve every step of the process before you receive your custom fabrics. Fortune 500 companies and government agencies trust us, so learn more about how we can bring our expertise to your products.

For more information about our textiles or to get started with your specialty fabric design, contact us today!

3d spacer fabric


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