Burngard Advantage


There are three basic ways to manufacture seating to comply with the Cal-133 fire test. One way is to use special (nonflammable) foam, another is the application of barrier fabrics, and a third is the combination of the first two.

Special (nonflammable) foam is expensive, gives a boardy feel, and breaks down over time. Many fabrics used in connection with this special foam will need special FR treatment. This combination does not pass Cal-133 as often as barrier.

Barrier fabrics are grouped into three basic categories: Fiberglass, Polyaramide, and Composite. Fiberglass and Polyaramide barriers share similar characteristics. Neither will burn at Cal-133 test temperatures. Both are inactive–i.e., they do not burn but they do not help to extinguish the flame. Both produce a boardy feel and are hard to upholster because they do not stretch or move with topical fabric. Both break down over time through normal use (like bending a paper clip back and forth will fatigue the metal and it will break). They are hard to cut with standard scissors and cutters and will quickly dull the cutting edges. The small fibers can irritate upholsters’ hands. Many fabrics used in connection with these barriers will need special FR treatment to help them pass the Cal-133 test.

The Burngard barrier is a knit barrier and is considerably different from some other barriers. Burngard starts with large diameter fiberglass. The large diameter of the fiberglass prevents skin irritation to upholsters, much like poking your hand with the eraser end of a pencil as opposed to the sharpened end.  Through a patented process called “Core Spinning,” the fiberglass is then wrapped with special fibers. The fiber sheath performs the critical function of preventing the fiberglass from attaining a “critical bend radius” at which point it would break. This yarn is then made into a knit barrier fabric. The fibers of the knit fabric carry the barrier intelligence. These fibers provide two proprietary functions when exposed to the Cal-133 test fire. First is a “Vapor Phase.” In this phase the fibers release special gases, which actually help extinguish the fire; it is therefore considered an “active barrier.” Second is an “Intumescent Phase.” In this phase the fibers foam and char to form a carbon isolative barrier, which prevents the urethane foam from igniting. In this process the knit acts and looks similar to a burned marshmallow.

Burngard barriers are engineered to provide the best solution to the Cal-133 test. Their knit construction provides a soft hand and comfortable sit to the upholstered seating product. These barriers are easy to upholster because they stretch around corners and cut easily with standard scissors and cutters. They move with the foam and fabric so they do not break down over time and will not cause irritation to upholsters’ hands. Burngard barriers can be laminated to the topical fabric or double upholstered. We recommend that with the use of Burngard barriers you do not need to FR treat the topical fabric or use urethane foam other than the standard Cal-117 type. This cuts down on lead times, shortens the vendor loop, limits additional SKUs for the bill of materials, and greatly simplifies the upholstery process. All of these save manufacturing costs.

There is no “Silver Bullet” for passing Cal-133. It is a composite test. Different seating products and different fabrics will perform differently in the test. But Burngard barriers have been helping customers pass Cal-133 since 1991. They are simply the best solution for passing Cal-133.