Within the scope of making custom-cut seals and gaskets to meet a manufacturing need, there are thousands of materials available to choose from. Each of these materials has a unique set of properties and often the differences are so minute they’re hard to distinguish. If you’re looking for a gasket or seal that absorbs vibrations, resists abrasions, and is indifferent to the negative effects of sunlight, perhaps felt is the right material for you. However, different manufacturing processes yield different types of felt. Though they sound similar, needled and compressed felt are two options that offer distinct properties that impact the selection process. 

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Before we get into the differences between needled and compressed felt, it’s first relevant to discuss what felt really is and the separate fibers from which it is made. In short, felt is made of fibers that are interlocked and matted together. These fibers can be natural (cotton, animal fur, or wool), synthetic (acrylic, rayon, nylon, polyester, etc.), or a mixture of both.  

The way in which the fibers are put together, though, also differentiates it from other fabrics. While most materials are simply fibers woven or knitted together, the process behind felt is a combination of heat, moisture, and pressure. The result is a durable, yet lightweight material. Felt is also flame retardant, repels water, and it won’t fray—an ideal combination of properties for custom-cut gaskets and seals.  

Needled and Compressed Felt

The flexibility felt offers is not to be underestimated. Not only can it be made from a variety of materials, but it can also be pressed to varying thicknesses, and adhesive coatings can be easily applied.  

One way to distinguish one sheet of felt from another is whether it is “needled” or “compressed.” What are these processes and what do they add to the original material? 

Needled Felt

When felt’s fibers are crimped vertically so they become interlocked, this is known as needled—or “needle punched”—felt. It’s important to note that the fibers are specifically oriented vertically. 

To make the material, the fibers are spread over a combing machine to make a web, then barbed needles puncture the web approximately 2,000 times per minute. The result is a material that can be customized to a variety of densities, thicknesses, and blends. 

Though needled felt is most frequently associated with arts and crafts, it is also invaluable to manufacturers. It is useful for sound proofing, and for making vibration pads, shock dampeners, felt washers, and gaskets. In particular, needled felt is great for those in the weatherstripping, insulation, fluid storage, and industrial filtration sectors. 

multi colored needled and compressed felt

 Felt is a versatile material that can be adapted to a wide range of needs.

Compressed Felt

Also known as “pressed felt,” compressed felt is mechanically shaped—or pressed—into the desired density and thickness. The way compressed felt is made is like traditional felt, where the fibers are pressed together using heat and moisture. Because of this, pressed felt is highly absorbent and will not be damaged by oil saturation. 

In contrast to needled felt, the fibers in compressed felt lay horizontally. 

Compressed felt is more readily found in shops because of how many gaskets are made with it. If you need material for automobiles, appliances, sound reduction, and lubricators, pressed felt is right for you. 

Have You Ever Felt This Confident?

Both needled and compressed felt offer great qualities that make them worthwhile to manufacturers like you whenever you need to replace a gasket, seal, or other custom-cut part on your shop floor. Maybe needled or compressed felt is the solution you’re looking for.  

Great manufacturers seek out other great manufacturers to help them solve problems. Breiner Innovative offers thousands of materials, including both needled and compressed felt. We’re committed to helping you find the right one and delivering what you need, when you need it, and on the right budget for you. To learn more about Breiner and how we take care of our services, download our capability statement or contact us to get started.  

Common types of gasket materials. This helpful infographic takes a look at the most common types of gasket materials. Download your infographic here.