Navy Clothing and Textile Research Facility (NCTRF)

NCTRF's focus is to test fabrics for fire and heat resistance, water immersion and buoyancy, heat and cold stress, ballistic protection, and uniform design and development. With an experienced staff as well as unique testing equipment and facilities, NCTRF can quickly move a concept from the drawing board to the production line. A team of textile technologists, clothing designers, physiologists and other scientific experts are all involved in conducting research, design, development, improvement and user assessment studies of protective garments and equipment. Depending upon specific needs, commercial off-the-shelf products are evaluated or unique military products are developed for use in the Navy shipboard environment. Through the Navy Uniform Certification Program, customers can be assured that uniform items meet or exceed Navy standards. NCTRF's technical teams conduct wear/fit tests, determine appropriate sizing systems for uniforms, assist store and Recruit Training Center personnel in fit and tailoring techniques, and support a continuous quality assurance program. Improving uniform styling, fit, and durability as well as upgrading materials to bring the best to customers is part of the NCTRF mission.

Building Survivability into Uniforms

Historically, uniforms have been the product of a Sailor's environment: physically, geographically and technically. Uniforms provided protection against the elements and created distinction among specialists in a growing Navy. Foremost, however, was an element of simplicity in providing a uniform that would not interfere with the Sailor's job. Here are some of the factors that go into designing and testing military uniforms.

Material Choice

To ensure the military uniform will last, it must be resistant to tears, abrasions, water and fuel; able to withstand repeated washings; thermal insulated; moisture vapor and air permeable; and must not melt when exposed to heat.

Design and Construction

The Navy uniform is designed and manufactured with safety in mind. The long sleeves and high securable collars protect against heat and flash; the shoes and boots are non-slip, non-FOD, and have steel toes; the designs of the clothing utilize simple, tailored patterns for working in close proximity to machinery and to allow for mobility; and the seams are stitched for strength and durability.


Adequate testing of both material and finished uniform is essential to assure functionality, comfort and compatibility of shipboard uniforms. Physical testing of the material assures the key survivability characteristics are present; mannequin and controlled physiological testing assures comfort and human interface issues are addressed; and wear testing assures that the uniforms perform properly in the operating environment, aboard ship, and in the work spaces.

Quality Assurance

All Navy uniforms are subjected to a comprehensive quality assurance program to ensure that all specifications are met.

Biophysical Laboratory

Sweating Manikin

Using a variety of instrumented equipment including sweating thermal mannequins, a thermal hand, a thermal foot, a guarded hot plate, and a Rapid-k instrument, NCTRF can evaluate the thermal protection of materials, garments, personal heating or cooling systems, and sleeping bags, and predict performance in a variety of work/clothing/environment scenarios. This laboratory has assisted in the development of extreme and cold weather clothing, firefighter ensembles, personal heating and cooling systems and chemical/biological protective gear.

Hydro-Environmental Simulator and Submersible Thermal Mannequin

Hydro Mannequin

This simulator is used to evaluate the effects of water immersion on humans and mannequins by replicating various air-sea interface temperature conditions and sea states under controlled conditions. The standing wave height is 1 - 2 feet (1.5 foot average).

The unique Submersible Thermal Mannequin is fully instrumented, permitting accurate measurement of body heat transfer while submersed in controlled air and water environments, including simulated seas. The mannequin is comprised of 10 independently controlled zones. Anti-exposure suits and diving components have been tested in this simulator with the submersible mannequin.

Thermal/Flammability Laboratory

Thermo Mannequin

Using benchtop tests and full scale mannequins, NCTRF can evaluate the effects of thermal energy (conductive, convective and radiant) on fabrics and protective clothing systems, and then predict heat transfer and potential burn injury due to thermal, flame or steam conditions. The full scale thermal test facilities include the thermal oven, the steam chamber and a dynamic fire test chamber. Benchtop tests include the vertical flame tester, the thermal protective performance tester and the radiant reflective tester. This laboratory has been utilized in the development of flame retardant clothing and firefighter gear.

Proprietary US Navy Camouflage and ACE Designs

The new camouflage and ACE designs used in the uniforms for the Task Force Uniform program are proprietary trademarks owned by the U.S. Navy. Vendors wishing to use these designs may apply for a limited license. To apply, complete the fillable PDF form below and submit by fax or mail as indicated.

Note: Fillable PDF forms cannot be saved to a computer and may not be submitted electronically.

Application for Digital Pattern License

Building #86 DSN 312-206-2739
General Greene Avenue
Natick, MA 01760
Phone: (508) 206-2739

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