In traditional textiles a tenter frame would carry woven fabric through an oven to heat set the fabric or keep it from shrinking during drying. In nonwovens, the primary use for a tenter frame is to stretch the fabric in the cross machine direction and/or hold the fabric while it is heated with an infrared heater to keep the polypropylene and/or polyester fibers in the fabric from shrinking the fabric under heat. Stretching the fabric in the cross machine direction enables the production of wider fabric. For instance, fabric on a 5 meter production line could be stretched to 6 meters wide. Stretching the fabric in the cross machine direction also affects the cross machine tensiles, elongation, trap tears, and other characteristics of the fabric.
The fabric is carried through the tenter frame by a chain on the sides. There are pin plates attached to the chain. The pin plates have 1/2 to 3/4 inch long pins that stick up vertically and pierce through the edges of the fabric. An automatic guide system at the entrance to the tenter frame tracks the edges of the fabric and makes sure the fabric and pin plates are in a proper position for the pins to catch the edges of the fabric.