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Quick Turns

Latest finishing equipment improves productivity and quality, reduces costs and environmental impact.

Finishing TrendsBy Peter Hauser, Ph.D. Quick Turns Latest finishing equipment improves productivity and quality, reduces costs and environmental impact.  As the U.S. textile industry moves toward smaller production lots, the importance of quicker turn-around times and easier machinery setups becomes increasingly critical.Additionally, quality and economic issues cannot be ignored, as textile manufacturers must now compete in a worldwide marketplace for evermore discriminating customers. A look at wet processing equipment reveals a trend toward higher operating speeds, more automation, increased versatility and greater reliability. Equipment addressing these trends can be grouped into four main areas: increased productivity, quality improvements, cost reductions and environmental impact. Increased Productivity

Tenter frame manufacturers have met the need for higher production speeds by providing equipment capable of operating at speeds of up to 300 yards per minute. Charlotte, N.C.-based American Monforts Montex Tenter 5000 and the X-300 chain from Marshall and Williams Products Inc., Greenville, S.C., are examples of this technology.Reduction of dye-cycle times are also evident in the latest machinery. The Multiflow by MCS Officina Meccanica S.p.A., Italy, can produce excellent quality dyeings in as little as half the usual production time. Germany-based Thies GmbHandCo.s Luft-Roto Plus, developed in cooperation with Germany-based Dystar, gives the dyer a machine that takes advantage of short cycle times and low liquor ratios to increase dyehouse productivity.Italy-based Brazollis Saturno Lux dyeing machine, the latest evolution of the Saturno, seeks to reduce treatment-cycle time to an absolute minimum, using 100-percent cotton, dyeing with a reactive dye as a base. The company has accomplished this reduction through the use of high-frequency contact between the treatment bath and the fabric during the drying cycle, achieved by increasing the speed of the fabric without causing elongation, twisting or pilling. As well, the Saturno Lux features a higher mixing ratio of the treatment bath and the fabric. Quality ImprovementsThe importance of rapid scale-up of laboratory dyeings has led to equipment designed to allow error-free transitions from lab to full production. An example is the Autolabo package-dyeing machine from Italy-based Bellini. The computerized controls and machine design lead to excellent correlation of laboratory dyeings with production runs.Accurate fabric width and length data are crucial to a well-run quality program. The True-Matic inspection frame offered by Joseph Pernick Manufacturing Corp., Glendale, N.Y., combines excellent tension controls with computerized data storage and report generation. 
Italy-based Bianco S.p.A. offers the Digitex six-roller weftstraightener. The system includes Biancos DSP 10R reading system, as well as the VDTEX terminal for easy machine operation. The VDTEX terminal features a new algorithm that automatically estimates the maximum correction speed for different fabrics, assuring bow and skew are controlled and fabric is straightened within required tolerances.Spartanburg, S.C.-based American Santexs Santa Spread TS compactor is designed for producing extremely uniform, compacted, tubular knitted fabrics. The high degree of reproducibility in the processing of the fabric produces a final product that meets strict customer standards for consistent shrinkage throughout the entire fabric length.From a controls standpoint, Italy-based Obem S.p.A.s VisualDye, now with more than 100 units installed, represents a further step forward in conformity and consistency in dyeing operations. An active color screen enables activation of all machine functions. The system can handle up to 400 different dyeing programs and obtain real-time information relating to the dyeing equipment. Cost ReductionsThe importance of maintaining cost competitiveness in todays global textile marketplace cannot be overestimated. To that end, machinery developments that provide quality goods at lower costs are welcomed.Biancalani, Italy, has improved the Petra machine since its introduction at ITMA 99. This unit produces surface effects on open-width goods by using abrasive rollers in a continuous process. By treating denim fabrics on the Petra prior to garment manufacture, subsequent garment wet processing can be carried out in one third the time, at half the cost.Even the continuous washing process can be improved upon to yield lower production costs. Kusters Textile Machinery, Spartanburg, S.C., presents a wash box with vacuum extraction to improve the efficiency of the washing process after preparation. This vacuum-assisted wash box can reduce the total number of wash boxes needed, as well as produce cleaner fabrics.Addressing the growing trend toward smaller lot sizes, as well as rapid pattern changes, Worcester, Mass.-based Gessners Transcolorizer was developed to provide an economical approach for producing samples and short production runs of transfer-printed fabrics.  Environmental IssuesDoing business in developed nations, particularly in the United States and Europe, requires companies to meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations. As an aid in meeting these requirements, Morrison Textile Machinery Co., Fort Lawn, S.C., offers its patented Thermal Oxidizer as an option on the companys FS-21 Finishing Range.During thermal oxidation, the dryer exhaust temperature and dwell time are set so that volatile organic compounds odors and haze are reduced to products of combustion.The Morrison Thermal Oxidizer can properly size the chamber to provide the dwell time to meet specific requirements. The enclosure is insulated with several layers of high-temperature ceramic fiber, which keeps the outside of the enclosure cool enough to touch during operation. The open, flow-through design requires no catalyst.The resulting heated clean air is exhausted. Due to an integrated design, a portion of the air is returned to the dryer. An accurate temperature profile is maintained in the dryer system through the use of modulating dampers.The ultimate result, according to Morrison, is that the Thermal Oxidizer eliminates 98 percent or more of objectionable compounds generated during fabric processing. Editor's Note: Peter Hauser, Ph.D., is an associate professor of textile chemistry at North Carolina State University College of Textiles, Raleigh, N.C. His research focuses on reducing costs, energy use and pollution associated with wet processing. High-performance chemical finishes for enhanced value textiles, indigo dyeing and denim garment wet processing and new textile processes are included in this research.

September 2001