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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Optical Illusions

Karl Mayer, Transfertex have developed technology to produce warp-knitted, transfer-printed curtain fabrics that offer one-way see-through privacy protection and 3-D effects.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Assistant Editor

A mong the new developments to be shown next month at the International Textile Machinery Exhibition (ITMA) 2003 will be a warp-knitted, transfer-printed fabric that is opaque from one side and transparent from the other.

The nylon 6 fabric, suitable for curtains of all types, is made on Germany-based Karl Mayer Textilmaschinenfabrik GmbH’s HKS 2-3 high-performance two-bar tricot machine using an E44 gauge to create a very dense fabric. The company says the fabric is extremely lightweight, dimensionally stable, and easy to wash and process; and has a smooth, pleasant handle.

Concept fabrics have been made using 33-decitex flat, dull nylon 6. Mike Burke, vice president and general manager of Mayer Textile Machine Corp., Greensboro, N.C., said the technology involves a brand-new process that offers promising potential and will open new markets for producers of warp-knitted fabrics.

Karl Mayer collaborated with Transfertex GmbH & Co. Thermodruck KG, a Germany-based developer and provider of printing solutions and transfer-printed designs. Transfertex adapted its transfer-printing technology to optimize the printing of this fabric, testing color recipes and print temperatures. Normally, heat-transfer printing is not suitable for nylon 6 because of the fiber’s low melting point. However, the process parameters for time and temperature can be changed, and to accommodate this limitation, the print temperature should not exceed 392°F. Parameters also can be changed to create a unique handle or other specific effects.

Transfertex's transfer-printing process for this
warp-knitted fabric gives the fish swimming on
the surface a 3-D appearance.

Depending on the type of dye used, pattern contours may be sharp or soft. Delicate shade effects also are possible, and dark coloration enhances the opaque/transparent properties of the respective sides of the fabric.

Burke said optical illusions and 3-D effects are created when the fabric is viewed from different angles. For example, the fish shown in the photograph above may appear larger from certain angles, and previously unseen effects may be revealed. Together, the nylon warp-knitted material and the printing process give the fabric a soft, crinkly drape that enhances the optical effects, according to Karl Mayer.

One projected end-use for the fabric is shower curtains. Michael Kieren, Ph.D., who is involved with the fabric’s development at Karl Mayer’s headquarters, plans to coat the fabric with a thin layer of polyurethane for this application. The coated fabric will provide an alternative to vinyl for such end-uses.

Karl Mayer will show concept fabrics at ITMA 2003. Transfertex representatives also will be present at The Netherlands-based Klieverik BV’s stand.

For more information about the Karl Mayer/Transfertex fabric development, contact Mike Burke (336) 294-1572.

September 2003