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ITMA 2003 Spinning Technology

Innovative developments in the spinning sector targeted ease of operation and maintenance, improved product quality.

William Oxenham, Ph.D.

T he charge of reviewing developments in spinning equipment shown at a machinery show from which several of the major players were absent could be viewed as a daunting task. The opposite has proven to be true, however, because greater emphasis could be placed on the limited offerings of those manufacturers that elected to exhibit.

There were developments from several machinery makers, but perhaps the most noticeable feature was the general change in color of the offerings of major spinning machinery, from the traditional blue/green to much lighter shades of gray/cream with highlights in bolder colors. Greater use of improvements in drives and controls was promoted, and many manufacturers featured touch screens to provide input of settings. It is also interesting to note that several machinery makers promoted improvements aimed primarily at easier operation and maintenance, coupled with improved product quality, rather than focusing on productivity. An additional feature was that exhibitors showed only a small selection of their range of potential offerings, and these tended to be the newer developments.

Trützschler’s TC 03 card features a raised cylinder, which increases the potential carding area by 50 percent.


Since some of its major competitors were not present, Marzoli S.p.A., Italy, elected to restrict its exhibit to the C601 card and indicated it would launch a new range of machinery in 2004. The new card, claimed to process potentially in excess of 120 kilograms of fiber per hour, utilizes a 350-millimeter (mm), single licker-in rather than the multiple roller configuration used by others. In order to maximize the potential carding and cleaning capacity, nine pre-carding and six post-carding elements are used. The card also features a medium-term autoleveling system that is based around the feed roll, and a short-term autoleveler that utilizes a 3/3 drafting system at the delivery of the card and, according to Marzoli, enables the elimination of one (or more) drawing passage(s). China Textile Machinery (Group) Co. Ltd. (CTMTC), part of China Textile Machinery and Technology Import & Export Group, included a cotton card as part of Marzoli's exhibit.

Germany-based Trützschler GmbH & Co. KG's new TC 03 card offers several developments and innovations in short-staple carding technology. The major design difference between it and traditional cards is that the cylinder has been raised a foot, and this in turn increases the area potentially available for carding by 50 percent. The new card offers several advantages with regard to quality, flexibility and optimization, according to Trützschler. Notable features include:
•    easier maintenance and cleaning through better access to machine components;
•    assessment of fiber content in waste removed, achieved by detecting white fiber in the suction duct;
•    easy adjustment of manual or motorized "mote knives," which can be used in conjunction with the waste assessment to optimize fiber usage;
•    automatic detection of flat settings and optional motorized adjustment; and
•    on-line nep assessment.

An additional off-line mobile assessment system exhibited was the Trützschler TC-LCT Length Control unit, which can be moved next to the carding machine or draw frame to assess slivers for fiber quality. Properties measured include fiber length and short fiber content, plus information on hooked fibers. The information provides feedback on the machines' processing performance, and the data can be used to assist in decisions about optimum settings, among others.

N. Schlumberger - NSC Fibre to Yarn’s Era comb offers many new features.

In the arena of short-staple combing, there was little that could be regarded as novel. Machines were exhibited by Lakshmi Machine Works (LMW), India, and Shanghai Pacific Mechatronic (Group) Co. Ltd., Shanghai, but neither could be regarded as offering significant developments.

Sant'Andrea Novara S.p.A., Italy, exhibited its Millennium wool comber operating at 280 nips per minute. This new comb is an evolution of the P100 comb, and affords the potential of higher speeds coupled with improvements in setting times for the various units within the comb combined with easier and quicker component change. Notable refinements include the possibility of electronically adjusting the ratch while the machine is running and fully electronic bush adjustment.

The Era combing machine from France-based N. Schlumberger - NSC Fibre to Yarn incorporates many state-of the-art features including multiple motor drives, ease of use and maintenance, and the ubiquitous touch screen controls. The use of four motors on the comb means the drives are much simplified, enabling faster and more accurate adjustments. Additional features include electro-pneumatic adjustment of nip distance, a new circular comb with pinning of more than 360 degrees, shorter drawing-off and detaching cylinder settings, an increase in sliver quality, and increased production by about 25 percent (without increasing the speed), according to the company.

Sant’Andrea Novara’s RF5 vertical rubbing frame features double rubbing aprons.

Trützschler made a big impact with its new TD 03 draw frame. This machine offers several innovations aimed at enabling processing to be more easily optimized, and potentially improving product quality. The machine permits easy changes in ratch settings, and utilizes multiple motors to drive creel and back rollers, front rollers and take-off rollers, can turntable, and middle drafting roller.

It is the last of these that offers the possibility of readily changing the draft in the back and front zones of the drafting system. In particular, the break draft is known to play a significant role in yarn imperfections, and this can readily be altered on the new draw frame, either manually using a push button, or by automatic adjustment so that the optimum value is used for each lot. The Autodraft system performs a preliminary run lasting about one minute, during which time a range of predrafts is utilized and the drafting force is assessed. From data generated during this run, the optimum draft is selected and automatically set.

Schlumberger's display included its GC 30 high-speed chain gill and GV 20 vertical gill. The GC 30 utilizes multiple motor drives, and its maximum mechanical speed is 600 meters per minute (m/min). There are some similarities to the TD 03 draw frame with respect to ease of ratch adjustment, and rather than moving the front rollers to change the ratch, the back rollers and faller assembly are moved. In common with the other machines exhibited by Schlumberger, the various components are easily accessed for routine maintenance. The GV 20 vertical gill can be supplied as either a four-head (bicoiler) or two-head output. The former runs at 400 m/min, while the latter is capable of 500 m/min.

Electro-Jet’s ADR cotton roving frame offers a doffing time of 90 seconds.

Cotton roving frames were shown by CTMTC and Electro-Jet S.A., Spain. The latter manufacturer claims to have a very quick doffing time of about 90 seconds on its ADR frame, which doesn't require manual input during restart. This significantly enhances the productivity of the roving frame, according to Electro-Jet.

Sant'Andrea Novara demonstrated its RF5 vertical rubbing frame which, when supplied with the optional high-precision electronic winding device, offers a maximum mechanical speed of 300 m/min. According to the company, this machine utilizes a double rubbing system, which doubles the amount of rubbing at a particular running speed, enabling the rubbing section to potentially run at a lower oscillation rate to maintain an acceptable compaction of the roving. An additional benefit of this setup is that the second rubbing zone can reinforce the dead centers that occur at the reversal of the rubbing aprons, which are present when only one apron set is used.

Schlumberger maintains only one set of rubbing aprons is necessary to achieve satisfactory roving quality. The company demonstrated its FMV 42 vertical rubbing frame with integrated automatic package doffing. A notable feature of this machine is that the drafting system can easily be changed to accommodate different fiber types. Three possible alternatives - double apron, roller/apron and short/long apron - are available.

The following review of the final stage of yarn production is constructed according to technology and includes systems for both long-staple and short-staple fiber.

The Com4® wool system from Cognetex uses angled balloon rollers in the compacting zone.

Ring Spinning
In recent years, the major development in ring spinning has been the introduction and promotion of compact spinning. This technology promises yarns with a more consolidated structure, which in turn can offer the following:
•    less hairy yarns, which yield products with lower pilling propensity. Additionally, lower hairiness is claimed to yield benefits in preparation and fabric formation - including the possible elimination of sizing, singeing and waxing, which also can result in improved print quality;
•    stronger yarns, yielding fewer breaks during spinning and subsequent processes;
•    the possibility of utilizing lower twist (and hence, higher production speeds) to achieve normal yarn strength; and
•    softer yarns and fabrics.

Unfortunately, the benefits may be mutually exclusive: If softer yarns are required, then lower twist and associated higher production would be required as well - but the hairiness benefits may not be realized.

There were several new entries into this area with very different approaches to achieving a more compact structure.

Cognetex S.p.A., Italy, exhibited its Com4® wool system, which is a long-staple adaptation of the Rieter Com4 system. The major changes made accommodate much longer fibers, achieved by utilizing angled balloon rollers as the front rollers in the compacting zone. The usual benefits for compact yarn are claimed for this system; however, the major potential advantages are associated with the impact of these benefits in subsequent processing. One particular claim is that it may be possible to replace a normal folded warp yarn with a single Com4 wool yarn. An additional cover mounted over the sieve roller, termed the "air conveyor," may be used for certain fiber types. This is recommended for use when processing cashmere, but it is claimed to be unnecessary for wool. An additional feature of the exhibition machine was the incorporation of a Fani end-break detection system plus roving stop motion.

Officine Gaudino S.p.A., Italy, also showed a long-staple spinning machine - the Model FP 03 - with mechanical compacting system (MCS). This is an unusual system because it does not require the additional suction system that is needed in other compact spinning machines. The MCS system consists of an additional smooth bottom front roller and an angled top roller. These rollers run at a slightly slower speed than the front drafting rollers, and this "negative" draft, coupled with the offset top roll, creates false twist, which compacts the drafted strand as it issues from the compacting zone. This system can be incorporated into new machines or retrofitted to existing machines, and can easily be added or taken off the spinning frame. Compared to that of its competitors, the cost of the compact spinning option on this system is about 20 percent higher than the standard machine, whereas an increase of 200 percent to 250 percent was given for other manufacturers' offerings.

A totally different approach to reducing the hairiness of ring-spun yarn was promoted by the Woolmark Co., Australia. The Solospun system, which is retrofitted to existing machinery, was shown at a previous ITMA. It uses a small additional multi-grooved plastic roller to deliberately spread and separate the strand issuing from the drafting rollers into a series of smaller strands, each of which is consolidated by twist running into the yarn formation zone. While this system is presently restricted to long-staple fibers, there are initiatives to determine its applicability to short-staple processing.

The only short-staple ring frame with compact spinning was the LR6AX exhibited by LMW. The RoCoS compact spinning system, developed by Hans Stahlecker of Rotorcraft Maschinenfabrik, Switzerland, is incorporated into LMW's LR6AX short-staple ring-spinning frame. This magnetic compacting system replaces the normal top front roller with a pair of smaller rollers between which is a condenser. The condenser is held against the bottom front drafting roller by means of a magnet. This is a seemingly simple approach to reducing the width of the strand of drafted fibers, but it carries a cost penalty of two to two-and-one-half times the price of a standard machine. The use of very small rollers could be a potential problem with regard to both fiber lapping and serviceability.

It is interesting to note that, while under a totally different classification of spinning technology, Fehrer AG, Austria, exhibited a DREF® 3000 friction spinning machine in which the drafting system creating the core component utilized a compacting roller, which was of course the forerunner of the Com4 system. This approach yields a stronger core and thus a higher tenacity in the resultant yarn, according to Fehrer.

Officine Gaudino S.p.A. offers long-staple spinning systems.

Self-Twist Spinning
Self-twist spinning has been around since the 1970s with Repco, Selfil and a return to SelTwist spinning. While the system never gained wide acceptance, it developed a niche market in Europe for the production of high-bulk acrylic yarns. There were several in-house modifications applied over the years. These were associated with trying to accommodate sliver feed rather than roving, and facilitating easier relaxation of the yarns after spinning. These evolutionary concepts all have been combined into one unit marketed by England-based Macart Spinning Systems as the S300. In this system, slivers up to 12 grams per meter are fed through a pre-draft unit, which is placed before the normal drafting unit, incorporated in the ST spinner. The main body of the ST spinner looks identical to a Repco system - with one double apron drafting system for all strands and reciprocating twisting rollers - but it has no built-in winding unit. The yarns instead are fed to a continuous relaxation unit before being wound onto a take-up package. In an illustrated installation, 15 S300 units were linked to one 60-spindle automatic winder.

Belgium-based Gilbos NV's Air Twist system operates on the same self-twist principle, but in this case, the process is applied to combining filament yarns to resemble a multifold twisted yarn. The alternating twist is applied by means of detorque jets manufactured especially for Gilbos by Heberlein Fiber Technology Inc., Switzerland, and the no-twist region is reinforced by an intermingling process. The timing of the various functions and other processing parameters is computer-controlled. The system has found use in the area of carpet yarns, and other areas of application are being pursued.

The RoCoS magnetic compact spinning system is incorporated into LMW’s LR6AX short-staple ring-spinning frame.

Rotor Spinning
The new Savio S.p.A. FlexiRotorS3000/Duo-Spinner is the first venture of this Italian company into high-speed spinning utilizing the twin-disc bearing system that has been adopted by other major players in this area. The politics behind the machine are almost as interesting as the technology, as the new frame is based around a Suessen SC-S spinbox (as is Rieter's), and the machine is described as "essentially an updated R40." Savio claims the following major improvements for this machine:
•    straighter threadline;
•    two independent sides - the machine at the exhibition was shown spinning Ne 30 using a 28-mm rotor at 150,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) on one side and Ne 6 using a 40-mm rotor at 85,000 rpm on the other side;
•    up to 312 positions;
•    flexible use of up to four doffing and piecing trolleys;
•    electronic threadguide drive and electronic package building that enable flexibility of package size and production of denser packages up to 6 kilograms;
•    option to change from cylindrical to conical packages using an adapter; and
•    wireless communication and control using a handheld computer.

Fehrer exhibited its DREF® 3000 friction spinning machine at ITMA 2003.

Fasciated Yarn
Perhaps the displays arousing the greatest attention in the spinning area were both associated with fasciated yarns. While the offerings are very different in their maturity and product ranges, the underlying principles of yarn formation are the same.

The Murata Vortex Spinner (MVS) 861 from Murata Machinery Ltd., Japan, represents a significant refinement of its previous machine with regard to footprint and energy consumption (See Table 1).

Junichi Murata (left), chairman, and Daisuke Murata, president and CEO, Murata Machinery Ltd., pose in front of the MVS 861.

The immediately observable differences between the new machine and its forerunners are that it seems to be more compact, and the lower profile is more user-friendly. Another feature that stands out is the so-called "Tension Ruler," which functions like a yarn accumulator between the take-up roller and winding unit. This unit not only enables higher speeds and the potential of 5 degree 57 cones, but it also does so with reduced energy when compared to earlier machines. Additional features include the MSC-F improved yarn clearer with foreign fiber detection, new waxing unit with alarm system, and automatic waste fiber extracting system. The machine offers the potential to spin core yarns including spandex, and effect yarns can be created by utilizing appropriate feed yarns. The current restriction on the system is the range of yarn counts that can be spun successfully. A significant market potential would be available if it were possible to process coarser yarns; however, there were reports of major sales of this machine at the exhibition.

The second machine using this technology, which aroused considerable interest at ITMA, was the Uniplex™ system developed by Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont and manufactured by Schärer Schweiter Mettler (SSM) AG, Switzerland. It was shown at the exhibition as a three-position unit. This system is radically different from other staple-spinning systems because the feedstock is filament yarn, which is drawn and stretch broken, and the resultant yarn structure is held together by wrapper fibers produced by an air jet. The modularly constructed machine, which is available with up to 48 positions (16 x 3 position modules), is capable of processing a wide range of filament types and blends, according to the companies, and production speed is currently limited by jet design to about 350 m/min; however, the other components will run up to 700 m/min.

Significant work has been carried out in optimizing the processing parameters to yield the desired fiber length distribution without creating a discontinuity in the fiber flow. Data seem to indicate that the fiber length produced is about 10 inches, and there is information comparing Uniplex, ring and rotor yarn and fabric properties; however, each of these technologies utilizes a different fiber length. At the present time, the machine must be regarded as a development unit for rapid prototyping and/or niche markets, but this may change as larger machines and more independent information about product properties become available.

The FlexiRotor S3000/Duo-Spinner from Savio uses a twin-disc bearing system.

Other Components
Several vendors exhibited sensing and detection units for mounting on spinning and winding machines. Foreign fiber detection continues to arouse a lot of interest, and while there are approaches applied earlier in processing (blowroom, draw frame), there also are several units for the spinner/winder. Both Loepfe Brothers Ltd., Switzerland, and Barco, Belgium, had units available. Barco claimed its units are able to sense the total length of a foreign fiber and not just the portion on the yarn surface. This is achieved by utilizing multiple sensors, which were shown mounted on an exit tube of a rotor-spinning machine.

The Loepfe YarnMaster Spectra+ digital system provides yarn clearing and quality control in the winding department.

Yarn-setting systems also were shown. While units such as Germany-based Resch Maschinenbau GmbH's Sewimatic utilize steam to set the twist, the Fehrer Yarn Puncher® uses mechanical forces to lock the structure together. This is suitable for consolidating coarse multi-ply yarns, combining different yarns, attaching yarns to substrates and preventing peel backing in core-spun yarns.

New models of winding machines were shown along with developments in wet splicing for two-fold yarns. There also were a large number of exhibitors showing machinery for creating fancy yarns. The technologies range from ring frames, modifications to rotor frames and hollow spindle systems to variations on very small tubular knitting machines. Machines for making twisted chenille also were numerous.

Several companies exhibited twisting machines. A lot of interest was aroused by Italy-based MTS Officine Meccaniche di Precisione S.p.A.'s system for "four for one" twisting. While there have been previous disclosures of such systems, this seems to be the first commercially available system in operation. The system obviously needs development and refinement, but it was intriguing to see the concept brought to realization.

SSM and DuPont developed the Uniplex™ system, which uses filament yarn as feedstock.

Spinning Evolution
There was very little that could be regarded as new in spinning technology at this year's ITMA, and some of the potential developments such as centrifugal spinning, present at the last ITMA, seem to have floundered. It appeared there was a change in the manufacturing base for textile machinery. For example, Turkish manufacturers offered several different machines.

In terms of evolution of the spinning industry, the following seems clear:
•    There is a move to make machines more accessible and easier to operate, while maintaining or improving product quality.
•    The use of multiple motors controlled by integrated computer can lead to a simplification of the process.
•    While there is interest in compact spinning, its area of application may be restricted, and the economics of the process are worrisome.
•    The move by Savio into high-speed rotor spinning increases the competition in this area in which the United States has, until recently, been a major customer.
•    Vortex spinning continues to improve, and while the jet-spun yarn market has been almost exclusively in the United States, recent sales of MVS machines indicate this will change.
•    There will be a market for machines creating products for niche areas.

Editor’s Note: William Oxenham, Ph.D., is associate dean for academic programs at North Carolina State University’s department of textile & apparel technology & management, Raleigh, N.C. Oxenham received a B.Sc. and a Ph.D. from the University of Leeds, England, and is regarded as an international expert in the area of yarn manufacturing.

January 2004