75 per cent of all consumers in surveys typically state that they would buy sustainable products if they were clearer about the positive effect or could believe the claims. For the industry, this means creating comprehensive and completely transparent traceability in order to convince the customer, even the consumer, and not only to rely on his ‘blind’ trust. It must clearly state what is happening in the value chain and where the raw material originates.
The aim of such an ‘optical fingerprint’ is always to become a part of the product to be protected as early as possible in the existing production process, without influencing either the product characteristics or the manufacturing process. With pigments such as ‘Cotton 4.0’ from Tailorlux, this hurdle seems to have been overcome.
Particularly in the area of certified organic cotton, certain additives to cotton are viewed extremely critically, as Matthias Funke of Tailorlux reports in ‘Melliand Textilberichten 1/19’. The Münster-based company’s optical fingerprinting process is based on luminescence, inorganic substances that are chemically inert and non-toxic. Due to the extremely high emission intensity for UV light, an extremely low concentration of pigments is required to enable reliable measurement by sensors.
Traceability Without Influencing The Product
The decisive factor in this form of marking is that the introduction of limited quantities of foreign fibres during the spinning process only has a minimal effect on the physical properties of the semi-finished product and the finished products.
How can this be achieved? Now, for marking, the pigments are inserted into a prepared fibre. This fibre can consist of different base materials, identical marker fibres are then introduced into the batch of cotton to be marked employing a fibre dosing machine in the cotton mill.
Due to the minimal concentration, these are not sorted out by systems for the detection of foreign fibres, but are further processed like the cotton itself. The marking is thus distributed extremely homogeneously in the raw material and can de facto be traced at every point of the finished fabric. In fact, by using an appropriate sensor technology, it is possible to verify the marking in 1-3 seconds.
Testing At Every Point In The Value Chain
In this way, tests can be carried out at virtually any point in the value chain and it’s as simple as can be. A decisive point compared to technologies that rely on laboratory analyses is that they are practically unsuitable for use in the field. One reason for this is undoubtedly that the processing of the raw mass is generally carried out at a speed that ensures that no intervention – based on measurement results – is possible at any point.
With modern methods such as ‘Cotton 4.0’, the measurement data is loaded directly into a cloud, which means that the verification of the certificates is permanently available – for producers, traders and consumers alike.