Economic Production Of Textile Floor Coverings In Small Quantities

In order to be able to economically produce smaller quantities, which are increasingly demanded by the market, the technology must become increasingly flexible. The Institute of Floor Systems (TFI) in cooperation with the Institute of Textile Technology (ITA) - both at the RWTH Aachen University - has developed a novel technology that allows machine parameters for the production of patterned goods (e.g. floor coverings) to be changed quickly.

The market trend for textile floor coverings is moving away from rigid series production towards order- or customer-oriented production with reduced batch sizes. Just as Weserland does every day with its tailor-made solutions. The requirements have changed fundamentally and individualised products are in high demand.

For producers of textile floor coverings to keep pace with this trend, the production processes must be quickly and reproduceably adaptable to the characteristics of the different articles. A change of pattern, however, requires a lot of retooling. This not only leads to a loss of production, but also prevents the possibility of changing a pattern regularly or irregularly within the on-going process.

Together with ITA, the TFI developed a solution to the problem of rigid needle attachment. This has considerably increased the flexibility of the tufting process and thus ensured the future viability of tufting technology. An important step, because tufting is a highly efficient process for the production of textile floor coverings with pile structure.

Bearingless System Enables Flexible Processes

One approach to solving the problems has long been the use of needles in cranked versions. These are special designs in which the needles of the rear and front barre are cranked towards each other. The needles are still arranged on a front and rear barre, but are mounted in a holder so that they can be moved relative to each other. This allows the distance between the rows of needles to be adjusted variably up to a straight alignment. However, this VSN technology did not show the desired results in industrial use.

The starting point for the development of the new solution approach was the analysis of the forces and loads arising in the tufting process. A solution consisting of connecting rod and eccentric was ultimately chosen. The function-determining element is a flexible fibre composite plastic component.

The adjustment is now infinitely variable and is even possible during the tufting process. This results in completely new design possibilities and a significantly denser fabric. This increased density due to the angled arrangement is particularly relevant in areas where the fabric is to be formed (e.g. in the automotive sector).

The many advantages of components made of fibre composite plastic range from individual design options to a considerable reduction in weight compared to steel. In addition, dynamic loads caused by the cyclically moving components are reduced. The result is improved running smoothness and a more precise tufting process with fewer faults and interruptions.


Safety First: Improved Durability For High-Strength Textiles

With all textiles such as nets, belts, etc., these are subject to degradation in functionality and thus in service life by the application itself. This is usually due to mechanical stress or climatic influences such as temperature, humidity or UV radiation. Knowledge of the degree of damage to high-strength textiles caused by the influences described is considered relatively insufficient.

The "ResCoTex" research project presented here has focused on load securing with lashing straps. The aim of the research project was to improve the degradation behavior of high-strength textiles for load securing using resource-saving technologies. Preferably, energy- and water-saving, UV-curing coating systems should be used for this purpose, report Petra Franitza and Marian Hierhammer from the ‘Sächsisches Textilforschungsinstitut e.V.’ (STFI) and Pieter Heyse as well as Frederik Goethals from ‘Centexbel’, Gent/Belgium. In addition, they aimed to develop suitable laboratory methods with which the material-related ageing behaviour of high-strength textiles during their life cycle can be simulated in the laboratory.

There is a good reason for focusing on load securing elements such as belts: Germany is the number one transit country in Europe. This is why transport chains of different modes of transport are often used here (combined transport). In order to avoid personal injury and/or damage to property, it is therefore also a legal requirement to secure the load during transport. Despite standardised Euro pallets and special packaging units, the variety of cargo items in terms of type, geometry, size and mass poses a challenge for safe load transport. This is why the advantages of flexible technical textiles in the form of belts, ropes and nets are used here.

Developing Laboratory Methods For Durability

In order to be able to objectively evaluate achievable effects, the research project concentrated on the development of suitable laboratory methods with which the material-related ageing behaviour of safety textiles during their life cycle can be tested and estimated.

In order to gain a better understanding of the effects in practice, a test method had to be developed which allows a very realistic investigation of mechanical parameters of lashing belts. Based on the database obtained, criteria/recommendations regarding the service life, at least for product comparisons, are to be developed in order to create an understanding for the development of innovative, safe products on the market.

Weathering must be assessed as a further factor influencing the ageing behaviour of high-strength textiles. Temperature, humidity, irrigation and above all UV radiation (opto-chemical) are parameters that can considerably reduce the performance of webbing. In order to achieve this, suitable methods, test cycles and ageing times had to be found in the development phase, which allows a graded stressing and thus an evaluation. An artificial ageing procedure (global UV tester) and a procedure for a natural ageing procedure were selected.

A global UV tester can be used for artificial ageing. Parameters such as temperature, humidity, rain and UV radiation can be varied within limits. For cyclical and graded stress these parameters and the storage time were varied.

In their article in ‘melliland Textilberichte 4/19’, the researchers summed up that both natural and artificial weathering have their advantages and disadvantages and yet both are justified. The natural variant always reproduces true conditions, whereas the artificial one always has the same conditions, which makes it easier to compare the results of different products.

The decisive argument, however, is the test time, which is the same for artificial weathering speaks. Usable results require outdoor periods of two years and more. In contrast, results can be achieved with artificial weathering after only 5-10 weeks.


Excellent Sustainability Through Knitted Wire Mesh Droplet Separators

Important components of exhaust air systems, such as pumps and fans, should be protected from sticky, caking or aggressive media if possible. With droplet separators, it can be prevented that such undesirable residues accumulate in the components or damage them. Due to the high degree of separation achieved by droplet separators made of knitted wire mesh, their areas of application are as wide as such separators can be fine-meshed. The areas of application range from the petrochemical industry to mechanical and plant engineering and the pharmaceutical industry.

And there is another advantage: Separated liquids can be partially recovered. With horizontal flow, the droplets run down through the knitted fabric. The separated medium can be discharged in a controlled manner through a condensate drain installed at the point of use. The recovered liquid can thus be treated - depending on the intended use - and returned to the original process. Frequent replenishment of process fluids is thus greatly reduced. The effect of sustainability and environmental protection can therefore hardly be underestimated.

Knitted wire meshes are not only suitable for separating droplets, but can also be used as insulators, flame arresters, silencers, fillers and protection against vandalism. Above all, their use can protect personnel from harmful substances in the exhaust air. Also, the use of separators offers a solid possibility to comply with legally defined standard values of the emitted exhaust air. A further sustainability effect is that in all applications, a droplet separator does not require any energy supply for its function.

What Kind Of Droplet Separators Are Available?

The differences between the individual separators are defined by their packing density (i.e. how densely the separator is knitted) as well as the wire thickness and the material, which is usually made of stainless steel or plastic. In most cases, the separators are made round or square - but even other shapes are possible. Separators are adapted to the process so that the highest possible degree of separation is achieved. Only then is a housing designed and manufactured, adapted to the corresponding model and the customer's connections.

In any case, as Lorenzo Parrinello writes in the trade journal 'CAV', the aim is to achieve a flow-friendly design. The complete solution is usually flanged, screwed or clamped directly into an exhaust air duct, for example, as a closed unit. Whether the flow direction is horizontal or vertical is irrelevant in the design of the housing, at least for the droplet separator. In addition, it is possible to equip housings with spray nozzles that enable the built-in droplet separator to be cleaned so that they also achieve a long service life.


Efficiently Produced And Modern: Sustainable, Environmentally Friendly Cotton Fleece

Polymers such as polypropylene and polyester account for more than 50 per cent of global nonwovens production. Such PET and PP fibres are also used in carded nonwovens. Here it is mainly wiping cloths, but also hygiene products and industrial applications such as geo-, automotive and filter textiles that are used on a large scale.

In less than 20 per cent of these nonwovens, however, natural fibres or fibres from renewable resources such as viscose are the raw material of choice. And cotton also plays hardly any role except in the narrow range of cotton wool pads. Consumers have been worried not only recently by the idea that giant plastic islands the size of entire countries swim in the world's oceans. And the idea that micro plastics can be found in many foods is not pleasant for anyone.

At first glance, cleaning cloths and plastic bags may not have much in common. But conventional, water jet-bonded disposable wipes contain polyester or polypropylene fibres. In the wild on land or at sea, they too slowly degrade into tiny particles, the infamous micro plastics. It is time for the industry to think about ecological alternatives, writes Bodo Heetderks of Trützschler Nonwovens GmbH in the trade journal ‘melliland Textilberichte’.

The special challenge in processing natural fibres is that consumers love wiping cloths and are formulating ever higher demands in terms of natural feel, softness and skin compatibility. The demand for "more natural" products is growing visibly.

Except for countries in Southeast Asia, however, cotton has hardly played a role in hydro entangled nonwovens to date, and its use is limited to admixtures of up to 15 per cent. The reasons for this are short fibre lengths as well as the tendency to fibre tears and the associated risks in the carding process.

Sustainability Through Novel Cotton Nonwovens

As early as the mid-1980s, the requirements for throughput and fibre orientation in web formation were growing. Here the demand in the early 21st century was already evident. Optimized nonwoven carding machines are the basis for the highly efficient use of cotton fibres even today. Asian producers also like to process raw cotton with a staple length of 17-24 mm and a correspondingly low short fibre content.

Apart from the fibre length, knot-like structures, the so-called neps, pose a further challenge. Even the classic cotton spinning mill distinguishes between fibre and shell neps. Mechanical stresses on the fibres increase the number of fibre neps, so the carding technology used is of great importance. Web formation with conventional roller carding machines generally increases the number of neps due to the high degree of mixing. This process is therefore not suitable for efficient cotton processing.

A technology with mechanical web take-off and aerodynamic airlay carding, on the other hand, is optimally designed for processing cotton. They are characterized by a high production output and only a slight increase in neps both with 100 per cent bleached cotton and blends with viscose fibres.

Downstream machines for hydro entanglement as well as dryers and winders operate independently of the lengths of the fibre types used. And the filtration system used is designed to also process cotton with a high proportion of short fibres. Only the number and type of filter stages have to be adapted when using natural fibres.

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