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Wool Top Treatment


Wool Top Treatment

Principle of wool top treatment:

The treatment process is usual done to modify the scale structure of the wool fiber and impart shrink-resist properties.

The treatment modifies and improves the natural characteristics of wool.

The sharp ends of the scales were rounded or more or less removed. This makes the fiber smother, more even and improves the shrinkage or felting during the washing process.

The process:

The process is carried out continuously in a modified backwasher. Up to 45 slivers are treated at the same time.

First step is to apply chlorine gas dissolved in water on the silvers to start the reaction and after that the tops pass through neutralization/rinsing (partly softening) bowls and at least through a dryer.

Treatment methods:

- Basolan treatment

- Superwash or Hercosett treatment

- Total Easy Care (TEC) treatment

- Mercerized and Luster treatment

Soft treatment

Tight treatment

The different treatment methods:

Basolan treatment

Chlorine salt is dissolved and diluted in water.

The percentage of chlorine depends on the fiber fineness.

Application of the chemicals onto the fiber by running through a padding machine in front of the backwasher.

Chemicals stay on the wool for about 5 minutes and carry out a mild oxidation with the entire fiber (not only with the surface).

This procedure weakens the fiber, makes it less rigid and therefore softer than the untreated fiber.

In a following washing bath remaining chemicals are rinsed of and the fibers are dried again.

There is no application of resin or softening agent.

Basolan treated wool appears slightly more yellowish than untreated wool.

After dyeing the color is brighter than on untreated dyed wool (treatment weakens the whole fiber structure and improves the penetration of dye stuff into the fiber).

Generates a small degree of shrink resistance which prevents felting, but it is only for hand washing suitable.

Superwash or Hercosett treatment

It is the most common surface treatment for wool and achieves fiber shrink resistance.

Sodium hypochlorite and sulfuric acid or chlorine gas are dissolved in cold water. The combined chemicals are immediately reacting with the surface of the fiber and remove parts of cuticle and scales.

The chlorination increases the energy and takes about 10 seconds. The water bath has to be cooled controlled to a temperature less than 10 degree to keep the process under control. The key to success of the process is the evenness of the chlorination.

A neutralization bath stops the reaction and a following rinsing removes the remaining chemicals.

At the end of the process the fibers are sealed with a resin and a softening agent will be applied.

Percentage of chlorine and the production speed have to be adjusted according the fiber fineness.

Superwash treatment is a stronger and quicker treatment than Basolan.

It is a surface specific treatment.

Makes it possible to wash garments made from wool in the washing machine up to 45 degrees without shrinkage.

Total Easy Care treatment (TEC)

The processes are close to Superwash treatment.

The chlorine percentage is higher and the running speed lower than Superwash.

The resistance time of the chemicals on the fiber surface is about 30 – 40 seconds.

Application of resin at the end of the process.

Allows to wash garments made from wool in the washing machine up to 40 degrees and also to dry them in the tumble dryer (TEC Standard).

Mercerized treatment

The term “mercerizing” has its origin in the cotton industry and means there to singe the protruding fibers with an open flame to make the surface smooth.

However – in the woolen industry the process is completely different.

The treatment procedure is the same as Total Easy Care but with a once more intensified chlorination stage.

The scales are removed nearly completely from the fiber surface.

This weakens the fiber, impairs the handle and makes the spinning process messy.

On the other hand the fiber has very regular surface, a hand touch similar to cashmere and is brilliant as mohair or silk.

There is no application of resin on the fiber only a softening agent.

Mercerized wool tends to more pilling than untreated wool because of less friction and coherence between the fibers in the yarn (missing scales).

Luster treatment

The treatment procedure is the same as Mercerized treatment, but the surface is sealed with a hydrophobic silicone polymer.

This makes it possible to create a wool fiber that feels softer by two or three microns, is less prickling than the original fiber and still needs TEC standards of washing performance.

Garments made from this fibers are thus ideal next to skin wear and have found success in the underwear market.

Beside this “Oxidation” treatment methods exist additional some processes but they are not so important because the processes are not stable enough for industrial level.

Only for the sake of completeness :

Enzyme Treatment

Plasma treatment

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