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Technology of Denim Production: Part-V (Finishing of Grey Denim Fabric)

By: Supriya Pal

Technology of Denim Production: Part- V

By: Supriya Pal Technology of Denim Production: Part V- Finishing of Grey Denim Fabric Finishing of grey denim fabric normally carried out after weaving. It takes an important role in fabric properties, appearance, softness and residual fabric shrinkage. The finishing of denim fabric is carried out for several purposes. Finishing of denim fabric can be varied according to the specific requirement of customer. The finishing process may vary from harsh hand (loom state), soft hand (desizing) and sulphur over dyeing. Another fashion trend of denim finishing is soft or washed down denim in place of stiff and harsh denim. To achieve the soft feel in finished denim fabric, the fabric is subject to a desizing and washing processes. The range normally consisting of a desize saturator, a steamer and several wash boxes. The processes, in most of the cases are tied with the brushing and singeing and other operations. Traditional finishing range of denim fabric involves the some distinct steps, as shown in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1: Process Steps for Finishing of Denim Fabric

Brushing Singeing ChemicalPad


Skewing Predrying Shrinking Drying

In the brushing stage, the grey fabric is brushed to remove the loose lint and loose fluff from the fabric surface. It also raised the protruding fibers on the fabric surface which are removed in the next stage of singeing process.

The fabric is then singed in both or only faces side which burn off the protruding fibers from the fabric surface. Normally denim fabric is singed twice in a single passage of a singeing machine. The denim finished fabric must have soft and pleasant handle. After the singing range, the fabric is subjected to a chemical pad treatment. Softeners are often used in the chemical treatment in order to impart soft feeling of the fabric. The fabric is then stretch by passing through two pulling devices and then passing through a skewing device. Denim fabric has a tendency to skew after washing due to the 3/1 or 2/1 twill weave. Hence denim fabric is skewed to facilitate subsequent fabrication. After skewing, the fabric is passed through drying cylinders for partial drying of fabric (75-85% moisture is removed). 100% cotton denim may require 25-15% moisture to permit effective pre shrinkage. The potential shrinkage of grey denim fabric varied from 8-18% depending on the construction of the fabric. Hence denim fabric must be pre-shrunk so that the finished fabric does not show high shrinkage during subsequent washing of finished garment. The amount of pre-shrinking depends upon the type of denim fabric processed. The amount of pre-shrink to be applied is determined by washing a piece of unfinished denim fabric. Finally the fabric is dried and ironed on a felt calendar (Palmer) and delivered in batches in trolleys. Typical denim finishing range is shown in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2: Typical Denim Finishing Range ( Entry of grey fabric in the Finishing Range)

Skewness in twill Fabric The skewness in denim fabric, particularly in twill weave creates a serious problem in subsequent garment manufacturing and its washing. Leg twist is a major problem in denim manufacturing. Due to this problem the leg is rotated in the opposite direction of the twill of the fabric after laundering. Leg twist is assumed to be happen due to the directional yarn stresses. These are inherent in regular twill weave fabrics and developed during weaving. During washing the yarn stresses is relaxed which change the regular position of interlacement between warp

and filling yarns. Due to this reason the legs are twisted. Normally leg twist not shown on garment stage. It only observed after laundering of the garment. Although leg twist appears after first laundering and it increases progressively with repeated launderings. Ideally warp and weft should be at right angle to each other in normal fabric. Skew in the fabric occurs when the warp are displaced from their vertical position or when the weft are displaced from their horizontal position. The leg twist is created due to tensions in the fabrics. It is related to the twill direction. Normally a right-hand twill fabric twists in the counter clockwise direction. Similarly a left-hand twill fabric twists in the clockwise direction. These leg twist problem can be eliminated through compensating the tensions by deliberately skewing the fabric in the counter clockwise direction for right-hand twills (RHT) and in the clockwise direction for left-hand twill (LHT). Hence the RHT denim fabric should be skewed by advancing the right selvage with respect to the left selvage in the fabric of face up. This results in counterclockwise skew. Similarly a LHT fabric should be skewed by advancing the left selvage when run face up. The amount of the skew to be applied depends upon many factors, such as the type of twill weave, the weight of the fabric, the yarn sizes, the twist of the yarns. The twill angle is also an important factor. Normally the fabric straightness has only a single skew roller or a pair of rollers offset the same amount. A single skew roller is not able to give a full 8% skew in a single passage in heavy weight denim fabric. However, minimum two skew rollers, and preferably three or four skew rollers give better results. In general, Z- twist cotton yarns generate right-handed skew. All S-twist yarns exhibit left hand skew. In general open-end yarns result in less skew than the ring spun yarns.

Fig. 3: Woven fabric skewness

When any woven fabrics are removed from looms, the warps and wefts start to contract each other in order to undergo equilibrium condition. Hence the warp and weft yarn become closed to each other and the free spaces between them reduced. It has observed that the type of deformation of fabric depends upon many factors, among which the weave of the fabric (either plane or twill) is most important. The forces acting on the yarns after removing the fabric from the weaving loom is shown in Fig. 4.

Fig. 4: Forces acting on the yarns after releasing the fabric from the weaving loom

Fig. 5:The movement of yarn in a plain fabric

Fig. 6:The movement of yarn in a twill fabric

In case of plain weave fabric, the free spaces in warp and weft direction are equal. Hence the forces acting on all sides of each float are equal, which makes the fabric more stable. However in case of twill weave fabric, at the portion of a float; there is a gap or free space equal to the actual diameter of the yarn. Due to this free space, there may be possible that the floating yarn push away the crossing yarn (Fig. 7).

Fig. 7: The floating yarn to push away the crossing yarn at the interlacing point

Fig. 8: Position of a float

Fig. 9: Skewed float

Fig. 10: Situation for each float in the left hand 2/2 twill

The two forces acting opposite to each other in the floats makes them like an in-plain lever (Fig. 8). The position of the free spaces on either side of the float determine the direction in which the float to be skewed. For a the right-hand 2/2 twill fabric, the location of the free spaces, as shown in Fig. 8 will skewed clockwise (Fig. 9). for a left-hand 2/2 twill fabric, as shown in Fig. 10, the floats will be skewed anticlockwise. Herringbone or any other types of zigzag twill, there is no risk of the fabric becoming skewed, as in such weaves, floats (in-plane levers) act oppose to each other. The degree of skew movement depends upon yarn characteristics, weaving tensions, and the fabric structures.

Denim Finishing Range Denim fabric can be finished in a number of ways by different mills as per suitability of customer requirements and productivity. Some of the finishing ranges are as below: Denim Singeing & Skewing Range Some denim production unit followed two separate steps of denim finishing. In the first stage the grey denim fabric passes through a brushing, singeing, chemical passing, skewing and drying (Fig. 11). However the passage may be varied from mill to mill, depending upon their requirements. With this setup, the denim fabric can be processed at higher speed such as 100 mpm. This setup typically feed two shrinking machines which is must slower speed to achieve proper shrinkage of the heavy fabric.

Fig. 11:Denim Singeing & Skewing Range

Entry Brush Singing

Chemical Pad

Skewing Drying Exit

CompressiveShrinking Range

Compressive ShrinkingRange

Fig. 12: Typical Passage of a Denim Singeing Range

Fig. 13: Typical Singing Machine

Compressive Shrinkage of Denim In few denim manufacturing units the compressive shrinking of denim fabric is carried out in a separate range. The process flow chart is given in Fig 14. A heavy duty shrinkage machine is used to apply shrinkage to the denim fabric up to 14-16% depending on the fabric potential shrinkage.

Fig. 14: Compressive Shrinking Range

Entry Moisturizer CompressiveShrinking Palmer Exit

Fig. 15: Typical Compressive Shrinking Range

Morrison compressive shrinking systems

Fig. 16: Morrison compressive shrinking systems The core of these ranges is the rubber belt unit. Morrison's SanforTROL offer automated shrinkage control system to deliver optimum results. The SanforTROL monitors and controls belt pressure, moisture, temperatures and speeds to ensure new levels of shrinkage consistency. Typical features include: The centrifugally cast stainless steel heated shrinking cylinder allows optimum superior heat transfer properties, durability and performance. The highest drying capacity of the palmer unit. The larger diameter palmer unit along with high (9 bar) steam pressure and multiple blanket drying cylinders ensures optimum shrinkage. Rubber belt grinding roll is filled with liquid coolant (glycol) to reduce roll temperature and eliminate roll distortion during the high rpm grinding procedure.

Fig. 17: Morrison compressive shrinking systems (Sanfor 100 Range)

MONFORT Traditional Finishing and Shrinking Range Monfort offers traditional finishing and shrinking range in a single process (Fig. 19). The denim fabric at first wetted in the padder. It is then passes through drying cylinders where the excess water is evaporated. The fabric is then fed through a high-performance rubber belt shrinking ranges. It is followed by a palmer unit where it is dried and ironed.

Fig. 18: Monfort Finishing and Shrinking Range

Fig. 19: MONFORTs Traditional Finishing and Shrinking Range

Integrated Finishing Range for Denim In integrated denim finishing range, the singeing and shrinking is carried out in a single range. This reduces the process time, material handling, cost of production and labour cost. The process sequence in an integrated finishing range is shown in Fig. 20.

Fig. 20: Integrated Finishing Range for Denim

Entry Brush Singing

Chemical Pad

Skewing Predrying CompressiveShrinking Palmer Exit

Fig. 21: Morrison Integrated Finishing Range

Process sequence

The processes of a typical Integrated denim finishing range includes the following stages:
Brushing: In the integrated finishing range, the grey denim fabric is first passed through a brushing and suction unit, where loose lint, fluff are removed from the fabric surface. The protruding fibers adhere on the fabric surface are also raised to burned in the next process.

Singing: The denim fabric is then passes through a singing unit. Here the fabric is singed two times on the face side. Typical singing machine is shown in Fig. 22.

Fig 22: Typical Denim Singeing Machine

Chemical Padding: The denim fabric is then padded to apply finish to the fabric. Here the fabric passes into a full immersion pad and finish is added at high wet pick up. The finish is necessary to properly lubricate fabric for the subsequent skewing operation. Different chemical manufacturers produce different softeners and foam forming chemicals for denim fabric finishing. Foam finishing is quite popular in denim finishing. Skewing: After chemical padding, the fabric is stretched by passing through two pulling devices and then passes through a skewing unit, where it is skewed. Pre-drying: The fabric is then passes through drying cylinders for partial drying of the fabric. Here 7585% moisture are removed. The steam cylinders drive moisture in to the core of the yarns and reducing it to the 15-17% which is required for optimal sanforizing Compressive Shrinking: Subsequently, the denim fabric passes through a compressive shrinking unit where the denim fabric is pre-shrunk according to the grey potential shrinkage of the fabric, so that the residual shrinkage should be under tolerance limit. 100% cotton denim may require about 14% moisture for effective pre shrinkage. Moisture should be uniform thorough out the length, width, and depth of fabric for effective shrinking.

Fig. 23: Fabric shrinkage with rubber belt compression The compressive shrinkage unit consists of a heated and polished stainless steel cylinder, Tension Roller, Pressure Roller and guide rollers. Both the tension roller and the pressure can be adjusted as per requirement. A rubber belt cooling device is fitted with a water spraying arrangement on both faces of the rubber belt. Rubber belt unit is equipped with belt grinding roller and a suction device for dust removal from the belt grinding device.

Palmer Cylinder: After the compressive shrinkage unit, the fabric is passes through a palmer unit, where the fabric is dried and iron. The functions of the palmer cylinder is: To dry the denim fabric to a level of about 4% relative humidity and set shrinkage, Adjust the shrinkage, To compare incoming and outgoing fabric tension and determine fabric shrinkage, It helps in precise adjustment of fabric shrinkage. It pulls the fabric and precisely control tension on the fabric. It gives a pressing and calendaring effect on the preshrunk fabric

The preshrunk fabrics are required to be in intimate uniform contact with the surface of the heated cylinder in order to ensure uniform fabric drying. The fabric drying depends upon many factors, such as palmer cylinder temperature, pressure of the steam, machine speed, construction and permeability of the drying felt. The palmer unit can be equipped with the main drum in different diameters - 1500 mm, 1800 mm, 1950 mm, 2500 mm and in widths up to 3500 mm. Operating pressure may be in the range of 4-6. The Felt Drying cylinder is of 780 mm / 800 mm. For Denim finishing, 2500 mm Palmer drum is normally equipped with two felt drying cylinders of 800 mm. The woollen / synthetic superfine quality felt ensures excellent fabric finish. Cooling Unit At the exit of the palmer there is a cooling can. The unit consists of one, two or three stainless steel jacketed cylinders equipped with chilled water circulation to cool the hot fabric as it comes out of the Palmer unit. Delivery unit The delivery unit consists of big batching arrangement and a plaiting device. A stainless steel scray can be equipped for continuous operation.

Fig. 24: Different types of Denim Finishing Range delivery .

Fig. 25 : Typical Denim Finishing Range ( Exit of denim finished fabric from the Palmer of the Finishing Range, )

Fig. 26:Denim Finish Fabric Plaiter assembly

Integrated Denim Finishing Range with Over dye In todays fashion world, over dyeing of denim fabric after weaving became a common trend. Normally sulphur colours are extensively used for over dyeing of denim fabric. The over dyeing of denim fabric in finishing range consists of a dye padder to apply colour and a steamer for fixation of the dye. The fabric passes through the washing tank to remove the oxidizes dye from the fabric and dried later. Typical process sequence in an integrated finishing range with over dyeing is shown in Fig. 27.

Fig. 27:Integrated Finishing Range with over dyeing for Denim

Entry Brush Singing Dye Padder Steamer Wash

Chemical Pad

Skewing Predrying CompressiveShrinking Palmer Exit

Dhalls Continuous Dyeing Range for Denim

Dhall offers continuous dyeing range which is suitable for dyeing reactive, vat, sulphur dyes. The efficient washing compartments ensure uniform washing. It is followed by drying of the fabric in the cylinder drier.

Fig. 28: Dhall Continuous Over Dyeing Range

Continuous Denim De-Sizing and Finishing Range Some machinery manufacturers incorporated desizing unit in denim finishing ranges which offers soft denim fabric. Swastic offers a continuous denim de-sizing and finishing range together with a singeing unit Impregnator - Steamer - Washing Range - Pre-Drying and Shrinking machine to work as a continuous range. The continuous desizing and finishing range may be supplied with different preparation and dosing tanks for softeners. The range is normally equipped with a Unwinding device with a stainless steel scray for continuous operation at the feed end. At the delivery end the range is usually equipped with a stainless steel scray with a Big Batching and Plaiting device. The range is incorporated with gas singeing machine, followed by water cooled rollers and an impregnator with a squeeze nip for de-sizing chemicals.

Fig. 29: Swastic Continuous Denim De-Sizing and Finishing Range

The Steamer which follows the Impregnator is incorporated with a steam conditioning unit. Stainless steel wash tank are provided to wash the de-sized fabrics. This is followed by a predryer unit of an adequate number of drying Cylinders and a width shrinking device. This is followed by the shrinking range.

Dhalls Continuous Desizing Range for Soft Feel Denim

Dhall offers continuous desizing ranges which are suitable for eliminating the size material from denim fabric with the help of rapid enzymes in the impregnator tank. It is then developed in the steamer for suitable time. It is then subjected to intensive washing, and followed by cylinder drier.

Dhalls Continuous Desizing Range

Impregnator unit provided followed by steamer are available in various capacities in order to meet specific production requirement.

Fig. 30: Dhalls Continuous Desizing Range for Soft Feel Denim

Foam Denim Finishing Range In the field of denim finishing, some specially designed foam finishing range is quite popular for denim finishing. This type of denim finishing range is usually consist of fabric in-feed, suction cleaning box, foam applicator with vacuum drum, foam generator, stretching nips, anti-skew heavy duty shrinking machine, felt calendar and plaiter or big batcher. The grey denim fabric, as usual fed through the in-feed device, then it is passing under suction device which removes the fluffs and loose impurities from the surface of the fabric. If the fluffs not removed, it may frequently get accumulated between foam blanket and doctor blade which disturb foam layer. Different chemical manufacturers developed different chemicals for foam suitable for denim finishing. Foam is supplied continuously on the foam conveyor belt. The foam layer of required width and thickness is controlled by the doctor-blade. The supply of foam is automatically controlled. The fabric is fed along with foam layer. It is then passes over a vacuum drum. The foam is sucked from the fabric due to the force of the vacuum.

Dhall offers vacuum foam finishing & shrinking range for denim fabric. Moisture along with various finishing agent are used along with foam. The foam is fed on the rubber conveyor, evenly across the width on the conveyor with the help of an oscillating feed pipe system. The doctor blade allows uniform layer of foam across width. It is then sucked uniformly by vacuum pump. This is followed by an anti skew unit and a shrinking unit.

Fig 31: Dhalls Vacuum Foam Finishing & Shrinking Range for denim

Monforts denim finishing system with VACU-FOAM Monforts offer denim finishing system with VACU-FOAM, in which the foam application takes place with a Vacu-Foam device. The treatment sequence of the foam finishing technology consist of foam application with Vacu-foam device linked to the Monforts foam mixing unit, stretching and drafting device, rubber belt shrinking device and a felt calendar. The VACU-FOAM unit consists of three main sections: The foam generator and delivery unit The foam application unit with doctor blade The production monitoring unit The foam is made in the foam generator with a special foaming agent. The foam is supplied onto the rubber cloth (3) of the VACU-FOAM unit by a doctor blade (2) ( Fig. 32). It is then passed to a vacuum drum (4) at a constant height. The fabric (1) passes through the unit between the impermeable rubber cloth (3) and the vacuum drum (4). Here the foam is "sucked" uniformly through the fabric and the fabric receives only the amount of chemicals and moisture required for finishing.

Fig. 32: Vacu Foam Unit ( 1- Fabric, 2- Doctor blade,3-Rubber belt, 4-Vacuum drum,5- Vacuum control cam , 6- Foam)

Fig. 33: Monforts denim finishing system with VACU-FOAM

Denim Flat Finish Range Dhall offers mercerizing machine which includes intensive impregnation, followed by stabilization. It is followed by highly efficient washing and neutralizing.

The unit is based on buoyant floating drum principle, offering greater caustic impregnation due to higher nip pressure developed by floating drums. The nip line is fully submerged inside the caustic liquor which allows uniform mercerizing.
The advantages of Mercerizing are:

It enhanced the fabric strength. It improves the fabric luster. Dimensional stability. It increases the affinity towards dyestuffs.

Fig. 34: Dhalls Flat Finish Range

Morrison Integrated Flex Finish Range Morrison offers INTR Flex Finish Range which allows maximum flexibility in denim finishing for todays fashion trend. The process sequence includes brushing, singeing, value-added processes such as, Classical Denim Finishing, Soft Finish (desize), Over dye with reactive or sulfur dyes, Flat Finish (causticize) and Stretch Fabric processing, followed by SANFOR.

Fig. 35: Morrison Integrated Flex Finish Range

Morrison Denim Finishing High Speed Range Morrison offers High speed denim finishing range, which allows higher process speeds and maximum flexibility. The process sequence includes brushing, singeing, impregnation of finishing chemicals, fabric skewing and drying of fabrics at speeds up to 100 m/min. The range can also be equipped with value-added processes include Classical Finishing, Soft Finish, Flat Finish and Stretch Finish. SANFOR process is follows, as a discontinuous process, stabilization of fabric properties.

Fig. 36: Morrison Denim Finishing High Speed Range

Monforts New Finishing Possibilities for Denim Todays modern fashion trend demands new innovative denim finishing technology. The traditional processes of denim finishing are superseded by latest new denim finishing technologies. Monfort offers new Thermex hotflue with integral stretching unit for denim finishing. It exhibits lower stretching forces than a conventional stretching unit. The fabric is finished more gently. The finished fabric width and appearance is the exact weft thread draft. The hotflue units offer more precise temperature control in drying treatment than conventional drying methods. This allows more precise residual moisture contents. In combination with Vacu-Foam foam unit and with the hotflue drying, a higher production speed can be achieved. However the hotflue drying system requires less space than other conventional range. The new finishing ranges may of different design as per type of finish requirements and with the combination of different units. Some of the selected range examples for new denim finishing are as below:

Denim finishing range equipped with foam application. The finishing range may be equipped with hotflue arrangement with stretching unit function. Denim finishing range available for classical woven fabrics and also for woven fabrics with elastane fibers.

Denim finishing ranges may be available for 100% cotton and of cotton with elastane fibers. It can be equipped with washing machines and hotflue/stenter for the cotton/elastane fabric. Range configuration for various denim treatments can also be available. Monforts offers complete finishing lines for denim, such as over-dyeing, stripping, bleaching, desizing, mercerizing.

Fig. 35: Monfort Denim New Finishing Possibilities

References 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Click here to read Part-IV The author is Manager (TQM) at Shri Lakshmi Cotsyn Limited, UPSIDC Industrial Area, Malwan, Dist. Fatehpur,UP