Degumming technology to improve the fibers' quality
The Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) has developed baskets of options for pretreatment of abaca, banana, and pineapple fibers that lower production costs by as much as 35 percent and improve the fibers' quality.
Fibers undergo degumming to reduce the plants' glue-like or gum content and render them clean and spinnable. Dr. Carlos C. Tomboc, director of PTRI, believes that this progress in fiber degumming technology will make it more competitive and acceptable to the end-users. The modified degumming processes translate to production savings of 20–35 percent.
Marites de Leon, senior science research specialist at PTRI, explained that reducing chemical inputs in pretreatment of pineapple fibers cuts cost by about 25 percent.
Banana fibers, which are degummed immediately after "woolenization," record a residual gum content of 10 percent, which is comparable to the established 10.53 percent, 35 percent lower processing cost, and 14 percent shorter treatment time. Residual gum content affects the fineness of fibers, according to the researcher. The fibers go through a series of chemical and mechanical treatment to achieve the crimp property of wool for better processing,
Modified processes for abaca fibers, on the other hand, are more effective in reducing gum content than the standard process, de Leon added. Processed fibers have residual gum content of 6.81 percent, 21 percent reduction in pretreatment cost, and 12 percent less treatment time.
As the Philippine government's lead agency in textile research and development, PTRI of the Department of Science and Technology continuously transfer technologies and render technical services, promote the use of indigenous resources, and develop technical competence in textile production and quality assurance.
To strengthen awareness on Philippine tropical fabrics among the public and gather key players involved in indigenous fibers and textiles, PTRI will hold a conference on natural fibers on December 2, 2009 before the International Year of Natural Fibers concludes.
Ornamental plant doubles up as fabric material
Tropical plant maguey is not just for landscape use but also an alternative source of home and industrial fabric material says the Philippine Textile Research Institute.
According to the Department of Science and Technology's PTRI, maguey fiber is a good raw material for the production of home and industrial textiles when blended with polyester staples (80/20 and 65/35 polyester/maguey). The processed fiber is ideal for upholstery and manufacturing wall covering, bags, table linens, and curtains.
Going green ranges from dieting, recycling, or building structures from earth-friendly materials, to choosing plant-based materials for clothes and home textile needs. Not merely jumping on the bandwagon of going green, PTRI is pushing for the use of fiber-rich plants in domestic textile production to trim the industry's import of synthetic-based fibers. This has led the Institute to consider maguey, particularly its leaves, for fabric production.