BY: Mr. C. N. Sivaramakrishnan

The challenges facing the finishing industry have intensified in the last one decade, with finishers faced with the new task of striving to survive in this global and highly competitive market. Consumers demand more durability, more functionality from their clothing. Today�s consumers insist on odour control, freshness, high performance and comfort. Apparel makers and the finishing industry are thus faced with a daunting job of producing superior fabrics that are technically advanced.

New standards in the manufacturing of yarns have been set, because of the rotor spinning technology. Textiles produced from open- end yarns are distinctively harder, more brittle than ring spun yarn qualities. The beginning of 1980�s brought the conventional cationic softeners, polyethylene emulsions for open end yarn and short liquor dyeing machines. Since the beginning of 1990�s,with more and more soft flow machines, amino functional silicones and high quality fatty acid condensate products were applied on the fabrics. But since the end of 1990, there has been a paradigm shift in the mind-set of the consumers. Conventional softeners could not compensate such handling differences and had lot of limitations. Multi- functional softeners with special effects have come on the scene. Consumers insist for tailor- made products, with more value- added properties.

Cotton is the king of fibers: fibers for the rich
Polyester for the masses
Functional finishes are applied to cover the inherent weaknesses of cotton and polyester.

POLYESTER:

MERITS


Low cost
Excellent shine and drape
Strength: twice that of cotton
Low deformation: No sags and bends
Excellent crease recovery property
Formal look

DEMERITS

Hydrophobic due to low moisture regain
High static charge generated resulting in poor wear comfort
Attracts dust particles and stains
Difficult to clean (Poor soil release)
Strong tendency to pill during abrasive wash process
Easily blended with other man made and natural fibers.

BIRTH OF FUNCTIONAL FINISHING: DRIVING FORCES:

1: Availability of newer molecules
2: Expanded textile applications
3: Value added finishes
4: Niche markets
5: Consumer delight
6: Retail boom

INSISTENCE ON VALUE FOR MONEY

1: Consumer is the king
2: Value for money concept
3: Markets looking for constant change in the product mix
The normal life cycle of cotton, which was only up to finished fabric, in the early 1960s, is now extended to branded and specialty products.

LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS

Cotton Rs. 100 Crores in 1960
Spun yarn
Grey fabric
Processed fabric
Finished fabric
Branded product
Specialty product (FUNCTIONAL FINISHES) Rs. 22500 Crores in 2006

VALUE ADDITION CHAIN

2: Development of machineries: In view of the high shear forces in short liquor dyeing machines, softeners with low foaming tendency and a high shear resistance are preferred.

3: Newer molecules: Specialty chemicals performing one or more functions. Greater compatibility to provide one step multi -functional finishes. For example, dyeing and finishing in the same bath, by the exhaust method.

FUNCTIONAL FINISHES

1: Encapsulated finishes
2: Smart textiles
3: Anti Static
4: Moisture management
5: Odour free
6: Non Ironing
7: Anti microbial
8: UV absorbers
9: Cool finish
10: Water proof finish and many more

3a: Multi functional softeners possess the following properties

Softening
Static control
Hydrophylicity (Re wetting property)
Non yellowing
Bio degradability
Viscosity/ Stability
Perfume retention

SMART TEXTILES:

Smart textiles are materials and structures that are sensitive and react to environmental conditions such as mechanical, electrical, chemical, thermal magnetic or other senses.
Synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon, acrylic too demand functional finishes, but with the emergence of cotton as the most popular fabric, newer finishing terminologies have also been coined .Cotton is amazingly versatile, whether as a stand alone or as blended. Cotton is popular because it is comfortable all the year around. In hot humid weather, cotton breathes, as the body perspires, cotton fibers absorb moisture and release it on the fabric and it evaporates in cold weather. If the fabric remains dry, the fibers retain body heat, especially napped fabric. Cotton absorbs up to 27 times its weight of water, lends for a comfortable soft hand, takes dye easily, conducts heat well, resists piling etc. With all the advantageous properties, there are two main inherent weaknesses, namely, dirt and crease resistance.

On the other hand, fabrics made with synthetic fibers, generally, have strong crease and dirt resistant properties, but they lack the comfort properties of cotton. With the recent advances in nano- technology, it is possible to develop next generation cotton based fabrics that can complement the advantages of cotton and man- made fibers. Such advanced fabrics can be produced either by blending cotton with special nano fibers or by treating the yarn or fabrics with various design/material modification at nano scale. Nanotech deals with the science and technology at dimension of roughly 1 to 100 nanometers.( one billion nano meter = one meter ). The technology can be used in engineering desired textile attributes such as softness, durability, breathability and in developing advanced performance characteristics, namely water repellency, fire retardancy, anti- microbial resistance, UV absorbers in fibers, yarns and fabrics.

Newer functional finishes are possible through micro encapsulation of active matter such as Aroma finishes, Mosquito /Insect repellent finishes, Tobacco masking effects, cool finishes.

Micro encapsulation delivery system for textiles allows fragrances or active ingredients of almost any kind to be chemically trapped inside and then released from clothing, bedding, towels, or other textiles over an extended period of time. The benefits of micro encapsulation are, clothing has lasting fragrance and provide aroma therapy, while sleeping. These artificial fragrances and ingredients are not just mixed in with other easy care finishes, when the garment is made. This new garment technology chemically binds these microscopic capsules of chemicals with the textile fibers. The capsules of chemicals break through normal wear or use and release their microscopic payloads. Microcapsules can be applied to any type of fiber at any stage of textile production vis exhaust, padding or spraying. Another advantage of micro capsules is the activated capsules are capable of remaining dormant on the textile fibers for a very long period of time. This helps for long term storage of stock or long distribution channels.

CONSUMER BENEFITS:

1: Odor control
2: Freshness
3: Comfort and high performance


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