What is Singeing?


The verb singe literally means to burn superficially. Technically, singeing refers to the burning-off of:

  • Loose fibres not firmly bound into the yarn and/or fabric structure;
  • Loose yarns not firmly bound into the fabric structure;
  • Protruding fibre ends sticking out of the textile yarns and/or fabrics.



Textiles materials are most commonly singed in woven or knitted fabric form or in yarn form.


Singeing Objectives & advantages


  • Singeing of a fabric is done in order to obtain a clean fabric surface which allows the structure of the fabric to be clearly seen.
  • Fabrics, which have been singed, soil less easily than un-singed fabrics.
  • The risk of pilling, especially with synthetics and their blends, is reduced in case of singed fabrics.
  • Singed fabrics allow printing of fine intricate patterns with high clarity and detail.
  • The risk of skittery dyeings with singed articles dyed in dark shades is considerably reduced, as randomly protruding fibres are removed in singeing which could cause diffused reflection of light.


Types of singeing machines


There are three main types of singeing machines:

  1. Plate singeing machine
  2. Rotary-cylinder singeing machine
  3. Gas singeing machine


(a) Plate Singeing Machine


In this type of singeing machine, the cloth passes over and in contact with one or two heated curved copper plates. The thickness of the plates ranges from 1 to 2 inches. The heating of the plates is done by a suitable burning arrangement of gas mixed with air. The plates are heated to bright redness and the cloth passes over and in contact with these plates at a speed ranging from 150 to 250 yards per minute.


 


Key Terms:


Singeing; Pyrolysis; Exothermic; Endothermic; Thermoplastic; Pyrometer; Carburettor;


Acknowledgement


The Author is thankful to all singeing machinery manufacturers whose websites and technical literature have been consulted and whose figures have been used in this report.


Website References


  1. http://www.osthoff-senge.com/
  2. http://www.swastiktextile.com/
  3. http://www.lindauer-dornier.com/english/index.htm
  4. http://www.menzelus.com
  5. http://www.menzel.net
  6. http://susiram.in
  7. http://www.gayatri-engg.com
  8. http://www.jfletcher.co.uk
  9. http://www.ssm.ch
  10. http://www.ritespa.it


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Common problems in GAS singeing and their causes


A. Incomplete Singeing


  1. The most common causes of incomplete singeing are as follows:
  2. Too low flame intensity
  3. Too fast fabric speed
  4. Too far distance between the fabric and the burner
  5. Inappropriate (i.e. less severe) singeing position
  6. Too much moisture in the fabric incoming for singeing.
    • If the fabric incoming for singeing has too much moisture in it, a significant amount of thermal energy will be used up in evaporating the fabric moisture rather than burning the protruding fibres, resulting in incomplete singeing.


B. Uneven Singeing Across the Fabric Width


The most common causes of widthways uneven singeing are as follows:

  1. Non-uniform moisture content across the fabric width
  2. Non-uniform flame intensity (uneven flame height) across the fabric width
  3. Uneven distance between the burner and the fabric
    1. This may be due to misalignment or improper setting of the guide rollers
  4. Uneven smoke evacuation over the burners


C. Uneven Singeing Along the Fabric Length


  1. The most common causes of lengthways uneven singeing are as follows:
  2. Non-uniform moisture content along the fabric length
  3. Non-uniform flame intensity along the fabric length
    1. Variation in gas-air mixture supply
    2. Increasing or decreasing thermal energy of the flames during production
  4. Change in fabric speed during singeing
  5. Change in the distance between the fabric and the burner along the length


D. Horizontal Singeing Stripes


The most common causes of horizontal singeing stripes are as follows:

  1. Rollers with an un-centred rolling action
  2. Sudden fabric tension increase


E. Vertical Singeing Stripes


This may be caused by:

  1. Total or partial blockage of flame outlet


F. Over-singing or Thermal Damage of the Fabric


The most common causes of over-singeing or thermal damage of the fabric are as follows:

  • Too high flame intensity
  • Too slow fabric speed or too long contact time between fabric and flame
  • Too close distance between the fabric and the burner or too deep penetration of the singeing flame into the fabric
  • Inappropriate (i.e. too severe) singeing position


G. Formation of Small Beads of Molten Material


This may be cause by:

  1. Insufficient energy supply, when the thermal energy is not supplied quickly enough to be able to ignite the thermoplastic fibre rather than melting it.


 

The passage of the cloth can be arranged in such a manner that one or both sides of the fabric may pass over and in contact with the heated plate(s), in order to accomplish singeing of one or both sides of the fabric in a single passage.


In order to avoid local cooling of a certain part of the plate(s) by constant passage of cloth over it, an automatic traversing mechanism is fitted to the machine. This mechanism brings the cloth into contact with a constantly changing part of the plate(s), not only to avoid local cooling but also local wearing of the plate(s).


(b) Rotary-Cylinder Singeing Machine


In this type of singeing machine, the cloth passes over and in contact with a heated rotary cylinder made of copper or cast iron. The rotary cylinder has internal firing and revolves slowly so that constantly a fresh surface of the roller comes in contact with the cloth. The direction of rotation of the cylinder is opposite to the direction of the fabric so that the protruding fibres or nap of the fabric is raised.


This type of machine is particularly suitable for the singeing of velvets and other pile fabrics.


If the singeing of both sides of the fabric is required, then two cylinder are employed, one for each side of the fabric.


Fig. 2. Line diagram of rotary-cylinder singeing machine


(c) Gas Singeing Machine


In this type of singeing machine, the fabric passes over a burning gas flame at such a speed that only the protruding fibres burn and the main body of the fabric is not damaged by the flame. This is the most common type of machine used for singeing fabrics as well yarns (Fig.3).



Fig. 3. Principle of gas singeing machine

 

Fundamentals of gas Singeing


The main purpose of singeing is to burn the protruding fibres from the yarn and/or fabric surface. In order to burn the protruding fibres, energy must be supplied. The supplied energy must be just enough to burn only the protruding fibres, while keeping the firmly bound fibres in tact. This is achieved by allowing time of contact between the singeing flame and the fabric to practically a fraction of a second. As the temperature of the flame is too high (around 1300C), any regulation of this temperature is out of the question. However, metering and control of thermal energy of the flame is essential for the safe but effective burning off process.


Burning Behaviour of Cotton and Polyester


Cotton has an exothermic pyrolysis as once it has been ignited it continues to burn by virtue of its own energy which is being released. Polyester has an endothermic pyrolysis as it requires a steady supply of energy to allow the burning process to continue. Polyester ignites at a temperature of 480-500 C, while it starts melting at 250-260 C.


For the singeing of polyester fabric or yarns, thermal energy must be supplied in a shock form, and the pyrolysis must be like an explosion, so that the polyester protruding fibres ignite rather than melting. Otherwise, molten beads of polyester may be formed.


Pyrolysis


Pyrolysis refers to transformation of a substance by the action of heat. At temperature of pyrolysis (Tp), both thermoplastic and non-thermoplastic fibres decompose (pyrolyze) into lower molecular weight fragments. The chemical change, which begins at temperature of pyrolysis, continues through the temperature of combustion (Tc).


Main components of a Gas Singeing Machine


Fig. 4 illustrates main components of a gas singeing machine. The dotted line, in the fig., represents the movement of fabric from the left to the right.


Fig.4. Line Diagram of Gas Singeing Machine for Woven Fabrics by Swastik

 



At the start, the fabric passes through a tension unit with guide rollers and bars, which ensure crease-free entry of the fabric into the machine. Then, there are (optional) pre-drying cylinders which even out any variations in the fabric moisture-content and temperature.


Next, the fabric passes through pre-brushing unit which, in addition to removing dirt/dust, lint and loose fibres from the fabric, causes the fibres sticking to the fabric surface to stand out for easy subsequent burning. A dust collection system, provided just below the brush rollers, is connected to a powerful suction unit.



After pre-brushing, the fabric enters into the singeing chamber, where it passes over the burning flames, which are positioned on both sides of the fabric. The cloth can be threaded so as to allow singeing of either one or both sides of the fabric. Burner body is specially designed to provide gas flow at uniform pressure/velocity throughout the fabric width. Burner is termed as the heart of singeing and should generate homogenous, stable, uniform and highly concentrated flame rich in energy by ideal combustion of the gas:air mixture. Good singeing machines offer adjustable flame intensity, flame width and distance between the flame and the fabric.


Gas outlet section of the burner is provided with water jacket to keep the burner cool. Adjustable water-cooled rollers are used to obtain different fabric/flame positions, which permit desired degree of singeing effect on different quality of fabrics by adjusting the guide roller position with respect to the flame. A Carburettor or air/gas mixer allows automatic mixing of gas with air to control the intensity of the singeing flame.


After passing over the flames, the fabric passes through (optional) steam quenching unit to put off any sparks and/or through post-brushing section for clean-up/removal of burnt fibres. The after-brushing keeps the subsequent impregnation-liquor cleaner and reduces the amount of dust entering in the following process steps. Then, the fabric passes though a saturator, which contains the desizing agent along with the auxiliary chemicals. After saturation with the desizing liquor, the fabric is squeezed by squeezing mangles and is wound on a batcher.


 

Singeing machines from some leading suppliers are depicted in Fig. 6-9.



Fig. 6. Gas Singeing Machine for Woven Fabrics by Osthoff-Senge



Fig. 7. Carbomatic Singeing Line by Bejimac

 


Fig. 8. Technical drawing of DORNIER singeing machine type EcoSinge for circular knitted fabrics


Fig. 9. Singeing machine type EcoSinge in operation


 

Important GAS singeing parameters


Following are the important gas singeing parameters:

  1. Flame intensity
  2. Fabric speed
  3. Singeing position
  4. Distance between flame burner and fabric
  5. Flame Width


a) Flame Intensity


Together with the supply and control units for gas-air mixture, burners comprise the most important part of any singeing machine. The flame intensity of the singeing burners is based on the amount and the outlet speed of the gas-air mixture leaving the burner slots. Besides having high thermal energy, flame also has considerable mechanical energy. All the thermal and mechanical energy of the flame is directed onto the fabric during singeing. The temperature of the flame at the mouth of the burner is in the range of 1250 to 1300C. The speed of the flame at the burner outlet may be between 15 and 35 meter per second. The flame intensity usually lies between 5 and 20 mbars.


b) Fabric Speed


The fabric speed in the singeing machine is usually in the range of 50-160 m/min depending on fabric (gram per square meter) weight and fibre blend. For heavier fabrics, the speed is kept slower as compared to lighter weight fabrics.


c) Singeing Position


1. Singeing onto free-guided fabric


This is the most intensive singeing position with highest efficiency. In this position, the flame bounces onto the free-guided fabric at right angles. This position is usually recommended for singeing of fabrics with all natural fibres (e.g. cotton), regenerated fibres and blended fabrics, which have been tightly woven and have weights over 125 g/m2. (See Fig. 10).



2. Singeing onto water-cooled roller


In this position, the flame bounces at right angles onto the fabric while the fabric passes onto water-cooled guide roller. This position avoids the penetration of the flame into the fabric. The flame does not pass through the fabric, and because of the fabric passing onto water-cooled roller, any thermal damage of temperature-sensitive synthetic fabrics is avoided. This position is usually recommended for all blended and synthetic fabrics as well as for fabrics having weights less than 125 g/m2 and fabrics with open structure. (See Fig. 11).



 


3. Tangential Singeing


In this position, the singeing flame falls on the fabric tangentially. The flame touches only the protruding fibres without having any significant contact with the main fabric body. This position is usually recommended for very light weight and sensitive fabrics as well as fabrics with broken filaments. (See Fig. 12).



d) Distance between Flame Burner and Fabric


As the energy content of the flame is lower the farther it is from the burner, the singeing efficiency is consequently decreased by increasing the burner-fabric distance. The distance between the burner and the fabric is usually in the range of 6-8mm but it can be adjusted in a range from 6-20mm.


e) Flame Width


All good singeing machines come with a provision of flame width adjustment according to the width of the fabric. This is essential to optimize the gas economy.


Essential conditions for good GAS singeing


Following are three essential conditions for good singeing:

  1. A flame with high mechanical & thermal energy to quickly burn thermoplastic protruding fibres (e.g. polyester) without any molten beads formation
  2. A homogeneous flame with uniform mechanical & thermal energy to result in uniform singeing
  3. An optimal flame/fabric contact time to neither result in incomplete not over-singeing


 

GAS singeing process monitoring & control


An indicator of the singeing effect is the fabric temperature just after its passing over the singeing flame. The fabric temperature can be continuously monitored by a radiation pyrometer and indicated by a thermometer. Hence, the fabric temperature may take over the singeing control and regulating function. When the fabric temperature increases to a pre-set value, the machine intensity would automatically reduce, while when the fabric temperature goes down, the flame intensity would automatically increase.


Hairiness Tester provides another possibility to control the singeing effect objectively. The fabric surface is monitored by means of a laser beam and the hairiness of the fabric is displayed on a computer screen. The measured information can be used as a set value for the control of the singer in order to achieve the programmed effect.


Important considerations during GAS singeing


  • Make sure that the flame is more bluish (less yellowish) to give the maximum temperature.
  • Control and maintain the recommended flame length and angle of contact, depending on the fabric construction, thickness, weight, heat sensitivity, etc.
  • Regulate the fabric speed according to the fabric construction/thickness/weight etc.
  • Make sure that all the burner nozzles are free from choking. Choking of nozzles may result in the appearance of haziness, patchy appearance or faint lines, which become apparent after dyeing.
  • Make sure that the machine is threaded through the machine correctly. Rubbing marks may show up if the fabric is threaded wrongly over defective stationery bars and/or if the fabric rubs against the burners. (As the guide rollers are very close to the burners, any problems due to loose brackets supporting the rollers will guide the fabric to touch the burner block/nozzle). Invariably such defects only show up after dyeing or finishing, at which stage it is difficult to attribute the cause to the singeing machine operation.
  • Make sure that the threading is as per specification drawing so that both sides of the fabric are singed. Singeing on only one side of the fabric may result in face to back shade variation after dyeing.
  • Make sure that the width of the flame is set to cover just a little more than the fabric width. This will ensure conservation of energy.
  • Make sure that the exhaust blowers over the burners are in proper operation. If not, it can lead to re-deposition of the burnt out fibres on the fabric causing black specks.
  • Ensure appropriate quenching into water/desize bath after singeing. Otherwise, the entrapped smouldering particles may lead to fabric getting burnt (holes).
  • Guide rolls next to the flames or the guide rollers on which flame is directed in case of heat-sensitive fabrics should be cooled, generally by cold water circulating through the guide rollers. Otherwise they could become red hot and scorch the fabric.
  • Interlinking of stop button/flame switch-off mechanism/ quenching system should be effective to avoid burning of the fabric and any incident of fire.


Testing singeing effectiveness


The effectiveness of singeing process can be checked by one or more of the following:

  • By looking at the singed fabric with magnifying glass and comparing its hairiness with that of the un-singed fabric. A well-singed fabric shows less hairiness.
  • By testing the singed fabric for pilling performance and comparing it with that of the un-singed fabric. A well-singed fabric gives less pilling.
  • By sticking and removing a sticking tape on the singed fabric and observing the number of fibres attached to the sticking side of the tape. A well-singed fabric results in less number of fibres sticking on the tape.
  • Noticing the feel or handle of the singed fabric. An over-singed fabric may give a harsher feeling.