Cloth Finishing

Cloth Finishing

( Originally Published Early 1900’s )

Importance of cloth finishing.-Cloth finishing is one of the chief arts in the textile industry. The appearance of the goods is often of first concern, and the appearance of any fabric is largely due to the methods of finishing.


Bleaching is one of the most usual and important among the finishing processes. It has for its object the whitening or decolorizing of the textile fiber to which it is applied. Fibers, as they come from the plant, from the back of the sheep, or from the cocoon, are usually somewhat colored or stained. Some of them, like tussah silk or Egyptian cotton, are highly colored. This natural coloring of the fiber may be undesirable in many fabrics; hence, bleaching is employed to clear the fiber of this color. Again, most fibers accumulate stains of various kinds during the early processes of manufacture as, for example, in the spinning and weaving. This discoloration cannot be entirely removed by simple washing; hence, the bleaching process is applied to clear the fabric. In like manner, when the calicoes or other prints come from the printers, the white background between the colored figures may be soiled, spotted, or otherwise discolored; again, a light bleach is applied, but not enough appreciably to injure the color in the figures.

Bleaching agents.-There are two classes of bleaching substances, oxygen and sulphurous acid. Under certain conditions oxygen destroys the coloring matters entirely. Sulphurous acid probably does no more than change the color to white, leaving the coloring substances still in the textile. An object once bleached white by oxygen is not likely to turn yellow or to change back to its original color; whereas textiles bleached in sulphurous acid quite frequently do change back again after a time, especially when in contact with certain chemicals such as alkalies or soaps.

Grassing.-The oldest bleaching method is that of “grassing,” still used to a certain extent in Europe for bleaching linens. The linen fabrics are laid on the grass or ground for weeks. The oxygen of the air and that given off by green plants slowly attacks and destroys the little yellow color particles in the flax fiber. Slowly the linen becomes whiter and whiter until finally it is fully bleached. The particular value of the grass bleach over all others is its slowness. This guarantees permanence. Furthermore, the “grassing” process is not likely to be carried on a bit further than necessary. The oxygen which attacks the coloring matter may ultimately attack the cellulose in the fiber and does do so in chemical bleacheries unless the fabric is removed at the proper time. A few moments’ delay, therefore, in a chemical bleachery means great damage to the cloth; whereas a few days either one way or the other in grass bleaching makes practically no difference. Cotton also was at one time bleached in this manner, but the more rapid chemical oxygen bleachers have entirely superseded grass bleaching for this textile.

Chemical bleaching.-The principal chemicals used in oxygen bleaching are chloride of lime, hydrogen peroxide, sodium peroxide, and potassium permanganate. All these substances are heavily charged with oxygen. In the bleaching process, this oxygen is set free, and this free oxygen attacks the coloring matters in unbleached goods. The bleaching powder of commerce is chloride of lime, the principal bleaching substance used for cotton and for all other vegetable fibers excepting jute. It is, however, entirely unsuitable for wool and silk. Hydrogen peroxide is the best bleaching substance of all. It may be used on any sort of fiber, for it attacks nothing but the coloring matter. It is frequently used in removing stains and also in bleaching hair. But for general textile bleaching purposes it is too expensive, and is hard to keep in concentrated form for even a short time. It is used extensively, however, in bleaching wool mousselines that are to be printed. Hydrogen peroxide produces a much better result than sulphurous acid, the common bleaching substance for wool. When cheaper means of producing peroxide are discovered, this chemical is bound to take front rank among the bleaching agents. Potassium permanganate is another oxygen-loaded chemical that is sometimes used in bleaching woolens. Sodium peroxide is a compound somewhat cheaper to produce than hydrogen peroxide, and contains a large amount of live, active oxygen. It is a rather new bleaching agent, but is already used to a certain extent on wool and silk, especially tussah silk.

Sulphur bleach.-Sulphurous acid bleach is applied in the form of either a gas or a liquid. The gas is produced by burning sulphur in the air. The fumes that arise from burning sulphur are sulphurous acid gas. The liquid is produced by saturating water with this gas. Sulphur bleach is used mainly for animal fibers (wool and silk) and jute. The most common method employs the gas rather than the liquid. Rooms called sulphur chambers are built out of brick especially for this purpose. The fabric or yarn is brought into this chamber and hung up damp in loose folds while sulphur is burned in pots on the floor. The rising fumes saturate the damp textiles, the dampness materially assisting, and the fibers gradually whiten. In large wool bleacheries the cloth is run through the sulphur chamber on rollers, bleaching on the way. The process is inexpensive and results in a beautiful white. Its tendency to make wool harsh is corrected by washing in soap and water. When the wool is mixed with cotton there is danger of the cotton’s being destroyed by the acid. The sulphur bleach is ordinarily used for wool and silk.

Chloride of lime.-In cotton bleaching, chloride of lime is the most common chemical used. Cotton is generally bleached in the piece or fabric form. The usual exceptions are sewing cotton, absorbent cotton, and jeweler’s cotton. The last two are bleached in the state of loose fibers. When the cotton comes from the looms it is still in the natural color, although somewhat altered by the sizing in the warp and by the dirt; grease, and dust accumulated in the machinery. The cloth is now said to be “in the gray.” It is, however, more of a dirty yellow than gray, and presents a soft, flabby, fuzzy, unattractive appearance. It is now ready for the bleaching process.

The bleaching process.-The cloth is first run through a washing machine to remove as much of the discoloration and dirt as possible. Next, most fabrics are either sheared or singed; that is, they are run through machines which either cut off or burn off the fuzziness that is always found on cloth direct from the loom. The shearing process is performed by a machine that works on the same principle as a lawn mower, cutting all loose ends and fibers very close to the body of the cloth. The singeing is done by very quickly passing the cloth over a line of gas jets, or over a red-hot plate, where the heat burns off the fuzz but has no time to burn the fabric itself. Recently, singeing has been successfully performed by electricity. Cloth is sometimes singed on both sides, sometimes on only one. The shearing and singeing processes leave the cloth apparently smooth.

As a rule, cotton cloths are then bleached. There are four common methods, or “bleachers” as they are called: “madder bleach,” “Turkey red bleach,” “market bleach,” and “rapid bleach.” Of these the madder bleach is the most thorough. The others differ from the madder bleach mainly in degree of thoroughness. Goods to be dyed in deep colors need less whitening; hence, they are given, for example, the Turkey red bleach. Goods to be dyed black need almost no bleaching; for these the rapid bleach is sufficient. The market bleach is really the rapid bleach with the addition of blueing and other substances to cover up defects in the process.

The bleaching industry.-Cotton bleaching is often conducted as a separate industry. In England this is quite the rule. The cloth is sent from the weaving concerns to the bleacheries to be bleached on commission or at so much a yard. Sometimes the products of the loom are purchased by converters who hire others to do all the finishing processes, including bleaching. Occasionally bleachers buy the cloth in the gray, bleach it, and again market it. In this country bleaching and dyeing works are usually associated, and both are frequently under the same management as the cotton mills. This joining together or integration of related industries is typical of American business organization, not only in the textile industries, but also in many other great businesses, such as steel production and meat packing.

How the bleacheries handle cotton goods.-Piece goods arrive at the bleacheries in bolts or rolls of an average length of fifty yards. Each of these is stamped with the owner’s name, the length of the bolt, and other necessary particulars. The ends of several hundred rolls are first stitched together to form one long sheet sometimes as much as twenty-five miles long.

Moistening and bowking.-When all is ready, the cloth is moistened, run through a six-to eight-inch ring to rumple it and form it into the shape of a rope, and in this form if is laid away in coils for several hours in bins to soften the sizing in the warp. Next, the cloth is turned into a covered tank called a kier, in which is a weak solution of caustic soda or milk of lime. The liquid is kept moving through the tank by means of pumps. Here the cloth is stirred for about eight or ten hours, a process which removes all fats and wax found in the cloth, such, for example, as the natu ral wax found around the cotton fibers. All of this must be thoroughly removed before bleaching if the cloth is to be made snow white. The mixture in the “kier” is called the “lime boil,” and this particular part of the process is called “bowking.” The process concludes with a thorough washing in pure, fresh water.

Brown sour.-The next step, known variously as the “brown sour,” “gray sour,” or “lime sour,” follows the washing. The cloth is passed into tanks of water containing sulphuric or hydrochloric acid, sometimes both. This souring process counteracts the action of any caustic soda or lime that may remain in the cotton fiber from the previous treatment. Here a knowledge of the chemistry of bleaching is absolutely essential. The proportion of acid in the “brown sour” must be just sufficient to destroy the alkali in the fiber. If not strong enough, the alkali will not all be destroyed and will continue to cause trouble throughout the entire life of the cloth. If too much acid is used, then not only will the alkali be destroyed, but the cotton fiber will be endangered as well. Much of the poor cotton cloth in the market owes its lack of strength to poor bleaching methods. Linen is more sensitive to these chemical changes than cotton; hence the difficulty of getting good chemically bleached linens. The acid or souring bath is followed by a washing in pure water.

Lye boil.-In the full madder bleach the cloth after the acid bath is usually passed into a second alkali bath containing hot lye and resin soap. This is called the “lye boil.” After three hours of boiling under pressure, with the alkali liquor forced through every part of the cloth by means of pumps, all of the fats and acids in the fiber have been ex tracted and changed into soapsuds. The invariable washing in pure water follows.

Chemicking.-The cloth is now ready to be transferred into the real bleaching bath, the chloride of lime solution, or “chemick,” as bleachers name it. Through this bath the cloth is passed back and forth, the liquid being forced through every part of it. After one or two hours this part of the process is completed. The cloth is removed and passed between heavy wooden rollers, which press out the excess of the chloride of lime solution. The cloth is then coiled or piled in bins so as to be exposed to the air. It is here that the real bleaching takes place. The chloride of lime absorbed in the fiber has a strong affinity for air and for water. Both are attracted, and in the chemical processes that follow a certain amount of oxygen is crowded out of the air and water, and this free, active oxygen attacks the coloring matters and destroys them. Now again the proportions must be scrupulously adjusted so that not too much or too little oxygen is produced. Too much would result in an oxidation or destruction not only of the color particles, but also of the cotton fiber itself.

White souring.-The chemicking or bleaching is followed by washing in pure water and afterward by treatment in a weak acid bath known as the “white sour.” In this bath all action of the chloride of lime is stopped. Then follows another most careful washing in water to remove every particle of acid, whereupon the bleaching process is ended. The cloth is opened up flat, spread out, beaten, stretched or tentered, and dried over hot rollers. It is now ready for dyeing, for printing, for mercerizing, or, if to remain in the white, for the final finishing processes of sizing and calendering. Dyeing, printing, and mercerizing have already been described; hence, we need only give our attention to the final finishing processes.


Whether the cloth shall be made soft or stiff, dull or glossy, and so on, depends upon the finish applied and the materials used. Certain sizings fill up the spaces between the threads in the fabric, stiffen the fabric, and give it greater weight and body. Other sizing materials give stiffness without adding weight. Some give weight without stiffness. Some help to make the fabric glossy, others to give the cloth some special appearance in imitation of a different fiber. It would take a volume to give in detail an account of how these various effects are obtained. Such a description is not necessary here. A fair idea of the possibilities of cloth finishing can be obtained by a study of fabrics themselves, especially with the help of a small magnifying glass and with such tests as boiling and rubbing.

Dressing materials,-The materials used in cotton finishing or dressing include starches, glue, fats, casein, gelatin, gluten, minerals, and antiseptic substances. The starches give stiffness and weight; glue gives tenacity to the starches and other materials. Minerals, such as clay, are used to give weight. Fats give the qualities of softness and help make the fabric more elastic. Wax, stearin, and paraffin are frequently used to develop a high luster in the calendering or pressing processes. Antiseptic substances such as zinc chloride, salicylic acid, and zinc sulphate are added to prevent the starches and fats used in the dressing from molding or putrefying.

Starches.-The starchy substances commonly used include wheat flour, wheat starch, potato starch, rice starch, and cornstarch. Sometimes the starch is baked until brown before using. In this form it is called dextrin or British gum. Dextrin gives a softer dressing than any other starchy material. Wheat and corn starches produce the stiffest effects. Potato starch comes between the two extremes. Starch is sometimes treated for a couple of hours with caustic soda at about the freezing point. At the end of this time the excess of alkali is neutralized with acid. The result is a gum, called apparatine, which stiffens the cloth and does not wash out so easily as most other stiffening substances. Starch treated with acid produces glucose, and this is used largely as a weighting or loading material.

Fats.-Among the fats used are tallow, stearin, several different kinds of oils and waxes, and paraffin. These are sometimes added to the starches to reduce the stiffness of the fabrics. Glycerin and magnesium chloride are frequently added for the same reason. Fats may be added to waterproof the cloth, although waterproofing is usually accomplished by rubberizing; that is, by soaking the cloth in a solution of crude rubber or caoutchouc.

Minerals.-The minerals are added for various reasons. China clay increases the weight as do also salts of lime and baryta. Alum, acetate of lead, and sulphate of lead are sometimes used. Adding large proportions of borax, ammonium phosphate, salts of magnesia, and sodium tungstate makes the fabric fireproof.

How the dressing is applied.-The dressing material is usually applied as a liquid paste to the back of the cloth and then run over hot rolls or cylinders in order to dry the paste quickly. Sometimes it is applied lightly to the surface, sometimes it is pressed in deeply by means of rollers. When both sides are dressed, the fabric is passed into and through the dressing material. When the cloth is dry, the sizing or dressing process is complete. If merely a dull, hard finish is desired, nothing further is necessary except to stretch and smooth out the cloth, measure, bolt, and press it. But if any kind of polish is demanded, then the cloth must be calendered, pressed, mangled, or ironed.


Calendering is accomplished by passing the cloth between large rolls, from two to six, under heavy pressure. In the rolls the dressing is smoothed out, and the hard, dull finish becomes soft and glossy in appearance. Heated rolls give a better gloss. When the rolls are made to turn over each other at different rates, there is a heavy friction or ironing effect on the cloth. For the highest glosses not only starch but also fats and waxes are used, and all are ironed into the cloth under heavy pressure and at as great heat as the cloth will stand. When calendered the fabrics are usually dampened first, just as clothes are dampened by the housewife before she irons them. The dampening in a cloth-finishing plant is done by a special machine that sprays the cloth very evenly as it passes through.

The beetle finish.-There are several special finishes possible through variations in the calendering process. Beetling is one of these methods. The cloth is passed into a machine over wooden rollers and beaten by wooden hammers operated by the machine. The beetle finish gives to cotton or linen an appearance almost like satin and is very beautiful.

Watered effects.-Moire or watered effects are produced by pressing some parts of the threads in a fabric down flat while leaving the other parts of the threads in their natural or round condition. The effect is usually that of an indistinct pattern. It is obtained in different ways, sometimes by running the cloth through the calender double, or again by running the single fabric between rollers especially engraved with moire designs. Only soft fabrics are suited to this finish; hence, no dressing except fats is used for moire goods.

Embossing.-Soft fabrics are sometimes stamped with patterns in the manner of embossing by means of engraved calender rolls. This process is called stamping.

Schreiner finish.-Another special finish, known as “Schreiner finish,” is applied in the calendering operation by passing the cloth between rolls covered with great numbers of finely engraved lines. The number often runs as high as six hundred to the inch. Under a pressure of 4,500 pounds these lines are pressed into the fabric. The result is that the round threads are pressed flat, but the lines break up the flat surfaces into little planes that reflect the light much better than an ordinary flat surface would. This peculiar light reflection gives the cloth the quality of a very high luster. Heating the rolls makes this luster more lasting. The effect is very beautiful. Mercerized cotton finished in the Schreiner finish rivals silk in appearance.

Most of the finishes spoken of so far, the result of dressing and calendering, are easily destroyed. Wear destroys any of them in time. Washing destroys most of them. But as long as they last they are highly important elements in the appearance of the fabrics.


Dressings applied to the various textiles.-Dressings are usually applied in much greater quantity to cotton than to any other textile. Linen comes second, and the principal dressing substance used in linens is starch. Glue, gelatin, dextrin, albumen, and water glass are applied under certain conditions and for certain effects in woolen goods. The common weighting materials added to woolens are short hairs or short wool fibers, sometimes called flocks. Flocks are the ends of fibers sheared off from the surface of wool or worsted cloth. Woolen cloths are padded or impregnated with these in the fulling mills, sometimes adding from one-fourth to three-fourths to the weight of the wool. Such finishing processes as beetling, mangling, moireing, and stamping are never applied to woolens. Silk usually has very little dressing applied to it in the finishing process, and that little generally consists of gelatin, gum arabic, or tragacanth. The other finishing processes are very much the same for silk as they are for cotton.

Lisle finish.-Several other finishes, or modifications of the finishes just described, are used in cotton goods when it is desired to show special effects. The lisle finish is given yarns that are to be used in the manufacture of hosiery and underwear. The true lisle finish is obtained by using combed, long-stapled, sea-island or Egyptian cotton. The yarns made from these fibers are rapidly but repeatedly run through gas flames until they are entirely free from any projecting fiber ends or fuzz. The result is a very smooth, glossy thread. Another kind of lisle finish is obtainable in a finished fabric, as, for example, in hosiery, by treating with a weak solution of sulphuric or hydrochloric acid and then drying before washing out the acid. The goods are afterward tumbled around in a machine that exposes them to the air and heats them to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. After a time the loose ends and fuzzy fibers become brittle and break off in the tumbling given the goods. When the goods present the proper lisle finish, they are cooled off and washed in an alkaline bath which stops the action of the dry acid and neutralizes it. After thorough washing in clean water, they are dried and are ready for dyeing or any other finishing process. Sometimes the acids are added to the dye bath to cause more speedily the same effect in the appearance of the goods. Some dyes are regularly made up with the acid mixture.

Wool finishing.-The finishing processes for woolens and worsteds are much more laborious and complex than those employed for cottons. A greater variety of machinery is required, and there are more steps in the process. The finishing of wool goods is divided into two main parts: the first is called the “wet finishing,” which includes washing, soaping, steaming, carbonizing, and the use of liquids; the second is called “dry finishing” and includes napping, shearing, polishing, measuring, and putting up in rolls or bolts.

Preparation of wool fabrics.-Woolen or worsted cloth, as it comes from the weave rooms to the finishers, is first inspected for flaws, broken threads, and weak places, and wherever these are found, chalk marks are made to assist the burlers and menders in finding the places. To aid in the inspection, the cloth is generally “perched” or thrown over a roller and drawn down in single thickness by the inspector as fast as he can look it over. A good light is desirable. Inspectors with practice attain great proficiency in finding weak places or imperfections in the cloth. After the bad spots in the fabric are repaired the goods are tacked together; that is, the pieces are fastened together in pairs with the faces of the cloth turned towards each other. The tacking is simply a stitching along the edge, done either by hand or machine. The purpose of tacking is to protect the faces of the cloth from becoming damaged in any way by the heavy operations to follow or from becoming impregnated with any foreign substance difficult to remove, such as short hairs or flocks.

Fulling.-The next step is the fulling. All kinds of clearfinished worsted dress goods for ladies and practically all wool cloths for men’s wear except worsteds are fulled. This is the most characteristic process in the wool industry; no other textile goes through any process like it. The wool fibers, it will be recalled, are jointed and have scales that cause the fibers to cling together readily. This, we have learned, is called the felting quality. By beating a mass of wool fibers, a very hard, compact mass can be obtained, because the fibers creep into closer and closer contact with each other, holding fast because of the scales. Fulling makes use of this principle. Wool cloth is shrunken and made heavier and closer in structure and consequently stronger. Fulled cloth may also take many more kinds of finish than unfulled fabrics. The fulling process is performed in machines that apply pressure, moisture, and heat to the goods. The cloths are soaked in hot, soapy water, pressed, rolled, and tumbled; as a result, the woolen fabrics contract and become closer in texture throughout.

Flocking.-Short wool fibers or flocks are frequently felted into wool fabrics in the fulling operation. A layer of these short fibers is spread over the back of the cloth and matted down by moistening. In the fulling operation these fibers sink into the fabric and therefore help to give the fabric weight and closeness. That this process is not always well done is evidenced by the fact that the flocks in the backs of suitings often wear loose, drop down, and collect at the bottom of garments, especially at points where the lining and the suiting are sewed together. Flocks must from most standpoints be considered as an adulteration of wool although their presence really helps some fabrics, such as kerseys. All crevices are filled up and the fabric is made solid. If the felting has been done well, the flocks perform a good service in the cloth, but otherwise the flocks come out easily and are a decided nuisance to the wearer of the goods. Flocks made from wool waste such as shoddy, mungo, and extract, when applied on shoddy wool cloth are bound to come out. But flocks cut from new wool, when applied to new wool cloth, produce an excellent effect if not too largely used. Adding 25 per cent in weight to the cloth by flocking is not unreasonable, but doubling the weight of the original fabric would be unjustifiable adulteration. Flocking adds little if any to the strength of the cloth.

Speck dyeing.-After fulling, the cloth is washed very carefully, and is usually given a light dye to cover up spots or imperfections due to foreign matter that could not be taken out before. If not so dyed, all the little specks in the cloth have to be removed by hand, a process called speck dyeing or burr dyeing.

Carbonizing.-Carbonizing is usually performed before the wool is spun into yarn, but in some cases not until the cloth is woven. In this case it takes the place of speck dyeing. The process is the same for cloth as for loose wool. The vegetable matter is destroyed by soaking the cloth in weak acids and then heating in an oven.

Napping.-After washing, stretching, and drying, most goods are ready to receive the finish. In most cases this first involves raising a nap or fuzz evenly all over the surface, and for this purpose machines have been invented. The oldest of such machines use teasel or thistle burrs, whereas the later napping machines use little wire hooks. Some claim that the teasel burr has certain qualities for raising the wool nap that cannot be produced in any steel wire or spring hook or barb. The principle, however, is the same in all inventions for this purpose. The gigs or napping machines all stretch the cloth and then cause it to pass over many fine little hooks of teasel burrs or of steel wire which draw out a multitude of little ends of wool fiber all over the surface of the cloth. In some cases, the napping or gigging is performed on wet cloth; in others, the cloth is dry. Dry napping is in fact now the more common, although the wet methods are still employed for certain cloths and finishes.

The finish of wool cloth depends upon the degree o f napping and upon the variety of fiber. Meltons require only a little napping; kerseys, beavers, and doeskins, a very thorough one. Cloths that must wear exceedingly well must be napped as little as possible, since the process reduces the strength of the fabric. Cassimeres are given several kinds of finish, Saxony finish, for example, or velour finish. Other fabrics are each given their characteristic finish by slightly varying the amount of nap, or the treatment of the nap after it has been raised. Among such fabrics are cheviots, kerseys, meltons, beavers, chinchillas, outing flannels, doeskins, reversibles, thibets, satinets, blankets, and others.

Lustering.-After napping, such fabrics as kerseys, beavers, broadcloths, thibets, venetians, tricots, plushes, uniform cloths, and all worsteds, require another special operation known as steam lustering. Steam is forced through the cloth for about five minutes, followed by cold water. The steam brings out the luster which the cold water sets or fixes.

Stretching and clipping.-The dry finishing processes begin with stretching (or tentering) and then drying the cloth. Special machines accomplish this as well as all the other processes. The cloth now passes through a shearing machine which brushes the nap in the direction desired, afterward clipping it evenly over all the surfaces. The clippers operate like the revolving blades of a lawn mower. Goods that have not been napped are generally singed in much the same manner as cotton fabrics. Next, the sheared fabrics are brushed, and perhaps polished by means of pumice cloth or sandpaper, to make the cloth smooth and lustrous.

Final steps.-Finally the goods are pressed and thereby given a finished appearance. This is usually performed by means of heavy presses, either with dry heat or with steam. The most common present-day method of pressing cloth is by running it between heavy rollers heated by steam. Care must be taken not to get the rolls too hot or the wool will be damaged. The cloth is next inspected again, run through a measuring machine, doubled, rolled, and wrapped in paper, and packed into cases ready for the clothing manufacturer or the dry goods jobber and the retail store.

Worsted finishing.-Worsteds are not generally fulled as are woolens. After burling, worsteds are usually singed and then crabbed. The crabbing process sets the weave so that in the later operations it will not be obliterated. It consists in running the cloth tightly stretched over rollers through a trough containing hot water. After an hour or two of this the cloth is scoured and rinsed and then closely sheared. There are several varieties of worsted, each of which requires its own special finish or after-treatment. Innovations are constantly introduced to alter the appearance a little in one way or another. Among these are the fancy or yarn-dyed worsteds, serges, worsted dress goods, and worsted cheviots.


Wood Fibres

Lumber from eco-friendly managed forests in the Americas are processed through an electrolysis process which separates the Wood fiber from oil and sugar. The result is
100% pure and natural Wood Fiber which contain no additive and chemicals.


Because Wood Fiber is an all natural material, Wood Fiber products contain many of the natural characteristics of Wood in nature.

SMOOTH AS SILK These silky Fibers are the finest we have seen in a long time. It looks and feels like silk but washes and wears like cotton!

STATIC-FREE Wood-Fiber products are static free because it is 100% pure fiber and contains no chemical impurities.

ECO-FRIENDLY/ DETERGENT FREE Made entirely from the wood of sustainably harvested forests

Wood-Fiber is an eco-friendly alternative to the cotton industry. Using a process that continuously recycles 99.6% of the bleach-free solvent and the water used to make this fiber makes this product Eco-friendly and Nature Loving.

Wood Fiber are so silky smooth that dusts just falls off its surface. Detergent is not required and not recommended to clean it. Just gently rinse/ machine wash and tumble dry. Easiest cleaning instructions ever.image

ALLERGEN-FREE & DERMATOLOGICAL FRIENDLY Did you know that your bedding/towels may behosting millions of dust mites/allergen? If you suffer from burning eyes, a runny nose, and morning headaches you may have these tiny creatures and the allergen in their feces invading your bathroom. The allergen thrives in warm moist environments such as mattresses, pillows, face/bath towels and causes allergic reactions when inhaled. What is an Allergic ? An Allergy is your body’s reaction to certain substances. Different people have different tolerance towards the allergens. For allergic people only a small amount of allergens can cause the various symptoms above.Wood fiber products are 100% pure fibers without the sugar or oil. As a result bacterias do not multiply in Wood Fiber products. Together with the fact that Wood Fiber is all natural it is dermatologically friendly and suitable for allergy prone people.

SMELL-FREE Wood Fiber products are Smell resistant because it is resistant to smell causing bacterias.

HIGHLY ABSORBANT Wood-Fiber absorbs moisture, water, sweat and oil better than cotton. Products made from Wood Fiber such as socks are extremely breathable and does not trap moisture in the feet. This prevents many foot related diseases
and smell.


Next to wool and cotton, flax is used most largely in our textile manufactures. The linen fiber consists of the bast cells of certain species of flax grown in Europe, Africa, and the United States. All bast fibers are obtained near the outer surface of the plant stems. The pith and woody tissues are of no value. The flax plant is an annual and to obtain the best fibers it must be gathered before it is fully ripe. To obtain seed from which the best quality of linseed oil can be made it is usually necessary to sacrifice the quality of the fibers to some extent.


The Flax Must Be Pulled Up by the Roots to Give Fibres with Tapered Ends.

  • Treatment of Flax

Unlike cotton, flax is contaminated by impurities from which it must be freed before it can be woven into cloth. The first process to which the freshly pulled flax is submitted is that of “rippling” or the removal of the seed capsules. Retting, next in order, is the most important operation. This is done to remove the substances which bind the bast fibers to each other and to remove the fiber from the central woody portion of the stem. This consists of steeping the stalks in water.

  • Retting

(1) Cold water retting, either running or stagnant water.
(2) Dew retting.
(3) Warm water retting.


A—Inlet; B—Undisturbed Water; C—Bundles of Flax.

Cold water retting in running water is practiced in Belgium. Retting in stagnant water is the method usually employed in Ireland and Russia. The retting in stagnant water is more rapidly done, but there is danger of over-retting on account of the organic matter retained in the water which favours fermentation. In this case the fiber is weakened.





In dew retting, the flax is spread on the field and exposed to the action of the weather for several weeks without any previous steeping. This method of retting is practiced in Germany and Russia. Warm water retting and chemical retting have met with limited success.

When the retting is complete, the flax is set up in sheaves to dry. The next operations consist of “breaking,” “scutching,” and “hackling” and are now done by machinery.

Breaking removes the woody center from the retted and dried flax by being passed through a series of fluted rollers. The particles of woody matter adhering to the fibers are detached by scutching.

  • Hackling

Hackling or combing still further separates the fibers into their finest filaments—”line” and “tow.” The “flax line” is the long and valuable fiber; the tow, the short coarse tangled fiber which is spun and used for weaving coarse linen.


A, Unthrashed Straw; B, Retted; C, Cleaned or Scutched; D, Hackled or Dressed.


The “Tow” Is Seen at the Left and a Bunch of “Flax line” on the Bench.

  • Characteristics of Linen

When freed from all impurities the chief physical characteristics of flax are its snowy whiteness, silky luster and great tenacity. The individual fibers may [Pg 50]be from ten to twelve inches in length; they are much greater in diameter than cotton. It is less pliant and elastic than cotton and bleaches and dyes less readily. Linen cloth is a better conductor of heat than cotton and clothing made from it is cooler. When pure, it is, like cotton, nearly pure cellulose.

  • Ramie

Besides the linen, there is a great number of bast fibers fit for textile purposes, some superior, some inferior. India alone has over three hundred plants that are fiber yielding. One-third of these furnish useful fibers for cordage and fabrics. The next in importance to linen is ramie or rhea, and China grass. China grass comes from a different plant but is about the same as ramie. The staple is longer and finer than linen. The great strength of yarn made from it is due to length of the staple.

The variety and great value of the ramie fibers has long been recognized, but difficulties attending the separation and degumming of the fibers have prevented its employment in the manufactures to any great extent. The native Chinese split and scrape the plant stems, steeping them in water. The common retting process used for flax is not effective on account of the large amount of gummy matter, and although easy to bleach it is difficult to dye in full bright shades without injuring the luster of the fibers.

  • Jute and Hemp

Jute and hemp belong to the lower order of bast fibers. The fiber is large and is unfit for any but the coarsest kind of fabrics. Jute is mainly cultivated in Bengal. The fiber is  separated from the plant by retting, beating, etc.





  • Olona

Olona, the textile fiber of Hawaii, is found to have promising qualities. This plant resembles ramie and belongs to the nettle family also, but it is without the troublesome resin of the ramie. The fiber is fine, light, strong, and durable.

The Philippines are rich in fiber producing plants. The manila hemp is the most prominent, of which coarse cloth is woven, besides the valuable cordage. The sisal hemp, pineapple, yucca, and a number of fiber plants growing in the southern part of the United States are worthy of note. These fiber industries are conducted in a rude way, the fiber being cleaned by hand, except the pineapple.


  • Merino wool samples that were sold by auction,...
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    The production of wool:

The word wool is restricted to the description of the curly hairs that form the fleece produced by sheep (Rogers, 2006:931). The sheep’s fleece is removed once a year by power-operated clippers. The soiled wool at the edges is removed before the fleeces are graded and baled. The price of raw wool is influenced by fineness and length. This is representative of the yarn into which it can be spun. The average fibre length will also determine the type of fabric for which it will be used (Collier, 1974:24).

Newly removed wool is known as raw wool and contains impurities such as sand, dirt, grease and dried sweat. Altogether, these can represent between 30 and 70% of the wool’s weight (Kadolph, 2002:51). The wool is sorted by skilled workers who are experts in distinguishing quality by touch and sight. The grade is determined by type, length, fineness, elasticity and strength (Corbman, 1983:271).

Long wool fibres will be combed and made into worsteds, while short wools are described as carding, or clothing wools. When the quality has been determined, the wool is offered for sale as complete fleeces or as separate sections (Collier, 1974:24).

When the wool arrives at the mill it is dirty and contain many impurities that must be removed before processing. The raw wool is scoured with a warm alkaline solution containing warm water, soap and a mild solution of alkali, before being squeezed between rollers (Corbman, 1983:272). This procedure is repeated three to four times, after which the wool is rinsed in clean water and dried.

The quality and characteristics of the fibre and fabric depend on a number of factors, such as the kind of sheep, its physical condition, the part of the sheep from which the wool is taken, as well as the manufacturing and finishing processes (Corbman, 1983:273).

  • The chemical composition of wool:

The protein of the wool fibre is keratin (Azoulay, 2006:26), which contains carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, but in addition wool also contains sulphur. These are combined as amino acids in long polypeptide chains (Kadolph, 2002:54). Wool contains 18 amino acids, of which 17 are present in measurable amounts (Joseph, 1986:48). These are glycine, alanine, valine, leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, tyrosine, aspartic, glutamic, arginine, lysine, histidine, tryptophan, cystine and methionine (Stout, 1970:107). In addition to the long-chain polyamide structure, wool has cross-linkages called cystine or sulphur linkages, plus ion-to-ion bonds called salt bridges and hydrogen bonds (Tortora, 1978:74).

The cross-linkages in the chains permit the ends to move up and down, which provides the resiliency of the fibre (Labarthe, 1975:51). Keratin reacts with both acids and bases, which makes it an amphoretic substance (Hollen and Saddler, 1973:17).

When keratin is in a relaxed state it has a helical, or spiral structure called alpha-keratin (Gohl and Vilensky, 1983:75), which is responsible for wool’s high elongation property (Kadolph, 2002:54). When the fibre is stretched it tends to unfold its polymers and this unfolded configuration is known as beta-keratin (Gohl and Vilensky, 1983:78).


Helical arrangement of the wool molecule (Wool Bureau, Inc. as cited in Kadolph, 2002:56).

The tenacity of wool is improved by the presence of the hydrogen bonding between the oxygen and hydrogen atoms of alternate spirals of the helix. This strengthens the structure and a greater force is required to stretch the molecules (Smith and Block, 1982:91).


  • The physical structure of wool:

The fibre consists of three layers – an outer layer of scales called the cuticle, a middle layer called the cortex and an inner core, called the medulla Joseph, 1986:49).

The wool fibre is a cylinder, tapered from root to tip and covered with scales (Ito et al, 1994:440). The scales are irregular in shape and overlap each other towards to the tip of the fibre. These then have a directional effect that influences the frictional behaviour of wool because of its resistance to deteriorating influences (Joseph, 1986; Hall, 1969:15). These scales are responsible for wool textile’s tendency to undergo felting and shrinking as a consequence of the difference of friction in the ‘with-scale’ and ‘against scale’ directions (Silva et al, 2006:634; Cortez et al, 2004:64). Each cuticle cell contains an inner region of low sulphur content, known as the endocuticle, plus a central sulphur rich band, known as the exocuticle. Around the scales is a shield, a membrane called the epicuticle (Maxwell and Hudson, 2005:127), which acts as a diffusive barrier and can also affect the surface properties of the fibre. The epicuticle is present as an envelope that bounds the entire inner surface of the cell (Swift and Smith, 2001:204). The sub-cuticle membrane is a thin layer between the cuticle and the cortex (Morton and Hearle, 1975:59).


fig:-Physical structure of a wool fibre (Gohl and Vilensky, 1983:73).

The cortex is the bulk of the fibre and the hollow core at the centre is called the medulla. The cortex consists of millions of long and narrow cells, held together by a strong binding material. These cells consist of fibrils, which are constructed from small units and lie parallel to the long axis of the long narrow cells. The wool fibre gets its strength and elasticity from the arrangement of the material composing the cortex (Collier, 1974:25). The medulla resembles a honeycomb, i.e. contains empty space that increases the insulating power of the fibre (Hollen and Saddler, 1973:19).

Wool appears to be divided longitudinally into halves because of its bilateral structure, with one side called the paracortex and the other the orthocortex. The chemical composition of the cells of the ortho- and paracortex is different, i.e. the paracortex contains more cystine groups that cross-link the chain molecules and is therefore more stable. It is this difference between the ortho- and paracortex that brings about the spiral form of the fibre and explains why the paracortex is always found on the inside of the curve as the fibre spirals around in its crimped form. In addition, these two parts react differently to changes in the environment, which leads to the spontaneous curling and twisting of wool (Gohl and Vilensky, 1983:74).


fig:-Three-dimensional crimp of the wool fibre (Gohl and Vilensky, 1983:75).

The fibres have a natural crimp, i.e. a built in waviness, which increases the elasticity and resiliency of the fibre. The spiral formed by the crimp is three-dimensional and does not only move above and below the central axis, but also to its left and right (Joseph, 1986:49).

The cross-section of the wool fibre is nearly circular and in some cases even oval in shape (Joseph, 1986:49). The longitudinal view shows both the scale structure, plus the striations on the epicuticle that can occur on the original undamaged fibres. These arise from an interaction in the follicle with the cuticle of the inner root sheath. When the fatty acids are stripped from the surface, the striations have been shown to reflect a corresponding irregularity of the epicuticle’s surface (Swift and Smith, 2001:203).

Wool fibres vary in length between 2cm to 38cm, depending on various factors such as the breed of the sheep and the part of the animal from where it was removed (Joseph, 1986:50; Smith and Block, 1982:92). The diameters of the wool also vary. Fine fibres have a diameter of 15 to 17μm, medium fibres have a diameter 24 to 34μm and coarse wool has a diameter of about 40μm (Joseph, 1986:50). Hollen and Saddler (1973) differ in as much that they claim the diameter of a wool fibre varies from 15 to 50μm, with Merino lamb’s wool averaging 15 μm in diameter.

The colour of the natural wool depends on the breed of sheep, but most wool is an ivory colour, although it can also be grey, black, tan and brown (Joseph, 1986:50).

  • Physical properties of wool:


The lustre of a fibre depends on the amount and pattern of light reflected from the fibre (Hopkins, 1950:593).

The lustre of wool varies, but it is not generally considered to be a lustrous fibre. Nevertheless, lustre also depends on factors such as the specific breed of sheep, conditions of living and the part of the animal from which it was taken (Tortora, 1978:76). Fine and medium wools have more lustre than coarse fibres (Joseph, 1986:50) because lustre is due to the nature and transparency of the scale structure (Stout, 1970:113).


Wool is a weak natural textile fibre (Corbman, 1983:280). It has a large amorphous area containing bulky molecules that can’t be packed close enough together to allow strong hydrogen bonding. Thus wool has many weak bonds and a few strong cystine linkages. Moisture weakens the hydrogen bonds, which makes the fibre even weaker when wet (Hollen and Saddler, 1973:20). When a garment is wet, the weight of the water puts strain on the weakened fibre and the shape can be distorted (Hollen and Saddler, 1973:21).

The strength of a fibre is dependent on the cross-sectional area of the fibre being tested. The smallest fibre diameter and the rate of change in diameter are important determinants of strength. There are a variety of environmental and physiological factors that influence the strength of wool fibres. The nutrient supply has a great influence as it provides amino acids, trace elements and vitamins. The fibre strength is also influenced by pregnancy and lactation through competition for essential nutrients (Reis, 1992:1337). During wear, however, resistance to abrasion is more important than tensile strength. The scale structure of the wool fibre gives excellent abrasion resistance, which makes wool fabric very durable (Smith and Block, 1982:93).


Wool fibres are very elastic and, when stretched, they quickly return to their original size (Smith and Block, 1982:92). This is due to the crimp, or waviness, of the fibre which enables it to be stretched out and then relaxed to the crimp form, like a spring (Collier, 1974:26). The molecules are in a folded state, but become straightened when stretched. The cross-linkages between the molecules, plus the disulphide and salt linkages tend to resist any permanent alteration in shape (Collier, 1974:27).


Disulphide linkage (Collier, 1974:27)


Salt linkage (Collier, 1974:27)

Wool fibres can be stretched from 25 to 30% of their original length before breaking, which also reduces the chances of tearing under tension (Corbman,1983:280).

Wool’s recovery is excellent and after a 2% extension the fibre has an immediate regain in length of 99% (Joseph, 1986:50). Elasticity is a valuable characteristic because it leads to the easy shedding of wrinkles. Wrinkles will easily hang out of wool garments, especially when hung in a damp atmosphere (Tortora, 1978:76).


The molecules in the wool fibre are arranged in long parallel chains, which are held together by cross-linkages. When the fibres are stretched or distorted, these cross-linkages will force the fibre back to shape (Cowan and Jungerman, 1969:9). This shows that the fibres will recover quickly from creasing (Thiry, 2005:19; Azoulay, 2006:26), but through the application of heat, moisture and pressure, pleats and creases can be put into the fabric. This is a result of the molecular adjustment and the formation of new crosslinkages in the polymer.

The resilience of the wool fibre also contributes to the fabrics’ loft, which can either produce open porous fabrics with good covering power, or thick and warm fabrics that are also light in weight (Joseph, 1986:50).

Wool is classified as a resilient fibre. Therefore a bunch of irregular fibres should: a) offer moderate resistance to compression, and; b) spring back vigorously upon relaxation (Demiruren and Burns, 1955:666).

Wool and silk have the ability to resist the formation of wrinkles (Buck and McCord, 1949).

Absorption and moisture regain:

Water is usually shed by the wool fibres because of a combination of factors that include, for instance, the protection by the scales and the membrane, interfacial surface tension, uniform distribution of pores and low bulk density (Joseph, 1986:51).

However, once the moisture seeps between the scales, the high degree of capillarity within the fibre will cause ready absorption (Ito et al., 1994:440). Wool can absorb 20% of its own weight in water without feeling wet (Corbman, 1983:282). According to Cowan and Jungerman (1969:9) wool is a hygroscopic fibre because it absorbs water vapour. Most of the moisture is absorbed into the spongy matrix, which then causes the rupture of hydrogen bonds and leads to the swelling of the fibre. The absorbent nature is due to the polarity of the peptide groups, salt linkages and amorphous polymer system (Cook and Fleischfresser, 1990:43). Wool dries very slowly (Corbman, 1983:282).

Hydrogen bonds are broken by moisture and heat, so the wool structure can be reshaped by mechanical action like that of an iron. While the heat dries the wool, new hydrogen bonds are formed in the structure as the water escapes in the form of steam. The new hydrogen bonds maintain the new shape while humidity is low. When the wool is dampened or in a high humidity atmosphere, the new bonds are broken and the structure returns to its original shape.

This is why garments shaped with ironing lose their creases and flatness, and show relaxation shrinkage on wetting (Hollen and Saddler, 1973: 21) Wool produces heat as part of the absorption function (Azouly, 2005:25), which is known as heat of wetting. This is due to the energy generated by the collision of water molecules and the polar groups in the wool polymers. The polymer system will continue to give off heat until it becomes saturated. As wool begins to dry, the evaporation causes the heat to be absorbed by the fibre and a chill may be experienced (Joseph, 1986:51).

The behaviour of wool in relation to moisture can be summarized by saying that wool is water repellent, but with prolonged exposure to moisture the fibre does absorb large quantities of water. Since the moisture is held inside the fibre, the surface still feels dry (Tortora, 1978:77; Etters, 1999). Wool is hydrophilic and contains various amounts of absorbed water depending on the conditions (Cook and Fleischfresser, 1990:43). The standard moisture regain of wool is set at 16 to 30% (Hollen and Saddler, 1973:22), but according to Lyle (1976:29) and Hunter (1978:46) it is only 15%. Cowan and Jungerman (1969:9) and Joseph (1986) report a regain of 13 to 16%.

Dimensional stability:

The structure of wool fibres contributes to its non stability (Joseph, 1986:51). All fabrics made of wool are subject to shrinkage (Corbman, 1983:282). Two kinds of shrinkage occur: felting shrinkage and relaxation shrinkage. Felting shrinkage occurs as a result of combined agitation, heat and moisture (Lenting et al., 2006:711; Cortez et al., 2004:64).

When wet, untreated wool fabric is agitated, the fibres will tend to move in a root ward direction and the root curls upon itself (Gohl and Vilensky, 1983:71). The scales interlock and hook together, causing the fibres to become entangled (Silva et al., 2006:634).

When the felting is not properly controlled, the fabric will become stiff and thick, and it will shrink considerably (Joseph, 1986:52). Felting is enhanced by heat, which causes the fibre to become more elastic and thus more likely to move. This, in turn, will make it distort and entangle itself with other fibres. Heat also causes the fibre to swell, a condition that is enhanced by acid or alkaline conditions. Swelling leads to more inter-fibre contact and inter-fibre friction (Gohl and Vilensky, 1983:71).

Relaxation shrinkage occurs as a result of the elasticity of the fibre. Fibres are stretched and extended during the construction of fabrics, and when the fibre is exposed to  moisture, the yarns return to their original length that causes the fabric to shrink (Joseph, 1986:52; Garcia et al., 1994:466). This also includes exposure to steam, which causes shrinkage (Lyle, 1976:103). The felting shrinkage of wool is progressive. Wool will continue to shrink if it is not washed in cold water with a neutral pH and minimum handling to
minimize felting (Tortora, 1978:77).


The warmth of wool is due to its spongy structure and scales that incorporate many extremely small pockets of air (Miller, 1992:26).

Stationary air is a bad conductor of heat and therefore wool is a good heat insulator and feels warm (Corbman, 1983:281).

cool absorbs atmospheric moisture and through the heat of absorption makes the wearer feel warmer (Cowan and Jungerman, 1969:9), and the fibre is protein and therefore doesn’t transmit heat quickly (Miller, 1992:29).

Thermal properties of wool:

Wool is not a very flammable fibre. Dry wool will burn slowly with a sputtering smoky flame, and will self-extinguish when removed from the source of flame (Smith and Block, 1982:94). Wool fibres scorch at 204°C and will eventually turn to char at 300°C. During combustion it will give off a smell similar to burning feathers. When removed from the flame each fibre will form a charred black knob (Cook, 1984:90).

  • Chemical properties of wool:

Effect of alkalis:

Wool is easily attacked by alkalis. Weak alkalis like soap, sodium phosphate, ammonia, borax and sodium silicate will not damage wool if the temperatures are low (Labarthe, 1975:63). Alkaline solutions can open the disulphide cross-links of wool, while hot alkalis may even dissolve it (Chapman, 1974:56). Wool dissolves when boiled in a 5% solution of
sodium hydroxide (Labarthe, 1975:63). Caustic soda will completely destroy wool. Wool turns yellow as it disintegrates, then it become slick and turn into a jelly-like mass, and goes into solution (Hollen and Saddler, 1973:22).

Weak solutions of sodium carbonate can damage wool when used hot, or for a long period (Hall, 1969:17).
Concentrated alkalis below 31°C gives wool increased lustre and strength, by fusing the scales together; it is called mercerized wool (Labarthe, 1975:63).

Effect of acids:

Wool is more resistant to acids. This is because they hydrolyse the peptide groups but leave the disulfide bonds intact, which cross-link the polymers. Although this weakens the polymer system, it doesn’t dissolve the fibre (Gohl and Vilensky, 1984:81).

Wool is only damaged by hot sulphuric acid (Corbman, 1983:282) and nitric acid (Joseph, 1986). Acids are used to activate the salt linkages in the wool fibre, making it available to the dye (Hollen and Saddler, 1973:22). Concentrated mineral acids will destroy wool if the fabric is soaked in it for more than a few minutes. It will also destroy wool when it dries on the fabric (Labarthe, 1975:63).

Effect of bleach:

Bleaches that contain chlorine compounds will damage wool. Products with hypochlorite will cause wool to become yellow and dissolve it at room temperature. Various forms of chlorine are used to make ‘unshrinkable wool’, by destroying the scales. This wool is weaker, less elastic and has no felting properties (Labarthe, 1975:63).

Bleaches containing hydrogen peroxide, sodium perborate, sodium peroxide (Corbman, 1983:282) and potassium permanganate won’t harm wool and are safe to use for stain removal (Wingate and Mohler, 1984:308).

Effect of sunlight:

Wool will weaken when exposed to sunlight for long periods (Schmidt and Wortmann, 1994). The ultraviolet rays will cause the disulfide bonds of cystine to break, which leads to photochemical oxidation. This will cause fibre degradation and eventual destruction (Joseph, 1986:53). Wet fabrics exposed to ultraviolet light are more severely faded and weakened than dry fabrics (Labarthe, 1975:62).

Effect of perspiration:

As already stated, wool is easily deteriorated by alkalis and therefore perspiration which is alkaline will weaken wool as a result of hydrolysis of peptide bonds and amide side chains (Maclaren and Milligan, 1981:89). Perspiration in general will lead to discoloration (Corbman, 1983:283).

Effect of water:

Wool loses 10 to 25% of its strength when wet, although it is regained upon drying (Stout, 1970:113). Prolonged boiling will dissolve and decompose small amounts of the fibre. Boiling water will reduce lustre and promote felting (Labarthe, 1975:63). The heat makes the fibre more elastic and plastic which makes it easier to move and entangle itself with other fibres (Gohl and Vilenski, 1983:72).

  • Biological properties of wool:

Wool is vulnerable to the larvae of moths and carpet beetles (Corbman, 1983:282), as they are attracted by the chemical structure of the cystine cross-linkages in wool (Tortora, 1978:78).
Raw wool may contain inactive spores, which becomes active when wet. Mildew will develop when wool is left in a damp condition for a long period (Labarthe, 1975:59).

  • Care:

Dry cleaning is the recommended care method for wool items (Kadolph, 2002:56), because the solvents do not harm wool and create less wrinkling, fuzzing and shrinkage (Hollen and Saddler, 1973:22). Wool fabrics should not be tumble dried, because the tumbling of the damp fabrics may cause excessive felting shrinkage. The dryer will provide all of the conditions necessary for felting, namely heat, moisture and friction (Tortora, 1978:78). Wool items should be dried flat to prevent strain on any part of the garment. Heat has a negative effect on wool fibres and therefore it is necessary to keep ironing temperatures low, and to use a press cloth (Tortora, 1978:78). Steaming will partially shrink and condition the fabric, so should be done with care (Wingate and Mohler, 1984:319).


Short Staple Processing

Yarns are continuous strands of fibers that can be woven or knitted into fabrics. The term, “spinning” refers both to the final yarn-making operation that puts a twist in the yarn and also to the entire sequence of operations that convert raw fibers into usable yarns. Yarn making from staple fibers involves picking (opening, sorting, cleaning, blending), carding and combing (separating and aligning), drawing (re-blending), drafting (drawing into a long strand) and spinning (further drawing and twisting)3. Silk and synthetic filaments are produced by a less extensive procedure. Current high-production yarn-making operations are performed on integrated machines that perform this entire sequence as one combined operation.

Picking (Including Opening and Blending)

Includes the separation of the raw fibers from unwanted material: leaves, twigs, dirt, any remaining seeds, and other foreign items. The fibers are first blended with fibers from different lots or other sources to provide uniformity. (They also may be blended with different fibers to provide improved properties in the final fabric.) When cotton fibers are processed, the raw cotton is run through a cotton ginning operation and then undergoes a cleaning sequence before it is pressed into rectangular bales for shipment to the textile mill. There, the picking starts with a blending machine operation. Bales are opened and cotton from several lots is fed to the machine. The cotton then proceeds to an opening machine that opens tufts of cotton with spiked teeth that pull the fibers apart. Up to three stages of picking follow, after which the cotton is often in the form of a lay, a roll of cotton fiber about 40 in (1 m) wide, 1 n (25 mm) thick and weighing about 40 lb. (18 kg)1. Figs. 1a, 1b and 1c show the lending, opening and picking operations.

Figure 1a: Blending and feeding cotton fibers. Cotton from bales (1), is dropped onto an apron conveyor (2), and moves to another apron conveyor (3), whose surface is covered with spikes. The spikes carry the cotton upward where some of it is knocked off by a ribbed roller(4). The cotton knocked back mixes with cotton carried by the spiked apron. Cotton that passes the knock-back roller is stripped off by another roll (5) and falls (6) to a conveyor that carries it to the next operation. (Illustration used with permission, Dan River Inc.).


Figure 1b: Opening cotton fibers—Cotton from the blending operation falls on an apron conveyor (1) and passes between feeder rolls (2) to a beater cylinder (3). The beater cylinder has rapidly rotating blades that take small tufts of cotton from the feeder rolls, loosen the bunches, remove trash, and move the cotton to the pair of screen rolls (4). The surfaces of these rolls are covered with a screen material. Air is drawn through the screens by a fan (5),pulling the cotton against the screens and forming a web. Small rolls (6), pull the cotton from the screen rolls and deposit it on another conveyor (7), that carries it to another beater (8), that removes more trash. The cotton then moves to the picker operation. (Illustration used with permission, Dan River Inc.)


Figure 1c: Picking cotton fibers—Cotton from the opening operation falls on an apron conveyor (1) which moves it to the first of a series of beaters (2), and screen rolls (3). The beaters and screen rolls in the series are all similar but are progressively more refined as the bottom moves through the equipment. Each beater removes more trash from the cotton. When it reaches the output section (4), the cotton is in the form of a web or lap that is wound into lap roll (5) by winding rolls (6). The lap roll in then ready to be transported to the carding equipment. (Illustration used with permission, Dan River Inc.)


Is a process similar to combing and brushing. It disentangles bunches and locks of fibers and arranges them in a parallel direction. It also further eliminates burrs and other foreign materials and fibers that are too short. The operation is performed on cotton, wool, waste silk,and synthetic staple fibers by a carding machine that consists of a moving conveyor belt with fine wire brushes and a revolving cylinder, also with fine wire hooks or brushes. The fibers from the picking operation are called “picker lap”, and are fed between the belt and the cylinder whose motions pull the fibers in the same direction to form a thin web. The web is
fed into a funnel-like tube that forms it into a round rope-like body about 3/4 in (2 cm) in diameter. This is called a sliver or card sliver. The carding operation is illustrated in Fig.


Figure:Carding cotton fibers—The lap (1) from the picking operation is unrolled and fed by the feed roll (2), to the lickerin roll (3), which has wire shaped like saw teeth. The lickerin roll moves the lap against cleaner bars (4), that remove trash, and passes it to the large cylinder (5). The surface of the large cylinder holds the cotton with thousands of fine wires.The flats (6), with more fine wires, move in the direction opposite to that of the large cylinder.The cotton remains on the large cylinder until it reaches the doffer cylinder (7), which removes it from the large cylinder. A doffer comb (8), vibrates against the doffer cylinder and removes the cotton from it. The cotton, in a filmy web, passes through condenser rolls (9),and into a can through a coiler head (10). The subsequent operation is either combing or drawing. (Illustration used with permission, Dan River Inc.)


Is an additional fiber alignment operation performed on very fine yarns intended for finer fabrics. (Inexpensive and coarser fabrics are made from slivers processed without this further refining.) Fine-tooth combs are applied to the sliver from carding, separating out the shorter fibers, called noils, and aligning the longer fibers to a higher level of parallelism. The resulting strand is called a comb sliver. With its long fibers, the comb sliver provides a smoother, more even yarn.

Drawing (Drafting), (Re-Blending)

After carding and, if performed, combing, several slivers are combined into one strand that is drawn to be longer and thinner. Drawing frames have several pairs of rollers through which he slivers pass. Each successive pair of rollers runs at a higher speed than the preceding pairso that the sliver is pulled longer and thinner as it moves through the drawing frame. The operation is repeated through several stages. The drawing operations produce a product called roving which has less irregularities than the original sliver. Afterward, the finer sliver is given a slight twist and is wound on bobbins. Fig. 10B4 illustrates the drawing operation.Figure


Figure : Drawing—Cans (1), filled with slivers from the carding operation, feed the slivers to the drawing frame. The slivers pass through spoons (2), that guide the slivers and stop the equipment if any should break. The rollers (3), turn successively faster as the slivers move through them, reducing the size of the slivers and increasing their length approximately six fold. At this point, the slivers are combined into one which is deposited into a can (4), by coiler head. The sliver fibers are much more parallel, and the combined sliver is much more uniform after the operation, which is usually repeated for further improvement of the cotton slivers. (Based on an illustration from Dan River, Inc. Used with permission.)

Spinning (Twisting)

Further draws out and twists fibers to join them together in a continuous yarn or thread. The work is performed on a spinning frame after drawing. The twist is important in providing sufficient strength to the yarn because twisting causes the filaments to interlock further with one another. The roving passes first through another set of drafting rolls, resulting in lengthened yarn of the desired thickness.

There are three kinds of spinning frames: ring spinning, open-end (rotor) spinning, and air-jet spinning. With the common ring spinner, the lengthened yarn is fed onto a bobbin or spool on rotating spindle. The winding is controlled by a traveller feed that moves on a ring around the spindle but at a slower speed than that of the spindle. The result is a twisting of the yarn.The yarn guide oscillates axially during winding to distribute the yarn neatly on the bobbin.The yarn can then be used to weave or knit textile fabrics or to make thread, cord or rope.Staple yarns, made from shorter fibers require more twist to provide a sufficiently strong yarn;filaments have less need to be tightly twisted. For any fiber, yarns with a smaller amount of twist produce fabrics with a softer surface; yarns with considerable twist, hard-twisted yarns,provide a fabric with a more wear resistant surface and better resistance to wrinkles and dirt,but with a greater tendency to shrinkage. Hosiery and crepe fabrics are made from hard twisted
yarns. Fig.  illustrates ring spinning.


Figure : Ring spinning. Spun sliver from the drawing operations, which is then called roving, and is wound on bobbins (1), and is fed through another series of drawing rollers (2),that further draw the strand to its final desired thickness. A larger bobbin (4) on a rotating spindle (3), turns at a constant speed. The speed of the final pair of drawing rollers is set a the speed that delivers the yarn so that it is twisted by the desired amount as it is wound on the bobbin. The yarn is guided by the traveller (5), which slides around the bobbin on the ring (6).Because of some drag on the traveller, the yarn winds on the bobbin at the same rate of speed as it is delivered by the final pair of rollers. (Illustration used with permission, Dan RiverInc.)

Spinning Synthetic Fibers

The term “spinning” is also used to refer to the extrusion process of making synthetic fibbers forcing a liquid or semi-liquid polymer (or modified polymer, e.g., rayon) through small holes in an extrusion die, called a spinneret, and then cooling, drying or coagulating the resulting filaments. The fibers are then drawn to a greater length to align the molecules. This increases their strength. The monofilament fibres may be used directly as-is, or may be cut into shorter lengths, crimped into irregular shapes and spun with methods similar to thoseused with natural fibers. These steps are taken to give the synthetic yarns the same feel and
appearance as natural yarns when they are made into thread, garments and other textile products. (Section A2, above, describes wet and dry spinning methods of making rayon and acetate fibers.)

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Cotton Fiber 1

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  • Improvements in cotton fiber properties for textiles depend on changes in the growth and development of the fiber.
  • Manipulation of fiber perimeter has a potential to impact the length, micronaire, and strength of cotton fibers. The perimeter of the fiber is regulated by biological mechanisms that control the expansion characteristic of the cell wall and establish cell diameter.
  • mprovements in fiber quality can take many different forms. Changes in length, strength, uniformity, and fineness   In one recent analysis, fiber perimeter was shown to be the single quantitative trait of the fiber that affects all other traits . Fiber perimeter is the variable that has the greatest affect on fiber elongation and strength properties. While mature dead fibers have an elliptical morphology, living fibers have a cylindrical morphology during growth and development. Geometrically, perimeter is directly determined by diameter (perimeter = diameter × p). Thus, fiber diameter is the only variable that directly affects perimeter. For this reason, understanding the biological mechanisms that regulate fiber diameter is important for the long-term improvement of cotton.
  • A review of the literature indicates that many researchers believe diameter is established at fiber initiation and is maintained throughout the duration of fiber development . A few studies have examined, either directly or indirectly, changes in fiber diameter during development. Some studies indicate that diameter remains constant ; while others indicate that fiber diameter increases as the fiber develops.
  • The first three stages occur while the fiber is alive and actively growing. Fiber initiation involves the initial isodiametric expansion of the epidermal cell above the surface of the ovule. This stage may last only a day or so for each fiber. Because there are several waves of fiber initiation across the surface of the ovule , one may find fiber initials at any time during the first 5 or 6 d post anthesis. The elongation phase encompasses the major expansion growth phase of the fiber. Depending on genotype, this stage may last for several weeks post anthesis. During this stage of development the fiber deposits a thin, expandable primary cell wall composed of a variety of carbohydrate polymers . As the fiber approaches the end of elongation, the major phase of secondary wall synthesis starts. In cotton fiber, the secondary cell wall is composed almost exclusively of cellulose. During this stage, which lasts until the boll opens (50 to 60 d post anthesis), the cell wall becomes progressively thicker and the living protoplast decreases in volume. There is a significant overlap in the timing of the elongation and secondary wall synthesis stages. Thus, fibers are simultaneously elongating and depositing secondary cell wall.
  • The establishment of fiber diameter is a complex process that is governed, to a certain extent, by the overall mechanism by which fibers expand. The expansion of fiber cells is governed by the same related mechanisms occurring in other walled plant cells. Most cells exhibit diffuse cell growth, in which new wall and membrane materials are added throughout the surface area of the cell. Specialized, highly elongated cells, such as root hairs and pollen tubes, expand via tip synthesis where new wall and membrane materials are added only at a specific location that becomes the growing tip of the cell. While the growth mechanisms for cotton fiber have not been fully documented, recent evidence indicates that throughout the initiation and early elongation phases of development, cotton fiber expands primarily via diffuse growth . Later in fiber development, late in cell elongation, and well into secondary cell wall synthesis (35 d post anthesis), the organization of cellular organelles is consistent with continued diffuse growth . Many cells that expand via diffuse growth exhibit increases in both cell length and diameter; but cells that exhibit tip synthesis do not exhibit increases in cell diameter . If cotton fiber expands by diffuse growth, then it is reasonable to suggest that cell diameter might increase during the cell elongation phase of development.
  • Cell expansion is also regulated by the extensibility of the cell wall. For this reason, cell expansion most commonly occurs in cells that have only a primary cell wall . Primary cell walls contain low levels of cellulose. Production of the more rigid secondary cell wall usually signals the cessation of cell expansion. Secondary cell wall formation is often indicated by the development of wall birefringence.
  • Analyses of fiber diameter and cell wall birefringence show that fiber diameter significantly increased as fibers grew and developed secondary cell walls. Both cotton species and all the genotypes tested exhibited similar increases in diameter; however, the specific rates of change differed. Fibers continued to increase in diameter during the secondary wall synthesis stage of development, indicating that the synthesis of secondary cell wall does not coincide with the cessation of cell expansion.


  • The generally recommended machinery sequence at gins for spindle-picked cotton is rock and green-boll trap, feed control, tower drier, cylinder cleaner, stick machine, tower drier, cylinder cleaner, extractor feeder, gin stand, lint cleaner, lint cleaner, and press.
  • Cylinder cleaners use rotating spiked drums that open and clean the seedcotton by scrubbing it across a grid-rod or wire mesh screen that allows the trash to sift through. The stick machine utilizes the sling-off action of channel-type saw cylinders to extract foreign matter from the seedcotton by centrifugal force. In addition to feeding seedcotton to the gin stand, the extractor feeder cleans the cotton using the stick machine’s sling-off principle.
  • In some cases the extractor-feeder is a combination of a cylinder cleaner and an extractor.    Sometimes an impact or revolving screen cleaner is used in addition to the second cylinder cleaner. In the impact cleaner, seedcotton is conveyed across a series of revolving, serrated disks instead of the grid-rod or wire mesh screen.
  • Lint cleaners at gins are mostly of the controlled-batt, saw type. In this cleaner a saw cylinder combs the fibers and extracts trash from the lint cotton by a combination of centrifugal force, scrubbing action between saw cylinder and grid bars, and gravity assisted by an air current
  • Seedcotton-type cleaners extract the large trash components from cotton. However, they have only a small influence on the cotton’s grade index, visible liint foreign-matter content, and fiber length distribution when compared with the lint cleaning effects.  Also, the number of neps created by the entire seedcotton cleaning process is about the same as the increase caused by one saw-cylinder lint cleaner.
  • Most cotton gins today use one or two stages of saw-type lint cleaners. The use of too many stages of lint cleaning can reduce the market value of the bale, because the weight loss may offset any gain from grade improvement. Increasing the number of saw lint cleaners at gins, in addition to increasing the nep count and short-fiber content of the raw lint, causes problems at the spinning mill. These show up as more neps in the card web and reduced yarn strength and appearance .
  • Pima cotton, extra-long-staple cotton, is roller ginned to preserve its length and to minimize neps. To maintain the highest possible quality bale of pima cotton, mill-type lint cleaners were for a long time the predominant cleaner used by the roller-ginning industry. Today, various combinations of impacts, incline, and pneumatic cleaners are used in most roller-ginning plants to increase lint-cleaning capacity.


  •     Two simple words, fiber quality, mean quite different things to cotton growers and to cotton processors.    No after-harvest mechanisms are available to either growers or processors that can improve intrinsic fiber quality.
    Most cotton production research by physiologists and agronomists has been directed toward improving yields, so the few cultural-input strategies suggested for improving fiber quality during the production season are of limited validity. Thus, producers have limited alternatives in production practices that might result in fibers of acceptable quality and yield without increased production costs.
    Fiber processors seek to acquire the highest quality cotton at the lowest price, and attempt to meet processing requirements by blending bales with different average fiber properties. Of course, bale averages for fiber properties do not describe the fiber-quality ranges that can occur within the bales or the resulting blends. Further, the natural variability among cotton fibers unpredictably reduces the processing success for blends made up of low-priced, lower-quality fibers and high-priced, higher-quality fibers.
    Blends that fail to meet processing specifications show marked increases in processing disruptions and product defects that cut into the profits of the yarn and textile manufacturers. Mill owners do not have sufficient knowledge of the role classing-office fiber properties play in determining the outcome of cotton spinning and dyeing processes.
    Even when a processor is able to make the connection between yarn and fabric defects and increased proportions of low-quality fibers, producers have no way of explaining why the rejected bales failed to meet processing specifications when the bale averages for important fiber properties fell within the acceptable ranges.
    If, on the other hand, the causes of a processing defect are unknown, neither the producer nor the processor will be able to prevent or avoid that defect in the future. Any future research that is designed to predict, prevent, or avoid low-quality cotton fibers that cause processing defects in yarn and fabric must address the interface between cotton production and cotton processing.
    Every bale of cotton produced in the USA crosses that interface via the USDA-AMS classing offices, which report bale averages of quantified fiber properties. Indeed, fiber-quality data reports from classing offices are designed as a common quantitative language that can be interpreted and understood by both producers and processors. But the meaning and utility of classing-office reports can vary, depending on the instrument used to evaluate.
  • Fiber maturity is a composite of factors, including inherent genetic fineness compared with the perimeter or cross section achieved under prevailing growing conditions and the relative fiber cell-wall thickness and the primary -to- secondary fiber cell-wall ratio, and the time elapsed between flowering and boll opening or harvest. While all the above traits are important to varying degrees in determining processing success, none of them appear in classing-office reports.
  • Micronaire, which is often treated as the fiber maturity measurement in classing-office data, provides an empirical composite of fiber cross section and relative wall thickening. But laydown blends that are based solely on bale-average micronaire will vary greatly in processing properties and outcomes.
    Cotton physiologists who follow fiber development can discuss fiber chronological maturity in terms of days after floral anthesis. But, they must quantify the corresponding fiber physical maturity as micronaire readings for samples pooled across several plants, because valid micronaire determinations require at least 10 g of individualized fiber.
  • Some fiber properties, like length and single fiber strength, appear to be simple and easily understood terms. But the bale average length reported by the classing office does not describe the range or variability of fiber lengths that must be handled by the spinning equipment processing each individual fiber from the highly variable fiber population found in that bale.
    Even when a processing problem can be linked directly to a substandard fiber property, surprisingly little is known about the causes of variability in fiber shape and maturity. For example:
  • Spinners can see the results of excessive variability in fiber length or strength when manifested as yarn breaks and production halts.Knitters and weavers can see the knots and slubs or holes that reduce the value of fabrics made from defective yarns that were spun from poor-quality fibre
  • Inspectors of dyed fabrics can see the unacceptable color streaks and specks associated with variations in fiber maturity and the relative dye-uptake success.
  • The grower, ginner, and buyer can see variations in color or trash content of ginned and baled cotton.

But there are no inspectors or instruments that can see or predict any of the above quality traits of fibers while they are developing in the boll.    There is no definitive reference source, model, or database to which a producer can turn for information on how cultural inputs could be adapted to the prevailing growth conditions of soil fertility, water availability, and weather (temperature, for example) to produce higher quality fiber.

The scattered research publications that address fiber quality, usually in conjunction with yield improvement, are confusing because their measurement protocols are not standardized and results are not reported in terms that are meaningful to either producers or processors. Thus, physiological and agronomic studies of fiber quality frequently widen, rather than bridge, the communication gap between cotton producers and processors.

This overview assembles and assesses current literature citations regarding the quantitation of fiber quality and the manner in which irrigation, soil fertility, weather, and cotton genetic potential interact to modulate fiber quality. The ultimate goal is to provide access to the best answers currently available to the question of what causes the annual and regional fiber quality variations

From the physiologist’s perspective, the fiber quality of a specific cotton genotype is a composite of fiber shape and maturity properties that depend on complex interactions among the genetics and physiology of the plants producing the fibers and the growth environment prevailing during the cotton production season.

Fiber shape properties, particularly length and diameter, are largely dependent on genetics. Fiber maturity properties, which are dependent on deposition of photosynthate in the fiber cell wall, are more sensitive to changes in the growth environment. The effects of the growth environment on the genetic potential of a genotype modulate both shape and maturity properties to varying degrees.

Anatomically, a cotton fiber is a seed hair, a single hyperelongated cell arising from the protodermal cells of the outer integument layer of the seed coat. Like all living plant cells, developing cotton fibers respond individually to fluctuations in the macro- and microenvironments. Thus, the fibers on a single seed constitute continua of fiber length, shape, cell-wall thickness, and physical maturity .

Environmental variations within the plant canopy, among the individual plants, and within and among fields ensure that the fiber population in each boll, indeed on each seed, encompasses a broad range of fiber properties and that every bale of cotton contains a highly variable population of fibers.

Successful processing of cotton lint depends on appropriate management during and after harvest of those highly variable fiber properties that have been shown to affect finished-product quality and manufacturing efficiency . If fiber-blending strategies and subsequent spinning and dyeing processes are to be optimized for specific end-uses and profitability, production managers in textile mills need accurate and effective descriptive and predictive quantitative measures of both the means and the ranges of these highly variable fiber properties .

In the USA, the components of cotton fiber quality are usually defined as those properties reported for every bale by the classing offices of the USDA-AMS, which currently include length, length uniformity index, strength, micronaire, color as reflectance (Rd) and yellowness (+b), and trash content, all quantified by the High Volume Instrument (HVI) line. The classing offices also provide each bale with the more qualitative classers’ color and leaf grades and with estimates of preparation (degree of roughness of ginned lint) and content of extraneous matter.

The naturally wide variations in fiber quality, in combination with differences in end-use requirements, result in significant variability in the value of the cotton lint to the processor. Therefore, a system of premiums and discounts has been established to denote a specified base quality. In general, cotton fiber value increases as the bulk-averaged fibers increase in whiteness (+Rd), length, strength, and micronaire; and discounts are made for both low mike (micronaire less than 3.5) and high mike (micronaire more than 4.9).

Ideal fiber-quality specifications favored by processors traditionally have been summarized thusly: “as white as snow, as long as wool, as strong as steel, as fine as silk, and as cheap as hell.” These specifications are extremely difficult to incorporate into a breeding program or to set as goals for cotton producers. Fiber-classing technologies in use and being tested allow quantitation of fiber properties, improvement of standards for end-product quality, and, perhaps most importantly, creation of a fiber-quality language and system of fiber-quality measurements that can be meaningful and useful to producers and processors alike.

Improvements in textile processing, particularly advances in spinning technology, have led to increased emphasis on breeding cotton for both improved yield and improved fiber properties  Studies of gene action suggest that, within upland cotton genotypes there is little non-additive gene action in fiber length, strength, and fineness ; that is, genes determine those fiber properties. However, large interactions between combined annual environmental factors (primarily weather) and fiber strength suggest that environmental variability can prevent full realization of the fiber-quality potential of a cotton genotype.
More recently, statistical comparisons of the relative genetic and environmental influences upon fiber strength suggest that fiber strength is determined by a few major genes, rather than by variations in the growth environment . Indeed, spatial variations of single fertility factors in the edaphic environment were found to be unrelated to fiber strength and only weakly correlated with fiber length .

Genetic potential of a specific genotype is defined as the level of fiber yield or quality that could be attained under optimal growing conditions. The degree to which genetic potential is realized changes in response to environmental fluctuations such as application of water or fertilizer and the inevitable seasonal shifts such as temperature, day length, and insolation.

In addition to environment-related modulations of fiber quality at the crop and whole-plant levels, significant differences in fiber properties also can be traced to variations among the shapes and maturities of fibers on a single seed and, consequently, within a given boll.


Comparisons of the fiber-length arrays from different regions on a single seed have revealed that markedly different patterns in fiber length can be found in the micropylar, middle, and chalazal regions of a cotton seed – at either end and around the middle . Mean fiber lengths were shortest at the micropylar (upper, pointed end of the seed) . The most mature fibers and the fibers having the largest perimeters also were found in the micropylar region of the seed. After hand ginning, the percentage of short fibers less than 0.5 inch or 12.7 mm long on a cotton seed was extremely low.

It has been reported that, in ginned and baled cotton, the short fibers with small perimeters did not originate in the micropylar region of the seed . MEasurements of fibers from micropylar and chalazal regions of seeds revealed that the location of a seed within the boll was related to the magnitude of the differences in the properties of fibers from the micropylar and chalazal regions.
Significant variations in fiber maturity also can be related to the seed position (apical, medial, or due to the variability inherent in cotton fiber, there is no absolute value for fiber length within a genotype or within a test sample . Even on a single seed, fiber lengths vary significantly because the longer fibers occur at the chalazal (cup-shaped, lower) end of the seed and the shorter fibers are found at the micropylar (pointed) end. Coefficients of fiber-length variation, which also vary significantly from sample to sample, are on the order of 40% for upland cotton.
Variations in fiber length attributable to genotype and fiber location on the seed are modulated by factors in the micro- and macroenvironment . Environmental changes occurring around the time of floral anthesis may limit fiber initiation or retard the onset of fiber elongation. Suboptimal environmental conditions during the fiber elongation phase may decrease the rate of elongation or shorten the elongation period so that the genotypic potential for fiber length is not fully realized . Further, the results of environmental stresses and the corresponding physiological responses to the growth environment may become evident at a stage in fiber development that is offset in time from the occurrence of the stressful conditions.
Fiber lengths on individual seeds can be determined while the fibers are still attached to the seed , by hand stapling or by photoelectric measurement after ginning. Traditionally, staple lengths have been measured and reported to the nearest 32nd of an inch or to the nearest millimeter. The four upland staple classes are: short (<21 mm), medium (22-25 mm), medium-long (26-28 mm) and long (29-34 mm). Pima staple length is classed as long (29-34 mm) and extra-long (>34 mm). Additionally, short fiber content is defined as the percentage of fiber less than 12.7 mm.

Cotton buyers and processors used the term staple length long before development of quantitative methods for measuring fiber properties. Consequently, staple length has never been formally defined in terms of a statistically valid length distribution.
In Fibrograph testing, fibers are randomly caught on combs, and the beard formed by the captured fibers is scanned photoelectrically from base to tip . The amount of light passing through the beard is a measure of the number of fibers that extend various distances from the combs. Data are recorded as span length (the distance spanned by a specific percentage of fibers in the test beard). Span lengths are usually reported as 2.5 and 50%. The 2.5% span length is the basis for machine settings at various stages during fiber processing.

The uniformity ratio is the ratio between the two span lengths expressed as a percentage of the longer length. The Fibrograph provides a relatively fast method for reproducibility in measuring the length and length uniformity of fiber samples. Fibrograph test data are used in research studies, in qualitative surveys such as those checking commercial staple-length classifications, and in assembling cotton bales into uniform lots.
Since 1980, USDA-AMS classing offices have relied almost entirely on high-volume instrumentation (HVI) for measuring fiber length and other fiber properties (Moore, 1996). The HVI length analyzer determines length parameters by photoelectrically scanning a test beard that is selected by a specimen loader and prepared by a comber/brusher attachment

The fibers in the test beard are assumed to be uniform in cross-section, but this is a false assumption because the cross section of each individual fiber in the beard varies significantly from tip to tip. The HVI fiber-length data are converted into the percentage of the total number of fibers present at each length value and into other length parameters, such as mean length, upper-half mean length, and length uniformity . This test method for determining cotton fiber length is considered acceptable for testing commercial shipments when the testing services use the same reference standard cotton samples.

All fiber-length methods discussed above require a minimum of 5 g of ginned fibers and were developed for rapid classing of relatively large, bulk fiber samples. For analyses of small fiber samples , fiber property measurements with an electron-optical particle-sizer, the Zellweger Uster AFIS-A2  have been found to be acceptably sensitive, rapid, and reproducible. The AFIS-A2 Length and Diameter module  generates values for mean fiber length by weight and mean fiber length by number, fiber length histograms, and values for upper quartile length, and for short-fiber contents by weight and by number (the percentages of fibers shorter than 12.7 mm). The AFIS-A2 Length and Diameter module also quantifies mean fiber diameter by number .

Although short-fiber content is not currently included in official USDA-AMS classing office reports, short-fiber content is increasingly recognized as a fiber property comparable in importance to fiber fineness, strength, and length . The importance of short-fiber content in determining fiber-processing success, yarn properties, and fabric performance has led the post-harvest sector of the U.S. cotton industry to assign top priority to minimizing short-fiber content, whatever the causes .
The perceived importance of short-fiber content to processors has led to increased demands for development and approval of a standard short-fiber content measurement that would be added to classing office HVI systems . This accepted classing office-measurement would allow inclusion of short-fiber content in the cotton valuation system. Documentation of post-ginning short-fiber content at the bale level is expected to reduce the cost of textile processing and to increase the value of the raw fiber . However, modulation of short-fiber content before harvest cannot be accomplished until the causes of increased short-fiber content are better understood.

Fiber length is primarily a genetic trait, but short-fiber content is dependent upon genotype, growing conditions, and harvesting, ginning, and processing methods. Further, little is known about the levels or sources of pre-harvest short-fiber content .

It is essential that geneticists and physiologists understand the underlying concepts and the practical limitations of the methods for measuring fiber length and short-fiber content so that the strong genetic component in fiber length can be separated from environmental components introduced by excessive temperatures and water or nutrient deficiencies. Genetic improvement of fiber length is fruitless if the responses of the new genotypes to the growth environment prevent full realization of the enhanced genetic potential or if the fibers produced by the new genotypes break more easily during harvesting or processing. The reported effects of several environmental factors on fiber length and short-fiber content, which are assumed to be primarily genotype-dependent, are discussed in the subsections that follow.

Maximum cotton fiber lengths were reached when night temperatures were around 19 to 20 °C, depending on the genotype .  Early-stage fiber elongation was highly temperature dependent; late fiber elongation was temperature independent . Fiber length (upper-half mean length) was negatively correlated with the difference between maximum and minimum temperature.

Modifications of fiber length by growth temperatures also have been observed in planting-date studies in which the later planting dates were associated with small increases in 2.5 and 50% span lengths . If the growing season is long enough and other inhibitory factors do not interfere with fiber development, early-season delays in fiber initiation and elongation may be counteracted by an extension of the elongation period .

Variations in fiber length and the elongation period also were associated with relative heat-unit accumulations. Regression analyses showed that genotypes that produced longer fibers were more responsive to heat-unit accumulation levels than were genotypes that produced shorter fibers .  However, the earliness of the genotype was also a factor in the relationship between fiber length (and short-fiber content by weight) and accumulated heat units .

As temperature increased, the number of small motes per boll also increased. Fertilization efficiency, which was negatively correlated with small-mote frequency, also decreased. Although fiber length did not change significantly with increasing temperature, the percentage of short-fibers was lower when temperatures were higher. The apparent improvement in fiber length uniformity may be related to increased assimilate availability to the fibers because there were fewer seeds per boll.

Cotton water relationships and irrigation traditionally have been studied with respect to yield . Fiber length was not affected unless the water deficit was great enough to lower the yield to 700 kg ha-1. Fiber elongation was inhibited when the midday water potential was -2.5 to -2.8 mPa. Occurrence of moisture deficits during the early flowering period did not alter fiber length. However, when drought occurred later in the flowering period, fiber length was decreased .

Severe water deficits during the fiber elongation stage reduce fiber length ,  apparently due simply to the direct mechanical and physiological processes of cell expansion. However, water availability and the duration and timing of flowering and boll set can result in complex physiological interactions between water deficits and fiber properties including length.


Changes in the growth environment also alter canopy structure and the photon flux environment within the canopy. For example, loss of leaves and bolls from unfavorable weather (wind, hail), disease, or herbivory and compensatory regrowth can greatly affect both fiber yield and quality . The amount of light within the crop canopy is an important determinant of photosynthetic activity  and, therefore, of the source-to-sink relationships that allocate photoassimilate within the canopy . Eaton and Ergle (1954) observed that reduced-light treatments increased fiber length. Shading during the first 7 d after floral anthesis resulted in a 2% increase in the 2.5% span length .

Shading (or prolonged periods of cloudy weather) and seasonal shifts in day length also modulate temperature, which modifies fiber properties, including length.

Commercial cotton genotypes are considered to be day-length neutral with respect to both flowering and fruiting . However, incorporation of day-length data in upland and pima fiber-quality models, based on accumulated heat units, increased the coefficients of determination for the length predictors from 30 to 54% for the upland model and from 44 to 57% for the pima model .

It was found that the light wavelengths reflected from red and green mulches increased fiber length, even though plants grown under those mulches received less reflected photosynthetic flux than did plants grown with white mulches. The longest fiber was harvested from plants that received the highest far red/red ratios.


Studies of the mineral nutrition of cotton and the related soil chemistry usually have emphasized increased yield and fruiting efficiency .  More recently, the effects of nutrient stress on boll shedding have been examined .  Also, several mineral-nutrition studies have been extended to include fiber quality .

Reports of fiber property trends following nutrient additions are often contradictory due to the interactive effects of genotype, climate, and soil conditions. Potassium added at the rate of 112 kg K ha-1yr-1 did not affect the 2.5% span length , when genotype was a significant factor in determining both 2.5 and 50% span lengths . Genotype was not a significant factor in Acala fiber length, but an additional 480 kg K ha-1yr-1 increased the mean fiber length .  K ha-1yr-1 increased the length uniformity ratio and increased 50%, but not 2.5% span length. Genotype and the interaction, genotype-by-environment, determined the 2.5% span length.

As mentioned above, fiber length is assumed to be genotype-dependent, but growth-environment fluctuations – both those resulting from seasonal and annual variability in weather conditions and those induced by cultural practices and inputs – modulate the range and mean of the fiber length population at the test sample, bale, and crop levels.
Quantitation of fiber length is relatively straightforward and reproducible, and fiber length (along with micronaire) is one of the most likely fiber properties to be included when cotton production research is extended beyond yield determinations. Other fiber properties are less readily quantified, and the resulting data are not so easily understood or analyzed statistically. This is particularly true of  fiber-breaking strength, which has become a crucial fiber property due to changes in spinning techniques.


The inherent breaking strength of individual cotton fibers is considered to be the most important factor in determining the strength of the yarn spun from those fibers . Recent developments in high-speed yarn spinning technology, specifically open-end rotor spinning systems, have shifted the fiber-quality requirements of the textile industry toward higher-strength fibers that can compensate for the decrease in yarn strength associated with open-end rotor spinning techniques.
Compared with conventional ring spinning, open-end rotor-spun yarn production capacity is five times greater and, consequently, more economical. Rotor-spun yarn is more even than the ring-spun, but is 15 to 20% weaker than ring-spun yarn of the same thickness. Thus, mills using open-end rotor and friction spinning have given improved fiber strength  highest priority. Length and length uniformity, followed by fiber strength and fineness, remain the most important fiber properties in determining ring-spun yarn strength.
Historically, two instruments have been used to measure fiber tensile strength, the Pressley apparatus and the Stelometer . In both of these flat-bundle methods, a bundle of fibers is combed parallel and secured between two clamps. A force to try to separate the clamps is applied and gradually increased until the fiber bundle breaks. Fiber tensile strength is calculated from the ratio of the breaking load to bundle mass. Due to the natural lack of homogeneity within a population of cotton fibers, bundle fiber selection, bundle construction and, therefore, bundle mass measurements, are subject to considerable experimental error .

Fiber strength, that is, the force required to break a fiber, varies along the length of the fiber, as does fiber fineness measured as perimeter, diameter, or cross section  Further, the inherent variability within and among cotton fibers ensures that two fiber bundles of the same weight will not contain the same number of fibers. Also, the within-sample variability guarantees that the clamps of the strength testing apparatus will not grasp the various fibers in the bundle at precisely equivalent positions along the lengths. Thus, a normalizing length-weight factor is included in bundle strength calculations.

In the textile literature, fiber strength is reported as breaking tenacity or grams of breaking load per tex, where tex is the fiber linear density in grams per kilometer . Both Pressley and stelometer breaking tenacities are reported as 1/8 in. gauge tests, the 1/8 in. (or 3.2 mm) referring to the distance between the two Pressley clamps. Flat-bundle measurements of fiber strength are considered satisfactory for acceptance testing and for research studies of the influence of genotype, environment, and processing on fiber (bundle) strength and elongation.

The relationships between fiber strength and elongation and processing success also have been examined using flat-bundle strength testing methods . However cotton fiber testing today requires that procedures be rapid, reproducible, automated, and without significant operator bias.  Consequently, the HVI systems used for length measurements in USDA-AMS classing offices are also used to measure the breaking strength of the same fiber bundles (beards) formed during length measurement.

Originally, HVI strength tests were calibrated against the 1/8-in. gauge Pressley measurement, but the bundle-strengths of reference cottons are now established by Stelometer tests that also provide bundle elongation-percent data. Fiber bundle elongation is measured directly from the displacement of the jaws during the bundle-breaking process, and the fiber bundle strength and elongation data usually are reported together (ASTM, 1994, D 4604-86). The HVI bundle-strength measurements are reported in grams-force tex-1 and can range from 30 and above (very strong) to 20 or below (very weak). In agronomic papers, fiber strengths are normally reported as kN m kg-1, where one Newton equals 9.81 kg-force .

The HVI bundle-strength and elongation-percent testing methods are satisfactory for acceptance testing and research studies when 3.0 to 3.3 g of blended fibers are available and the relative humidity of the testing room is adequately controlled. A 1% increase in relative humidity and the accompanying increase in fiber moisture content will increase the strength value by 0.2 to 0.3 g tex-1, depending on the fiber genotype and maturity.

Further, classing-office HVI measurements of fiber strength do not adequately describe the variations of fiber strength along the length of the individual fibers or within the test bundle. Thus, predictions of yarn strength based on HVI bundle-strength data can be inadequate and misleading . The problem of fiber-strength variability is being addressed by improved HVI calibration methods  and by computer simulations of bundle-break tests in which the simulations are based on large single-fiber strength databases of more than 20 000 single fiber long-elongation curves obtained with MANTIS .

Fiber Strength, Environment, and Genotype:

Reports of stelometer measurements of fiber bundle strength are relatively rare in the refereed agronomic literature. Consequently, the interactions of environment and genotype in determining fiber strength are not as well documented as the corresponding interactions that modulate fiber length. Growth environment, and genotype response to that environment, play a part in determining fiber strength and strength variability .

Early studies showed fiber strength to be significantly and positively correlated with maximum or mean growth temperature, maximum minus minimum growth temperature, and potential insolation . Increased strength was correlated with a decrease in precipitation. Minimum temperature did not affect fiber strength. All environmental variables were interrelated, and a close general association between fiber strength and environment was interpreted as indicating that fiber strength is more responsive to the growth environment than are fiber length and fineness. Other investigators reported that fiber strength was correlated with genotype only.

Square removal did not affect either fiber elongation  or fiber strength . Shading, leaf-pruning, and partial fruit removal decreased fiber strength . Selective square removal had no effect on fiber strength in bolls at the first, second, or third position on a fruiting branch . Fiber strength was slightly greater in bolls from the first 4 to 6 wk of flowering, compared with fibers from bolls produced by flowers opening during the last 2 wk of the flowering period .

In that study, fiber strength was positively correlated with heat unit accumulation during boll development, but genotype, competition among bolls, assimilatory capacity, and variations in light environment also helped determine fiber strength. Early defoliation, at 20% open bolls, increased fiber strength and length, but the yield loss due to earlier defoliation offset any potential improvement in fiber quality .


Of the fiber properties reported by USDA-AMS classing offices for use by the textile industry, fiber maturity is probably the least well-defined and most misunderstood. The term, fiber maturity, used in cotton marketing and processing is not an estimate of the time elapsed between floral anthesis and fiber harvest . However, such chronological maturity can be a useful concept in studies that follow fiber development and maturation with time . On the physiological and the physical bases, fiber maturity is generally accepted to be the degree (amount) of fiber cell-wall thickening relative to the diameter or fineness of the fiber .

Classically, a mature fiber is a fiber in which two times the cell wall thickness equals or exceeds the diameter of the fiber cell lumen, the space enclosed by the fiber cell walls . However, this simple definition of fiber maturity is complicated by the fact that the cross section of a cotton fiber is never a perfect circle; the fiber diameter is primarily a genetic characteristic.

Further, both the fiber diameter and the cell-wall thickness vary significantly along the length of the fiber. Thus, attempting to differentiate, on the basis of wall thickness, between naturally thin-walled or genetically fine fibers and truly immature fibers with thin walls greatly complicates maturity comparisons among and within genotypes.

Within a single fiber sample examined by image analysis, cell-wall thickness ranged from 3.4 to 4.9 µm when lumen diameters ranged from 2.4 to 5.2 µm . Based on the cited definition of a mature fiber having a cell-wall thickness two times the lumen diameter, 90% of the 40 fibers in that sample were mature, assuming that here had been no fiber-selection bias in the measurements.

Unfortunately, none of the available methods for quantifying cell-wall thickness is sufficiently rapid and reproducible to be used by agronomists, the classing offices, or fiber processors. Fiber diameter can be quantified, but diameter data are of limited use in determining fiber maturity without estimates of the relationship between lumen width and wall thickness. Instead, processors have attempted to relate fiber fineness to processing outcome.
Estimating Fiber Fineness:

Fiber fineness has long been recognized as an important factor in yarn strength and uniformity, properties that depend largely on the average number of fibers in the yarn cross section. Spinning larger numbers of finer fibers together results in stronger, more uniform yarns than if they had been made up of fewer, thicker fibers . However, direct determinations of biological fineness in terms of fiber or lumen diameter and cell-wall thickness are precluded by the high costs in both time and labor, the noncircular cross sections of dry cotton fibers, and the high degree of variation in fiber fineness.

Advances in image analysis have improved determinations of fiber biological fineness and maturity , but fiber image analyses remain too slow and limited with respect to sample size for inclusion in the HVI-based cotton-classing process.

Originally, the textile industry adopted gravimetric fiber fineness or linear density as an indicator of the fiber-spinning properties that depend on fiber fineness and maturity combined . This gravimetric fineness testing method was discontinued in 1989, but the textile linear density unit of tex persists. Tex is measured as grams per kilometer of fiber or yarn, and fiber fineness is usually expressed as millitex or micrograms per meter . Earlier, direct measurements of fiber fineness (either biological or gravimetric) subsequently were replaced by indirect fineness measurements based on the resistance of a bundle of fibers to airflow.

The first indirect test method approved by ASTM for measurement of fiber maturity, lineardensity, and maturity index was the causticaire method. In that test, the resistance of a plug of cotton to airflow was measured before and after a cell-wall swelling treatment with an 18% (4.5 M) solution of NaOH (ASTM, 1991, D 2480-82). The ratio between the rate of airflow through an untreated and then treated fiber plug was taken as indication of the degree of fiber wall development. The airflow reading for the treated sample was squared and corrected for maturity to serve as an indirect estimate of linear density. Causticaire method results were found to be highly variable among laboratories, and the method never was recommended for acceptance testing before it was discontinued in 1992.

The arealometer was the first dual-compression airflow instrument for estimating both fiber fineness and fiber maturity from airflow rates through untreated raw cotton (ASTM, 1976, D 1449-58; Lord and Heap, 1988). The arealometer provides an indirect measurement of the specific surface area of loose cotton fibers, that is, the external area of fibers per unit volume (approximately 200-mg samples in four to five replicates). Empirical formulae were developed for calculating the approximate maturity ratio and the average perimeter, wall thickness, and weight per inch from the specific surface area data. The precision and accuracy of arealometer determinations were sensitive to variations in sample preparation, to repeated sample handling, and to previous mechanical treatment of the fibers, e.g., conditions during harvesting, blending, and opening. The arealometer was never approved for acceptance testing, and the ASTM method was withdrawn in 1977 without replacement.

The variations in biological fineness and relative maturity of cotton fibers that were described earlier cause the porous plugs used in air-compression measurements to respond differently to compression and, consequently, to airflow . The IIC-Shirley Fineness/Maturity Tester (Shirley FMT), a dual-compression instrument, was developed to compensate for this plug-variation effect (ASTM, 1994, D 3818-92). The Shirley FMT is considered suitable for research, but is not used for acceptance testing due to low precision and accuracy. Instead, micronaire has become the standard estimate of both fineness and maturity in the USDA-AMS classing offices.

Fiber Maturity and Environment:

Whatever the direct or indirect method used for estimating fiber maturity, the fiber property being as sayed remains the thickness of the cell wall. The primary cell wall and cuticle (together »0.1 µm thick) make up about 2.4% of the total wall thickness ( »4.1 µm of the cotton fiber thickness at harvest) . The rest of the fiber cell wall (»98%) is the cellulosic secondary wall, which thickens significantly as polymerized photosynthate is deposited during fiber maturation. Therefore, any environmental factor that affects photosynthetic C fixation and cellulose synthesis will also modulate cotton fiber wall thickening and, consequently, fiber physiological maturation

Fiber Maturity and Temperature and Planting Date:

The dilution, on a weight basis, of the chemically complex primary cell wall by secondary-wall cellulose has been followed with X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. This technique determines the decrease, with time, in the relative weight ratio of the Ca associated with the pectin-rich primary wall . Growth-environment differences between the two years of the studies cited significantly altered maturation rates, which were quantified as rate of Ca weight-dilution, of both upland and pima genotypes. The rates of secondary wall deposition in both upland and pima genotypes were closely correlated with growth temperature; that is, heat-unit accumulation .

Micronaire (micronAFIS) also was found to increase linearly with time for upland and pima genotypes . The rates of micronaire increase were correlated with heat-unit accumulations . Rates of increase in fiber cross-sectional area were less linear than the corresponding micronaire-increase rates, and rates of upland and pima fiber cell-wall thickening  were linear and without significant genotypic effect .

Environmental modulation of fiber maturity (micronaire) by temperature was most often identified in planting- and flowering-date studies . The effects of planting date on micronaire, Shirley FMT fiber maturity ratio, and fiber fineness (in millitex) were highly significant in a South African study (Greef and Human, 1983). Although genotypic differences were detected among the three years of that study, delayed planting generally resulted in lower micronaire. The effect on fiber maturity of late planting was repeated in the Shirley FMT maturity ratio and fiber fineness data.

Planting date significantly modified degree of thickening, immature fiber fraction, cross-sectional area, and micronaire (micronAFIS) of four upland genotypes that also were grown in South Carolina . In general, micronaire decreased with later planting, but early planting also reduced micronaire of Deltapine 5490, a long-season genotype, in a year when temperatures were suboptimal during the early part of the season.

Harvest dates in this study also were staggered so that the length of the growing season was held constant within each year. Therefore, season-length should not have been an important factor in the relationships found between planting date and fiber maturity.
Fiber Maturity and Source-Sink Manipulation:

Variations in fiber maturity were linked with source-sink modulations related to flowering date , and seed position within the bolls . However, manipulation of source-sink relationships by early-season square (floral bud) removal had no consistently significant effect on upland cotton micronaire in one study . However, selective square removal at the first, second, and third fruiting sites along the branches increased micronaire, compared with controls from which no squares had been removed beyond natural square shedding . The increases in micronaire after selective square removals were associated with increased fiber wall thickness, but not with increased strength of elongation percent. Early-season square removal did not affect fiber perimeter or wall thickness (measured by arealometer) . Partial defruiting increased micronaire and had no consistent effect on upland fiber perimeter in bolls from August flowers.

Fiber Maturity and Water:

Generous water availability can delay fiber maturation (cellulose deposition) by stimulating competition for assimilates between early-season bolls and vegetative growth . Adequate water also can increase the maturity of fibers from mid-season flowers by supporting photosynthetic C fixation. In a year with insufficient rainfall, initiating irrigation when the first-set bolls were 20-d old increased micronaire, but irrigation initiation at first bloom had no effect on fiber maturity.  Irrigation and water-conservation effects on fiber fineness (millitex) were inconsistent between years, but both added water and mulching tended to increase fiber fineness. Aberrations in cell-wall synthesis that were correlated with drought stress have been detected and characterized by glycoconjugate analysis .

An adequate water supply during the growing season allowed maturation of more bolls at upper and outer fruiting positions, but the mote counts tended to be higher in those extra bolls and the fibers within those bolls tended to be less mature . Rainfall and the associated reduction in insolation levels during the blooming period resulted in reduced fiber maturity . Irrigation method also modified micronaire levels and distributions among fruiting sites.

Early-season drought resulted in fibers of greater maturity and higher micronaire in bolls at branch positions 1 and 2 on the lower branches of rainfed plants. However, reduced insolation and heavy rain reduced micronaire and increased immature fiber fractions in bolls from flowers that opened during the prolonged rain incident. Soil water deficit as well as excess may reduce micronaire if the water stress is severe or prolonged .
Fiber Maturity and Genetic Improvement:

Micronaire or maturity data now appear in most cotton improvement reports . In a five-parent half-diallel mating design, environment had no effect on HVI micronaire . However, a significant genotypic effect was found to be associated with differences between parents and the F1 generation and with differences among the F1 generation. The micronaire means for the parents were not significantly different, although HVI micronaire means were significantly different for the F1 generation as a group. The HVI was judged to be insufficiently sensitive for detection of the small difference in fiber maturity resulting from the crosses.
In another study, F2 hybrids had finer fibers (lower micronaire) than did the parents, but the improvements were deemed too small to be of commercial value.  Unlike the effects of environment on the genetic components of other fiber properties, variance in micronaire due to the genotype-by-environment interaction can reach levels expected for genetic variance in length and strength . Significant interactions were found between genetic additive variance and environmental variability for micronaire, strength, and span length in a study of 64 F2 hybrids .

The strong environmental components in micronaire and fiber maturity limit the usefulness of these fiber properties in studies of genotypic differences in response to growth environment. Based on micronaire, fiber maturity, cell-wall thickness, fiber perimeter, or fiber fineness data, row spacing had either no or minimal effect on okra-leaf or normal-leaf genotypes . Early planting reduced micronaire, wall-thickness, and fiber fineness of the okra-leaf genotype in one year of that study. In another study of leaf pubescence, nectaried vs. no nectaries, and leaf shape, interactions with environment were significant but of much smaller magnitude than the interactions among traits .
Micronaire means for Bt transgenic lines were higher than the micronaire means of Coker 312 and MD51ne when those genotypes were grown in Arizona . In two years out of three, micronaire means of all genotypes in this study, including the controls, exceeded 4.9; in other words, were penalty grade. This apparent undesirable environmental effect on micronaire may have been caused by a change in fiber testing methods in the one year of the three for which micronaire readings were below the upper penalty limit. Genotypic differences in bulk micronaire may either be emphasized or minimized, depending on the measurement method used .

In U.S. cotton classing, nonmandatory grade standards were first established in 1909, but compulsory upland grade standards were not set until 1915 . Official pima standards were first set in 1918. Grade is a composite assessment of three factors – color, leaf, and preparation . Color and trash (leaf and stem residues) can be quantified instrumentally, but traditional, manual cotton grade classification is still provided by USDA-AMS in addition to the instrumental HVI trash and color values. Thus, cotton grade reports are still made in terms of traditional color and leaf grades; for example, light spotted, tinged, strict low middling.

There is no approved instrumental measure of preparation – the degree of roughness/smoothness of the ginned lint. Methods of harvesting, handling, and ginning the cotton fibers produce differences in roughness that are apparent during manual inspection; but no clear correlations have been found between degree of preparation and spinning success. The frequency of tangled knots or mats of fiber (neps) may be higher in high-prep lint, and both the growth and processing environments can modulate nep frequency . However, abnormal preparation occurs in less than 0.5% of the U.S. crop during harvesting and ginning.

Trash or Leaf Grade:

Even under ideal field conditions, cotton lint becomes contaminated with leaf residues and other trash . Although most foreign matter is removed by cleaning processes during ginning, total trash extraction is impractical and can lower the quality of ginned fiber. In HVI cotton classing, a video scanner measures trash in raw cotton, and the trash data are reported in terms of the total trash area and trash particle counts (ASTM, D 4604-86, D 4605-86). Trash content data may be used for acceptance testing. In 1993, classer’s grade was split into color grade and leaf grade . Other factors being equal, cotton fibers mixed with the smallest amount of foreign matter have the highest value. Therefore, recent research efforts have been directed toward the development of a computer vision system that measures detailed trash and color attributes of raw cotton .

The term leaf includes dried, broken plant foliage, bark, and stem particles and can be divided into two general categories: large-leaf and pin or pepper trash . Pepper trash significantly lowers the value of the cotton to the manufacturer, and is more difficult and expensive to remove than the larger pieces of trash.Other trash found in ginned cotton can include stems, burs, bark, whole seeds, seed fragments, motes (underdeveloped seeds), grass, sand, oil, and dust. The growth environment obviously affects the amount of wind-borne contaminants trapped among the fibers. Environmental factors that affect pollination and seed development determine the frequency of undersized seeds and motes.

Reductions in the frequencies of motes and small-leaf trash also have been correlated with semi-smooth and super-okra leaf traits . Environment (crop year), harvest system, genotype, and second order interactions between those factors all had significant effects on leaf grade . Delayed harvest resulted in lower-grade fiber. The presence of trash particles also may affect negatively the color grade.

Fiber Color:

Raw fiber stock color measurements are used in controlling the color of manufactured gray, bleached, or dyed yarns and fabrics .  Of the three components of cotton grade, fiber color is most directly linked to growth environment. Color measurements also are correlated with overall fiber quality so that bright (reflective, high Rd), creamy-white fibers are more mature and of higher quality than the dull, gray or yellowish fibers associated with field weathering and generally lower fiber quality . Although upland cotton fibers are naturally white to creamy-white, pre-harvest exposure to weathering and microbial action can cause fibers to darken and to lose brightness.

Premature termination of fiber maturation by applications of growth regulators, frost, or drought characteristically increases the saturation of the yellow (+b) fiber-color component. Other conditions, including insect damage and foreign matter contamination, also modify fiber color.

The ultimate acceptance test for fiber color, as well as for finished yarns and fabrics, is the human eye. Therefore, instrumental color measurements must be correlated closely with visual judgment. In the HVI classing system, color is quantified as the degrees of reflectance (Rd) and yellowness (+b), two of the three tri-stimulus color scales of the Nickerson-Hunter colorimeter.

Fiber maturity has been associated with dye-uptake variability in finished yarn and fabric, but the color grades of raw fibers seldom have been linked to environmental factors or agronomic practices during production.
Other Environmental Effects on Cotton Fiber Quality:

Although not yet included in the USDA-AMS cotton fiber classing system, cotton stickiness is becoming an increasingly important problem . Two major causes of cotton stickiness are insect honeydew from whiteflies and aphids and abnormally high levels of natural plant sugars, which are often related to premature crop termination by frost or drought. Insect honeydew contamination is randomly deposited on the lint in heavy droplets and has a devastating production-halting effect on fiber processing.

The cost of clearing and cleaning processing equipment halted by sticky cotton is so high that buyers have included honeydew free clauses in purchase contracts and have refused cotton from regions known to have insect-control problems. Rapid methods for instrumental detection of honeydew are under development for use in classing offices and mills .


Like all agricultural commodities, the value of cotton lint responds to fluctuations in the supply-and-demand forces of the marketplace.  In addition, pressure toward specific improvements in cotton fiber quality – for example, the higher fiber strength needed for today’s high-speed spinning – has been intensified as a result of technological advances in textile production and imposition of increasingly stringent quality standards for finished cotton products.

Changes in fiber-quality requirements and increases in economic competition on the domestic and international levels have resulted in fiber quality becoming a value determinant equal to fiber yield . Indeed, it is the quality, not the quantity, of fibers ginned from the cotton seeds that decides the end use and economic value of a cotton crop and, consequently, determines the profit returned to both the producers and processors.
Wide differences in cotton fiber quality and shifts in demand for particular fiber properties, based on end-use processing requirements, have resulted in the creation of a price schedule, specific to each crop year, that includes premiums and discounts for grade, staple length, micronaire, and strength . This price schedule is made possible by the development of rapid, quantitative methods for measuring those fiber properties considered most important for successful textile production . With the wide availability of fiber-quality data from HVI, predictive models for ginning, bale-mix selection, and fiber-processing success could be developed for textile mills .
Price-analysis systems based on HVI fiber-quality data also became feasible . Quantitation, predictive modeling, and statistical analyses of what had been subjective and qualitative fiber properties are now both practical and common in textile processing and marketing.

Field-production and breeding researchers, for various reasons, have failed to take full advantage of the fiber-quality quantitation methods developed for the textile industry. Most field and genetic improvement studies still focus on yield improvement while devoting little attention to fiber quality beyond obtaining bulk fiber length, strength, and micronaire averages for each treatment . Indeed, cotton crop simulation and mapping models of the effects of growth environment on cotton have been limited almost entirely to yield prediction and cultural-input management.

Plant physiological studies and textile-processing models suggest that bulk fiber-property averages at the bale, module, or crop level do not describe fiber quality with sufficient precision for use in a vertical integration of cotton production and processing. More importantly, bulk fiber-property means do not adequately and quantitatively describe the variation in the fiber populations or plant metabolic responses to environmental factors during the growing season. Such pooled or averaged descriptors cannot accurately predict how the highly variable fiber populations might perform during processing.

Meaningful descriptors of the effects of environment on cotton fiber quality await high-resolution examinations of the variabilities, induced and natural, in fiber-quality averages. Only then can the genetic and environmental sources of fiber-quality variability be quantified, predicted, and modulated to produce the high-quality cotton lint demanded by today’s textile industry and, ultimately, the consumer.

Increased understanding of the physiological responses to the environment that interactively determine cotton fiber quality is essential. Only with such knowledge can real progress be made toward producing high yields of cotton fibers that are white as snow, as strong as steel, as fine as silk, and as uniform as genotypic responses to the environment will allow.

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Advanced Fibre Information System (AFIS)


Advanced Fibre Information System is based on the single fibre testing. There are two modules, one for testing the number of neps and the size of neps, while the other one is used for testing the length and the diameter. Both modules can be applied separately or together.

Among all physical properties of the cotton, fiber length varies the most within any one sample. There are two sources of variability;

1) Variability that comes from mixing cottons of various lengths

2) Variability that is biological in nature and exists within a sample of the same origin.

The same variety grown under different conditions, with lower or higher fertilizer doses, irrigation, or pest control, can produce various lengths. This is why fibre length is tested as an average of many fibres. Fibres also break during handling and processing thus, emphasizing the need for measurement of magnitude of the length variation. There are many different measurements of fibre length, including staple length, model length, mean length (aver-age length), 2.5% span length, effective length, upper quartile length, upper-half mean length, length uniformity index, length uniformity ratio, span length, short fibre contents and floating fibre length.

The AFIS test provides several length parameters deduced from individual fibre measurements. The main measurements include: the mean length, the length upper percentiles, the length CV%, and the Short Fibre Content (defined as the percentage of fibres less than 12.7 mm in length). Fibre length information is provided as a number or as weight-based data (by number/by weight). The length distribution by weight is determined by the weight-frequency of fibres in the different length categories, that is the proportion of the total weight of fibres in a given length category. The length distribution by number is given by the proportion of the total number of fibres in different length categories. The length parameters by weight and by number are computed from the two distributions accordingly. Once the AFIS machine determines the length distribution, the machine computes the length distribution by weight assuming that all fibres have the same fineness. Samples do not require any preparation and a result is obtained in 2-3 minutes. The results generally show a good correlation with other methods.

With the introduction of AFIS, it is possible to determine the average properties for a sample, and also the variation from the fibre to fibre. The information content in the AFIS is more. The spinning mill is dependent on the AFIS testing method, to achieve the optimum conditions with the available raw material and processing machinery. The AFIS-N module is dealt here and it is basically used for counting the number of neps and the size of neps. The testing time per sample is 3 minutes in AFIS-.N module.

This system is quick, purpose oriented and reproducible counting of neps in raw material and at all process stages of short staple spinning mill. It is thus possible, based on forecasts supervisory measures and early warning information to practically eliminate subsequent complaints with respect to finished product. The lab personnel are freed from the time consuming, delicate and unpopular, proceeding of nep counting. Personnel turnover and job rotation no more affects the results of the nep counting. The personnel responsible for quality can now at least deal with the unpopular neps in a more purpose-oriented manner than ever before.

AFIS -Working principle:-


A fibre sample of approximately 500 mg is inserted between the feed roller and the feed plate of the AFIS-N instrument Opening rollers open the fibre assembly and separate off the fibres, neps, trash and dust. The trash particles and dust are suctioned off to extraction. On their way through the transportation and acceleration channels, the fibres and neps pass through the optical sensor, which determines the number and size of the neps.

The corresponding impulses are converted into electrical signals, which are then transmitted to a microcomputer for evaluation purposes. According to these analyses, a distinction is made between the single fibres and the neps. The statistical data are calculated and printed out through a printer. The measuring process can be controlled through a PC-keyboard and a screen.

Uster AFIS PRO- application report

Various HVI models available in market in present date are:-


Optional Modules:

• Length and Maturity (L&M) Module to measure cotton fiber length and maturity, integrating results into the USTERÒ AFIS PRO 2.

• Trash (T) Module to measure the dust and trash content in cotton, integrating results into the USTERÒ AFIS PRO 2.

• USTERÒ AFIS AUTOJET (AJ) Module to measure up to 30 samples automatically, reducing idle operating time.

UPSUninterrupted Power Supply device to support the computer and monitor



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White Specks in Cotton

The term “white specks” describes a condition in dyed cotton fabric where small nep-like forms can be seen as white or, more accurately, lighter shade specks on the surface of the finished fabric. This condition can exist in both woven and knitted goods.

White specks are undyed spots on dyed fabric, and are commonly caused by neps. According to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM D123-96, 1996), a nep is “a tightly tangled knot-like mass of unorganized fibers.” This is to be differentiated from a mote, which is another impurity found in cotton  consisting of a seed fragment encompassed by cotton fibers. Many researchers have studied neps over the decades, including types, formation, effects, and solutions.

Watson  classified neps into two groups, mechanical and biological, and observed that mechanical neps are similar to the classical ASTM definition, where they are formed from mechanical actions on the fibers. They also reported that fibers with low micronaire values tend to form mechanical neps because the fibers are finer and less mature, and are therefore less rigid.

Biological neps are clumps of very immature fibers that can be found in seed cotton before mechanical processing has occurred. They also reported that fibers with low micronaire values (finer and immature fibers) tend to form mechanical neps because of the weak, poorly developed, less rigid fibers. Goynes et al. (1994) reported that because of low cellulose content of the undeveloped, flat, ribbon-like fibers, clumps of these fibers do not accept dye. Therefore, when a fabric is dyed, the mechanical and biological neps formed by fine or immature fibers create undyed spots in the finished fabric. These undyed spots are known as white specks.


Quality of a finished garment is determined by, among other things, the number of imperfections contained within the fabric. The more imperfections found in the cloth, the less value can be added to the product by the manufacturer. Since uniform surface color is a desirable aspect for fabrics, the inclusion of white specks is detrimental to fabric quality. White specks are a result of neps being included in the raw cotton product supplied to a processor or result from ensuing mechanical treatment.
The process of counting neps is very tedious and time consuming. Since the late 1930s, neps were counted manually using a back light (Helliwell, 1938) or a black background (Saco-Lowell, 1942). Even today, neps are being counted manually relying on visual inspection (Harrison and Bargeron, 1986; Hughs et al., 1988; Cheek et al., 1990; Smith, 1991). The manual counting is not only a time-consuming process, but also inconsistent and prone to error because it is very subjective.
Recently, many studies focused on automatic counting of neps and white specks. The Advanced Fiber Information System (AFIS) module has been used by many researchers to detect and count seed coat neps.  Mor (1996) introduced a fiber contamination tester that detects sticky deposits by an electro-optical device and evaluates nonsticky parameters such as neps, trash, and seed coat fragment using an image processing system. Bel-Berger et al. (1994, 1995, 1996) used three different image processing hardware systems in analyzing the number and area of white specks found in dyed fabric. The area of white specks was calculated in terms of number of pixels.

The white speck counter developed  consists of three major components: an illumination chamber, fabric transport mechanism, and image processing hardware and software. The illumination chamber is needed to provide uniform illumination on the fabric surface by blocking ambient light and furnishing a consistent light source. An aluminum roller is mounted on each side of the chamber so that a roll of dyed fabric can be mounted on a roller on one side of the chamber, and transported through the chamber to the other side onto the second roller. An image of the fabric is then captured by a black-and-white camera. Image analysis software counts the number of white specks in the image and measures the area of individual white specks.


The appearance of white specks on dyed and finished fabrics continues to be a sporadic and periodic problem for dyers, knitters, and spinners. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of this problem is the fact that its presence is not usually known until the fabric is dyed and finished. The severity of the occurrence can range from barely noticeable to rendering the material useless as first-quality goods. White specks are not normally visible in bleached or greige state goods.

White specks are actually small clusters of immature fibers (often “fused” together) which lie on the surface of the dyed fabric. Because these fibers are immature, or underdeveloped, their cell walls contain relatively little cellulosic material. This condition causes the fiber to take on a very flat and ribbon-like form. It is this flat form that, when seen on the surface of a dyed fabric, reflects light more efficiently than the surrounding fibers. This high reflectivity is perceived by the eye as being lighter in shade or, in some situations, as white specks.

All cottons (different varieties and bales) contain some amount of immature fibers. They are a natural product of the plant’s developmental physiology. It is only when these immature and underdeveloped fibers reach certain concentrations in a bale, or group of bales, that the problem of white specks becomes an issue. Depending on their form and/or concentration level, immature fibers may or may not actually produce a white speck occurrence. This is part of the dilemma facing yarn manufacturers…There is no way of absolutely predicting (or avoiding) a white speck outbreak.

With that said, there are some general rules of thumb (based on empirical data and actual experience) that a spinner can follow in order to lower the probability of producing yarns which contain potential white specks.

  1. For any given growth area and/or variety, higher micronaire values are less likely than lower micronaire values for producing white specks.
  2. Higher maturity ratios are less likely than lower maturity ratios for producing white specks.
  3. Stripper harvested cottons are more likely to produce white specks than spindle picked cottons. This is largely due to the tendency of the stripper to harvest bolls that are not fully mature.
  4. Removing more waste through cleaning and carding (especially under the lickerin and fine openers) can minimize, or make an unacceptable situation acceptable. This suggestion should also imply that the introduction of reclaimed waste is a high risk activity for introducing white specks.
  5. Maintaining a higher nep reduction factor on all cards can be very effective in minimizing white speck problems

These suggestions, even if followed to the letter, are still no guarantee that problems with white specks can be completely avoided or eliminated. This is especially true if the concentration of white speck producing material is high enough, but even a severe problem can be improved by their implementation.

The real crux of this very costly and frustrating situation is that there is no definitive or quantitative means of identifying, absolutely, the potential for this problem before it actually appears in dyed fabric. With all the indicators available to fiber users, none offer the ability to positively warn of a white speck outbreak. For this reason, many spinners, knitters, and dyers will perform sample dyeings on a given lot of yarn, which has been knitted into a small amount of fabric expressly for that purpose.

Since it should be clear at this point that complete avoidance is not possible, then it should also follow that the responsibility for white speck occurrences is very difficult to assign to one party in the production chain. If the conditions are shown to be favorable for white specks to appear, all parties must communicate quickly so that alternative processing and production decisions can be made in a timely manner.

Using known white speck containing fabrics for only bleached whites is one possible recourse. There are also many dyes that do a better, or worse, job of actually covering the problem. Dye selection (and shade choices) alone can prove to be a very effective means of dealing with this serious issue. Caustification of white speck infected fabrics has also shown to be quite successful.

There is no one, single best answer to this very frustrating issue. But, with the understanding and cooperation of all those involved, there may be found some fair compromises that could very well turn an unacceptable situation into one of shared acceptability.



W. R. Goynes, B. F. Ingber, and P. D. Bel-Berger

USDA, ARS, Southern Regional Research Center

New Orleans, LA


Dyeing imperfections that appear as white specks on cotton fabrics that have been dyed deep shades are a major problem in the textile industry. The presence of these imperfections in raw cotton is not evident since they only show up after dyeing. Processing through fabric dyeing results in both time and product losses when white specks are present. Approaches for eliminating or minimizing the problem include plant breeding, changes in growing and harvesting procedures, and additional finishing during dyeing. None of these provide immediate cost free solutions. A method of screening samples for dye defect potential before processing would allow mills to divert affected cotton batches to non-problem products. In this paper, a simple light microscopy process is described for screening undyed fabrics, yarns, and sliver. This darkfield procedure discriminates between common fiber tangle neps that are not dye resistant, and those that consist of bundles of extremely thin-walled fibers that will not dye.


The nature and effect of undyed white defects in cotton fabrics has been extensively investigated . These defects have been confirmed to be bundles of extremely immature (undeveloped) fibers that come in with ginned cotton, and though some are removed in cleaning processes many are carried through processing to the final fabric, and become apparent on dyeing. Processing can affect apparent size and number of defects. Growing location and conditions can influence the number of defective fiber bundles in a harvested lot. Variety also is responsible for amount of defects in a lot. Breeding programs can possibly decrease the pre-disposition for production of motes, which in turn produces undeveloped fibers. Effects of environmental conditions in open fields are difficult to control.

It is possible to adjust dye formulations for variations in overall bulk maturity, but it is difficult to achieve even dyeing when concentrated areas of undeveloped fibers are present in lots of otherwise average maturity. Therefore, the most immediate solution to the problem would seem to be a system for predetermining presence of large quantities of undyeable materials. If such tests could be developed for incoming lots, then those with high speck potential could be rejected, or at least diverted to non-problem uses. Detection even at the yarn or pre-dyed   fabric level would at least prevent use of white speck goods for dark textiles. Therefore, we attempted to develop a method to “see” white specks in undyed cotton.

Materials and Methods

Samples used in the study were from a series of cottons especially grown for white speck studies . They were grown under irrigated conditions in a field in the San Joaquin Valley in California, and included a commercial Delta Upland (DP-90), a Mississippi hybrid (ST-825), and two Acalas (EA-C 30, early maturing; and EA-C 32, a Prema). Each sample was available as bale cotton, sliver, yarn, undyed fabric, and dyed fabric. For microscopical examination, a wide field stereo zoom light microscope equipped with substage darkfield illumination was used. Observations were made at 10-20X magnification. Identified defects were marked, cut from the sample, and prepared for examination at higher magnification using a scanning electron microscope (SEM).


When textile fabrics are examined using surface lighting with a stereo light microscope, it is possible to see the weave of the fabric, outlines of fibers within yarns, and both contamination and fiber defects on the fabric surface. Contamination defects such as seed coat fragments, and leaf and bract materials appear very dark, and can easily be segregated from fiber defects. One type of fiber defect consists of individual fibers that have been tangled with other fibers during processing . These defects do not normally cause dye defects. Another type of fiber defect is caused by bundles of undeveloped fibers. Both of these fiber defects can be seen using surface lighting. However, it is not possible to distinguish them as two different types using surface illumination, so determinations of white speck potential cannot be made from such observations.


If the fabrics are examined using dark field lighting, there is an obvious difference in the two types of fiber defects. Dark field illumination is accomplished using a substage lighting system, and a field stop that blocks the path of the light beam that normally is projected through the sample. This system forms a hollow cone of light that travels around the field stop. A ground glass or filter system can be used to decrease the intensity of the light. With small objects scattered on a clear field, the field appears black, and the sample appears self illuminated because the light observed is that transmitted to the objective lens by the sample itself. Thus the nature of the sample determines the brightness of the object in the observed field. If samples containing fiber defects are examined first using surface illumination to show presence of the defect, then the lighting is switched to darkfield, an immediate differencev  can be seen in the fabric image.

Yarns appear with bright edges because they are thinner at the edge, and more light is transmitted. Differences can also be seen in thick and thin yarns because of the amount of light that  passes through them. Thick, non-fiber neps (usually plant parts) appear completely dark, and those containing only thin areas of seedcoat may appear gold or orange. Of greater significance, differences can be seen between fiber neps. Tangled fiber neps blend into the yarn and are hardly seen, but defects formed from clumped, undeveloped fibers appear as a shadow on, or in the yarn. The tangled network of the thin-walled fibers can be seen. This difference is subtle, and careful observation is required to become familiar with the differences in appearance. However, switching back and forth between surface and darkfield, subsurface lighting shows the obvious differences in tangled fiber neps and undeveloped fiber neps. To verify that defects identified as undeveloped fiber clumps were actually the same undyeable white defects that were found in dyed fabrics, the defects identified by dark field microscopy were cut from the fabric and examined using scanning electron microscopy.

Results of these examinations showed that all examined defects were composed of undeveloped fiber clumps. Although detection of white speck potential of fabrics is of great significance because it would prevent dyeing of fabrics that would be unusable, detection of these defects at earlier stages of processing would be of even greater value. Therefore, a procedure was devised for examination of yarns using darkfield illumination. Yarns are more difficult to examine at low magnifications than are fabrics. Even in samples of high white speck content, an individual defect may only be found once in a 36 inch length of yarn. Therefore, yarns must be moved rapidly through the viewing field because a large portion of the yarn has no defect. This was accomplished by locating a spindle containing yarn on the left side of the microscope stage, pulling the yarn across the stage so that it was visible through the binoculars, and rolling the examined yarn onto a dowel attached to the right side of the stage. Turning the dowel pulls yarn from the spindle, across the stage and rerolls it onto the dowel while the yarn is being observed.  When a defect is detected, that section of the yarn can be clipped and prepared for examination by SEM. As with defects found in fabrics, those cut from yarns and examined by SEM were also identical to white speck defects on dyed fabrics. Similar examinations were made on cotton in the sliver form.

Sliver was flattened and thinned so that light could pass through. A cast aluminum plate with a 2 in2 opening was placed over the sample to maintain the proper location of the examined area. Dark defects detected by darkfield microscopy were removed and examined by SEM and were shown to be the expected bundles of undeveloped fibers.

Of the four specifically grown cotton varieties, the EA-C 32 sample was found to have the highest number of white defects as shown by image analysis, and EA-C 30 the lowest . In developing the darkfield procedure for dye defect surveys, these two samples were compared. Results indicated significantly more defects in the EA-C 32 sample than in the EA-C 30, which is consistent with data from image analysis on dyed fabrics. This method provides a means of determining presence of dye defects in undyed cotton. Fabrics with high and low defect counts can be distinguished. However, standardization of the method would require a sufficient number of samples from different sources to be examined to determine a thresh hold level of defects that would make fiber lots unusable for dark shade dyeing.


1. Defects that appear as white specks on dark cotton fabrics are bundles of undeveloped, extremely thin-walled fibers.

2. Although many fiber-bundle defects can be seen on fabric surfaces using low magnification widefield light microscopes, all fiber defects do not become dye defects. Fiber defects that become white specks and those that do not cannot be distinguished using normal surface lighting.

3. Use of substage, darkfield lighting distinguished potential white speck defects from other fiber bundle defects in undyed samples. White specks defects appeared as dark shadows in fabrics, yarns, and sliver. The nature of the detected defects was verified by removing the defects from the sample and examining in the SEM. All defects detected by darkfield microscopy were confirmed to be thinwalled fiber bundles that cause undyeable defects.

4. Therefore, low magnification darkfield microscopy provides a simple procedure for predetermining white speck potential in undyed cotton samples.


A SIMPLE METHOD FOR DETECTING WHITE SPECK POTENTIAL IN UNDYED COTTON ,W. R. Goynes, B. F. Ingber, and P. D. Bel-Berger, USDA, ARS, Southern Regional Research Center ,New Orleans, LA

Richter (ed.) Proc. Beltwide Cotton Conf., San Diego, CA. 5–8 Jan. 1994. Natl. Cotton Council Am., Memphis, TN.

Bel-Berger, P.D., W.R. Goynes, and T.M. Von Hoven. 1996. Mechanical processing effects on the white speck phenomena. p. 1268–1273. In P. Dugger and D.A. Richter (ed.) Proc. Beltwide Cotton Conferences, Nashville. TN, 9–12 Jan. 1996. Natl. Cotton Council Am., Memphis, TN.

Bel-Berger, P.D., B.T. Vinyard, and D.T. Thibodeaux. 1995. Effect of harvesting times on white specks: A study of field to fabric properties. p. 1440–1444. In D.A. Richter (ed.) Proc. Beltwide Cotton Conf., San Antonio, TX. 4–7 Jan. 1995. Natl. Cotton Council Am., Memphis, TN.

Bragg, C.K., and C.L. Simpson. 1992. Solving cotton quality problems: white specks and bark in textile products. p. 97–99. In D.J. Herber and D.A. Richter (ed.) Proc. Beltwide Cotton Conf., Nashville, TN. 6–10 Jan. 1992. Natl. Cotton Council Am., Memphis, TN.

Cheek, L., L. Hsu, and D.P. Thibodeaux. 1990. Web-nep procedure for predicting potential dyeing problems in cotton. Textile Res. J. 90:108–112.

Choi, K., G. Lee, Y.J. Han, and J.M. Bunn. 1995. Tomato maturity evaluation using color image analysis. Trans. ASAE 38(1):171–176.

Ghorashi, H.M., J.C. Baldwin, and M.A. Khan. 1994. AFIS advancement in neps and length measurements. p. 1433–1436. In D.J. Herber and D.A. Richter (ed.) Proc. Beltwide Cotton Conf., San Diego, CA. 5–8 Jan. 1994. Natl. Cotton Council Am., Memphis, TN.

Goynes, W.R., B.F. Ingber, and D.P. Thibodeaux. 1994. White specks: A microscopic profile. p.1940. In D.J. Herber and D.A. Richter (ed.) Proc. Beltwide Cotton Conf., San Diego, CA. 5–8 Jan. 1994. Natl. Cotton Council Am., Memphis, TN.

Harrison, R.E., and J.D. Bargeron, III. 1986. Comparison of several nep determination methods. Textile Res. J. 56:77–79.

Helliwell, E.H. 1938. Nep count: Quick and simple method permits check-up of quality of work done by cotton cards. Textile World 88(11):52–54.

Hughs, S.E., W.F. Lalor, and F.T. Wahba. 1988. Relationship of ginning and fiber properties to dying imperfections. Textile Res. J. 58:5557–5565.

Jarvis, J.F., and C.S. Roberts. 1976. A new technique for displaying continuous tone images on a bilevel display. IEEE Trans. Commun. COM-24:891–898.

Jones, P.C., and J.C. Baldwin. 1996. The Influence of seed coat neps in yarn manufacturing. p. 1454–1460. In P.

Ankeny, Mary, “Study to Determine the Effects of Preparation, Caustification, Dye Selection and Enzymes on the Properties of 100% Cotton Knit Fabric Containing Immature Fibers,” Research Report, Textile Research and Implementation, Research Report Number DF01-96, Cotton Incorporated, 1996.

Blanchard, Eugene J., and Elena E. Graves “Use of Enzymes in the Treatment of Cotton,” Proceedings of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences, 1995.

Mehta, R.D., Personal Interview, International Center for Textile Research, Lubbock, Tx., December 3, 1996.

Mehta, R.D., and Richard N. Combs, “Coverage of Immature Cotton Neps in the Dyed Fabrics Using Chitosan Aftertreatment,” American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists, 1996.

Mehta, R.D., P. Ali Salame, and Richard N. Combs, “Dyeing Immature Cotton Neps With Cationic Polymer,” American Dyestuff Reporter, March 1990, Vol. 79, pp. 38-46.

Rippon, John A., “Improving the Dye Coverage of Immature Cotton Fibres by Treatment with Chitosan,” Journal of the Society of Dyeists and Colorists, October 1984, Vol. 100 pp. 298-303.

Starbird, Irving R., Edward H. Glade, Jr., W.C. McArthur, Fred T. Cooke, Jr., Terry Townsend, The U.S. Cotton Industry, Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, 1987.

Teal, Steve, R. T. Ervin, and R.D. Mehta, “Economic Analysis of Cotton Textile Finishing Processes Part 1 – Pretreatments,” Proceedings of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences, 1998.

United States Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Crop Statistics, 1995.

Goynes, W. R., B. F. Ingber, and D. P. Thibodeaux, Undeveloped Fibers: A Source of Dyeing Problems in Cotton Textiles, Proc. of Microscopy Society of America, 352-353, 1993.

Goynes, W. R., B. F. Ingber, and D. P. Thibodeaux, Introductory Study of Structures of Cotton Motes and Mote Fibers, Textile Res. J., 65, 219-225, 1995.




Once Valledupar's main economic produce; Cotton
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Cotton is a hygroscopic material , hence it easily adopts to the atmospheric airconditions. Air temperature inside the mixing and blowroom area should be more than 25 degree centigrade and the relative humidity(RH%) should be around 45 to 60 %, because high moisture in the fibre leads to poor cleaning and dryness in the  fibre leads to fibre damages which ultimately reduces the spinnability of cotton.

Cotton is a natural fibre. The following properties vary very much between bales (between fibres) fibre micronaire fibre length fibre strength fibre color fibre maturity   Out of these , fibre micronaire, color, maturity and the origin of growth results in dye absorption variation.
There fore it is a good practice to check the maturity , color and micronaire of all the bales and to maintain the following to avoid dye pick up variation and barre in the finished fabric.


Bale Management

In a particular lot

  • Micronaire range of the cotton bales   used should be same for all the mixings of a lot
  • Micronaire average of the cotton bales used should be same for all the mixings of a lot
  • Range of color of cotton bales used should be same for all the mixings of a lot
  • Average of color of cotton bales used should be same for all the mixings of a lot
  • Range of matutrity coefficient of cotton bales used should be same for all mixings of a lot
  • Average of maturity coefficient of cotton bales used should be same for all mixings of a lot

Please note, In practice people do not consider maturity coefficient since Micronaire variation and maturity variation are related to each other for a particular cotton.

It the cotton received is from different ginners, it is better to maintain the percentage of cotton from different ginners throught the lot, even though the type of cotton is same.

It is not advisable to mix the yarn made of out of two different shipments  of same cotton. For example , the first shipment of west african cotton is in january and the second shipment is in march, it is not advisable to mix the yarn made out of these two different shipments.  If there is no shadevariation after dyeing, then it can be mixed.

According to me, stack mixing is the best way of doing the mixing compared to using automatic bale openers which picks up the material from 40 to 70 bales depending on the length of the machine and bale size, provided  stack mixing is done perfectly. Improper stack mixing will lead to BARRE or SHADE VARIATION  problem.  Stack mixing with Bale opener takes care of short term blending and two mixers in series takes care of long term blending.


  • Tuft sizes can be as low as 10 grams and it is the best way of opening the material(nep creation will be less, care has to be taken to reduce recyling in the inclined lattice)
  • contaminations can be removed before mixing is made
  • The raw material  gets   acclamatised to the required temp and R.H.%, since it is allowed to stay in the room for more than 24 hours and the fibre is opened , the fibre gets conditioned well.


  • more labour is required
  • more space is required
  • mixing may not be 100% homogeneous( can be overcome by installing double mixers)

If automatic bale opening machine is used the bales should be arranged as follows

let us assume that there are five different micronaires and five different colors in the mixing, 50 bales are used in the mxing. 5 to 10 groups should be made by grouping the bales in a mixing so that each group will have average micronaire and average color as that of the overall mixing. The position of a bale for micronaire and color should be fixed for the group and it should repeat in the same order for all the groups

It is always advisable to use a mixing with very low Micronaire range.Preferably .6 to 1.0 . Because

  • It is easy to optimise the process parameters in blow room and cards
  • drafting faults will be less
  • dyed cloth appearance will be better because of uniform dye pickup etc

It is advisable to use single cotton in a mixing , provided the length, strength micronaire ,maturity coefficient and trash content of the cotton will be suitable for producing the required counts.  Automatic bale opener is a must if more than two cottons are used in the mixing, to avoid BARRE or SHADE VARIATION problem.

It is better to avoid  using the following cottons

  • cottons with inseparable trash (very small size), even though the trash % is less
  • sticky cotton (with honey dew or sugar)
  • cotton with low maturity co-efficient

Stickiness of cotton consists of two major causes. Honeydew from Whiteflies and aphids and high level of natural plant sugars. The problems with the randomly distributed honey dew contamination often results in  costly production interruptions and requires immediate action often as severe as discontinuing the use of contaminated cottons.An effective way to control cotton   stickiness in processing is to blend sticky and non-sticky cotton.  Sticky cotton percentage should be less than 25%.

Digg This


Uster Technologies
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The testing of fibres was always of importance to the spinner. It has been known for a long time that the fibre characteristics have a decisive impact on the running behaviour of the production machines, as well as on the yarn quality and manufacturing costs. In spite of the fact that fibre characteristics are very important for yarn production, the sample size for testing  fibre characteristics is not big enough. This is due to the following

  • The labour and time involvement for the testing of a representative sample was too expensive. The results were often available  much too late to  take corrective action.
  • The results often depended on the operator and / or the  instrument, and could therefore not be considered objective
  • One failed in trying to rationally administer the flood of the raw material data, to evaluate such data and to introduce the necessary corrective measures.

Only recently technical achievements have made possible the development of automatic computer-controlled testing equipment. With their use, it is possible to quickly determine the more important fibre characteristics.


Recent developments in HVI technology are the result of requests made by textile manufacturers for additional and more precise fibre property  information. Worldwide competitive pressure on product price and product quality dictates close control of all resources used in the manufacturing process.

Historical Development of HVI:-

Conventionally measurement of the fibre properties was mainly carried out using manual method and it included the maximum chance of getting errors involved in it due to manual errors and was also a time consuming job. Thus there was a need for development of an instrument capable of measuring all properties in minimum time for better cotton classification.

PCCA (plans cotton cooperative association) played a key role in the development of High Volume Instrument (HVI) testing to determine the fibre properties of cotton which revolutionized the cotton and textile industries. As its name implies, HVI determines the fibre properties of a bale of cotton more quickly and more accurately than the previous method of evaluating some of those properties by hand classing. The HVI system provides more information about a bale of cotton than the subjective hand classing method.

In 1960, PCCA and Motion Control, Inc., an instrument manufacturer in Dallas, Texas, began pioneering the development of a system to eliminate the potential for human error that existed with hand classing and expand the number of fibre properties that could rapidly be determined for each bale of cotton. The goal was to be able to provide seven fibre quality characteristics for every bale produced by PCCA’s farmer-owners. Laboratory instruments were available for determining most of the fibre properties, but they required up to 15 minutes or longer to determine each of the properties. The PCCA theory was based on economics: the faster cotton could be classed, the faster it could be marketed; and, the more accurate measurements of quality could result in a more adequate supply of cotton with fibre properties to meet the specific needs of textile mills.


fig1 :- Present day USDA cotton classing system.image

By the mid-1960s, the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA) and the Cotton Producers Institute (now called Cotton, Incorporated) also became involved in the research required to bring this concept to the marketplace.

In 1968 three of the first five HVI lines were in operation in Lubbock, Texas. One line was at Texas Tech University’s International Textile Center and two at PCCA. These lines were the very earliest versions to have all seven-fibre properties combined into a single testing line and measure them in less than 20 seconds per test.

In 1980, USDA built a new classing office in Lamesa, Texas, (about 60 miles south of Lubbock) specifically designed only for instrument testing all of the cotton samples received at that office using the latest version of the HVI equipment. This was a daring step but was based on data collected and analysed and improvements made in the HVI system during the previous 20 years. Although met with scepticism in the initial years by many in the cotton and textile industries, the HVI system prevailed, and USDA continued to install the instrument testing lines in all government cotton classing offices. In 1991, USDA used the HVI system on all the cotton provided to the department for classing. Today, HVI class data is accepted throughout the world and is the foundation on which cotton is traded.


In total, there are five companies manufacturing rapid instrument testing machines in the world,

i. Uster technologies, Inc.,

ii. Premier Evolvics Pvt. Ltd.,

iii. Lintronics (China, Mainland)

iv. Changing Technologies (China, Mainland)

v. Statex Engineering (India).

High volume instrument (HVI) is the most common rapid instrument testing machine made by Uster Technologies, Inc. The only other company that has over 100 machines installed in the world, mostly in Asia, is Premier Evolvics Pvt. Ltd. based in India. It is estimated that close to 2,000 rapid instruments testing machines have already been stalled in the world, mostly from Uster Technologies, Inc. Not only do the machines from each company differ, but various models from each company also differ among themselves. The full fledge models of both the manufacturers are capable of measuring measure micronaire, length, length uniformity, strength, colour, trash, maturity, sugar content etc.


High volume instrument systems are based on the fibre bundle testing, i.e., many fibres are checked at the same time and their average values determined. Traditional testing using micronaire, pressley, stelometre, and fibro graph are designed to determine average value for a large number of fibres, the so called fibre bundle tests. In HVI, the bundle testing method is automated.


This is based on the categorising of cotton bales according to their fibre quality characteristics. It includes the measurement of the fibre characteristics with reference to each individual bale, separation of bales into classes and lying down of balanced bale mixes based on these classes. The reason for undertaking this work lies in the fact that there is sometimes a considerable variation in the fibre characteristics from one bale to another, even within the same delivery. This variation will result in the yarn quality variation if the bales are mixed in an uncontrolled manner.

The bale management software, normally embedded with an HVI, helps in selection of bales for a particular mix from the available stock. Once the data are received from HVI in the software, classification of bales in groups are done with user defined criteria.image

· Manual calculation errors and the tedious task of day to day manual planning of mix are avoided.

· The storage of large number of data enables for tracking long period records or results thereby helping in clear analysis.

· More cost effective mix can be made since cost factor is also included. It also helps in planning for further requirements or purchase.

· Additional details such as party name, weighment details, and rejection details can be printed along with the test results which will be useful for the mill personnel for better analysis.

· Separate range criteria shall be selected for basic samples , lot samples and mixing

· Flexible intervals in grouping of bales with reference to the selected category.

· Basic sample results and results checked after lot arrival shall be compared graphically or numerically for easy decision making of approval or rejection.

Ø Information

The instruments are calibrated to read in staple length. Length measurements obtained from the instrument are considerably more repeatable than the staple length determination by the classer.  In one experiment the instrument repeated the same staple length determination 44% of the time while the classer repeated this determination only 29% of the time.  Similarly, the instrument repeated to 1/32″ on 76% of the samples, while the classer agreed on 71% of the samples to within 1/31″.

The precision of the HVI length measurement has been improved over the last few years. If we take the same bale of cotton used in the earlier example and repeatedly measure length with  an HVI system, over two-thirds of measurements will be  in a range of only about 1/32 nd of an inch: 95% of the individual readings will be within 1/32nd of an inch of the bale average. In the 77000 bales tested, the length readings were repeated within 0.02″ on 71% of the bales between laboratories.

Ø Length uniformity

The HVI system gives an indication of the fibre length distribution in the bale by use of a length uniformity index. This uniformity index is obtained by dividing the mean fibre length by the upper-half-mean length and expressing the ratio as a percent.  A reading of 80% is considered average length uniformity. Higher numbers mean better length uniformity and lower numbers poorer length uniformity. Cotton with a length uniformity index of 83 and above is considered to have good length uniformity, a length uniformity index below 78 is considered to show poor length uniformity.

Ø Short fibre index

The measure of short-fibre content (SFC) in Motion Control’s HVI systems is based on the fibre length distribution throughout the test specimen. It is not the staple length that is so important but the short fibre content which is important. It is better to prefer a lower commercial staple, but with much lower short-fibre content.

The following data were taken on yarns produced under identical conditions and whose cotton fibres were identical in all properties except for short-fibre content. The effects on ends down and several aspects of yarn quality are shown below.

LOT -A, (8.6% SFC) LOT-B (11.6% SFC)
Ends down / 1000 hrs 7.9 12.8
Skein strength (lb) 108.1 97.4
Single end strength g/tex 15 14.5
apperance index 106 89
Evenness (CV%) 16 17.3
Thin places 15 36
Thick places 229 364
Minor Defects 312 389

These results show that an increase of short-fibre content in cotton is detrimental to process efficiency and product quality. HVI systems measure length parameters of cotton samples by the fibrogram technique. The following assumptions describe the fibro gram sampling process: image

· The fibrogram sample is taken from some population of fibres.

· The probability of sampling a particular fibre is proportional to its length

· A sampled fibre will be held at a random point along its length

· A sampled fibre will project two ends away from the holding point, such that all of the ends will be parallel and aligned at the holding point.

· All fibres have the same uniform density

The High Volume Instruments also provide empirical equations of short fibre content based on the results of cotton produced in the United States in a particular year.

Short Fibre Index = 122.56 – (12.87 x UHM) – (1.22 x UI)

where UHM – Upper Half Mean Length (inches)
UI – Uniformity Index

Short Fibre Index = 90.34 – (37.47 x SL2) – (0.90 x UR)

Where SL2 – 2.5% Span length (inches)
UR – Uniformity Ratio

In typical fibrogram curve, the horizontal axis represents the lengths of the ends of sampled fibres. The vertical axis represents the percent of fibre ends in the fibrogram having that length or greater.

1. Strength and elongation:-

Ø Principle of measurement

HVI uses the “Constant rate of elongation” principle while testing the fibre sample. The available conventional methods of strength measurement are slow and are not compatible to be used with the HVI. The main hindering factor is the measurement of weight of the test specimen, which is necessary to estimate the tenacity of the sample. Expression of the breaking strength in terms of tenacity is important to make easy comparison between specimens of varying fineness.

Ø Method

The strength measurement made by the HVI systems is unlike the traditional laboratory measurements of Pressley and Stelometer in several important ways. First of all the test specimens are prepared in a very different manner. In the laboratory method the fibres are selected, combed and carefully prepared to align them in the jaw clamps. Each and every fibre spans the entire distance across the jaw surfaces and the space between the jaws.

Strength is measured physically by clamping a fibre bundle between 2 pairs of clamps at known distance. The second pair of clamps pulls away from the first pair at a constant speed until the fibre bundle breaks. The distance it travels, extending the fibre bundle before breakage, is reported as elongation.

In the HVI instruments the fibres are randomly selected and automatically prepared for testing. They are combed to remove loose fibres and to straighten the clamped fibres, also brushed to remove crimp before testing. The mechanization of the specimen preparation techniques has resulted in a “tapered” specimen where fibre ends are found in the jaw clamp surfaces as well as in the space between the jaws.

A second important difference between traditional laboratory strength measurements and HVI strength measurements is that in the laboratory measurements the mass of the broken fibres is determined by weighing the test specimen. In the HVI systems the mass is determined by the less direct methods of light absorption and resistance to air flow. The HVI strength mass measurement is further complicated by having to measure the mass at the exact point of breaks on the tapered specimen.

A third significant difference between laboratory and HVI strength measurements is the rate or speed at which the fibres are broken. The HVI systems break the fibres about 10 times faster than the laboratory methods.

Ø Information

Generally HVI grams per Tex readings are 1 to 2 units (3 to 5%) higher in numerical value. In some individual cases that seem to be related to variety, the differences can be as much as 6 to 8% higher. This has not caused a great deal of problems in the US, perhaps because a precedent was set many years ago when we began adjusting our Stelometer strength values about 27% to put them on Presley level.

Relative to the other HVI measurements, the strength measurement is less precise. Going back to our single bale of cotton and doing repeated measurements on the bale we shall find that 68% of the readings will be within 1 g/Tex of the bale average. So if the bale has an average strength of 25 g.tex, 68% of the individual readings will be between 24 and 26 g/Tex, and 95% between 23 and 27 g/Tex

Because of this range in the readings within a single bale, almost all HVI users make either 2 or 4 tests per bale and average the readings. When the average readings are repeated within a laboratory, the averages are repeated to within one strength unit about 80% of  the time. However, when comparisons are made between laboratories the agreement on individual bales to within plus or minus 1 g/tex decreases to 55%.

This decrease in strength agreement between laboratories is probably related to the difficulty of holding a constant relative humidity in the test labs. Test data indicate that 1% shift in relative humidity will shift the strength level about 1%. For example, if the relative humidity in the laboratory changes 3% (from 63 to 66%), the strength would change about 1 g/tex (from 24 to 25 g/Tex)

2. Fibre fineness:-image

Ø Principle of measurement

Fibre fineness is normally expressed as a micronaire value (microgram per inch). It is measured by relating airflow resistance to the specific surface of fibres and maturity ration is calculated using a sophisticated algorithm based on several HVI™ measurements.

Ø Method

The micronaire reading given by the HVI systems is the same as has been used in the commercial marketing of cotton for almost 25 years.  The repeatability of the data and the operator ease of performing the test have been improved slightly in the HVI micronaire measurement over the original instruments by elimination of the requirement of exactly weighing the test specimen. The micronaire instruments available today use microcomputers to adjust the reading for a range of test specimen sizes.

Ø Information

The micronaire reading is considered both precise and referable. For example, if we have a bale of cotton that has an average micronaire of 4.2 and repeatedly test samples from that bale, over two-thirds of that micronaire readings will be between 4.1 and 4.3 and 95 %of the readings between and 4.0 and 4.4. Thus, with only one or two tests per bale we can get a very precise measure of the average micronaire of the bale.

This reading is also very repeatable from laboratory to laboratory.  In USDA approx. 77000 bales were tested per day in each laboratory, micronaire measurements made in different laboratories agreed with each other within 0.1 micronaire units on 77% of the bales.

The reading is influenced by both fibre maturity and fibre fineness. For a given growing area, the cotton variety generally sets the fibre fineness, and the environmental factors control or influence the fibre maturity. Thus, within a growing area the micronaire value is usually highly related to the maturity value.  However, on an international scale, it cannot be known from the micronaire readings alone if cottons with different micronaire are of different fineness or if they have different maturity levels.

3. Moisture image

Ø Principle of measurement

Moisture content of the cotton sample at the time of testing, using conductive moisture probe and the main principle involved in the measurement is based on the measurement of the dielectric constant of a material.

4. Colour

Ø Principle of measurement

Rd (Whiteness), +b (Yellowness), Colour Grade

Measured optically by different colour filters, converted to USDA Upland or Pima Colour Grades or regional customized colour chart.

Ø Other information

The measurement of cotton colour predates the measurement of micronaire, but because colour has always been an important component of classer’s grade it has not received attention as an independent fibre property. However the measurement of colour was incorporated into the very early HVI systems as one of the primary fibre properties.

Determination of cotton colour requires the measurement of two properties, the grayness and yellowness of the fibres. The grayness is a measure of the amount of light reflected from the mass of the fibre. We call this the reflectance or Rd value. The yellowness is measured on what we call Hunter’s +b scale after the man who developed it. The other scales  that describe colour space (blue, red, green) are not measured becasue they are considered relatively constant for cotton.

Returning once again to the measurements  on our single bale, we see that repeated measurements of colour are in good agreement. For greyness or reflectance readings, 68% of the readings will be within 0.5 Rd units of the bale average, and 95% within one Rd unit for the average.

As for yellowness, over two-thirds of these readings will be within one-fourth of one +b unit of the average, and 95% within one-half of one +b unit. The greyness (Rd) and yellowness (+b) measurements are related to grade through a colour chart which was developed by a USDA researcher. The USDA test of 77000 bales showed the colour readings to be the most repeatable of all data between  laboratories; 87% of the bales repeated within one greyness(Rd) unit, and 85% repeated within one-half of one yellowness(+b) unit.

5. Trash content

Ø Principle of measurement

Particle Count, % Surface Area Covered by Trash, Trash Code

Measured optically by utilizing a digital camera, and converted to USDA trash grades or customized regional trash standards.

Ø Other information

The HVI systems measure trash or non-lint content by use of video camera to determine the amount of surface area of the sample that is covered with dark spots.  As the camera scans the surface of the sample, the video output drops when a dark spot (presumed to be trash) is encountered. The video signal is processed by a microcomputer to determine the number of dark spots encountered (COUNT) and the per cent of the surface area covered by the dark spots (AREA). The area and count data are used in an equation to predict the amount of visible non-lint content as measured on the Shirley Analyser. The HVI trash data output is a two-digit number which gives the predicted non-lint content for that bale. For example, a trash reading of 28 would mean that the predicted Shirley Analyser visible non-lint content of that bale would be 2.8%.

While the video trash instruments have been around for several years, but the data suggest that the prediction of non-lint content is accurate to about 0.75% non-lint, and that the measurements are repeatable 95% of the time to within 1% non-lint content.

6. Maturity and stickiness

Ø Principle of measurement

Calculated using a sophisticated algorithm based on several HVI™ measurements.

Ø Other information

Near infrared analysis provides a fast, safe and easy means to measure cotton maturity, fineness and sugar content at HVI speed without the need for time consuming sample preparation or fiber blending.

This technology is based on the near infrared reflectance spectroscopy principle in the wavelength range of 750 to 2500 nanometres. Differences of maturity in cotton fibres are recognized through distinctly different NIR absorbance spectra. NIR technology also allows for the measurement of sugar content by separating the absorbance characteristics of various sugars from the absorbance of cotton material.

Cotton maturity is the best indicator of potential dyeing problems in cotton products. Immature fibres do not absorb dye as well as mature fibres. This results in a variety of dye-related appearance problems such as barre, reduced colour yield, and white specks. Barre is an unwanted striped appearance in fabric, and is often a result of using yarns containing fibres of different maturity levels.  For dyed yarn, colour yield is diminished when immature fibres are used. White specks are small spots in the yarn or fabric which do not dye at all. These specks are usually attributed to neps (tangled clusters of very immature fibres)

NIR maturity and dye uptake in cotton yarns have been shown to correlate highly with maturity as measured by NIR.  A correlation of R=0.96 was obtained for a set of 15 cottons.

In a joint study by ITT and a European research organization, 45 cottons from four continents were tested for maturity using the NIR method and the SHIRLEY Development Fineness/ Maturity tester (FMT). For these samples, NIR and FMT maturity correlated very highly (R=0.94).

On 15 cottons from different growth areas of the USA, NIR maturity was found to correlate with r2 = 0.9 through a method developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  In this method, fibres are cross-sectioned and microscopically evaluated.

Sugar Content is a valid indicator of potential processing problems. Near infrared analysis, because of its adaptability to HVI, allows for screening of bales prior to use. The information serves to selected bales to avoid preparation of cotton mixes of bales with excessive sugar content. Cotton stickiness consists of two major causes- honeydew form white flies and aphids and high level of natural plant sugars. Both are periodic problems which cause efficiency losses in yarn manufacturing.

The problems  with the randomly distributed honeydew contamination often results in costly production interruptions and requires immediate action often as severe as discontinuing the use of contaminated cottons.

Natural plant sugars are more evenly distributed and cause problems of residue build-up, lint accumulation and roll laps. Quality problems created by plant sugar stickiness are often more critical in the spinning process than the honeydew stickiness. Lint residues which accumulate on machine parts in various processes will break loose and become part of the fibre mass resulting in yarn imperfections. An effective way to control cotton stickiness in processing is to blend sticky and non-stick cottons. Knowing the sugar content of each bale of cotton used in each mix minimizes day-to-day variations in processing efficiency and products more consistent yarn quality. Screening the bale inventory for sugar content prior to processing will allow the selection of mixes with good processing characteristics while also utilizing the entire bale inventory.

The relationship between percent sugar content by NIR analysis and the Perkins method shows an excellent correlation of r2=0.95. The amount of reducing material on cotton fibre in the Perkins method is determined by comparing the reducing ability of the water extract of the fibre to that of a standard reducing substance. Using the NIR method, the amount of reducing sugar in cotton is measured.

Merits of HVI testing:-

· The results are practically independent of the operator.

· The results are based on large volume samples, and are therefore more significant.

· The time for testing per sample is 0.3 minutes. The respective fibre data are immediately available.

· About 180 samples per hour can be tested and that too with only 2 operators.

· The data are clearly arranged in summarised reports.

· They make possible the best utilisation of raw material data.

· It is best applied to instituting optimum condition for raw material.

· Problems as a result of fibre material can be predicted, and corrective measures instituted before such problems can occur.

· The classing of cotton and the laying down of a mix in the spinning mill. This HVI testing is suitable for the extensive quality control of all the bales processed in a spinning mill.

· The mill is in a position to determine its own quality level within a certain operating range.

Standardized process for hvi testing:-


· Pre-season precision and accuracy tests for all HVIs:-

All offices are required to select known-value cotton samples and perform stringent and consistent performance evaluations, before machines can be placed into production.

· Instrument calibration

Strict calibration procedures used by all offices and Quality Assurance Branch Known-value cottons and tiles used for calibration, Periodic calibration checks, Data is collected, analysed and corrective actions taken when necessary

· Quality Assurance Branch, Check lot Program

Approximately 1% of entire crop is selected from each field office for retest in “QA” as Check lots. Check lot data is returned to classing offices quickly for review. Check lot system assists in monitoring office performance and ensuring proper testing levels.

· Laboratory Atmospheric Conditions:-

Testing laboratories are required to maintain conditions of 70°±1° F and 65%±2% RH. All cotton must stabilize at moisture content level of 6.75%-8.25% prior to HVI testing.

Various HVI models available in market in present date are:-

· USTER® HVI 1000

· Available Options

• Barcode Reader (M700)

• UPS – Uninterrupted Power Supply device

• UV Module

• NEP Module

· ART 2-high volume fibre tester premier

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