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Steamy Conditions

U.S. yarn manufacaturers share their practical experiences with Xorella yarn-conditioning equipment.

Yarn ConditioningBy Eric Vonwiller, Senior Technical Editor Steamy Conditions U.S. yarn manufacturers share their practical experiences with Xorella yarn-conditioning equipment.

This LTC-S compact unit installed at Four Leaf Textiles, Spindale, N.C. is the latest-generation Xorella Contexxor yarn-conditioning system. Yarn conditioning is one of those subjects like flu shots or dental visits that do not elicit a great deal of excitement in general conversation. Perhaps much of the reason has to do with the fact that a number of textile people are dubious about the benefits of some systems they say the machines just dont work as advertised.There is no doubt, however, that the proper yarn-conditioning technology properly applied can make a big difference in the processability of yarns in weaving and knitting operations. Such processes as vacuum steam or cold steam yarn conditioning can have significant benefits for knitters and weavers.The first vacuum steam machines were installed in U.S. mills about seven or eight years ago and have since become indispensible components of the manufacturing process. But it was an uphill battle, not only to get textile manufacturers to consider the technology, but also to get the machinery manufacturers to develop it.Freddy Wanger, founder and managing director of Xorella AG, discovered this reluctance the hard way. His idea for a vacuum steam yarn-conditioning process ran against the grain with a former employer. Rather than battle an established corporate structure, Wanger decided to set up his own business. He founded Xorella AG in 1971 in Wettingen, Switzerland.The textile mills around the world have finally realized what great production improvements this system can provide, Wanger told Textile Industries at a recent textile exhibition, but it took us 20 years to convince them!His painful and patient persistence, though, has paid off handsomely. Today, the Xorella system is considered to be among the most effective and consistent yarn-conditioning systems on the market. Years In The Race
To get a good handle on the evolution of Xorella yarn-conditioning equipment, TI visited two yarn manufacturers that have the system in place. R.L. Stowe, Belmont, N.C., has the first generation of the Xorella machinery running at several plants, while Four Leaf Textiles, Shelby, N.C., operates the latest incarnation of the equipment.The first Xorella Contexxor® LT-O machines were sold to R.L. Stowes National and Helms plants in the early 1990s and are still in operation. Age has added some appearance wear, but the machines still function without problems and fulfill their tasks to full satisfaction everyday. Verner E. Stanley, Jr., executive vice president and COO, said Xorellas yarn-conditioning process enhances the runability and presentation of the yarn to weavers and knitters.When asked why Stowe selected Xorella, Stanley explained: Conditioning cotton yarn in a vacuum at a relatively low temperature has all the attributes of success. This is achieved by full penetration of the packages and at a condition that does not change the dye index. Mechanically, the machine is extremely reliable, has excellent electronic controls and is built with substantial structure.Both Stowe plant managers were positive about the impact of the Contexxor LT-O machines, which have run continuously with few problems. Stowe conditions all of its cotton yarns, specifically, plied and twisted yarns, for knitting and weaving customers. Only a few of the companys hosiery customers request unconditioned yarns.The latest technology from Xorella, the Contexxor LTC-S, is installed at the Four Leaf Textiles plant in Spindale, N.C. The space-saving cubical unit was presented for the first time at ITMA 99 in Paris. Xorella received TIs Innovation Award in 1999 for this technological development.Terry Lee, vice president, operations, said, Xorella maximizes the yarn conditioning with this machine. Because Four Leaf also has earlier designs of the Xorella machines in its plants, Lee is able to make a direct comparison between the older machinery and the LTC-S unit. He pointed out that energy, time and water savings are significant, especially when compared with conventional machinery on the market. He also praised the consistency of conditioning the new unit produces. He and his staff consider the effort for maintenance quite reasonable, as it is basically limited to cleaning door seals and draining the water every two weeks.At the Spindale plant, Four Leaf produces mainly plied and twisted man-made yarns from polypropylene/olefin fibers blended with acrylic and some rayon. The majority of these yarns are conditioned to reduce loops and kinks, set the twist, and enhance knitability and weaveability. Some single yarns are waxed and conditioned, depending on specific customer request.Like the executives and managers from Stowe, those from Four Leaf were positive about the impact of Xorellas Contexxor system. Lee said customer feedback has been very positive. Once customers have seen the benefits of yarn conditioning, they dont want to be without it. 
Both R.L. Stowe (left) and Four Leaf Textiles (right) shrink-wrap their yarns immediately after the conditioning process, retaining moisture and helping fight fiber fly typical of cotton yarns. Technology With SuccessThe Contexxor vacuum yarn-steaming and conditioning system is the primary product line of Xorella, which is represented in the United States by PSP Marketing Inc., Charlotte, N.C. The vacuum and pressure vessels are built according to strictest safety specifications and are manufactured to conform to each countrys regulations. A process of steam and vacuum prevents loops in the yarn, sets the twist, humidifies and improves the efficiency of the machines in the subsequent processes (spooling, winding, knitting, weaving, etc.).Additionally, it improves yarn strength and elongation of cotton yarns. During a process that takes from 35 to 45 minutes, the initial and intermediate vacuum stages ensure accelerated penetration of the saturated steam and 100-percent humidity without condensation from a temperature as low as 50ºC (122°F). At the same time, air and atmospheric oxygen are removed. This saturated steam also penetrates paper tubes and cardboard boxes without destroying them. A newly developed ECO-System achieves low energy cost.Xorella offers the more conventionally based Contexxor LT-O with the ECO-System and the patented overhead door. Its latest technology is the Contexxor Compact LTC-S unit that is designed to treat especially high pallets up to 13 layers. The new cubical design offers even greater energy savings, easier maintenance, a water bath cover against fiber fly, shorter processing times, and full automation. One and two-door versions are available. According to Xorella, the system can be offered with significant price advantages when compared with other conventional systems on the market.Many companies in Italy and China use the Xorella equipment for treating silk yarns. Plants in Europe, South America, Mexico, the United States, Pakistan and Taiwan use it for cotton. Mills in Australia, England, Germany, Korea and Switzerland use it for wool. The Xorella system is used for man-made spun and filament yarns in the United States, Russia and the Far East.

November 2001