Chemical Industry Ready For The Future
Dye and chemical suppliers are working more and more with machinery producers to provide customers with total solutions.
Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor
T he chemical industry has been an integral part of ITMA exhibitions since the 2003 show in Birmingham, England. This branch of the textile industry is a primary factor in finishing, if not the decisive factor. Many textile products become the requested high-tech product after the right finishes are applied according to specifications.
The environment was a hot topic at ITMA 2007 in Munich, Germany. Never before was a trend toward greater ecology and energy savings more obvious. For example, machines feature reduced water and dyestuff consumption, and environmentally friendly processes. These features go hand-in-hand with increased and reproducible quality.
Machinery suppliers know today’s customers want more than just machines — they want methods and solutions. Therefore, suppliers cooperate very closely with the chemical industry. The future lies in developments that are a cooperation between the machinery producer and the chemical manufacturer. Many suppliers showed such partnerships at ITMA 2007.
Dow Corning Corp. has introduced a new silicone softener for denim that can be combined with previously incompatible processing steps, thus reducing the amount of water used during processing.
The trend toward increased environmental consciousness is favorable for European producers, which are constantly developing environmentally friendly processes and chemicals. Today, the big manufacturers of finishing machinery and chemicals are not only suppliers of machines and dyestuffs, but more often providers of total solutions.
This is today especially the case in all countries with a high level of environmental consciousness. However — and this is the overall opinion of the industry — in a short amount of time, all markets are being required to move in the same direction for ecological and economic reasons. The increasing price of oil is accelerating the problem even more.
The strengths of the European chemical industry are its proximity to and presence in all important textile regions, and its global network based on local expertise. All products fulfill international standards regarding quality and ecology, regardless of origin, and are tailor-made to meet specific regional customer requirements.
Chemical companies are present in all major global textile markets. Production sites and technical service centers are located in the most important textile markets, including growing markets such as China, India and other Asian countries. This ensures efficient delivery of service and high-quality products. BASF AG, Germany, has moved the global headquarters of its textile chemicals business to Singapore to strengthen its focus on the aforementioned growth markets in Asia.
To produce a higher-quality end product, high-quality dyestuffs are required, for the continuous dyeing process in particular. Reactive dyes — less delicate than other dyestuffs — are commonly used.
According to Switzerland-based Huntsman Textile Effects, chromium-free dyestuffs were of interest at ITMA. Huntsman’s latest development is a chromium-free black dye called Lanasol Deep Black CE-R.
BASF has developed a new crosslinker, Helizarin Fixing Agent TX 4737, with reactive centers that are free of formaldehyde. In addition, a formaldehyde-free binder, Helizarin Binder TX 4738, has been developed that is ideally suited to the new crosslinker. Together with BASF’s existing formaldehyde-free thickeners, the new products form the formaldehyde-free Helizarin pigment-printing system (See “BASF Develops Formaldehyde-Free Pigment-Printing System,” www. TextileWorld.com, Sept. 11, 2007). According to BASF, the advantages of the new products are considerable:
• All the components of the printing system (binder, crosslinker, thickeners and other auxiliaries) are formaldehyde-free.
• Formaldehyde levels on the textile
before and after the printing process remain unchanged.
• High-quality printing is guaranteed, meeting the requirements of the industry with regard to processing properties on the printing machine and fastness standards.
• Textile producers can now meet all regulatory standards as well as the leading retailers’ and brands’ requirements related to formaldehyde without any additional measures, even in dark shades.
Another important topic at ITMA was raw material savings — with lighter weights at the same quality level as heavier weights. If the raw material costs make up 60 percent of the finished product cost, this issue will become more prominent in the future. Flexibility and quality monitoring for even better products were mentioned, as well as an increasing regularity and reproducibility of the products.
There is a trend in the finishing industry — until now, only countries that were forced by law were interested in heat recovery. However, with increasing energy costs, Asian countries also are now interested in this technology.
Effects and functions are still a hot topic. Today, most consumers expect a garment to offer some functional features. As a result, the demand for functional textiles, especially, as BASF mentioned, for wrinkle-free, antimicrobial, and anti-stain and -soil finishes, is increasing. There is great interest in and a demand for sustainable textile solutions. At the moment, BASF sees this especially in the following areas:
• safer production at textile mills, as well as consumer safety — for example, the new formaldehyde-free Helizarin pigment printing system; and
• resource-saving solutions and technologies — for example, the Cyclanon XC-W after-soaping agent for reactive-dyed cellulosic fibers, which has both economical and ecological advantages in time, energy and water savings, according to BASF.
In the marketplace, there is a constant shift of textile production towards Asia from North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries and Europe. Therefore, there has been a lot of consolidation in the textile chemicals business in the last few years. BASF has followed this shift of textile production in the past, and has improved its competitiveness significantly in the global market.
NAFTA countries and Europe continue their trendsetting roles with regard to technical and fashion-driven innovations in textiles. In Europe, there is a still-growing interest for technical textiles.
There is an increasing demand for sustainable textile solutions. Regulatory standards as well as requirements by retailers and brands are becoming increasingly strict. Also, public awareness is increasing, and consumers are becoming more ecologically conscious. Manufacturers hold certain obligations to protect consumers, and the industry expects the significance of this responsibility will become more evident in the future.
Leveraging the global network and proximity to customers, chemical companies can provide tailor-made solutions for their customers. In addition, customers can rely on extensive know-how and expertise based on the global network of most of the suppliers from Europe, especially when it comes to fulfilling international standards in terms of quality and ecological aspects.
Dow Corning Launches Silicone Softener For Denim
With the introduction of a new silicone softener, Midland, Mich.-based Dow Corning Corp. hopes to reduce the amount of water it takes to process denim fabrics. Dow Corning®
GP 8000 Eco Softener is a water-dilutable, nonionic treatment that is stable over a range of pHs and temperatures, and is compatible with other enzymes and washing stones typically used to process denim, allowing the softener to be applied in previously incompatible processing steps. The softener produces a rugged, natural hand on processed fabrics.
GP 8000 Eco Softener can be applied in a wide variety of denim processing baths including enzyme baths for fading, desizing baths, post-bleach neutralizing baths, stone-washing baths and rinsing baths; or in an enzyme wash bath for biopolishing twill garments.
According to Dow, the ability to combine the softener with other denim-processing steps could potentially reduce the water-processing requirement by 30 to 50 percent — equivalent to as much as 15 liters per pair of jeans.
“With GP 8000 Eco Softener, processors can reduce their utility bills and improve productivity,” said Anthony Feng, global industry director for Dow Corning’s textile business. “And brand owners can improve their image by offering the market more sustainably produced garments.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /font>
The product was developed for use in denim fabric and garment wet processing, but Dow states it also can be used in exhaust or padding applications and may have potential in other garment, fabric and knits processing.
— Textile World Special Report