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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Marked For Authenticity

®mark™ security fibers utilize a variation of Hills Inc.'s Islands-In-The-Sea multicomponent fiber technology to provide authentication for branded textile products.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Associate Editor

T extile and apparel companies have a new weapon to use in their battle to protect their brands against counterfeiting activities. ®mark™ security fibers and yarns, offered by ARmark™ Authentication Technologies LLC — a Glen Rock, Pa.-based provider of custom-designed covert marking systems — can be incorporated into textile items for authentication purposes. The fibers and yarns provide an alternative offering where taggants and other covert markers do not provide optimal protection, according to Jeff Robertson, general manager.

“ARmark’s technologies are used to help authenticate product in a range of industries and also can be used as a mitigation tool to reduce liability in the marketplace,” Robertson said.

The fiber technology, developed by West Melbourne, Fla.-based Hills Inc. and licensed to ARmark, involves embedding a brand’s logo or other information within the fiber structure to provide what ARmark describes as a “brand fingerprint” that is virtually reverse-engineer-proof. ARmark’s ®vision™ detectors and software can read the markers by scanning, for example, the seam of a textile article.


A customized logo appears in the cross section of the ®mark™ security fiber, providing a brand fingerprint for product authentication.

Hills is a developer of man-made fiber technologies, and a designer and manufacturer of custom machinery and equipment for specialized fiber production processes including bicomponent spinning, spunbond spinning, melt-spun, wet-spun and others. The company’s Islands-In-The-Sea bicomponent fiber technology, on which the ®mark technology is based, enables production of a large number of microscopic and even nanoscale fibers within a single extruded element. As many as 1,200 “islands,” or individual fibers, of one polymer can be extruded in a “ sea,” or matrix, of another that holds them together and can be dissolved following extrusion. The technology enables production of 200 filaments at a time, each having 1,200 islands, so it potentially can produce more than 240,000 individual fibers at once, according to Jeff Haggard, vice president of technology, Hills.

“Hills is an expert in multicomponent fibers, and we’re using technology similar to what we use for bicomponents in doing the logo fiber, which really is a complicated multicomponent fiber,” Haggard said. “It’s related to Islands-In-The-Sea, but it takes the complexity miles beyond what we’ve been doing — instead of all the islands being one color, we can select colors for each island and ‘paint’ a picture with different-colored islands.”

Robertson said the logo or other information appears in the cross section of the ®mark fiber or yarn, which may be incorporated into textile articles in a sewing or embroidery thread or periodically woven into the actual fabric or in the label. The islands and sea in the fiber are the same nylon, polyester or polypropylene base polymer, but they may contain different additives. The fibers and yarns vary in size depending on the application, but they generally measure from 10 to 30 microns in diameter. They also might be blended with other fibers in a thread or yarn.

For more infor mation about ®mark™ security fibers, contact Jeff Robertson (717) 227-5921, www.rmark.org.

For more information about Hills Inc.’s fiber technologies, contact Allison Hanney (321) 724-2370, www.hillsinc.net.

November/December 2007