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Testing Update

Instrumentation innovations are key to maintaining quality and developing a broad range of textile products.

Jim Borneman, Editor In Chief

W hen asked "What types of capital equipment expenditures do Textile World readers' companies make?" the leading response in the 2009 Reader Profile was lab/testing equipment. Given the nature of textile products and processes, the response makes perfect sense. Whether it is product quality, verification against regulated or vendor standards or even a little reverse engineering - politely known in certain circles as deformulation - testing technology is an everyday necessity. Recently, interest in product analysis has moved forward as concerns over contaminants have made the news. Also, technical textile trends have made more people aware of the physical testing necessary to market products like geotextiles and related performance products.

Photography courtesy of X-Rite Inc.

Qualitest USA
According to Marcus Bergsten, product/marketing manager of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Qualitest USA, testers in the company's Q-Line of Universal Testing Machines are typically used to test breaking strength and elongation of textiles according to ASTM D5034. "They are used for testing all textile products from yarns to heavy-duty geotextiles and fabric for personal protection gear," Bergsten said. "All manufacturers in the textile industry at all levels of the added value chain will benefit from the Q-line, both for research and development work and for quality control."

The Q-line has been in full production since 2006, and its development was based upon a previous product line.

"We have been supplying the market with High Quality Universal Testing Machines for more than 15 years," Bergsten said.

Bergsten added that the main attributes are that the company supplies lightweight testers with a small footprint, which makes the testers easy to place in a lab; and they offer a wide test range per load cell with extremely accurate test results that conforms to all applicable standards.

Measured Solutions
Measured Solutions Inc., Spartanburg, supplies laboratory instruments for testing cotton and man-made fibers, and all types of yarns including spun, filament, textured, carpet, and industrial yarns. Managing Director Mark Reese and his staff represent various firms including Germany-based Textechno, Switzerland-based Rothschild-Instruments and Japan-based Keisokki; as well as FCS Procedyne and Schwing Cleaning Systems, Aspex/SpinTrak Spinneret Inspection Systems, and Ceccato Spinnerets.

Reese said spinners, weavers, institutes and yarn dealers can save testing costs by using Textechno's Statimat DS. First exhibited at ITMA 2007 in Munich and with the first delivery in 2008, the Statimat DS combines testing of yarn and thread tensile properties, unevenness, and count in one tester.

"Common use of all peripheral components of the tester - like package changer, threading mechanism for introducing the yarn sample into the test sections, yarn feeding device, waste yarn disposal and instrument housing with protective front panel, as well as control electronics including the personal computer (PC)-based Textechno Testcontrol system for the different test modules built in - all lead to a very economic price for the Statimat DS compared to that for three separate testing appliances. The operator presents the test samples to only one instead of several different testers, which results in considerable time and labor savings, and all measured data are presented in one test protocol, so that the data can be easily interrelated, for example, to calculate tenacity from the measured strength- and yarn-count values," Reese said.

Uster Tackles Slub Quality
Introduced in July 2008, the Uster® Fancy Yarn Profile for the Uster Tester 5 is a solution for the quality control of slub yarns.

According to Gabriela Peters, product manager, yarn testing, Switzerland-based Uster Technologies AG, the importance of quality control in yarn manufacturing is magnified when the end-use is a high-cost product such as the latest denim jeans with fashionable slub yarns. Producers of these yarns need to make them appear irregular, yet retain precise and consistent control over quality - which means fewer complaints and, ultimately, more profit. Uster has tackled this requirement with a system that analyzes slub yarn quality. The Uster Fancy Yarn Profile uses a unique measuring method that makes it easier than ever to obtain all the quality-relevant information for slub yarns, while maintaining the high standards of precision and reliability for which the Uster Tester family is acknowledged, she explained.

A.B. Carter/Mesdan-Lab
Henderson Wise, national marketing manager of Gastonia, N.C.-based A.B. Carter Inc., represents the Autodyn 300 Automatic Strength Tester from the Mesdan-Lab division of Italy-based Mesdan S.p.A.

The Autodyn 300 tests the tensile strength of 24 different yarns. Wise said Autodyn 300 has modular features that also can work in semiautomatic mode for industrial yarns, hanks and fabrics. The tester is controlled by flexible, easy-to-operate software, complying with all current international textile standards. More than 30 test modules are available in the software. The tester is versatile, accurate and reliable, thanks to a complete range of interchangeable clamps and load cells, he said.

Advanced Testing Instruments (ATI)
Advanced Testing Instruments (ATI), Greer, S.C., has been featuring the TruBurst2 pneumatic burst strength tester, which complies with ISO 13938-2 and ASTM D 3786. The TruBurst measures the distension and time to burst as well as the pressure at burst. The TruBurst Advanced + includes a cyclic function that allows the pressure to cycle up and down for a stretch and recovery test. According to the company, the fully pneumatic and non-contact laser distension measurement guarantees accurate, consistent and reproducible results. In production for two years, this bursting strength tester for fabric and nonwovens testing offers pneumatic versus hydraulic bursting.

ATI also offers the Textest Air Permeability Tester FX 3300 Labotester III, which is used to determine the air permeability of flat materials and foam cubes. The measuring range covers dense papers and airbag fabrics as well as extremely open nonwovens and forming fabrics.

By means of the Labodata III Evaluation Program, the test results can be converted from air permeability into the pressure drop at a given air velocity. This value, which is important for gas filter materials, is shown both numerically and as a curve depicting pressure drop versus air velocity in double logarithmic scale. According to ATI, the instrument works in accordance with AFNOR G 07-111, ASTM D 737, ASTM D 3,574, BS 5,636, DIN 53,887, EDANA 140.1, EN ISO 7,231, EN ISO 9,237, JIS L 1,096-A, TAPPI T 251, and other standards.
Q-Lab Corp.
Westlake, Ohio-based Q-Lab Corp. offers new lightfastness testing technology with the Q-Sun B02 Lightfastness Tester. In production for approximately 18 months, the Q-Sun B02 incorporates the newest xenon technology to meet ISO 105 B02 and AATCC textile standards more efficiently and affordably. According to Q-Lab, the B02's optical filters maintain the required spectrum indefinitely, so they do not need to be replaced unless they are broken, or the test method followed specifies regular filter replacement. Its patented Solar Eye Irradiance Control sets a new standard in calibration and takes only seconds, so there is little chance for operator error, and expensive calibration contracts are not required.

According to Q-Lab, while any textile lab can benefit from the Q-Sun B02, the tester's affordability and efficiency make it an ideal choice for small labs that previously could not afford xenon lightfastness testing.

Kentwood, Mich.-based X-Rite Inc.'s Product Manager Richard Knapp said the Color iQC Version 6.0, introduced in November 2008, is the new major release in the X-Rite Color iMatch and Color iQC family of color formulation and quality control products.

"While there have been several color supply chain solutions available over the last five years, none of them has been very successful or received broad adoption," Knapp said. "When we tried to understand why this was, we quickly found that no two companies followed the same process and that all existing systems were far too rigid in their implementation and imposed a specific workflow on the users. With Color iQC Version 6.0, we have produced a color supply chain solution that can significantly reduce the time it takes to develop colors, is adaptable to existing customer workflows and business methods, and can be aligned with a customer's parallel business processes."

In terms of prospects, Knapp added: "This new product allows us to work with customers throughout the color development process: designers, buyers, brand managers, quality control, and producers. This product also allows for the expansion of color supply chain management into areas that were previously excluded and into hard-line products as well."

Hal Good, director of marketing services at Reston, Va.-based HunterLab, explained that the UltraScan Pro® color measurement spectrophotometer has interesting attributes, and scanning as low as 350 nanometers (nm) enables measurement of ultraviolet (UV)-blocking materials. He also said scanning up to 1050 nm enables measurement of camouflage materials. The 5-nm optical resolution and reporting interval enables precise color measurement of dyes that have sharp spectral cutoff characteristics. According to Good, the wavelength range is wider than any other color measurement spectrophotometer. Target customers are those that need to have accurate color measurement of fabric, yarn, thread or fiber. In addition to measuring visual color, the UltraScan Pro also enables measurement into the near infrared for camouflage materials, as well as the measurement of UV-blocking characteristics of materials and the effect of whitening agents.

Bob Karpowicz, Lawrenceville, N.J.-based Datacolor's product manager, instruments, spoke of the December 2008 release of the Check® II Portable Spectrophotometer.

"Most users sort right on the factory floor, so measuring with a portable instrument is the key to efficiency," Karpowicz said. "However, the competing instruments do not have the versatility of the Check II, which sorts using L*a*b*, LCh or CMC tolerances, depending on the needs and preferences of the user.

"Additionally, we've reduced the time our customers spend transferring data to their PC software by implementing wireless data transfer on the Check II. Now Datacolor Check II users can send data via Bluetooth or existing Wi-Fi® networks straight from the instrument.

"Besides the the Check II's exclusive three-mode 555 Shade Sorting function and high-speed wireless operation, the Check II offers unparalleled agreement with our Datacolor 600 reference grade spectrophotometer that most textile mills use for color matching. That means that the numbers you get sorting with the Check II will agree very closely with your mills' numbers," Karpowicz concluded.

Update: Textile Technology Center At Gaston College
Belmont, N.C.-based Textile Technology Center Director John A. Anderson stated that the center's mission is to be of service to the textile industry and assist the industry in solving problems. The center has five testing labs specializing in fiber, yarn, fabric performance, defect analysis and microscopy. New capabilities are currently being installed as a result of a recent donation from Fort Mill, S.C.-based Wellman Inc. New services will include testing for metals, such as lead in fabrics, to the parts-per-million level using inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy; determining polyester composition using gas chromatography (GC); ultraviolet/visusal analysis of polymers for component levels; differential scanning calorimetry analysis for thermal properties of polymers and other materials; various wet analytical techniques and custom analysis of materials for purity using high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC); GC/Mass Spec for unknown analysis of polymer or material components and impurities; and determining oligimer content of polyester using gel permeation chromatography/HPLC.

"As we carry out our mission to be of service to the textile industry, we continue to search for emerging segments that can benefit from our services, technologies and cumulative expertise through the 'Center of Excellence' shared resource concept," Anderson said. "To use Benjamin Franklin's words in a slightly different context than he originally spoke, 'We must hang together, gentlemen ... else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.'"

January/February 2009