In the last 50 years the basic flax spinning process has not changed significan tly. Consequently, the sequence of processing has therefore remained static and inflexible to the market. This is mainly due to inadequate technological knowl edge of the raw material, which is still assessed subjectively (organoleptic pa rameters). Since these assessments cannot be quantified, quantitative relations hips between the raw fibre and the end-product cannot be established. As a resu lt further technological developments to improve process efficiency and product quality have been inhibited compared to other textile fibres. The European ind ustry must maintain their prestige status of the quality mark (Master of Linen) from the growing competitiveness of the non-EEC countries, particularly from t hose of Far Easter Europe and Asia. EEC based manufacturers will have to improv e their technical knowledge to optimise the spinning and weaving processes by e mploying advance technologies as in other textile industries. (see Report 2 pub lished by Comitextil TOTAL QUALITY TEXTILE, within the textile Targeted Researc h Action - TRA). However, the problems associated with flax fibre characterisat ion are considerably more challenging than those encountered in cotton industry . The main objective of cotton processing is to select and grade the material into different qualities for use in specific process lines and products. In co ntrast, flax fibre has a more complex morphological structure, characterised by bundles of cellulose fibrils. These are cemented together by pectin, hemicellu lose and lignin, which have to be removed selectively during retting, chemical processing and wet spinning for various grades of yarn. This is the key to unde rstanding fibre quality and their effect on determining spinning limits and res ulting quality of yarn. Loom speeds have increased very significantly in recent years. The greater speeds have reduced the number of looms required to produce a given amount of fabric and therefore significantly increased the cost of a s toppage. The synthetic and man-made fibre yarns as well as cotton, are more sui table for these faster looms and have remained competitive. They are produced b y objectively controlled processes, and their performance is more easily engine ered and more predictable. They can weave at greater speeds and efficiencies. L inen has not adapted to the changes it cannot match the weaving performance of these yarns and it is difficult to ensure consistent performance as it is still produced by a subjective process where control is difficult. More control is r equired over the combined yarn properties of regularity, strength, friction, an d to increase weaving speeds and efficiencies and allow fabric with consistent performance to be produced. Cost saving may also be achieved in working and by minimising the need for humidity and temperature during weaving. The project ai ms to achieve the following targets: 1. A better use of the European raw mate rial 2. Optimisation of the process with respect to quality and costs. 3. A better flexibility in production and in product development. 4. Minimisat ion of the environmental impact of the process.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
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