Project Summaries

11-815TX  Project Manager: J. M. Reeves


M. Dean Ethridge, Texas Tech University

The substantial quality improvements in Texas cotton fibers is resulting in ever-greater use of these in global ring-spinning markets. Help in adapting the yarn formation processes to better exploit these fibers can help expand these markets. The fineness of Texas fibers makes them susceptible to breakage under single-fiber mechanical stresses, but also offers the potential to make finer (smaller diameter) yarns. The successful formation of finer yarns offers the potential for competing in plied yarn markets. This project aims to evaluate the suitability for making plied, ring-spun yarns suitable for use in global markets.

Plied yarns offer superior performance due to: 1) much better 'robustness' (i.e., the ability to withstand stresses and frictions) in weaving and knitting processes and in consumer use; 2) much better 'evenness' of the yarns, which greatly improves the appearance and feel of the fabrics.

While making plied yarns requires added manufacturing costs, many higher-valued end-uses command prices that compensate for these added costs.

A great part of the plied yarn market includes yarns that are equal to or coarser than 80/2 Ne yarns (i.e., 80-count single yarns that when plied together give a 40-count size). These 80/2 Ne yarns are used mostly in woven fabrics, for things like the high-value shirts and dresses. In knitted textiles, the yarns are generally equal to or coarser than 60/2 Ne yarns, because knitted fabrics made from yarns finer than this generally do not provide adequate coverage.

Accordingly, this project targeted 80/2 Ne yarns for weaving and 60/2 Ne yarns for knitting. Since it was infeasible to make woven fabrics, the 80/2 Ne yarns were evaluated using all available yarn measurements. The 60/2 Ne yarns were thoroughly evaluated as yarns, and then knitted into sample fabrics to be dyed and further evaluated. In both cases, care was taken to ensure that typical industrial practices were followed in making the yarns. This helps ensure that the results are seen as being valid by global manufacturers.

To make the yarns targeted in this project, the global textile industry generally uses long-staple or extra-long-staple cottons. Therefore, the Texas Plains cottons selected for this project had to be at the high end of the quality spectrum. The staples used were all 37 or longer and the cottons were combed to remove the short fibers (which is common practice by manufacturers that make such yarns).

Results obtained indicate that the 80 Ne yarns were challenging the spinning potential of the fibers, but the plied yarns made from these still appeared worthwhile. The 60 Ne yarns performed and tested significantly better and the plied yarns made from these were quite nice. Knitted and dyed fabrics made from the 60/2 Ne yarns exhibited superior visual and tactile qualities. These results provide authoritative evidence that the best cotton fibers produced on the Texas Plains may be used to serve the demands for high-quality, premium textiles.


Project Year: 2012

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