Mechanism and Factors Affecting the Pill Formation on Fabric

Mechanism and Factors Affecting the Pill Formation on Fabric

K. Senthil Kumar
MTS India Pvt Ltd.


Pilling is one of the undesirable aspects that affect the appearance of our clothes. It generally occurs during washing and wearing process in particular to collar, cuff, thigh & at the seat portion of bottom wear. Pill formation occurs when there is frictional interaction between fabric to fabric, fabric to human skin & fabric to other objects [fabric to washers- inside the washing m/c].

Pill Formation on Fabric
Fig: Pill Formation on Fabric

In this technical note, I tried to brief about the Mechanism, Invention of pilling m/c & how it replicates the actual problems in our daily life, Factors affecting the pill formation & it Control measures.

Mechanism of Pill formation:

Fuzz Formation-Migration of loose fibres to the yarn surface

Pill Formation-Entanglement of fuzz to form pills

Pill Wear Off-Breaking of Anchoring fibres causing the removal of pills

Mechanism of Pill formation
Fig: Mechanism of Pill formation

Development of Pilling Machine:
To stimulate pills, ASTM had developed Martindale pilling, Elastomeric pad pilling, Random tumble pilling etc.

Elastomeric pad Pilling- Fabric to Human skin interaction
Elastomeric pad pilling was developed by researchers at Milliken to simulate the pilling that occurs at the edge of the collar rubbing against the skin.

Martindale pilling- Fabric to Fabric interaction
Martindale pilling was developed by Swiss researchers to stimulate the condition when there is a fabric to fabric frictional interaction between the legs of the garments & under arms.

Random tumble pilling- Fabric to Other objects [Fabric to Washers- Inside the washing m/c]
Random Tumble Pilling was developed by DuPont Researchers to stimulate the pilling that occur in polyester and cotton/polyester blends where the pilling occurred in the random tumbling action of a washer and dryer with the free lint from other items.

Factors affecting pill formation on fabric:
Fibre Characteristics:

  • Fibre type
  • Fibre Length, Cross section & Fineness
  • Fibre rigidity & strength
  • Inter fibre friction & Crimp

Yarn Characteristics:

  • Yarn Type & blending
  • Yarn count, twist & hairiness
  • Yarn compactness (Twist) [More compactness—Less pills] & [Less Compactness—More pills]
  • Tenacity

Fabric Characteristics:

  • Fabric Type-woven or knitted
  • Fabric Compactness [More compactness—Less pills] & [Less Compactness—More pills]
  • Fabric Structure-Plain or Rib

Control Measures:

1. Singeing– Removal of loose fibres

2. Compact spinning– To increase the compactness of yarn

3. Polymeric coating– Binding the fibres into the fabric

4. Enzymatic treatment– Treating with cellulase enzymes to digest the hairy fibres.

You may also like:

  1. Pilling on Clothes | Causes and Reduction of Pilling from Clothes
  2. An Accurate Professional Martindale Abrasion and Pilling Tester: A Chance to Success
  3. Working Process of Martindale Abrasion cum Pilling Tester
  4. List of Fabric Defects

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