Denim is a durable cotton twill textile in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. The denim fabrics are woven with a coarse count, high thread density and 3 / 1 twill weave. It is typically used to make jeans, overalls, and other clothing. May be the most considered article of style today. Denim was traditionally colored blue with indigo dye to make blue “jeans”. Denim is an icon and one of the most familiar products within the textile industry that attracts all age groups. In this article I will comprehensively describe about denim manufacturing process with flow chart.
Flow Chart of Denim Manufacturing:
Manufacturing of Denim:
The term “Denim” has originated from the city of Nimes in France where “serge de Nimes” was manufactured. Denim is made from a vat dye, the Indigo dye, which is applied to cotton fabric in loosely held form in layers. As far as manufacturing process of denim is concerned, it is similar to that of Grey fabric up to the process of weaving with the only difference that in case of Denim Fabric, it is dyed at the stage of sizing where as in case of Grey Fabric, the decision regarding dyeing stage depends upon the finished product. The details of each process of denim manufacturing are given below:
The initial stage of denim production is Opening and Blending. Opening begins with baled cotton fiber being separated into small tufts. A blend of cotton fibers is made on each opening line. These bales are selected using USDA High Volume Instrument (HVI) data, and PCCA’s unique computer blending software produces optimal yarn strength.
Cotton is delivered by air suction from the Opening and Blending lines, through additional cleaning and blending machines, to the Cards. The major functions of Carding are to remove foreign matter and short fibers, form the cotton into a web and convert the web into a rope-like form known as a sliver.
The drawing process produces a single, uniform sliver from six card slivers. The additional blending, paralleling of fibers and cleaning in this process produces a sliver for Open End and Ring Spinning. For Ring Spinning, however, the sliver must pass through an additional process called Roving.
Cotton Fibers are formed into a yarn by centrifugal action in Open- End Spinning. Individual fibers are laid down in the groove of a fast spinning rotor and twisted into yarn. After the cotton fibers are spun into yarn, the yarn is wound into a large package.
a. Open End Spinning
The Open-End Spinning Machines have robots on each side which automatically pieces up (repairs broken ends). On a different track, they have another robot that automatically doffs (removes full packages) and starts up a new package. The size and quality of each yarn end are monitored by the Barco Profile System to ensure uniformity.
b. Ring Spinning
In Ring Spinning, the spinning frames receive Roving via a transit system from the roving machine. Yarn is formed from cotton fibers that are twisted together after being drafted by passing between three steel rolls and three rubber rolls. The yarn then is wrapped on a bobbin as it spins on a spindle by use of a traveler. The relationship between roll speeds, traveler speeds and spindle speeds control the amount of twist in the yarn. Ends down levels and production information are gathered by the Uster Ring Expert System. The spinning frames automatically doff bobbins full of yarn and send them to package winding.
ACG also has the capacity to produce Amsler Open-End yarn, also known as Faux Ring Spun yarn. This technology enables ACG to impart various slub patterns into an Open-End yarn. Denim made from this type of yarn has yarn character and surface interest that cannot be achieved with traditional Open-End yarn.
a. Grey Yarn on Cones
Normally yarns received for weaving in cone forms are either from ring spinning or from open end spinning in single or double fold as required. For weaving, yarn used is categorized into:
- Warp yarn
- Weft yarn
Normally for Weaving, yarn used as warp should be sufficiently strong to withstand stress and strains exerted during weaving operations. Hence, they are having Count Strength Product (CSP) and further sized to increase its strength. The weft yarn is directly used on weaving machines and in some cases, if required, is rewound also so as to enhance its performance in weaving.
b. Warping on Sectional/ Direct Warping
The warp yarn is required to be fed into a sheet form to the weaving machines. At warping, the individual cones are put into the creel (the number of cones depends upon fabric construction) and yarn from individual cones is pulled together in sheet form, wound on a barrel called warping beams (for Direct warping) or on weaving beams (for Sectional Warping). Normally if warp sheet is with patterns of different coloured yarns it is processed on sectional warping machine.
c. Sizing of yarn in Set/ Beam to Beam Position
The object of Sizing is to improve the strength of yarn by chemically binding the fibres with each other and also improve upon its friction resistance capacity by chemically coating the surface of yarn/fibres. Further, number of threads in warpers beam sheet is very less against number of threads required in whole width of fabric. Hence multiplication of sheets by drawing yarns together from many warp beams and again making one sheet is also performed on sizing machine. On sizing, normally, 8-12 % size material on warp thread is applied. This improvement in strength and frictional resistance characteristic of warp yarn is essential because during weaving, yarn has to undergo severe strain & stress as well as frictional operations.
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Weaving is basically interlacement of two sets i.e. warp and weft threads in desired sequence and pattern. To obtain this interlacement, warp yarn sheet is bifurcated & opened in the form of two layers/ sheet and weft thread is inserted between so opened two warp sheets. This operation is called shedding. to perform shedding the warp yarn needs to be passed through heald eyes of the heald shafts, this operation is called as drawing-in.
e. Beam Gaiting or Knotting on Loom
The drawn weavers beams are fixed on weaving machines; threads are tied and heald shafts are coupled. This operation is called Beam Gaiting. If undrawn warp threads are directly knotted to the threads of finished beams, it is called Knotting. These operations are essential because normally weavers beam can carry only certain length of warp sheet on it and when so woven, whole length is converted to the fabric by weaving machine. Further warp length is required to be fed which can be done by knotting or gaiting other beams on weaving machine.
As stated earlier, weaving is interlacing two sets of yarn and making fabric. One set is called warp thread which is in sheet form, the other one is called weft thread which is inserted between two layers of warp sheet by means of a suitable carrier i.e. Shuttle, Projectile, Rapier, Air current, Water current, etc. Depending upon the type of the weaving machines. The different types of technologies available for weaving machines are briefly explained as below:
- Conventional Shuttle Weaving System by Ordinary Looms or Automatic Looms.
- Shuttle less Weaving System by Airjet /Waterjet/Rapier/Projectile
Shuttle loom is a conventional Technology with much less production on account of slow speed and excessive wear and tear of machinery. This shuttle loom technology has now become obsolete. Denim is woven through Shuttle less Weaving System by using 96 ZAX-e Type Tsodakoma Corporation’s Airjet looms or rapier looms or projectile looms. These looms are distinguished by weft insertion method, which is briefly discussed hereunder.
These types of looms adopt the latest development in Weaving Technology where weft insertion is done with the help of compressed air. A very high weft insertion rate up to 1800 meter per minute is achieved. Compared to rapier and projectile looms, these looms are less versatile but are economical and are used in mass textile production unit like denim.
a. Grey Fabric
The finally woven fabric or Grey Fabric, as it is popularly called, wound on a cloth roll is taken out from weaving machines at certain intervals and checked on inspection machines for possibilities of any weaving fault. If such faults are seen anywhere in fabric during inspection, certain corrective steps are taken at weaving, warping, sizing, etc. so that they can be minimized in subsequent product. This is a quality control exercise.
b. Denim Fabric
Denim Fabrics woven of 100% cotton would be very strong and durable. Traditionally Blue Denim is warp faced cotton fabric with 3 x 1 twill construction with warp being dyed in a solid colour and weft left un-dyed. The look and quality of the Denim Fabric shall improve after dyeing, the process of which differs from plant to plant. Normally the process of dyeing dictates the technology of Denim manufacturing.
The dyeing for Denim Fabric happens at the sizing stage. Generally, there are two most popular methods of dyeing Denim Fabric. They are:
- Rope Dyeing
- Sheet Dyeing
A company can adopt any of the methods. In countries like India Sheet Dyeing Method is commonly used for manufacture of its Denim Fabrics, which has following advantages over Rope Dyeing Method:
- The technology is less capital intensive.
- The technology is a proven one.
- The cost of production is lower.
- The process time is lower.
- The Sheet Dyeing machines are very easy to operate.
The only defect in Sheet dyeing is that there is a problem of center to selvedge shade variation.
c. Sheet Dyeing Process
This process eliminates a few intermediate processes of the rope dyeing. The yarn sheet is washed with chemicals such as caustic and washing soda and after squeezing the excess water; the yarn sheet is allowed to pass through Dyeing Troughs one time for oxidation and development of dye on yarn. After dyeing, the dyed yarn is washed again with fresh water for two-three times and finalIy squeezed before allowing it to pass through six drying cylinders. The dyed yarn enters the starching device and sizing is done. After sizing, the sized warp beam goes for weaving. After weaving, the woven Denim Fabrics goes for various finishing processes consisting of brushing, singeing, washing, impregnation for dressing and drying. Brushing and singeing should eliminate impurities and help to even the surface of the fabric. Dressing regulates the hand and rigidity of the fabric while compressive shrinking regulates its dimensional stability.
Even today Denim Fabric without Indigo Dyeing is not called authentic Denim. Initially when Denim Fabric entered the fashion market, Denim manufacturers were using Natural Indigo Dye, which was costly and giving a natural finish. Though Synthetic Indigo Dye has gradually replaced Natural Indigo Dye, some unorganized manufacturers still prefer the latter and attract premium after branding them “Natural Dye Used”.
Weaving of fabrics on such multi sizes is not economical, hence a standard width fabric is then sent to making up. Fabrics are cut into the desired width as per size required on this machine. Denim Fabric and Grey Fabric are thoroughly checked for various types of defects such as:
- Weaving Defects
- Uneven Dyeing
- Bleaching and Dyeing Defect
- Oil Stain
Here the final product is categorized quality-wise. The products then found okay are segregated and sent to packaging department whereas defective ones are sent for correction. After inspection, the sets are wrapped with polythene covers and sent for dispatch as per buyer’s specifications.
Rolls and sets so formed and packed as per buyers’ requirements are then sent for final dispatches.
- Denim: Manufacture, Finishing and Applications Edited by Roshan Paul
- Sustainability in Denim Edited by Subramanian Senthilkannan Muthu
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- Textile Recycling and Uses of Recycled Denim
- Woven and Knitted Denim Manufacturing and Limitations of Woven Denim
- Innovation in Spinning Technologies for Denim Wear
Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.