Scandinavia’s textiles 4.0 circular revolution

Scandinavia’s textiles 4.0 circular revolution

New digital technologies from TMAS members represent the perfect bridge for sustainable new fibres on their route to the finished garments of responsible brands on the retail shelves.

Several
members of TMAS – the Swedish Textile Machinery Association – are actively
advancing new coloration technologies as part of a wave of innovation that is
currently sweeping out from Scandinavia.

New
manufacturers of regenerated cellulosic fibres as alternatives to cotton and
synthetics, for example, have been gaining a lot of attention recently, as they
scale up to meet demands for a circular approach to the manufacturing of
textiles and garments.

These
companies have, in turn, been embraced by major Scandinavian brands such as the
Danish clothing company Bestseller, Finnish fashion house Marimekko, Norwegian
outdoor brand Bergans and Sweden’s own H&M Group.

Fiber journey

From
the field or the forest to the retail shelves, however, the journey of every
single textile fibre is currently a long one, in which it passes through many
hands and moves around the world. The good news is that many of these
individual stages are now being greatly simplified by digitalization.

“Digitalisation
will lead to a significant reduction in garments that for one reason or another
are never sold and end up in landfill,” said Therese Premler-Andersson, Secretary General of TMAS. “There will
of course, be a huge ecological benefit.”

At
the very center of any fibre’s journey, once it has become part of a knitted or
woven fabric, are the dyeing and finishing stages of textile production. Dyeing
and finishing currently involves many washing and drying process steps which
add a huge burden to the overall carbon footprint of finished garments and
textile products.

Coloreel expansion

Here
is where the latest fully digital technologies of TMAS member companies are
making a dramatic difference, such as the instant thread coloration technology,
of Coloreel, which has just raised SEK 100 in new financing to support its
market expansion and growth.

Initially
targeting the embroidery market, Coloreel technology enables the high-quality
and instant colouring of a textile thread while it is actually being used in
production and can be paired with any existing embroidery machine without
modification, while also making it possible to produce gradients in an
embroidery for the first time.

Based
on a CMYK ink system, Coloreel’s advanced rapid colour formulation software and
high-speed drive technology allow a single needle to carry out what previously
required many multiples of them to do – and with much more consistent stitch
quality,

In
addition, existing thread dyeing plants can add a single solid colour to a
thread, but by instantly colouring a white base thread during production,
Coloreel enables complete freedom to create unique embroideries without any
limitations in the use of colours. Colour changes along the thread can either
be made rapidly from one solid colour to another, or gradually, to make smooth
transitions or any colouring effect desired.

This
provides big benefits when it comes to sustainability. There is a significant
reduction in wasted inks, while water usage is minimised, and production speeds
are increased. The technology allows set-up and lead times to be reduced as
well as significant flexibility in production schedules, while eliminating the
need for large thread inventories.

“Our
system is allowing customers to achieve colour effects that have never been
seen before – and at a new level of efficiency,” said VP of Sales and Marketing at Coloreel, Mats Sjögren. “We are
setting the new benchmark for the embroidery industry.”

Despite
the COVID-19 pandemic, Coloreel, has recently successfully delivered units to
companies in Europe, the United States and Asia, and has also partnered with
the world’s largest distributor of embroidery machines, American Hirsch
Solutions, which has already installed the technology at a number of customers
in the USA.

imogo

Another
TMAS member achieving rapid progress is imogo, which is currently installing
its first industrial scale Dye-Max spray dyeing line at the plant close to
Borås of Swedish commission dyeing company 7H Färgeri – the Nordic region’s
most complete dyeing and processing plant.

The
new line has a working width of 1.8 meters with an operating speed of up to 50
meters for the reactive dyeing of cellulosic fibre-based fabrics. In addition, it
can carry out the application of a wide range of fabric pre-treatments and
finishing processes, providing the company with unbeatable flexibility in
production.

A
proven Mini-Max laboratory unit for pre-determining application volumes and
colour matching has also been installed at the 7H plant.

With
the potential to slash the use of fresh water, wastewater, energy, and
chemicals by as much as 90 per cent compared to conventional jet dyeing
systems, the DyeMax has gained considerable attention since the concept was
outlined and a prototype machine constructed in 2019.

The
application unit of the Dye-Max consists of a closed chamber containing a
series of spray cassettes with precision nozzles for accurate and consistent
coverage, in combination with the patented imogo Pro Speed valve that controls
the volume to be applied.

“We
are achieving an extremely low liquor ratio of around 0.5-1 liters per kilo of
fabric and we fully control the pickup, applying precisely what is required to
the specific fabric,” says imogo founding partner Per Stenflo. “Compared to
traditional padders there is no contamination of the dyebath or dilution of the
dye liquor to worry about.”

Fast
changeovers with virtually no waste, together with a high production speed,
enable a high productivity and unmatched production flexibility.

“The
Dye-Max will be implemented in 7H daily production and producers and brands are
welcome to visit when the COVID-19 situation allows. They are also welcome to
do test productions at 7H to verify the performance on their fabrics.”

Perfect bridge

“Such
new digital technologies from TMAS members represent the perfect bridge for
sustainable new fibres on their route to the finished garments of responsible
brands on the retail shelves,” concludes Therese Premler-Andersson. “There is
now a real momentum building industry-wide for new circular manufacturing, and
TMAS companies intend to be very much a part of it.”

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