A piece of fabric undergoes many processes before finally shipping to the retail stores. Some of the major processes like knitting, designing and printing play a pivotal part in determining how the fabric will look and feel. The other key properties such as softness and water resistance and improved dye penetration of the fabrics are done during the process of fabric finishing. It is the process of refining the fabric and imparting it with certain functional properties so that it qualifies for manufacturing fabric goods.
Newly created fabrics from the mill are known as grey goods. Passing the fabric through various finishing processes ensures that it is ready for use. The application of various finishing techniques can alter the overall appearance, texture, and durability of the fabric.
Fabric finishes are generally classified into two types, basic and functional. There are many different types of finishing methods used to impart certain aesthetic and functional properties to a fabric. Described below are some important fabric finishing methods used by a textile company.
Bleaching – Bleaching is one important finishing process done on fabrics. It removes all the natural colors for surface ornamentation or finishing it white. Various bleaching agents are used for this purpose and it is mainly carried out for cotton, silk, and woolen fabrics.
Calendering – Yet another important finishing process, calendaring is a method of ironing the fabric to give it a smooth and polished appearance. It uses specialized machines called calenders that consist of two rolls. The fabric passes through a chilled and heated roller for giving it a polished appearance.
Mercerizing – This process is used especially for cotton fabric and linen. It involves treating the fabric held in tension with concentrated sodium hydroxide at 70 to 80 F temperatures. It is carried out to enhance the dye pick-up and strengthen as well as increase the sheen of the fibers.
Wrinkle Resistant Finish – These finishes are applied to prevent the fabric from getting deformed due to folds and wrinkles. The process involves treating the fabric with Dimethyl Dihydroxy Ethylene Urea to give the fabric with a wrinkle-resistant finish.
Absorbency Finish – Absorbency finish is mostly done for fabrics like cotton, linen, and rayon. It can increase the absorbency rate of these fabrics by applying ammonium compounds. This is useful as it offers better comfort, ideal for making towel and undergarments.
Antibacterial Finish – This finishing process lends the fabric with antibacterial properties. It uses antiseptic finishes such as Chitosan that can prevent the accumulation and growth of bacteria on the fabric surface.