When something old becomes something new
While Techtextil was undoubtedly the place to be earlier this year to discover the newest products and innovations the industry had to offer, there were also interesting examples of old technologies being used to provide new solutions in the technical textiles field.
The old technology in this case is the shuttle loom – widely used earlier last century, but steadily replaced by projectile and other modern looms over time. The solution: using shuttle looms to create tubular bias-cut fabrics, which are ideal for use in hose reinforcement given the unique result a shuttle loom creates.
How does it work you might ask? On a normal weaving machine, fabrics are produced with a 90-degree wrinkle. According to Segurmax, a Chinese company that exhibited at Techtextil, their unique tubular fabrics are first produced this same way, but are then given a 120-degree bias cut to create a strip of fabric without any end – hence they are ideally suited to products such as rubber hoses. The 120-degree bias cut creates high weft strength which makes the hose more flexible, while low strength in the warp creates higher tenacity.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, given how old traditional shuttle looms now are, it is not a common production technique in the industry, Mr Uwe Ostendorf, a representative of Segurmax based in Germany, explained at the fair. “Today, the amount of tubular fabrics producers is not high as it’s a very old technology. In fact, for the tubular fabrics we make for industrial use, I don’t know of any other companies producing the same way we do. But tubular fabrics have several important advantages over ‘modern’ fabrics, so while they are woven on very old machinery, we still have regular customers looking for solutions like this for silicone hose reinforcement.”
Given these advantages then, could we see shuttle looms become more widely used in the industry? “For this type of shuttle loom, there aren’t any young people with experience operating them,” Ostendorf concluded, perhaps indicating that a ‘Back to the Future’ moment isn’t likely in the long run.
Author: Liam Rodden, Messe Frankfurt (HK)