If you want to know how textiles and non-woven materials feel like, you need to listen to them. For if you decipher their whispers, you may discover the optimum fibre feel-good sound. Emtec Electronic, for example, is a firm which listens very precisely.
This manufacturer of measuring instruments had long been supplying measuring systems, mainly to the paper industry, to determine the softness on kitchen rolls or toilet paper. One of the company’s customers who, along with paper, also manufactures non-woven products, gave the decisive impetus to extend the measurement sensors into the area of textiles. For some two years now fibre and textile manufacturers have been using Emtec equipment to measure fabrics for car belts, socks, artificial leather and even neoprene suits, to gauge their smoothness or roughness, softness, stiffness, plasticity and elasticity. “Haptic sensations and softness also play a major role in textiles”, says Emtec divisional manager Stefan Rübesam. After all, you sit on them or wear them directly against your skin; so how they feel is important. To know that exactly, you must listen to the fibres.
The fibre feel-good sound
For this purpose the material is laid in an Emtec measurement instrument (see photograph above), which is equipped with rotor blades. A software then listens quite exactly to find which sound the rotor blades call forth when they stroke across the textile. “It works not unlike a record player”, says Rübesam. The sounds which are given off demonstrate how smooth or coarse the surface is. But the vibration of the rotor blades is acoustically captured, too. Because protruding fibres cause them to vibrate, the small blades are an indicator of the optimum fibre feel-good sound: the softer and more pliable a fabric, the less the blades vibrate. We learn: it’s best when textiles just whisper.
Testing with Liebherr
But it is not only textile softness which is precisely recorded. Fibres are going to provide information about their moisture level and their thickness – such as the measurement equipment from the construction-machinery manufacturer Liebherr. This company, with over 46,000 employees world-wide and sales revenues of more than 10 billion Euros (2018) is showcasing at Techtextil specialist measurement systems for this purpose. “Using our equipment, manufacturers test coated textiles, for example, for their moisture content or when the optimum amount of coating is applied”, explains Laura Zell, sales manager for measurement systems and sensor technologies at Liebherr. The sensors which determine the moisture level in textiles were actually well developed earlier in other industries: for over 30 years they have been detecting every tiny drop of moisture, for instance, in sand, rice, margarine, marzipan or animal litter.
About the cover image: Measurement tools from Emtec Electronic are real fibre whisperers.