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    Rights: The University of Waikato
    Published 31 May 2010 Referencing Hub media

    Developing Natural Easy Care (NEC) fabrics involved modifying standard processes of wool fabric production. Dr Surinder Tandon of AgResearch explains how the fabric was developed in 3 key stages – spinning, weaving and finishing – to achieve the easy care performance properties.

    Questions to consider:

  • What changes did the researchers make to the standard wool processing procedures to create NEC fabric?
  • How did the changes at each stage contribute to the easy care properties of the new fabric?
  • Dr Surinder Tandon (AgResearch
    The key stages in the development of NEC fabrics are the spinning stage and then weaving and then fabric finishing, which comprises of fabric setting and fabric pressing.

    So let’s talk about the spinning stage. We use the new yarn structure called Solospun™, which we get with this special spinning device called Solospun™, which is retrofitted on a worsted spinning frame. And Solospun™ yarn for NEC fabric was tried in a different range of twist levels, different numbers of fibres in yarn cross-sections, so we optimised the yarn twist, which gives sufficient yarn abrasion resistance, minimum yarn hairiness and maximum yarn strength so that we could weave the yarn without applying any adhesives.

    So we did a lot of work to optimise the yarn structure, and then we standardised that for weaving shirting fabrics. So once we got the working Solospun™ yarn, we wove the fabric to different thread densities, like the number of ends per inch and the number of picks per inch. From that work, we found that, to get NEC type quality and performance, we need to have a sufficient number of ends and picks per inch in the fabric.

    And then came to the fabric finishing, which was very crucial to be able to achieve good machine washability, good natural stretch and very flat clean surface finish. So basically, we had to do very good flat setting of the fabric so that the yarns in the fabric don't move in washing. It means we don't get shrinkage in washing, and also we get good natural stretch in both the directions of the fabric.

    So spinning and finishing particularly required a lot of iterative trials to optimise the parameters to get natural easy care performance of fabrics.