Carpet Fibres & Yarns
As you are on a computer right now, you’ll know just how difficult it is to keep up with all the latest technology and carpet evolves too. All carpets result from the manipulation of raw fibre and with a few exceptions, this fibre goes through a spinning process to turn it into carpet yarn. This batch of yarn is then twisted, pulled and woven to make carpet with three main methods – weaving, tufting and bonding.
All carpets have something special to offer, whether it is luxurious warmth, being easy to clean, having a whole load of resistance to carpet flammability, standing up to footfall, or even just pure and simple good pricing.
Sometimes, just like we have to brainstorm with each other to get the best ideas, carpet manufacturers have to blend different fibre types together to ensure that the carpet can deliver specific performance properties. Generally, wool is blended with other materials to create woolrich carpets.
The fibres available for manufacturers to blend fall into two distinct categories – natural and man made fibres.
The most popular of natural fibres and a great renewable resource, wool is exceptionally suited to being used as a carpet fibre because it combines excellent resistance to foot fall with an uncanny knack of looking good for years. Wool Carpets are also resistant to combustion and under normal conditions provide a great anti-static flooring option.
Wool carpets tend to be made from either British Wool or from New Zealand Wool and each have their own distinct properties. British wools are notoriously tough and hard to beat when wear is a main concern. Whereas, New Zealand wool is better for dyeing lighter shades.
Being so delicate, silk is rarely used in carpet but it does bring a certain something to the finest hand made rugs, particularly those from the Middle East and Indian regions.
Used mainly in the backing of carpets from a traditional point of view, jute is gaining popularity as a natural fibre floorcovering and its depth of texture makes it great for rugs.
Coir is made from the fibres of coconut husks and it is a strong and resilient fibre. The husks are harvested and then soaked for months before being beaten into submission, washed and then dried. The pale yellow fibres are then spun into yarn that is then woven into flat weave carpeting or as many people will recognise it, into cut pile doormats that are great at removing dirt and moisture from soles.
Only used occasionally in loop pile and flat weave rugs and carpets.
These are some of the toughest fibres in the business and unlike most natural fibres it can be dyed. When combined with wool, sisal can also take on a softer side and is being favoured by natural flooring manufacturers for its aptitude at creating colourful, natural floors.
Hailing from the paddy fields of China, Seagrass is a rapidly replenishing resource. Once the fields have been flooded with seawater, the fibre is harvested and spun into yarn that has an impermeable quality. While this makes it hard to dye, it also makes it relatively easy to care for.
Man Made Fibres
Popular since the early 1950s, man made fibres have changed dramatically in aesthetics, feel and performance thanks to carpet manufacturing and fibre production technology. No longer a lesser option, particularly in the contract carpets sector, man made fibre producers have managed to bestow their products with specific performance properties that marry well with the fibres’ tenacity for design flexibility. Solution-dyed man made fibres are now an increasingly important part of many manufacturers’ ranges.
Not as hard wearing as nylon and less fire resistant than wool, acrylic can still bring bulk and pile resilience to a carpet.
Nylon carpet fibres take two forms, Nylon Type 6 and Nylon Type 6.6. Type 6 is often added to wool to create a woolrich carpet with increased wear resistance, particularly in lower pile weights and densities.
Nylon Type 6.6 has some extra bells and whistles in its molecular structure providing an extremely hard wearing fibre that by many is now considered the industry standard within commercial contract locations. The main exponent of Nylon Type 6.6 in the carpet sector is INVISTA with its Antron fibre collection. For further information on how this fibre can increase longevity, resist uv light and lend a carpet design that extra edge then visit Antron Carpet Fibre’s website by clicking here.
Polyester carpet fibre gives a luxurious feel to thick, cut pile styles and it also provides a good depth of colour. However, it is not as resistant to flattening as some other fibres although it does wear well and provides good resistance to water-soluble stains.
Polypropylene is becoming widely used in carpet manufacturing, either as part of a blend, or in its own right. While it withstands footfall well, it is not as resilient as other fibres and can look dingy when soiled. As far as cleaning goes, polypropylene is easy to care for although it does scar if exposed to flame. Polypropylene is a good choice if budgets are tight.
A relatively inexpensive fibre, viscose is not particularly resilient and it has a habit of flattening fairly easily. However, it does allow fitted carpets to be brought within easy reach.
All carpets are made from either natural fibres, man made fibres or a combination of both that are spun into yarn that is then woven or tufted into the finished article to be found in carpet retailers throughout the globe.
Spinning the yarn itself is a skilled job and one that has created specialist companies serving carpet manufacturers.
Stages in yarn spinning:
- Raw fibres are blended together in precise proportions according to the ‘character’ and ‘handle’ of the yarn required for the carpet in question
- The blend is scoured, pulled and teased – in carpet speak called carding – until it is straighter, whiter and free of natural burs and foreign bodies
- The fibre is systematically opened up , layered and cross layered before the resulting ‘web’ or ‘spat’ is split into ‘slubbings’ that are then pulled and twisted on a spinning frame. This helps to add strength to the single strand of yarn
- Two or more of these strands are then twisted together – ‘doubled’ – and this results in a yarn with high tensile strength capable of being tufted or woven by the latest high-speed machinery at maximum efficiency and at the lowest production cost.
Colour is introduced either at the raw fibre stage or when the yarn is spun into the thickness and length suitable for the carpet in question.
If the fibre is solution-dyed, a technology that is only available in man made fibres, the colour is added at the polymer stage. This ensure that whatever shade chosen is actually an inherent part of the fibre which gives solution-dyed carpets extra durability. These fibres are particularly resistant to prolonged exposure to UV-light and will not be face adverse fading should they be exposed to harsh cleaning chemicals.