Fibre quality challenges for cotton

03 December, 2002

Current marketing systems are driving cotton spinners and growers further apart, rather than closer together, according to one of Australia’s leading experts on cotton spinning. p. __Bob Galmes, a member of the International Textile Manufacturers’ Federation Spinning Committee, and a former general manager textiles for Bonds Industries, said subjective testing must give way to methods which provide better information on the intrinsic value of cotton.

Speaking on CSD’s weekly Web on Wednesday video program on the CSD website, Mr Galmes said spinners required more detailed information on the length, fineness and maturity of the fibre, the amount of short fibre, or the variation in its length, and also its stickiness.

“Those are the most important things to a spinner, and modern spinning technology is demanding these changes in focus on fibre properties.

“I think there is going to be a major problem for cotton if we don’t get a change in this focus on fibre properties, because the marketing system must reward the farmer, the ginner, and the merchant, for producing the product that the customer wants, the customer being the spinner,” Mr Galmes said.

“Spinners are not dependent on cotton, and if they can’t get what they want to give the production efficiencies that modern mills are looking for, they will move more and more to synthetic fibres,” he said.

He said changes in spinners’ fibre specification requirements had been driven by major advances in spinning equipment in recent years.

__Traditional ring spinning systems produced at a rate of 20-30 metres per minute, but the introduction of rotor spinning in the mid-70s saw this increase to 100-120 metres per minute.

“The latest development, which is just starting to emerge in the market place, is airjet or vortext spinning, which is looking at production rates of in excess of 350 metres per minute, which are dramatic increases in production rates.”

He explained that as production rates increase, so does the demand on fibre properties, with length, fineness, strength and cleanliness of vital importance.

Mr Galmes also warned of significant changes occurring in the fibre content of textile garments, generally to the disadvantage of cotton.

“The cotton content has dropped to basically a functional content, and the rest of the product is really a fashion product.”

H quoted the example of football jumpers where the inside comprised cotton for comfort and moisture absorbency, while the outer layer was generally polyester, which was more beneficial for high definition thermal printing processes for logos and advertising messages.

“What would have been 100 per cent cotton five years ago is now probably 40 per cent cotton and 60 per cent filament polyester,” Mr Galmes said.

Further Information: *Robert Eveleigh**, John Marshall, Greg Kauter or Craig McDonald