CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application is a divisional of application Ser. No. 12/453,076, filed Apr. 29, 2009, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
BACKGROUND OF INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention is related to a method and apparatus for pilling reduction on garments and fabrics.
2. Description of the Related Art
Pilling has been a quality problem for fabrics and garments. Over the years, many anti-pilling treatments have been developed to increase the pilling resistance to fabrics. Generally, these treatments can be classified into three categories, namely physical, chemical and biochemical methods.
In general, two approaches have been taken to prevent pills from accumulating on fabric surfaces. The first approach is to inhibit the formation of pills. This can be achieved by removing protruding fibers using physical and biochemical methods or bind the fibers into the fabric surface using chemical method. The second approach is to make the pills fall off the fabrics as soon as they are formed. This can be accomplished by chemically reducing the fiber strength.
Most of those physical treatments commonly used, such as shearing and cropping, are only applicable to smooth-faced fabrics but not suitable for irregular knitted fabrics. Although many effective chemical treatments are currently available, the properties of the fabrics might be adversely affected by the chemical used. Moreover, the foregoing treatments may cause degradation of wool's natural moisture transmission properties, one of wool's strength. In most cases, chemical is also harmful to the environment. Although biochemical treatments of using enzymes are effective and environmentally friendly, the process is often complicated and time consuming.
There exists a need for a pilling reduction process that does not use or discharge any waste water, steam or chemicals or enzymes in which the treatment does not affect color, bursting strength, thermal insulation property and fabric handling of the treated fabrics or garments.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to an aspect of the present invention, an apparatus for reducing pilling on a piece of garment/fabric includes at least one holding member adapted to secure the piece of garment/fabric, a rotatable brush member adapted to brush on the piece of garment/fabric until fibres in the garment/fabric migrate to the surface of the garment/fabric to form a layer of pillable fuzz, a shaving member adapted to remove the layer of pillable fuzz on the piece of garment/fabric, and a control unit adapted to control movement of the rotatable brush member and the shaving member.
According to another aspect of the present invention, a method for reducing pilling on a piece of fabric, the method includes securing the piece of fabric on a table, accelerating fuzz generation of the piece of fabric by mechanical agitation of the piece of garment until fibres in the fabrics migrate to the surface of the piece of fabric to form a layer of pillable fuzz, and removing the layer of pillable fuzz on the piece of fabric.
Further features and aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of exemplary embodiments with reference to the attached drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 illustrates a general scenario of the stages of pilling.
FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary pilling reduction apparatus according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 3A illustrates a cutting/shaving head panel with pivot cutting heads.
FIGS. 3B and 3C illustrate a cross-sectional and longitudinal view of the rotatable brush member.
FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate an exemplary garment/fabric holder using an expandable elastic stick garment/fabric holder according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary garment/fabric holder using expandable airtight membrane according to an embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 6 illustrates an exemplary pilling reduction apparatus according to an embodiment of the present invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS
The root of the pilling is the existence of entanglement of pillable fuzz on fabric surface. The pillable fuzz is limited in supply and it tends to migrate from inside the fabric to the surface during wear and testing. The present invention is related to a processing method that artificially accelerating the fuzz generation and reducing the amount of pillable fuzz on the fabric or garment. For the sake of simplicity, while not necessarily identical, the terms fabrics and garments often are used interchangeably throughout this specification.
FIG. 1 is a diagram illustrating various stages of pilling. In a first stage of fuzz generation, through abrasion, loose fibres (101) are pulled to the fabric surface and formed a layer of ‘fuzz’ (102). In a second stage of pills formation, the loose fibres are then entangled by the applied abrasion to form pills (103). As the abrasion continues (104), the anchor fibres are eventually broken and the pills break off (105) in a third stage. When the rate of pill formation and the rate of pill break off are equal, an equilibrium state exists. When abrasion lasts long enough, the source of loose fibres becomes exhausted, the rate of pill formation decreases and the total number of pills decreases.
The pilling reduction process according to an embodiment of the present invention involves accelerating fuzz formation as the first step of the pilling formation, in which the potential pillable fuzz migrates to the fabric surface by a number of methods, such as tumbling, abrasion or brushing. Then, the process follows by a second step of removing the generated fuzz layer by fire singeing, laser singeing or shaving.
Prior to the acceleration of fuzz formation, the piece of fabric may undergo a pre-treatment process to allow the pillable fuzz to easily migrate to the fabric surface. More specifically, the fabric is pre-treated by steaming to reduce the internal stress of the yarns and air suction was applied to cool down the steamed fabrics and remove extra moisture.
When the fabric surface is treated by mechanical actions, such as tumbling, flat abrasion or brushing action, frictional force will be applied on those fibres on the fabrics surface. This force can be resolved into two components, one along the fibre axis and the other perpendicular to the fibre axis. The axial force will tend to drag the fibre out of the fabric surface, but the axial force cannot produce the movement of the fibre into the fabric as the fibre will not maintain this axial compressive forces. If the frictional force is greater than the cohesive force between the fibres, then the fibres will migrate to the surface. As there is a tendency of migration of the fibres inside the fabric, broken fibre and those with lower rigidity will migrate to the surface and from fuzz. The fuzz is regarded as pillable fuzz, which can form pills if further mechanical action applied. This first part of the whole treatment attempts to make the pillable fuzz come out to the fabric surface as much as possible, so that a larger amount of pillable fuzz can be removed in the later process.
The acceleration of fuzz generation can be achieved by using mechanical methods. FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary configuration of a pill reduction apparatus. The present invention reduces the amount of pillable fuzz on fabric and garment by artificially accelerating fuzz generation and removal of fuzz pills layer.
Next, removal of fuzz and pills is performed. The generated fuzz and pills layer can be physically removed by lint shavers, singeing devices using flame or laser. The height of the fuzz should be shortened below the critical pillable height as indicated, for example, in the table below:
Critical Height ( 1/32 in.)