Maud Kuppen, a student at the Master's level in "Innovative Textile Development" at her home university of Saxion University in the Netherlands, has after four months in Sweden developed a yarn with sustainability in focus.
"Sustainability is a major problem in the textile industry and as a textile engineer I feel a responsibility to do something about it," she says.
To spin the yarn, Maud Kuppen has used ring spinning, the most popular method of yarn spinning, which creates a strong and soft yarn of high quality. At the same time, the technology is difficult to master and places high demands on the material. Katarina Lindström Ramamoorthy, a doctoral student in the research group Advanced Textile Constructions and supervisor to Maud Kuppen, explains more:
"When recycling yarn, the textile fibres become shortened due to the friction in the recycling process, which makes it difficult to manufacture recycled yarn with ring spinning as this technique requires long fibres. That's why we came up with the idea of using lubricants to reduce the friction in the process, and this resulted in the fibres’ becoming longer," she says.
Maud Kuppen became interested in the research group's work on recycled yarn fibres and began to investigate which materials would work best for ring spinning a durable yarn.
"The goal was to produce a yarn with as much recycled fibre as possible. Unfortunately, it is not possible to spin a yarn of 100 percent recycled material; the recycled fibres must be mixed with longer fibres. Hemp and flax are two of the most durable fibres available and both have very good properties for yarn spinning. That's why I tried different mixtures to see which mixture of recycled fibres, cotton, and linen worked best."
The result was a yarn with a content of 60 per cent recycled fibres and a thickness of 80 tex, the unit used to measure a yarn thickness.
"80 tex is really quite thick; I had preferred a thinner yarn of around 30 tex but with this technique I don’t know if it is possible, so we are still satisfied with the result," she says.
Did you get any results you didn't expect?
"Yes, when we made a fabric from the yarn, the abrasion resistance was very high, which means that the fabric is durable and will last a long time. It would therefore work well as material for furniture upholstery, where the fabric needs to withstand a lot of wear."
What does the future of the yarn look like?
"I think there will be many uses for the yarn, precisely because of its quality and sustainability, but until then more research is needed to develop it further."
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