Machinery : Special Purpose : Textiles
Hills, Inc., founded in 1971, is a well-known innovator in multi-component fiber extrusion technologies. Hills is devoted to the design, development, and manufacture of fiber extrusion equipment. Hills delivers the latest innovations to the fiber and nonwovens industries by supply of Multi-Filament, Mono-Filament, Staple, Spunbond, Meltblown, & Solvent Spinning machinery.
How polyester bounced back
Four decades later, polyester rules the textile world. It accounts for more than half of global fiber consumption, about twice that of second-place cotton. Output stands at nearly 58 million tons a year, more than 10 times what it was in the early ’80s. And nobody complains about polyester’s look and feel. If there’s a problem today, it’s that people like polyester too much. It’s everywhere, even at the bottom of the ocean.
The trick to making microfibres is a process known as ‘islands-in-the-sea’. Polyester and another polymer with a different viscosity go through the spinneret together. The polyester is carefully metered out so that it forms many separate strands – the islands – surrounded by the other polymer, the sea. Together they make up a single extruded filament, typically about one to three denier. ‘So each island can be very, very tiny’, says Arnold Wilkie, president of Hills, Inc., a Florida company that specializes in making the equipment. The sea is dissolved away, leaving the polyester microfibers. Although it started with pretty nasty solvents, the process now uses polymers designed to be washed away with benign chemicals, in some cases water, and then reused.