Textile Manufacturing: Machines & Equipment

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Textile manufacturing is a global industry, making the machines and equipment essential all over the world. This lesson will discuss the different types of machines and equipment used throughout the market.

The Textile Industry

Did you know that people are making dresses out of spoiled milk and outwear out of coconut shells? The textile industry is growing and evolving constantly while finding new raw materials to use in innovative ways. Textile manufacturing is a global industry, whether it is in the creation of high fashion garments or oil filters for vehicles. This industry affects everyone. Textiles consist of conventional and technical products. Conventional products are made for their aesthetics, though they can also be utilitarian. Technical products are created for use and not necessarily attractiveness, but they can be aesthetically pleasing. Conventional textiles are usually ready to wear garments, while a conveyor belt is a good example of a technical textile.

The creation of textiles happens at many levels and through many steps. The process can be summarized by the following steps:

  • Planting and harvesting of natural materials
  • Creation of synthetic materials
  • Cleaning and bleaching of natural materials
  • Weaving, knitting, or sewing of materials into fabric
  • Fabric or product made into finalized product

This is simplified, but it should give you an idea of the multiple steps needed to take something like a cotton plant and have it end up as a shirt. A big part of this process are the machines and equipment used along the way. These can be classified in two ways. The first machines are the beginner machines that take the raw materials and change them into fabrics and materials. The secondary set of equipment takes the fabric and materials and turns them into the final products. Both types of machines vary in their technological advancement. They range from the level of manual machines used by skilled workers to computerized equipment that can create patterns in textiles using automated processes.

Beginning Textile Machines

Cotton Gin
Cotton

The beginning textile machines are varied, depending on the material being used. One of the most well-known machines in this category is the cotton gin. Created in 1793, we still use a more technological advanced version of the same machine. This machine picks the cotton, sorts it from the seeds and husks, and then cleans the cotton into its raw form called lint. At that point, the lint is put into other machines like looms to make the cotton into thread or yarn and then into fabric. Other machines that are involved in the starting phases of textile creation are:

  • Washing Machines - These are industrial sized washers used for raw materials, specifically cotton. Synthetic materials do not need washing, and leathers are not cleaned in this way.
  • Bleaching Machines - These machines use water and bleaching chemicals to take the grayish cotton and make it white, ensuring a clean palette before it is dyed to the desired color.
  • Brushing Machines - The brushing process takes the cotton and combs it to blend the materials together, giving it bigger tufts and a heftier texture.
  • Spinning Machines - The spinning process takes cotton and other synthetic materials and spins them into thread and yarn.

Secondary Textile Machines

Loom weaving colorful threads
Loom

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