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Functional finish: Prospects of comfort-ness

Md.Milon Hossain
Level-3, Term-2

Many kinds of functional finishes are increasingly processed in the world. The aim of these
finishes is to produce textiles which are comfortable for the consumer. The human skin has
moisture absorbency and repellency to water, oil and soiling, and release them easily.
Reviewing the history of the development of functional finishes on textiles we have
cultivated the advantages and covered the disadvantages of natural and synthetic fibers to
meet the customer’s needs. One of the defects of 100% cotton woven fabric is a high
tendency to crease, then its blends with washable polyester were developed competing with
overseas textile manufactures. Since 1945, wash and wear finish and permanent press finish
for preventing creasing in cotton woven fabrics has become popular, but these technologies
were first developed in the USA. However, shape stabilizing finishes on cotton developed in
Japan are globally accepted in the apparel industry.

On the other hand, new synthetic fibers which give the advantages of natural fibers, such as
good hand, appearance and water and sweat absorbency, have been progressively developed,
still keeping their inherent properties. One of the examples is called “Bionature” developed
by Kurabo (Japan). This fiber consists of hydrolysable or biodegradable polyester, and its
characteristic is beyond the classification between natural and synthetic fibers.

Bionature is made from “Biomax” hydrolysable/biodegradable polyester resin (Du Pont) and
can be blended with cotton or wool to produce polyester/cotton or polyester/wool
environment-friendly textiles. This may be a profound collaboration of ideas both from
DuPont and Kurabo. This technology belongs to a chemically based one.
Characteristics of Bionature:
 Hydrolysable/biodegradable properties:
Bionature can be gradually biodegraded through hydrolysis, where sufficient water,
temperature (warmth) and microorganisms exist, and finally produce water and
carbon dioxide. The rate of degradation is very slow and has no adverse effect on the
 Inflammability:
The amount of carbon dioxide generated from incineration of Bionature is less than
that of other fibers, and the heat of incineration is also less, that means a lesser burden
to the incinerator. No harmful substances has been detected in the ash.
 Physical properties:
The heat stability of Bionature is high enough because its raw material is polyester
resin. Where the hydrolysis does not happen, no biodegradation occurs, then, there is
almost no degradation in practical use.

The classification of surface modification technology includes physically based technology

and chemically based technology. The former includes crease-resistant finish, wash-and-wear
finish, permanent-press finish, shape-stabilizing finish, shrink-proofing finish, mercerizing,
imitation-linen finish, hardening finish, softening finish, salt-shrinking finish, weighting
finish, deep-coloring treatment and weight-reducing treatment, and later includes water-
repellent finish, oil-repellent finish, hydrophilic finish, soil-repellent and release finish,
antistatic finish, stretching finish, mothproofing finish, antimicrobial and smell-proofing
finish, ultraviolet-protection finish

Figure-1: Classification of fiber surface modification technology

Surface modification technology

Physical base technology Chemical base technology

Ultra violet irradiation Surface activation

incorporation of reactive group

Surface coating
Laser irradiation Organic: surface grafting
Low temperature plasma
Sol-gel condensation
Fixation of super molecule
Fixation of natural polymer

The process of incorporating active chemicals into the fiber in its manufacturing stage is
increasing and the product obtained is called “functional fiber”, but functional finishes
(physical and chemical) are still major at present.
Some famous textile finishers who are active in their operation have established many kinds
of basic finishing technology for the after treatment of polyester fabrics to allow the customer
to feel safety and comfort in the clothes. One example is graft polymerization on the fiber
surface to improve moisture absorbency in order to give physiological comfort to the
customer. For improving sweat absorbency, surface polymerization and polymer coating of
fiber surfaces are employed.
For breathable waterproofing finish, a surface modification using porous film and conjugated
polymer is commercially produced. New technology of improving the penetration of active
chemicals into the fiber, combined with skillful utilization of polymer film technology was
established in order to promote the antimicrobial and smell-proofing effect. For an effective
antistatic finish, new surface modification technology using grafted polymer film was also
established. For making the fiber electro-conductive, some metals are skillfully adhered to the
fiber. This technology is also included in surface modification.
The purpose of the functional finish is to confer not only physiological comfort, but also give
safety and durability to the textiles. To make fibers noninflammable and polyester fiber non-
melt-able, a combination of three basic technologies, those are thorough penetration into
fiber, graft polymerization and polymer film technology is successfully employed. This
technology is characterized by the simultaneous effect of the modifications of the inner
structure and the surface of the fiber. At present, physical modifications based on UV, laser
and low temperature plasma attract high attention, and are studied aggressively. One of the
advantages of this surface modification is that the modification is restricted only to the
surface, without influencing any fundamental properties of the fiber. These modification
effects come from chemical and/or physical reactions, but their classification is difficult.

Designs of fabric for the functional finishes:

Now it is an important factor to optimize the relation between “structure of woven or knitted
fabric” and “functional finish” in order to gain effective functional finishes. Even though the
same chemicals for water-repellent and oil-repellent finishes are used, the effect given by
these chemicals varies depending on the fabrics to be treated or on the finishing mills.
Whether the suitable structure of fabrics is employed or not is especially important.
Recently, in the technical textile area, resin coatings are gradually changing from organic
solvent types to aqueous types. With an advance in this change, the structure of fabrics to be
coated and the selection of optimum coating machines are regarded as important. European
literature said that fluorocarbon chemicals are effective for improving soil-repellency Mr. K.
Nishi (Meisei Chemical, Japan) et al also presented on the related subject “Effect of washing
and heat treatment on nylon 6 and triacetate fabrics treated with hydrocarbon water-repellent
On the other hand, the presentation of et al, which was the relation between liquid ammonia
treatment conditions and the structure change of cotton, drew much attention. An experiment
(performed by Mr. Y. Yanai, Shinshu University, Japan) shows that a change of processing
speed on the bulk liquid ammonia treatment machine alters the degree of dryness and finally
leads to changes in the structures of both crystalline and amorphous parts. With the advance
of drying, the portion of crystalline becomes higher. And with an increase in the rate of
drying, the portion of the amorphous part increases. The change of the amorphous part is very
complex; crease-resistant properties, tensile strength and flex rigidity increase, but pore
volume and moisture retention decrease, with an increase the rate of drying. The moisture
regain and tensile strength increase at the beginning of drying, but above a certain point they
gradually decrease with the advance of drying. The exhaustion degree of the dye also slightly
increases with liquid ammonia treatment, but its relation to the degree of drying is very
complicated. This result is expected to be applied to bulk production.

Functional finishes and new technology in future:

The purpose of functional finishes is to allow all the textiles including apparel and technical
for all end-use, high-grade functions. The utilization of so called nanotechnology cannot be
ignored to secure further advantages. Nanotechnology is indispensable in the design of new
products with specialized features through the control of nano structures. Scientists expect
that nano structure will be used to build separate parts or to construct large particles or fibers.
It stimulates innovation in fiber, film and coating technology and may help to make up large
materials like building blocks.
Recently, a Japanese textile processor has developed a new technology, which is the coating
of a very thin (nano level) metal film on a sheet consisting of woven, knitted or nonwoven
fabric. This method does not use any adhesive such as a binder, and the metal attaches to the
sheet only by physical energy, that is, molecular or atomic attraction. By attaching the metal
film on the surface of the sheet, new performance of hydrophilic properties, electromagnetic
shielding and UV protection are attained. Further advantages such as high heat insulation are
also realized. Many creative nano technologies will be released in the future market to
differentiate the effects of functional finishes. It is undeniable that functional finish is a
technical bridge for harmonization with the environment and production.
The Society of Fiber Science and Technology, Japan