Long fibre hemp for textiles
Hemp and flax (~linen) fibres have been used for textile production for thousands of years. They offer a wide range of advantages when used for clothing textiles, such as durability, breathability, moisture-wicking, eco-friendliness, comfort and UV protection.
Hemp and flax are highly breathable, which means that clothing made from these fibres are comfortable to wear in hot weather. They are sustainable crops that require little water and no pesticides to grow, which means that clothing made from these fibres is also environmentally friendly.
The process of turning hemp fibres into high end textile materials using the traditional methods of processing flax fibres has gained a substantial interest in recent years. Because of the difference in length between hemp and flax stalks, the critical step in processing hemp fibres for textile applications has been the harvesting of the plant. With the processing equipment for flax straw in mind, the hemp plants need to be prepared in a similar way.
Therefore, during the harvest, the hemp stalks are placed on the field in parallel, oriented swaths or windrows. Unlike flax, which is pulled from the soil, hemp is cut at the bottom. With the combined forces of Cretes (knowledge of hemp fibre processing) and Union (renowned manufacturer of flax harvesting equipment) an innovative and revolutionary harvesting machine was developed specifically for long fibre hemp. This harvesting concept is patented by Cretes.
Once the hemp windrows are formed, they remain in the field for several weeks. This is called the retting process. From this point onwards, standard flax machinery can be used for the further processing; turning the stalks while retting and at the end rolling them up into round bales with cords in between just as flax stalks. These bales are then taken from the field to a warehouse where they stay until they are fed to a (flax) scutching turbine.
A scutching turbine “cleans” the fibres. After unwinding of the straw bales, the woody cores of the stalks are broken and scraped off. At the end of the line, an operator checks the quality of the fibres before they are baled in small rolls. Originally designed for processing of flax straw, these processing lines can now also be used for hemp. Cretes is able to provide you with state-of-the-art machinery for the transformation of your long fibre hemp straw into scutched fibres. With more than 100 years of experience in manufacturing of bast fibre processing machinery, we can design and build your complete factory.
Scutching of the long fibres is one thing, but further treatment of the by-products should also not be forgotten. Depending on your specific needs, wishes and target markets, Cretes can propose turnkey solutions for the further cleaning of short fibres, for the treatment of the shives and for the dust extraction of the processing line. We have supplied installations for flax, hemp or kenaf worldwide and with throughput capacities ranging from 1 up to 12 tons per hour of input straw.
After the long fibres have been separated from the woody material, they are ready to be heckled and spun into yarn. Heckling involves running the fibres through a series of combs with progressively finer teeth, which remove any remaining impurities and to straighten the fibres. Spinning is the process of twisting the fibres together to create a strong and durable yarn.
The resulting yarns can then be woven into fabrics with a range of textures and appearances, making hemp a versatile and sustainable choice for textile production. Weaving is the process of interlacing the yarns together to create a piece of fabric. This is typically done using a machine called a loom. Additionally, a woven fabric can get a finishing treatment to improve its appearance, texture, and durability. A variety of methods exist, including bleaching, dyeing and softening.
In conclusion, the process of turning hemp fibres into textile materials using the traditional method of processing flax fibres is a time-consuming but rewarding process. The end result is a strong and durable fabric that has been used for thousands of years. Hemp is a renewable resource that can be grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides, making it an eco-friendly choice. Additionally, hemp fibres are naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic, making them ideal for use in clothing and other textiles. As more and more people become interested in sustainable and eco-friendly materials, hemp is likely to become an increasingly popular choice for textile production.
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