Textile Industry 2024

Elizabeth Ruiz

Posted 1/31/2024

As in all industries, predictive maintenance, AI, and sustainability goals are shaping the textile industry in 2024. What are some of the changes and new products that we will see this year? This article will also explore common equipment used in textile mills, reliability and maintenance advice, and safety tips for the textile workforce. 

Advances in Textile Production 2024

A number of improvements to the textile industry were made all over the world last year. These inventions will allow different functionalities of textiles, better sustainability, and create opportunities for new developments in the healthcare, military, environmental, automotive, and fashion industries (among others). (Technical Textile)

  • 3D printing – Can be used to print fabrics and create more complex designs.
  • Digital Textile Printing – More efficiently applies colorants to fabrics, reducing waste.
  • Automation using robotics.
  • AI for precision and efficiency.
  • Digital twin technology – A digital fabric twin is a digital reproduction of the physical fabric, so the digital twin always shows the fabric’s true color and texture. 
  • Nanotextiles – Nanotechnology is being used to produce lighter, stronger, and more breathable fabrics. 

(List courtesy FibreGuard, Fibre2Fashion, Utilities One and Technical Textile)

smart fabric
Image courtesy MIT News

Smart textiles are making waves in many industries, including healthcare and wellness. For example, there are nanotech fabrics in development to change color and send alerts to indicate wound infection. Check out the list from Technical Textile below of other smart textiles in development: 

  • Washington State University: Researchers developed polyaniline, a single strand of fiber as flexible as cotton and with the electric conductivity of a polymer.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Developed FibeRobo, a programmable fiber that can change shape in response to changes in temperature.
  • National University of Singapore College of Design: Created a new method based on spiders spinning webs to produce soft, reusable fibers for smart textiles.
  • University of Waterloo, Canada: Developed a material that responds to heat and electricity. 
  • University of Cambridge, UK: Created smart textiles that incorporate LEDs, sensors, energy harvesting and storage. 
  • Aalto University, Finland + University of Cambridge: Developed a smart fabric which, like FibeRobo, changes shape with temperature fluctuations.

Sustainable textile production methods are also being expanded upon in 2024. They include waterless dyeing, using recycled materials, and biodegradable fabrics. These materials include recycled fibers made from agricultural waste and biodegradable plant-based materials. These new practices are moving the textile industry to becoming a circular economy. (SUNTECH Insights)

The use of digital twin technology also greatly reduces waste through allowing for digital design and prototyping processes with high quality, photorealistic digital fabric representations. (FibreGuard)

Textile Mill Equipment

Along with promoting innovative smart textiles and sustainability efforts, new technology makes reliability and maintenance in the textile industry easier for maintenance professionals through predictive maintenance using AI, IIoT, etc. in basic condition monitoring. Let’s take a look at a few examples of typical machinery used in textile mills and some tips on reliability and maintenance in the textile industry.

Common equipment in textile mills:

Spinning machine – Used to spin threads to make yarn, spinning machines are integral to the textile industry. 

spinning machine in textile factory
Spinning Machine image courtesy DUGARCO

Yarn gassing machine – Used as a Bunsen burner to heat yarn and darken the colors.

yarn gassing machine used in the textile industry
Yarn Gassing Machine image courtesy DUGARCO

Bleaching/dyeing machine – Used to bleach or dye thread, fibers, or fabric.

bleaching/dyeing machine used in the textile industry
Bleaching/Dyeing Machine image courtesy DUGARCO

Knitting machine – Used to knit yarn into fabric. 

Knitting machines are used to manufacture knitted apparel. They include single jersey machine, flat bed and double jersey knitting machine. Single jersey machines have a cylinder measuring 30 inches that contains needles for producing plain fabrics. A double jersey machine contains extra needles that help in producing items that are doubly thicker than single jersey garments. Flat bed knitting equipment is versatile and helps you add parts, such as collars, v-necks and pockets to a garment. (Nicole LaMarco, Types of Machines Used in Textile Industries, smallbusiness.chron.com)

single jersey knitting machine used in the textile industry
Single Jersey Knitting Machine image courtesy Vanguard Pai Lung

Textile Industry Reliability and Maintenance

Textile mill reliability and maintenance includes basic condition monitoring and maintenance practices seen across all industries. These include cleaning, lubrication, vibration analysis – you know the drill. 

Some specific tips related to the textile industry include:

  • Many dyeing machines contain two rollers that move the fabric back and forth as it passes through dye or washing solution. The rollers are powered by hydraulic motors with electrohydraulic controls. Electric motors drive the pumps that power the hydraulic system. The electric motors are controlled by variable frequency inverter drivers. The hydraulic pumps are controlled by electronic displacement controllers (EDCs). The EDCs contain ramp functions to prevent rollers from starting or stopping to quickly. 

TIP: Integrate encoders into the rollers to provide feedback to the ECDs. Use a multimeter to test the motor’s internal windings and check conditions.

  • Use remote displays to check the supply voltage of drive motors on machines. Remote displays allow you to work at a safe distance from the moving machine parts and live voltage. 
Fluke 233 remote display
Using Fluke 233’s remote display to check supply voltage of drive motor on textile spooling machine. Image courtesy Reliable Plant.

  • Check the temperature of drying drums in between fabric runs.
  • Use a clamp meter to assess the 4 mA to 20mA signals between electronic temperature controllers and electric-to-pneumatic pressure transducers operating steam valves. 

(Information courtesy Fluke via Reliable Plant)

Textile Industry Safety

Employee safety is always important to promote in any manufacturing industry. Let’s see what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends for one of our oldest industries.

Numerous health and safety issues such as chemical exposure from processing and dyeing, exposure to cotton and other organic dusts, musculoskeletal distress, and noise exposure are common in the textile industry. 

Standards that exist to minimize harm from these risks include: 

  • Control of dust from powder dye handling
  • Control of exposure to cotton dust. Exposure to cotton dust can cause a form of occupational asthma called Byssinosis, or “brown lung.”

Common PPE that should be work in textile factories are:

common PPE for manufacturing industry
Creator: Bigmouse108. Image courtesy Industrial Safety & Hygiene News.
  • Respirators
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Steel-toe boots
  • Masks
  • Ear plugs/ear protection for machines that make loud noise
  • Reflectors
  • Helmets

(Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology)

Conclusion

In conclusion, the textile industry of 2024 is undergoing a profound transformation fueled by technological advancements, sustainability initiatives, and a heightened focus on predictive maintenance. Innovations such as 3D printing, digital textile printing, automation, AI, digital twin technology, and nanotextiles are reshaping production processes and unlocking opportunities in healthcare, military, environmental, automotive, and fashion sectors. 

The rise of smart textiles demonstrates the industry’s commitment to cutting-edge solutions. Sustainability is at the forefront, with practices like waterless dyeing and the use of recycled and biodegradable materials paving the way towards a circular economy. 

The integration of AI and IIoT for predictive maintenance simplifies equipment upkeep, while safety remains paramount, with adherence to occupational standards and the use of personal protective equipment ensuring the well-being of the textile workforce. In embracing these changes, the textile industry positions itself as meeting the challenges of a rapidly evolving landscape.


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