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Optimal design of superfine polyamide fabric by electrostatic flocking technology


Lifang Liu, Hao Xie, Longdi Cheng, Jianyong Yu and Shuzhen Yang Textile Research Journal 2011 81: 3 originally published online 27 July 2010 DOI: 10.1177/0040517510376269 The online version of this article can be found at: http://trj.sagepub.com/content/81/1/3

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Original article

Optimal design of superfine polyamide fabric by electrostatic flocking technology


Lifang Liu1, Hao Xie2, Longdi Cheng1, Jianyong Yu3 and Shuzhen Yang2

Textile Research Journal 81(1) 39 ! The Author(s) 2011 Reprints and permissions: sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/0040517510376269 trj.sagepub.com

Abstract The use of superfine fibers as piles to produce flocked fabrics is underreported despite their excellent properties. Therefore, a superfine polyamide fiber was used for piles to produce flocked fabric in this study, and a full factorial design was employed with three design factors at three levels to optimize the process parameters in terms of flocking density. The flock density is found, experimentally, to increase with the decrease of flocking distance and the increase of field strength and flocking time. A ternary linear equation is also established in this study based upon the regression analysis on experimental results and verified by F-test showing that it has remarkable significance. Comparison with experimental values shows that the regression equation possesses high accuracy. The optimum parameters are empirically and experimentally determined as: flocking distance of 7 cm, field strength of 60 kV, and flocking time of 10 s.

Keywords Electrostatic flocking, flock density, processing parameter, product design, superfine polyamide fiber

Introduction
Flocking was rst used by the French to produce ocked wallpapers 200 years ago, and it has achieved great developments during the last 20 years by the addition of electrostatics, which is the so called electrostatic ocking.1 Electrostatic ocking is also a special surface nish technique, involving the xation of very short bers (referred to as piles) on a substrate coated with adhesive applying high voltage elds,25 as shown in Figure 1. The piles are rst charged by corona discharge and polarization charge in an electrostatic eld, and then move in either translation or rotation toward the substrate. Flocked products thus consist of substrate, adhesive and piles, among which the piles that have determining eects on the appearance, touch, and other characteristics of the nal product are the most important.58 The most widely used piles at present are rayon and polyamide bers with a neness of 13 denier and length of 13 mm.9,10 However, the use of superne bers, which have better moisture absorption capability, dyeability and soft touch resulting from their relatively higher specic surface area and aspect ratio, as piles to produce ocked fabrics is underreported, except for the research by Zhong

et al.11 The fabrics ocked with superne polyamide bers have potential application in textile products; so it has particular interest for this present study to investigate the use of superne polyamide fabrics with electrostatic ocking technology. The specic resistance of bers plays an important role in ber ocking performance. Usually the bers are dielectric materials, so they should be chemically treated rst to improve their electrical conductivity, or they would not move in the electrostatic eld. Regarding superne bers, their behavior in an electrostatic eld is undoubtedly inuenced by their relatively higher specic area and length.12 Therefore, proper treatment should be conducted to improve their electrical

1 The Key Lab of Textile Science & Technology, Ministry of Education, Donghua University, China. 2 College of Textiles, Donghua University, China. 3 Modern Textile Institute, Donghua University, China.

Corresponding author: Jianyong Yu, Modern Textile Institute, Donghua University, Shanghai 200051, China Email: yu_jianyong@163.com

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Textile Research Journal 81(1)

Piles
Water

Chemical treatment agent Antistatic agent 45C pH = 4.5 20 min Washing to pH=7 Room temperature 95C 60 min

B A

Piles

D C

Figure 2. The process to chemically treat superfine polyamide piles.

Figure 1. The schematic diagram of electrostatic flocking: A is the high-voltage electrostatic generator; B is the electrode; C is the mantel blanket (grounding electrode); D is the substrate.

conductivity, and proper ocking parameters should be determined to obtain high quality ocked fabrics. Regarding the treatments on piles, authors had made detailed researches;13 regarding the ocking process, there are three parameters that have vital inuence on the nal products, which are ocking distance, eld strength and ocking time.1,7,8 These three parameters have to be matched to each other to obtain the nal ocked products, and also have to be matched to different piles.1 It is thus interesting to research and optimize the process parameters for superne polyamide bers. The quality of ocked fabrics is usually evaluated by ock density, since it has great inuence on the appearance and quality of the nal product.14,15 Therefore, a superne polyamide ber was used as piles to produce ocked fabric in this study, and a full factorial design was employed with three design factors at three levels to optimize the process parameters in terms of ocking density.

The antistatic agent, in the present study, was used to make the piles easier to separate, and the chemical treatment agent was used to improve the electrical conductivity of the piles. The characteristics of the piles obtained were shown in Table 1. A plain cotton-fabric, with thickness of 0.4 mm and weight of 220 g/m2, was used as a substrate. The fabric was washed, vacuum-dried at 60 C for 4 h, conditioned at 20 2 C and 60 3% RH for 24 h, and then cut to 0.1 m 0.1 m and evenly coated with adhesive prior to use.

Electrostatic flocking
The ocking machine used in this study was a multifunctional Electrostatic Flock Model CN250 designed for ocking fabrics. The schematic illustration of the machine is shown in Figure 3. A full factorial design was employed with three design factors at three levels: ocking distance i.e. the spacing between the upper electrode and the substrate; eld strength; and ocking time using Taguchis technique,16 as tabulated in Table 2. The factor levels were designed such that the lower, middle and upper levels correspond to 1, 2, and 3, respectively. The coded levels and the actual values of these factors are dened in Table 3. Following the experimental design, a series of ocked fabrics made by superne polyamide ber were produced.

Experimental Materials
Sea-island lament bundles were used in this study, with basic polyester as sea and polyamide as island. The lament bundles were cut into 2 mm lengths, and then immersed into 2% NaOH solution, 1 : 30 bath ratio, at 95 C for 60 min, to dissolve polyester. The superne polyamide bers thus obtained were chemically treated at 1 : 30 bath ratio, as shown in Figure 2. The treating solution with the piles was gradually heated to enhance the treating eects on the piles.

Measurements and characterizations


The characteristics of the ocked fabric were estimated in terms of ock density, and the surface properties of ocked fabric were examined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) (JSM-5600LV, JEOL Ltd., Japan). Flock density is usually quantied by the number of piles per unit area of ocked fabric;14 however, it is equivalent to the mass of piles per unit area of ocked fabric when the piles used have the same density, diameter and length.17 Therefore, the ock density was expressed in terms of the mass of piles per unit area

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Liu et al. of ocked fabric in the present study, because it can be easily obtained by weighing. The adhesive coated cotton-fabric was weighed immediately. Then the superne polyamide piles were ocked onto the cotton-fabric. The total mass of adhesive coated fabric and piles were measured to calculate the ock density according to the equation, as follows: M G G0 A 1

Feed plate (upper electrode) +

Substrate (ground electrode)

where M is the ock density, g/m2; G is the total mass of the ocked cotton-fabric, g; G0 is the mass of adhesive coated cotton-fabric, g; and A is the area of cottonfabric, 0.01 m2 in this study.

Figure 3. The schematic illustration of flocking machine.

Table 2. The full factorial design for production of flocked fabrics Sample 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 Flocking distance 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 Field strength 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 Flocking time 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3

Results and discussion


The ock density of the ocked fabrics produced using the experimental matrix is tabulated in Table 4.

Development of empirical model


A ternary linear equation for the relationship between the main parameters, namely, ocking distance, eld strength and ocking time, and the ock density is established by a multiple regression technique, as shown in equation 2: yi b0 b1 xi1 x1 b2 xi2 x2 bj xij xj 2 where, yi is the ock density of the i th sample; i 1, 2, 3, . . . , N; N is the number of samples, which is P 1 27 in this study; xj N i xij , j 1, 2, . . . , m; m is the number of factors, which is 3 in this study; b0 is a regression constant, and b1, . . . , bj are regression coecients; make xi1 d, xi2 U, and xi3 t; d, U, and t are the ocking distance, eld strength and ocking time, respectively. Then equation 2 can be rewritten as the following: y b0 b1 d x1 b2 U x2 b3 t x3 i 1, 2, 3, . . . , 27

Calculated by Matlab on the base of the experimental results tabulated in Table 4, the value of regression

Table 1. Characteristics of piles Diameter (mm) 3.7 Length (mm) 0.2 Moisture regain (%) 6.8 Conductivity (
g/cm2) 9.3 106 Siftability (%) 40.6% Rise-time (s) 7

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6 constants b and variables xj can be obtained:

Textile Research Journal 81(1) Therefore, the regression equation of ocking density can be expressed by y 9:7333 0:3293d 10:6667 0:0739U 50 0:3472t 8 4 that is, y 6:7731 0:3293d 0:0739U 0:3472t 5

x1 10:6667,

x2 50, 2

and

x3 8

3 9:7333 6 0:3293 7 7 b6 4 0:0739 5 0:3472


Table 3. Coded and actual values of the process parameters Parameters Flocking distance (cm) Field strength (kV) Flocking time (s) 1 7 40 6 2 10 50 8 3 15 60 10

The signicance of the three parameters was analyzed by the F-test, as shown in Table 5. The F-value of the three parameters are remarkably higher than the F-value for 99% condence level that is F0.99(2,13) 6.70 indicating that the three parameters are all signicant.

Table 4. The experimental and calculated flock density Flocking distance (cm) 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 15 Field strength (kV) 40 40 40 50 50 50 60 60 60 40 40 40 50 50 50 60 60 60 40 40 40 50 50 50 60 60 60 Flocking time (s) 6 8 10 6 8 10 6 8 10 6 8 10 6 8 10 6 8 10 6 8 10 6 8 10 6 8 10 Experimental flock density (g/m2) 8.7 10 10.6 10.8 11.4 11.8 11.6 12.3 12.5 8.6 8.8 9.5 7.8 10.4 10.9 9.8 10.6 11.1 7.1 8.5 8.7 7.8 8.4 8.9 8.3 8.5 9.2 Calculated flock density (g/m2) 9.51 10.20 10.90 10.25 10.94 11.64 10.99 11.68 12.37 8.52 9.21 9.91 9.26 9.95 10.65 9.99 10.70 11.39 6.87 7.57 8.26 7.61 8.31 9.00 8.35 9.05 9.74 Relative error (%) 8.52 1.96 2.75 5.37 4.21 1.37 5.55 5.31 1.05 0.94 4.45 4.14 15.77 4.52 2.35 1.90 0.93 2.55 3.35 12.29 5.33 2.50 1.08 1.11 0.60 6.08 5.54

Sample 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

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Liu et al.
Table 5. The significance analysis on the three parameters Source of variance Flocking distance Field strength Flocking time Sum of square 9.72 19.00 17.04 Degree of freedom 2 2 2 Sum of mean square 4.86 9.5 8.52

Accuracy of the empirical model


Table 4 shows the calculated ock density that was obtained from the empirical model compared with the experimental values. The average error was 4.13% indicating that the calculated ock density has a quite good coincidence with the experimental result (except for Sample 13 and Sample 20). As shown in Table 4, the calculated ock density may be higher or lower than the experimental ones, indicating that the corresponding samples are under-ocked or over-ocked, respectively.

F value 17.36 33.93 30.43

(a) 11
Flocking time is 6s

Flock density (g/m2)

Flocking time is 8s

10

Flocking time is 10s

(a) 12 Flock density (g/m2) 11 10 9 8 7 40 (b) 13 Flock density (g/m2) 12 11 10 9

Flocking distance is 7cm Flocking distance is 10cm Flocking distance is 15cm

7 7 10 Flocking distance (cm) (b) 12 Flock density (g/m2) 11 10 9 8 7 7 10 Flocking distance (cm) (c) 13 Flock density (g/m2) 12 11 10 9 8 7 10 Flocking distance (cm) 15
Flocking time is 6s Flocking time is 8s Flocking time is 10s Flocking time is 6s Flocking time is 8s Flocking time is 10s

15

50 Field strength (kV)


Flocking distance is 7 cm Flocking distance is 10cm Flocking distance is 15cm

60

15 8 40 50 Field strength (kV) (c) 13 Flock density (g/m2) 12 11 10 9 8 40


Flocking distance is 7 cm Flocking distance is 10cm Flocking distance is 15cm

60

50 Field strength (kV)

60

Figure 4. The flock density with different flocking distance and flocking time at a field strength of: (a) 40 kV; (b) 50 kV; and (c) 60 kV.

Figure 5. The flock density with different field strength at flocking time of: (a) 6 s; (b) 8 s; and (c) 10 s.

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Textile Research Journal 81(1)

(a)

(b)

Figure 6. The surface of flocked fabrics (250) at: (a) d 15 cm, U 60 kV and t 6 s; and (b) d 7 cm, U 60 kV and t 10 s.

Obviously, the optimized process parameters can be empirically and experimentally obtained which gives a ocking distance of 7 cm, eld strength of 60 kV, and ocking time of 10 s.

Effect of parameters on the flock density Effect of flocking distance. Figure 4 shows the eect
of the ocking distance on the ock density at dierent eld strengths and ocking times. It can be observed that the ocking distance has a negative impact on the ock density, that is, the ock density decreases with the increase of ocking distance. This may be attributed to the fact that: (1) the eld force is reducing as the ocking distance enlarges at a given voltage, thus leading to a decrease in the moving velocity of piles, so there are smaller amount of piles arriving at the substrate at a given ocking time; (2) the piles will have to travel a long distance to reach the substrate when the gap between the upper electrode and the substrate is enlarged. Therefore, the ocking distance is theoretically expected to be as small as possible; however, it should not be too small because of the danger that may be caused by the very high electrical voltage applied on the ocking system at very small distance. Therefore, the ocking distance is usually designated as 520 cm; however, it should be matched to the eld strength.

will only move when the voltage reaches the critical voltage, i.e. the lowest voltage that can make the piles to start to move; and the higher the voltage, the quicker the motion of piles. Theoretically, the piles will have better behavior in the eld with higher voltage; however, the higher voltage will also cause danger to the manufacturer. Therefore, the voltage usually is controlled within the range of 30120 kV.9 A maximum of 60 kV is selected in coordination with the smaller ocking distance used in this study.

Effect of flocking time. Flocking time is also vitally


important to the ock density. As shown in Figure 5, the ock density increases with the increase of ocking time. This phenomenon can be easily explained by the fact that more piles can have an opportunity to move in the eld and penetrate the adhesive to be ocked onto the substrate. It seems that longer ocking time is better to increase ock density; however, the ocking time should also be well controlled in practice, or it will cause a spoilt appearance to the ocked fabric because of too many piles oating on it and also a waste of material (piles) and energy. Theoretically, higher eld strength, longer ocking time and smaller ocking distance contribute to higher ock density, which will consequently result in a better fabric appearance. As can be found in Figure 6, the fabric in Figure 6(b) is covered better than the one in Figure 6(a). However, as mentioned above, the three parameters should be well controlled, especially for the eld strength and ocking distance, because too high eld strength at small distances can cause danger.

Effect of field strength. The eld strength has a


remarkable eect on the ock density, as illustrated in Figure 4. It is found that the ock density is constantly increasing with the increase of eld strength at a given ocking distance and time. If the electrical voltage applied on the ocking system is too low, then no piles will move because of a lack of energy. The piles

Conclusions
The superne polyamide ber was rst used as piles to produce ocked fabric in this study, and the full

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Liu et al. factorial design was employed with three design factors at three levels to optimize the process parameters in term of ocking density. The experimental results show that the three parameters, namely, ocking distance, eld strength and ocking time, all have essential eect on the ock density, which increases with the decrease of ocking distance and the increase of eld strength and ocking time. A ternary linear equation to optimize the process parameters is established in this study based upon the regression analysis on experimental results, and can also be veried by the F-test. The verication shows that the regression equation developed in this study has remarkable signicance and accuracy. Finally the optimized process parameters can be empirically and experimentally obtained to give a ocking distance of 7 cm, eld strength of 60 kV, and ocking time of 10 s. Funding
The support of National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project 10872048 and Project 50809016), and the support of the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities are gratefully acknowledged.

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5. Von PU. Avoidance of the ignition of textile fiber/air mixtures during the electrostatic flocking process. IEEE Trans Ind Appl 2002; 38(2): 401405. 6. Semenov VA, Hersh SP and Gupta BS. Increasing Pile Density in Electrostatic Flocking by Introducing a Guiding Electrode. IEEE Trans Ind Appl 1983; 1A19(1): 127132. 7. Patrissi CJ. Method for increasing fiber density in electrostatic flocking. Star 2007; 45(5): 20. 8. Semenov VA, Hersh SP and Gupta BS. Maximum fiberpacking density in electrostatic flocking. Textile Res J 1981; 51(12): 768773. 9. Laird WF. Electrostatic flocking method. US Patent 5108777, 1992. 10. Tooru O. Electrostatic flocking material method of manufacture thereof and electrostatic flocking material-carrying grip of article. US Patent, 6171677, 1998. 11. Zhong J, Liu LF, Yu JY and Xie H. Electrostatic flocking of superfine fiber. Proceeding of International Conference on Fibrous Materials. China, 2009, pp.276278. 12. Otsubo Y and Edamura K. Viscoelasticity of a dielectric fluid in nonuniform electric fields generated by electrodes with flocked fabrics. Rheol Acta 1998; 37: 500507. 13. Yang SZ. Study on the flocking technique and product properties of superfine polyamide flocked fabric. Master thesis, Shanghai, China, 2005, pp.2843 (In Chinese). 14. Kim YK and Lewis AF. Scientific Study of Flock Materials and the Flocking Process. National Textile Center Annual Report, 1999. 15. Patrissi CJ, Bessette RR, Carreiro LG, Kim YK, Arruda TM and Deschenes CM. Method for increasing fiber density in electrostatic flocking. US Patent 7354626, 2008. 16. Rawal A, Anand S and Shah T. Optimization of parameters for the production of needlepunched nonwoven geotextiles. J Ind Textiles 2008; 37(4): 341356. 17. Yang SZ, Yu JY, Liu LF and Yang JS. Investigation on electrostatic flocking process of sea-island fiber. Textile J 2007; 28(7): 911, 18. (In Chinese).

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