This month, the Production Management club took a trip to the Precision Custom Coatings headquarters in New Jersey, which consists of the Precision Textiles division, focused on non-woven fabrics, coatings, and laminations. PCC services a wide variety of industries, including apparel, automotive, footwear, filtration, bedding + mattress, and home goods. We took a guided tour through their non-woven production facility and got to see the different processes of creating non-wovens and coating them.
First, their fiber comes in bulk orders shipped in big bundles. These fibers are densely packed and need to be separated in order to be turned into a fiber. To do this, the fibers are sent through a machine called a “carding machine”. While they are separated in the machine, the quantities of mixed fabrics are determined at this stage, such as a 20/80 (20% one fiber, 80% another fiber).
Once the fibers are separated and somewhat layered together, they must be bonded together. This is where the variety of machinery and fabric types comes in. We were lucky to see several methods that PCC uses to bind their fibers. One method is with repetitive exposure to pressure and heat. With the fibers evenly exposed to heat, they loosen up and latch onto each other.
Another method, the “Needle Plunge” method, involves running the fibers through a machine where a bed of needles repeatedly poke the fibers from both above and below. This condenses the fibers and locks them in place.
The other method we saw was the “Saturate” method. This involves a fusible resin application to the fibers, where, exposed to heat, they will bond together. The resin is funneled into a tube with tiny holes all on the outside where the resin can be dispersed onto the fabric, the white residue in the above-left photo is residual resin.
Once the fabrics are finished, they undergo inspection by the workers. Here they are looking for any inconsistencies in the bonds of the fabric, tears or snags, uneven thicknesses or color, and any other imperfections.
It was an amazing opportunity to visit Precision Custom Coatings. The staff were all extremely friendly and gave us so much information. A lot of what we saw is talked about in classes at FIT, but seeing it first-hand really puts it in a different perspective. It made me think a lot more about the mechanics and engineering involved in the production of fabrics.
So if you ever hear of a club taking a trip, don’t just shrug them off. They are definitely worthwhile and can lead to some awesome discoveries!