Dictionary of Textile Terminology

This is where we try to make things clear. This is necessary so that we can all communicate on the same level and simplify all this confusion. The words listed here are pretty much industry standard, but you will find some specific terms used by various segments of the industry. If you don't see what you are looking for, please notify us so that we can add it. And if you disagree with it then that's OK too. Tell us about it at our e-mail address. [email protected] or call us at (941)946-3131

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AATCC (American Association of Textile Colorist and Chemists); An association of people concerned with the issues pertaining the the improvement of textile finishing and wet processing as well as the impact on the enviroment of the chemicals used in this processing. These people are manufacturers as well as users. This organization provides most of the textile industry standards and maintains an extensive library of knowledge of textile issues. Membership is open to those concerned with the issues of textile processing.

Abrasion; The effect of garments scrubbing against each other while in the dyebath. It gives the material an aged look. In some processes this is desired (e.g. Pigments), while in others, a great deal of effort goes into minimizing this effect.

Acrylic; Common term used to denote binders and other polymers used to attach pigment to a substrate.

Amphoteric; A property which means a chemical  has a tendency to be nonionic at an alkalai Ph and becomes more cationic as the Ph lowers to the acid side.

Anionic; All compounds have an electrical rating for compatibility purposes. Anionic compounds are positive in nature and will blend with like charges or compounds that are nonionic (No charge).
Antimigrant; A chemical added to the process compounds to stop dye from moving around during processing. See Bleeding also;

Averaging; When colors are evaluated with a colorimeter, it is neccessary to take from 3 to 10 readings on different parts of the material and average them out to get a true average reading of the color value.

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Bare'(Ba-ray); A term used to describe the unevenness of the thread tension in the cross weave or knit of a fabric. Garment dyers have a particular problem with this. When a garment is dyed, if the uneven thread tension is not relieved by the process , then alternating light and dark streaks will appear in the dyed fabric where the dye doesn't penetrate due to high thread tension.
Base; Normally this indicates a basic compound which the user modifies for his own specific use. An example would be water based Print Base which the printer will add his own color too.

Belt Marks; A common problem found in plants where ty-dyers are using an oven to increase production. These marks are caused by the uneven heat on the belt surface. They can be eliminated by using a cooler process and running them through twice. Once on one side and then turning them over and running them through a second time.

Binder; One form of an acrylic compound which does what it's name denotes, namely it binds pigment to something.
Bleeding; Basically this means when a color goes where it shouldn't. This is a particular problem to the ty-dyer who hang drys his product. This is also found in water base Screen Printing applications as well as reactive printing operations. Probably the most common cause is from a surfactant used in the pigment or by a printing ink which is too thin. It is usually resolved by adding an Antimigrant to the dye bath or the print ink.

Burning or Burn; This is an expression commonly used among pigment ty-dyers to express the amount of migration in an oven used for ty-dye. The pigments migrate to the surface under high heat and concentrate, causing a burned look.

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Carcinogen; This is a compound that is a known to cause cancer and should be treated accordingly. Many textile products release Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen and should be evaluated for use accordingly. It is very important to read and understand material safety data sheets (MSDS) of the products that you use in production.
Cationic; All compounds have an electrical rating for compatibility purposes. A cationic compound has a negative charge and will only mix with a like compound, or a nonionic compound (no charge). It should be noted that because of this difference, pigment garment dyeing has been greatly simplified.
Catalyst; A compound added to an acrylic type compound to speed up the cross-linking process. One major drawback of using a catalyst is the greatly shortened shelf life of the dye solution.
Clarity; Usually used in the evaluation of an acrylic, but some plastisol inks require great clarity in the product for use as process type inks. Also used to refer to the exhaustion of a pigment dye bath.
Color Strike; This term usually applies to the initial exhaustion of a color in a dye bath before anything is added to enhance exhaustion. With pigments, acid is added to exhaust a dye bath. With directs and reactive type dyes, various types of salts are added to enhance exhaustion.

Colorimeter; An insturment used to measure textile color values for quality control purposes.

Conventional Fabric Softeners; Term applies to commonly used cationic fabric softeners that are usually applied at the end of a dyeing process. Because of their cationic nature , they should not be added to the dye bath or the dye will have a tendency to precipitate out of the water and onto the softener rather than the fabric. There are nonionic softeners available for addition to the dyebath.
Curing Time: The length of time required for a compound to fully cross-link for maximum washfastness. Usually associated with cure temperature of a screen printing oven.
Crocking; This is the amount of color transfer from a processed garment to a piece of white fabric under pressure. This is evaluated against industry standard matching cards and it is performed both on wet and dry garments of a given process type.

Crockmeter; An industry wide insturment used to evaluate the amount of color crocking (e.g. What scrubs off under pressure) on a finished piece of material. The amount of color removed is measured against a "Grey Scale" and then evaluated.

Cross-Linking; The ability of an Acrylic type compound to link itself to both the pigment and the substrate with a strong continuos link for good washfastness. This process used to require heat and a catalyst, but some newer resin compounds will do the same thing when air dryed at room temperature.

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Density; All compounds have a specific weight at a given volume. An example would be water compared to plastisol inks. Water has a bulk density of 8# to 1 gallon while many plastisol inks can have a bulk density of up to 10# per gallon. The greater the density of a compound, the higher the weight by volume.
DEP; Department of Environmental Protection. The state level equivalent of the EPA.

Direct Dye; A dyestuff that coats the cellulosic fiber through the application of an electrolyte (salt) and temperature (140F-180F). This type of dyestuff requires an after treatment to gain washfastness.

Dirty Product; Refers to the environmental impact of a product. In this case, a product that has a severe detrimental effect on the environment.
Dispersion; The liquid form of a colorant or other chemical. The dispersion characteristics have a great deal to do with how a product works for a certain process. By adjusting the dispersion formula, the color strike of a dye can be reduced or enhanced.
Dye Bath (dyebath); The liquid solution the fabric is placed into for the purpose of changing it's color properties.

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Electrolyte; The compound or liquid added to a dyebath to force the color out of the water and onto the fabric.
Environmentally Safe; This rating is given to a product or compound that does not contain or generate any hazardous chemicals, fumes, or degradation byproducts. Basically an inert blend. The chemical industry is pretty much self regulating, and you should request testing information on any product that is claimed to be environmentally safe. Remember, the government holds you responsible for hazardous clean up, not your chemical supplier. No matter what is claimed by them , you are responsible.
EPA; Environmental Protection Agency. The branch of the government that regulates and evaluates the impact of chemicals and compounds on the environment.
Exhaustion Rate; The rate at which the color goes on the fabric. Exhaustion is different for different colors and should be considered when a new process is developed and adjusted for. Colors exhaust on an uneven curve according to the electrolyte content of the dyebath.
Extenders; When a specific type is not specified e.g.; Shelf Life Extender, this usually indicates a product that is used for diluting the original product, therefore extending the use of it.

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Fadeometer (Fade-o-Meter); An Insturment designed to emmit a very bright light that is equivalent to sunlight and high in ultraviolet radiation. When a fabric sample is submitted to this light, it fades as though it was aged in sunlight. After a preset time the fabric is removed and evaluated by industry standards as to it's colorants' light fastness.

Flammable; The ability to sustain self ignition once started. The degree of flammability is stated in the MSDS or HMIS sheet that accompanies the product.

Fluorescent Pigment; In simple terms, it is an epoxy type resin stained with various acid and basic dyestuffs. There are only three truly fluorescent colors. They are Pink, Yellow, and Orange. The fluorescent dye stuffs used are Favine Yellow and Rhodamine Red. Once these cakes are formed, they are then ground to a micron particle size, usually around 4 microns.

Foreign Substance; Usually used as an environmental term to designate anything that does not occur naturally in nature. This term also applies to items that are found in a blended compound and shouldn't be there.
Formaldehyde; A known Carcinogen that is released by some resins used as binders. Melamine resins are probably the worst. This is an Osha hazardous compound and MSDS's are required to specify the quantity released if it is greater than 5ppm.

Fugatives; See Forign Substance.

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Garment Dye; The process whereby the fabric is colored on the finished garment rather than color the material in its basic woven or knitted form as piece goods.

Grey Scale; An industry standard for the measurement of wet and dry crocking.

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Hazardous Chemical; Any chemical or compound that is capable of adversely affecting personal health or the environment. These items should be listed on the MSDS sheet or the HMIS of the product.
HMIS; Hazardous Material Information Sheet. Usually substituted for an MSDS when the product is a known hazardous material. Also many fire departments require these from any company opening up that handles any chemicals in their processing. Call your supplier for more information if necessary.
Humectant; A non-hazardous chemical added to retard drying. For liquid colorant and water base screen inks, it is usually Polyethylene Glycol. (PEG). But Urea is used extensively in reactive printing.

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Jig Dying;

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Landfill; Better known as the city trash dump. In recent years the restrictions on waste that is permitted to be dumped here have been greatly modified, and many items are now considered hazardous. If you are unsure of your products rating, consult the MSDS or the manufacturer.

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Migration (e.g. Dye Migration); The movement of the colorant on a garment during wet processing. Ty-dyers with belt ovens use this movement to increase pigment yield by forcing migration while drying. This is sometimes call the burning effect, and also applies to microwave processing. Also see crocking.
MSDS; Material Safety Data Sheet. This is one or more sheets of paper provided with the product which explains any health hazards, fire hazards, and special handling that may be required.
Mutagen; Any chemical or compound that has the ability to cause mutations in developing life forms. You probably will not see any of these in textile processing ,but if you do, handle with extreme care.

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Nonionic; All compounds and chemicals have an electrical rating for compatibility purposes. A nonionic agent has no electrical charge and will blend with either cationic or anionic agents.
Non-Flammable; The inability of an item to sustain self ignition. In other words, It may burn at an induced high temperature, but when removed from the heat source it will self extinguish.

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Opacity; The ability to stop and or reflect light. This is a very important word in textiles as many processes are affected by the ability of pigments and binders to reflect the proper color spectrum or to absorb light to the substrate and then reflect it. A pigment that stops light and reflects it would be considered an opaque pigment.
OSHA (O-sha); Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The branch of the government that regulates the safety of the work environment of employees.
Overcoat; Usually used to describe any type of product used to create a clear barrier over artwork of various types.
OWF; An abbreviation of the words ON WEIGHT of FABRIC
OWG; An abbreviation of the words ON WEIGHT of GOODS
OWP; An abbreviation of the words ON WEIGHT of PIGMENT

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Pad Batch Dying; A Process whereby material is saturated with a liquor made from Reactive Dye, Salt, and Alkalai. The material is allowed to sit in a sealed container for a predetermined time to "React". The material is then hot washed and rinsed and an aftertreat is applied.

Paddle Dyeing; A process of dyeing textiles in a machine that gently move the goods using paddles similar to a paddle wheel on a boat. This is a slow process, but there is extremely little abrasion on the goods.

Penatrant; Any agent used to increase the penetration of a colorant into a substrate. Usually they are a blend of surfactants with specific properties for a given substrate.

Piece Dying or Piece Goods Dyeing; The process whereby textiles are dyed in their whole form, prior to cutting and sewing.

Pigment; A dry colorant that requires dispersion and grinding to become a useable ink or dye. They are considered to be environmentally safe in dry form and only run into problems after dispersion. Check your MSDS or HMIS for health and handling warnings.
Plastisizer; An agent added to a compound to enhance the plastic like properties when the compound is cured. Although most plastisizers are hazardous in their liquid form, after they have been cross-linked in the cured compound they lose their hazardous rating.
Plastisol; A compounded blend of plastisizers and polyvinyl chloride used to screen print. The EPA has targeted plastisol screen printers as an environmentally hazardous industry. The continued popularity of plastisol screen printing is probably due to the single fact that plastisol inks don't dry and clog screens like water based products.
Pretreat; An industry wide term used to denote a highly cationic polymer used to "pretreat" textiles prior to pigment or direct dying.

Prescour; Refers to the process whereby the fabric is washed (or scoured) in a strong detergent and alkali bath to remove all softeners and thread lubes prior to dyeing the garment or fabric.

Process Colors; Describes five certain shades of colorants that are used in process printing.
Process Printing; A form of printing that depends on color spacing, sizing, and overlays to develop different colors rather than blending or mixing the inks.
PWS; Abbreviation for the words PUBLIC WASTEWATER SYSTEM. Better known as the city sewer system.

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Raindrops; A specialty chemical developed for the ty-dye industry that duplicates the look of raindrops on a garment.
Resin; A liquid polymer that cross-links to form a bond between a pigment and a substrate. Also see binder and plastisols.

Reactive Dye; A dyestuff that reacts with celulose in an alkalai enviroment and as it reacts it becomes part of the celulose. Three determinig factors for reactive dyeing are time, temperature, and alkalai

Rewetting Property; Certain surfactants have an affinity for water , even after they are dry. These surfactants allow a dry garment to almost instantly rewet, even though they have an acrylic finish. e.g.- ty-dyed or pigment dyed garments.

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Semi-opaque; Describes a colorant or resin that only partially blocks light from the substrate. Also see Opaque.
Softener Sheet; A piece of material impregnated with a fabric softener that slowly disperses during the time in the dryer, thereby reducing dyeing time by the length of the softener cycle.

Spectrophotometer; An insturment used to measure light, either reflected or absorbed through a liquid or a drydown on a special slide. This insturment is used extensively in wastewater evaluation.

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Tubular Goods Damage; The Most commonly seen problem in tubular goods is edge damage caused by the guide rollers of many processing machines. The edge guide used on some padding machines and dryers crush the edge of the tube as it is being processed. Although it doesn't actually destroy the fabric, it creates a section of the tube that has virtually no thread tension. When a garment dyer tries to dye the garment, he has a dark vertical line where the edge roller was applied to the tubular goods, This is most pronounced in pigment dyeing followed by direct dyeing. Extra scouring time and alkali helps with this problem for directs but nothing seems to help for pigments. Only reactives don't seem to have a problem with this.

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Ultraviolet (U.V.); The low end of the visable light spectrum which extends below visable range. This frequency of light is considered the culprit in color fading as well as causing skin cancer.

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Vertical Lines in Pigment Dyed Goods; See Tubular Goods Damage

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Wet Processing; Any process where textile products are saturated with a liquid for the object of either changing the color or finish of the material.

Washfastness: The ability of a garment to retain it's color after a severe washing process. The processes used are industry standard tests. See AATCC

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