Hannah Szynal (Source: Sensorics)
Is it a natural or synthetic material? How much cotton or polyester is in the fiber? With a growing amount of produced textile fibers and an increasing amount of textile waste, there is a need to process, recycle and treat textiles more precisely and efficiently. With the SenoCorder, the high-tech company Senorics from Dresden/Germany, offers a novel handheld solution allowing to carry out measurements for a broad range of fabrics. Providing details about textile compositions instantly and enabling a better handling of fibers, fabrics, and textile waste.
Before textiles can be recycled, first identification and quantification of textiles and textile waste is important. What are the differences?
Basically, by identifying textiles or textile waste you can find out what the textile is made of. By quantifying them you get to know how much of a certain fiber is present in the textile.
For example, if you would like to know whether the material is made of cotton, polyester, silk, wool, or a blend of more than one fiber, you would identify the composition. The result could be that the textile is made of cotton and polyester.
If you were to quantify a textile you would also determine how much of the fiber is present. The result would not just be that the textile is made of cotton and polyester, but rather you would get the percentage of each fiber present in the textile. For example, 85% cotton and 15% polyester.
Can you also use the same device for quantification of cotton and polyester as well as the identification of cotton, polyester, silk, and wool, for example?
You can use the same hardware. You can even use the same hardware to differentiate between different types of flooring or to conduct quality analysis in the yarn production. To go a step further, you could even use it to determine the amount of sugar in berries.
However, in addition to the hardware you need the right application and one application is able to answer one exact question.
For example, the application for the identification of cotton, polyester, silk, and wool only lets you differentiate between these textiles. The application for the quantification of cotton and polyester allows you to determine the exact percentage of cotton and polyester present in the textile, but it won’t give you an information of whether silk is present too.
The foundation of each application is a chemometric model – an algorithm that is trained to answer one specific question.
Mobile textile analysis vs. lab analysis: How is mobile textile analysis different from lab analysis?
To answer this question, we have to look at 2 different kinds of lab analysis methods. Commonly, there are non-destructive testing methods such as NIR spectroscopy and there are destructive methods such as burning tests or wet chemical analysis, both of which are carried out at labs.
Our mobile device is also based on NIR spectroscopy, but when comparing it to a lab spectrometer the main difference is that the mobile analysis is much faster. You get the result within seconds and are able to conduct measurements anywhere without having to prepare samples for the lab.
In comparison to destructive testing, the main advantage of mobile analysis is that you don’t have to deal with chemicals. The samples are not damaged or destroyed during analysis, and you don’t need any experience to interpret the testing result.
To sum up: In comparison to common lab analysis, mobile textile analysis is much faster, easier, non-destructive, and more cost-effective.
In which cases are lab analysis still necessary?
For example, if you need the full spectrum of a textile to analyze certain parameters, you will need a lab spectrometer to obtain that information. Or if you are required to use an accredited analysis method, you would need burning tests or wet chemical analysis conducted at the lab.
What other use cases for mobile textile analysis might be interesting?
You can use mobile textile analysis to inspect incoming goods more easily. This saves you time and money as you don’t have to send samples to a lab and wait for the results. You can react to changes in quality much faster and clarify uncertainties with suppliers immediately. Even employees that don’t have much prior experience can conduct those tests as no intensive training is required.
It can also make textile recycling more precise. Mobile textile analysis allows for accurate sorting of textiles, even on a small scale, and ultimately leads to recycle processes being more tailored to the treated fabrics. This doesn’t just simplify the workflow; it also decreases the creation of unidentifiable waste.
You can also conduct mobile textile analysis to determine the quality of yarns. By checking them during and after production enables you to ensure that all quality parameters are met, and that the yarn can be sold to customers or processed further.
In general, mobile textile analysis is a great tool to identify fabrics to treat them correctly. For example, cleaning companies, industrial laundries, and even you in your own home could benefit from the possibilities it offers. There are many situations in which fabrics require cleaning but cannot be treated with the right agents due to lacking information about their material composition. This often leads to damaged textiles because of unnecessarily aggressive cleaning agents, or unsatisfactory results like persistent stains. Mobile textiles analysis is the simple solution to these problems.
The interview was conducted by Mechthild Maas, Editor of TextileTechnology, with Hannah Szynal, Marketing and Sales Manager, Senorics GmbH, Dresden/Germany.