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IWM gives hosiery manufacture a leg up!

27 July 2020

As a longstanding manufacturer with forty years of experience, Industrial Washing Machines (IWM) prides itself on developing and producing innovative washing and sanitising solutions for a wide range of applications. But recently the company’s creativity and expertise were tested by an unusual challenge when its development team was asked to provide a unique washing machine for a hosiery application.

The challenge came from Adria 2, an innovative new hosiery manufacturer based in Northern Ireland. The company was looking for a special machine to rinse, silicon coat and dry a new design of ladies’ seamless tights.

“Adria 2 wanted to shorten production times, automate production and improve the look and feel of the tights”, explains Paul Thurston, Sales Engineer at IWM. “Conventionally, tights are made in large batches and are then dyed and washed in one operation in a very large vat. Adria 2 wanted to complete the process without the use of a dye vat, which would allow them to process smaller quantities and eliminate the need for them to rely on outside services. We worked closely with Adria 2 to redesign the entire process, resulting in a highly automated line that requires minimal human intervention and that can efficiently handle batches as small as a single pair of tights.”

Adria 2 believes that their seamless tights are stronger, more environmentally friendly in manufacture, and more comfortable to wear. The key requirement for the IWM team was to create a carousel washer/drier for these products. In response to the challenge, the IWM design team developed a three-tank machine with a dryer and a carousel chain conveyor.

The machine modules were designed especially for the unique application and comprise 1200 mm wash, hot rinse and silicone spray sections, together with a 2000 mm long dryer section. There is provision for Adria 2 to add a softener and a fragrance to the tights to provide an enhanced customer experience.

The washing and drying are carried out in a closed booth system with 100% recirculation of water and heat, creating little waste or effluent. The temperature-controlled system, which is always set at 40 degrees Celsius ensures a gentle washing process that is safe for the environment.

One of the specific challenges the IWM team encountered during the design of the new washing machine was that ladies’ knitted tights are made of fine and very delicate nylon/elastane fabric. For this reason, the water jetting which is normally at the heart of the washing process could not be used, as there was a risk that it would ladder or damage the tights. The design team solved this problem by using a mist function rather than jets to carry out the washing.

“IWM was able to deliver a bespoke design concept quickly and they understood from the very beginning what we wanted to achieve”, explained John Roskalns, Project Manager at Adria 2. “IWM’s research and development team is exceptionally knowledgeable and we were impressed with how quickly they were able to make the adaptations we needed. Thanks to them, now it takes 30 minutes to wash, rinse and dry a pair of tights from start to finish, as opposed to around two hours in a dye bath and finishing process. This process is wasteful of water and energy and creates effluent that requires treatment and disposal which is the norm for our industry. The machine even allows us to produce ‘batches of one’, rapidly and cost-effectively, whilst the feel of the product has been greatly enhanced. This is truly a success story that has the potential to revolutionise the hosiery and knitted clothing business, and we are already planning a leggings and underwear line!”

For more information, please contact:

Industrial Washing Machines Ltd
Facet Road
Kings Norton
West Midlands
B38 9PT
Tel:  +44 (0) 121 459 9511
Fax:  +44 (0) 121 451 3241
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