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Textile Month

Techtextil 2001

PLUS Fabric finishing Rapier Weaving

June 2001


The International Textile Magazine

2001 PLUS Fabric finishing Rapier Weaving June 2001 TM The International Textile Magazine


Asia is now realising the benefits of a new balanced softener formulation, writes Dr WP Mei of Dow Corning

Silicone superiority

SILICONE softening agents have been used in Asian textile processing for more than 20 years, known for their ability to deliver superior performance in softening and a smooth, slippery feel to textile fabrics.While they are currently estimated as having a 50% share of the textile softener market (the other 50% being organic formulations), it has only been in the last few years that silicone softeners have begun to see widespread use. As a result, formulators are less experienced with the unique features and characteristics of these products. Although they are recognised as delivering premium softness, conventional amino silicone formulations have not been without their limitations.They are process-sensitive and must be emulsified using specific techniques to ensure stability. In addition,

silicones are not compatible with some textile additives and process aids (certain permanent press resins, for example), which can lead to spotting problems if not properly applied. In most cases, processing difficulties and compatibility problems can be avoided with appropriate product background and experience, but silicone researchers have continued to investigate new product formulations to provide more stable materials with broader resin compatibility.

New formulation

To address these issues, Dow Corning researchers have developed a balanced softener formulation with significantly improved process stability and wider compatibility with common process aids and performance additives.The organofunctional

FFiigguurree 11:: Hand Evaluation Results

material demonstrates high shear stability, allowing it to be easily formulated into a stable microemulsion that can be applied via jet dye exhaustion. As one of the only silicone softeners on the market that is suitable for application by either jet dye exhaustion or roller padding, Dow Corning’s 8803 Softener can be added to the same bath with durable press finishing resins and can be used for fabric softening in pigment printing operations.The organofunctional silicone fluid provides softening performance nearly equal to conventional aminosilicone materials.The new formulation imparts soft hand to many types of fabric, including woven cotton, cotton knit, woven polyester and woven cotton/polyester blends. (See Figure 1.)

4.5 4 3.5 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 0 Polyester woven P’cotton woven Cotton
Polyester woven P’cotton woven
Cotton woven
Cotton Knit
Rating (0-5)

Reprinted from TM June 2001

Supplied with a non-volatile content of at least 95%, the new softener has exhibited even less yellowing than current aminofunctional materials, for improved fabric whiteness.The whiteness index was determined using a Hunterlab Colorimeter, with an average of five readings taken as a result. (Figure 2.) The 8803 Softener has been shown to be less hydrophobic than current aminosilicone softeners, as indicated in water absorption testing. For example, a drop of water placed on woven cotton fabric treated with the new softener will be absorbed in about two minutes, whereas a water drop on the same fabric treated with conventional aminosilicone will stand for more than 30 minutes.Water absorption test results are illustrated in Figure 3.


to graphs:

DOW CORNING 8803 Softenertest results are illustrated in Figure 3 . Key to graphs: Aminosilicone Blank F F i

Aminosiliconein Figure 3 . Key to graphs: DOW CORNING 8803 Softener Blank F F i i

Blank3 . Key to graphs: DOW CORNING 8803 Softener Aminosilicone F F i i g g

FFiigguurree 22:: Whiteness Index (100% Cotton Knit)

90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Whiteness Index
Whiteness Index


FFiigguurree 33:: Water Absorption Test Results

35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Cotton woven P’cotton woven Polyester woven Emulsification
Cotton woven
P’cotton woven
Polyester woven
Table 1
Like other silicone fluids, the
8803 Softener
Acetic acid
organofunctional silicone
formulation must be emulsified to
allow application via water-based
Absorption Time/minutes

1 Secondary alcohol polyoxyehtylene

alkylether containing 7 EOs (HLB 12.1).

2 Secondary alcohol polyoxyehtylene

alkylether containing 12 EOs (HLB 14.5). Softanol is a trademark of Nippon Shokubai Kagaku Kogyo Co.

Table 2



20% solids emulsion

2-7% owf

(depends on type of fabric) Acetic acid

0.05 g/l

Table 3

FFoorrmmuullaattiioonn Ciba Knittex Fel 1 (DMDHEU, 70% active)

30-50 g/l

Dow Corning 8803 Softener (20% solids)

10-30 g/l

PE emulsion

5-10 g/l


9-15 g/l


Padding ratio


Bath temperature


DDrryyiinngg aanndd sseettttiinngg 1st stenter zone temperature


2nd stenter zone temperature


3rd stenter zone temperature (and above stenter)


Total treating time

40-70 seconds

Table 4

FFoorrmmuullaattiioonn Fabric:liquor


Dow Corning 2-2862 Stripping Agent

12 g/l

Dow Corning 2-2863 Stripping Agent

22 g/l


2 g/l

Table 5

FFoorrmmuullaattiioonn Fabric:liquor


Dow Corning 2-2862 1 Stripping Agent

2 g/l

Dow Corning 2-2863 2 Stripping Agent

2 g/l


10 g/l

processes. Known to be one of the keys to product stability, the

emulsification process is an important step in assuring efficient operation. For emulsification suited to the Asian market through a phase-changed process using surfactants, the ratios and mixing operations shown in Table 1 should be strictly observed. First, the silicone softener should be mixed with the Softanol 70,

followed by charging an acetic acid 0.1% and water 3.5-4% mixture

and stirring until a phase change is

observed. Next, charge 50% of the water and mix until the emulsion

becomes homogeneous, then charge the Softanol 120 and mix

well. Finally, charge the acetic acid 0.1% and the rest of the water, and

mix well.

Jet dye exhaustion

A key feature of the new silicone

softener formulation is the fact that

it can be applied using a jet dye

exhausting process as a result of its

high shear stability.The suggested

formulation for the process is shown in Table 2.

The first step is to ensure that all removable dyestuff is eliminated from the dyed fabric, once the desired colour is obtained.A jet

dye machine which has never been

used for softener exhaustion must be cleaned with a scouring agent

prior to its initial use.The equipment must also be cleaned regularly to prevent accumulation of any dyestuffs, process auxiliaries or fibrous material. After draining off all residual water, the machine can be refilled and started. Next, the emulsion and acetic acid should be charged, and the bath heated to 40°C.The machine should be run continuously for 20 minutes, then drained of water, after which the fabric can be unloaded for drying and the equipment should be cleaned. A simple test of the emulsion can then be used to determine its suitability for jet dye exhaustion. It should be prepared by diluting to a 2% solution, then moving to a 50°C bath and mechanically stirring at 3000 rpm for 30 minutes. At the end of this cycle, no oil should be observable on the solution's surface.

Durable press finishing

The new softener formulation is suitable for durable press finishing systems using glyoxal resin/MgCl2 or DMDHEU resin/MgCl2.An example of the process for wrinkle free finishing of cotton, rayon or blends of the two would be as shown in Table 3.


Occasionally the finished colour of a fabric is unacceptable and must be re-dyed. If the fabric has been treated with a silicone softener, it must be removed with stripping agents specially designed for removing silicones. Because of its water repellent nature, silicone will prevent the fabric from being re-dyed evenly. For cotton, poly/cotton and

polyester fabrics treated with the new organosilicone softener, the

following formulation is recommended: See Table 4 For lycra-containing fabric treated with the new organosilicone softener, the following formulation is recommended when re-dyeing is necessary: See Table 5 For any of the fabrics mentioned, the process is the same.Water, fabric, NaOH and stripping agents should be loaded in that order.The

machine should be run with the bath heated to 90°C for sixty minutes, then drained.The fabric is rinsed with clean water (neutralised by the addition of acetic acid), then the bath should be drained and rinsed again before unloading the fabric for drying. New advancements in silicone softeners have led to the development of a unique formulation designed specifically for improved application process stability and resin compatibility over conventional aminosilicones, without compromising the soft hand and silky feel for which silicone products are known. Dow Corning 8803 Softener can be easily formulated into a stable microemulsion, which can be applied via jet dye exhaustion or roller padding.As a result of its broad compatibility, it can also be applied in the same bath with durable press finish resins.Treated fabrics have shown less yellowing and reduced hydrophobicity when compared to conventional aminofunctional silicone softener formulations. The family of silicone polymers includes an extremely diverse group of materials, with literally thousands of variations. Silicones are engineering materials which combine certain characteristics of both organic and inorganic compounds, at times able to offer the most desirable properties of both. Copolymers based on methyl silicone and polyether chemistries are also popular in textile processing. Like any formulation technology, silicone materials require a basic understanding of their physical properties and effective processing techniques to reach optimum performance. Dow Corning develops, manufactures and markets a diverse range of silicon-based materials. Currently offering more than 10,000 products to customers around the world, the company is a global leader in silicon-based technology, with shares equally owned by The Dow Chemical Company and Corning Incorporated. More than half of Dow Corning’s sales are outside the United States. TM

Reprinted from TM June 2001