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Textile Processing Guide: Pretreatment, Colouration and Finishing


Key Terms

A list of the key (industry-specific) terms and their meaning frequently used in the report.

  • AATCC – The American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists develops the test methods the textile industry uses to ensure product quality.
  • AFIRM – the Apparel and Footwear International RSL Management Group is a brand driven membership organisation of apparel and footwear companies collaborating to promote chemicals management in the global supply chain. AFIRM’s focus is on the continuous advancement of chemicals management including phasing out or limiting restricted substances to established limits in apparel, footwear, and accessories.
  • Apparel Impact Institute – (Aii) is a collaboration of brands, manufacturers and industry associations – including the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), Target, PVH Corp., Gap and HSBC Holdings plc. – that have come together to select, fund and scale high impact projects that dramatically and measurably improve the sustainability outcomes of the apparel and footwear industry.
  • Low pressure vs atmospheric plasma – Cold plasma technologies can be divided into low pressure plasma and atmospheric plasma. The former happens in a vacuum chamber and therefore provides higher performance and reproducibility, while the latter is more compatible with the textile industry as it does nor require a vacuum chamber and thus allows for continuous processing
  • Bio-based – wholly or partly derived from materials of biological origin, excluding materials embedded in geological formations and/or fossilised.
  • Bioscouring – application of enzymesand their components to remove natural and added impurities.
  • Binder – add or stick to something any substance that causes the components of a mixture to hold together.
  • Bluesign – Bluesign eliminates harmful substances at each step of the supply chain. It certifies that textile products are safe for the environment, workers, and customers. The Bluesign certification applies to chemicals, processes, materials, and products.
  • Capillary force – Capillary force is the process of a liquid flowing in a narrow space without the assistance of, or even in opposition to, any external forces like gravity.
  • Chemical Manufacturer – a workplace where chemicals are produced for use or distribution. A chemical manufacturer has a legal obligation to evaluate the hazards of chemicals that they produce or distribute.
  • Chitosan – an environmentally friendly agent that is used to achieve the antimicrobial properties of textiles. Nowadays, the binding of chitosan to the textiles has been thoroughly researched due to the increasing demands on the stability of achieved properties during the textile care processes.
  • Clean by Design Programme – Clean by Design is a programme to use the buying power of
    multinational corporations as a lever to reduce the environmental impacts of their suppliers abroad. Clean by Design focuses on improving process efficiency to reduce waste and emissions and improve the environment.
  • Colour Fastness – The ability of a dye to preserve the original colour and not stain adjacent fabric during industrial processing and subsequent customer use.
  • Curing – the process by which resins or plastics are set in or on textile materials, usually by heating.
  • Drop-in solution – solution that is easily integratable or requiring only insertion to be ready for use.
  • Drying – liquid is vaporised from a product by the application of heat. Heat may be supplied by convection (direct dryers), by conduction (contact or indirect dryers), radiation or by placing the wet material in a microwave or radio frequency electromagnetic field.
  • Durability – How long and in what conditions a treatment stays effective on the garment.
  • Effluent – liquid waste or sewage discharged into a river or the sea.
  • Energy Milieu – In the context of MLSE®, Energy Milieu refers to the highly reactive molecular soup created by quantum mechanical forces acting within specific reaction zones, where fabric gets treated. This milieu consists of photons (a particle representing a quantum of light), bosons (a subatomic particle), gluons (a hypothetical massless subatomic particle) and quarks (any of a number of subatomic particles carrying a fractional electric charge) mixed with nano sized constituent particles, virtually instantaneously, ablated from the fabric substrate itself and reconstituted within the fabric.
  • Enzymes – An enzyme is a substance produced by a living organism which acts as a catalyst to bring about a specific biochemical reaction.
  • Eutrophication – Eutrophication is when there are too many nutrients in a body of water which can then disrupt the ecosystem.
  • Exhaustion – the proportion of dye or other substance taken up by a substrate at any stage of a process to the amount originally available.’
  • Fermentation – The chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.
  • Fixation (dye) – Ensuring the dye bonds with (fixes onto) the textile
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – FSC is a non-profit organisation that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC certifies forests all over the world to ensure they meet the highest environmental and social standards. Products made with wood and paper from FSC forests are marked with their ‘tick tree’ logo.
  • Full Curing – a process during which a chemical reaction (such as polymerisation) or physical action (such as evaporation) takes place, resulting in a harder, tougher or more stable linkage (such as an adhesive bond) or substance.
  • High Frequency Electric Discharge – electrical conduction through a gas in an applied electric field.
  • Hydrolysing – break down (a compound) by chemical reaction with water.
  • Ionised – converted (an atom, molecule, or substance) into an ion or ions, typically by removing one or more electrons.
  • ISO – International Organization for Standardization is an independent, non governmental international organisation with a membership of 165 national standards bodies.
  • Joint Venture – a business arrangement in which two or more parties agree to pool their resources for the purpose of accomplishing a specific task.
  • Liquor Ratio – The ratio of the weight of liquid used in any treatment to the weight of material treated.
  • Metering – Accurate measurement of on-site energy and water use, which is critical in accounting for current costs and recognising the benefits of efficiency measures.
  • Microbe – A microorganism or microbe is a microscopic organism, which may be single-celled or multicellular. The microbes most commonly associated with the production of materials for consumer textiles include yeast, bacteria, fungi and algae.
  • Microporous – characterised by very small pores or channels with diameters in the micron or nanometre range.
  • Mordant – a chemical that fixes a dye in or on a substance by combining with the dye to form an insoluble compound.
  • Neutralisation – the act of making a substance neutral.
  • Nozzle – an attachment to the end of a spray rod or hose that causes the liquid to be delivered finely
    and evenly as a spray.
  • OEKO-TEX – International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile and Leather Ecology consists of 17 independent research and test institutes in Europe and Japan. They are responsible for the joint development of test methods and limit values which form the basis for our standards.
  • Oleophobicity – refers to the physical property possessed by a material that is characterised by a lack of affinity to oils.
  • PFAS – Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a diverse group of human-made chemicals used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products. Many PFAS are resistant to grease, oil, water, and heat.
  • PFC – Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water
  • Quantum Mechanical Energy – quantum mechanics, science dealing with the behaviour of matter and light on the atomic and subatomic scale. It attempts to describe and account for the properties of molecules and atoms and their constituents—electrons, protons, neutrons, and other more esoteric particles such as quarks and gluons. These properties include the interactions of the particles with one another and with electromagnetic radiation(i.e., laser light, X-rays, and gamma rays).
  • Polymeric material/polymer – materials made of long, repeating chains of molecules. The materials have unique properties, depending on the type of molecules being bonded and how they are bonded.
  • REACH – Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals is a European Union regulation which addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment.
  • Reactive – capacity of an atom or molecule to undergo a chemical reaction with another atom, molecule, or compound.
  • Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC) – A membership organisation and educational charity committed to education in the science and application of colour. 
  • Substrate – the surface or material
  • Supercritical/pressurised gas – A supercritical fluid is a highly compressed fluid that combines the properties of gases and liquids.
  • Surface Activation – alter the chemistry of surface introducing chemical groups or charges on the surface.
  • Toll Blender – a service whereby the production of (complex) chemical products is outsourced to a third party company (blender).
  • Wash off – With traditional wet processing, regardless of the dye type chosen, all dyeing ends with washing baths to remove excess dyes not fixed to the fibre.
  • ZDHC – Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals Foundation oversees implementation of the Roadmap to Zero Programme and is a global multi-stakeholder initiative of more than 160 contributors within the fashion and footwear industry.