MLSE (Multiplexed Laser Surface Enhancement) technology is an example of technology transfer between industries
MLSE (Multiplexed Laser Surface Enhancement) technology is an example of technology transfer between industries which has facilitated a leading edge development in the processing and performance of Textiles. Both Plasma and UV systems are currently used for cleaning and ablation of polymeric materials. MLSE enhances these processes at a higher level. The Laser intensifies the effective power of the plasma as well as acting on the substrate in its own right. The process has demonstrated the cleaning of a woven fabric that had not been aqueous or solvent scoured. Thus at the base level, cleaning of substrates is achieved.
Increasing the treatment intensifies the ablation of the surface of the fibres, thus preparing them for secondary processing, e.g. dyeing. The controlled ablation of the surface of the fibres increases greatly the hydrophilicity of the textile substrate. The landscape in Textile Finishing (including coatings and dyeing) is changing with the breakthrough of new technologies requiring less water, lower energy running costs and a lower effluent for disposal as well as the lower generation of CO2 emmissions. Sustainability, resource-efficiency and environmental protection are top priorities among European policies in general and many Regulations, Incentives and Actions exist to improve the performance of the European Textile Industry.

Resources needed

The purchase of MLSE will be a considerable investment and may involve a licencing scheme. However, costs have been shown to be recouped within one year due to reduction in energy costs and water/water treatment costs.

Evidence of success

From a concept machine installed and developed at the TcoE, there are now 2 operational machine in use in industry in our region and lessons learned from the concept machine have been fully addressed with the 2 industrial units. These machines are capable of processing at 70 linear metres/minute. 2 further machines are currently ordered and being built for use in factories in Mainland Europe.

Difficulties encountered

As this is new technology, the correct conditions of the plasma/laser had to be worked out, gaseous recipes had to be developed and correct modulation of the plasma reaction chamber had to be closely monitored and set. Different substrates need different levels of treatment

Potential for learning or transfer

Create Industry wide standard and raise eco awareness.
EU wide definition for standards, energy and water consumption per application.
Contributes to lower CO2 emissions into the environment.
The technology can be utilised in any region within Europe for the processing of textiles. Existing and new companies will need to invest in the new technologies. There will need to be a regular and reliable supplier of industrial gases e.g. argon, CO2, Oxygen, Nitrogen. Training will need to be provided for operation of the system. The economic impact will be one of investment. Political/Social/Cultural may well need some form of research network to collaborate ideas, as well as some form of support mechanism for funding initiatives for investments. Regarding skills and competencies, there will be a need for training in operating and technical training for understanding.
Project
Main institution
Textile Centre of Excellence
Location
West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Start Date
January 2013
End Date
Ongoing

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