How Felt is Made
Unlike textiles which are woven or knitted, felt is formed using the inherent qualities of the wool fibers to curl and cling together when subjected to heat, moisture and pressing. Some felts are 100% wool; many are blends of wool and synthetic fibers. Some are made by pressing, others by needling. Both processes work to entangle and interlock the fibers.
The first step in pressed felts is mixing, which loosens the stock, opens up any lumps or tangles and blends the fiber types. Then it is sent to the carding operation. The purpose of carding is to orient the fibers in a roughly parallel status with each other, to form the felt uniformly. The carding machines have rotating cylinders covered with fine teeth to “comb” the fibers into thin layers, which are then built up on top of each other into a “batt”. Batts can vary in thickness from ½ inch to several inches thick depending on the desired characteristics. Batts are created using both lengthwise and crosswise webs, so that the felt has about the same strength in all directions. The batt is trimmed and rolled up to be transferred to the hardening stage.
Hardening is a process which converts the soft batts into forms with greater strength. The batt is wetted and pressed between steel platens which vibrate to help the fibers interlock and cling together. This is just the initial stage of felting. Then the felt moves to the fulling stage.
Fulling is a method for further strengthening the felt by helping the fibers interlock even more. The rolls are opened out, moistened, folded into the fulling machine, which uses hammering action to compress and then release the felt
After fulling, the felt is washed, dyed if desired, and dried, then finished in several ways such as shearing, sanding, brushing, pressing or trimming.
Needling is used to produce felt from fibers that do not have the natural felting (curling and interlocking) ability of wool. Synthetic felts can be made using this process. Barbed needles penetrate and compress a batt of fibers to interlock them into a uniform and strong felt. These can be made from various fibers such as rayon, nylon, polyester, acrylic and polypropylene.
Advantages of Felt
Felt is a truly unique and versatile fabric, with characteristics unlike any other type of fabric. Here are just a few of the advantages you will see from using felt for your application.
Cuts to a clean edge
Does not ravel
Does not fray
Can be cut into any shape or size with no need to finish edges
Excellent polishing agent-doesn’t wear
Resists deterioration and wear
Can be exposed to weather
Maintains its physical properties even as it wears (great for board erasers)
Highly oil absorbent-great for wicking
Retains several times its weight in fluids-used for writing instrument tips
Extraordinarily resilient-can be compressed and released thousands of times without deforming
Excellent heat insulating ability-used in clothing and liners, shoe insoles
Excellent sound insulator-used in cars, airplanes, anywhere sound deadening needed
Superb filtration ability-used in many liquid and gas filtration applications
Great padding material-used for medical treatments such as splints
Incredible diversity of the fabric:
· From 1/32 inch to 3 inches thick
· Soft as wool to hard as wood
· Full range of colors
· Can be made water repellent or absorbent
Wool felt is virtually ageless-retains strength and resilience for decades.
Wool felt is chemically resistant.
Wool felt is flame resistant and self-extinguishing.
Characteristics of Impregnated Felt
As diverse as raw felt is, it can be even further enhanced by impregnating it with an unlimited variety of substances to get the characteristics you need. Spartan Felt is the world leader in felt impregnation.
Polishing agents can be impregnated directly into felt, an enormous time-saver compared to using separate polishing compounds and felt materials. Spartan Felt offers a range of polishing felts from fine to aggressive, even a diamond impregnated product for grinding and removing stock, whether it is glass, metal or plastic you are working with. Please see our product section for a full listing of the polishing felts available.
We can impregnate virtually any particulate matter into our felt products.
Call us and let’s imagine new products together!
How Spartan Felt Can Be Your Best Partner
Spartan Felt Company has a 40+ year history and has the size and resources you need to feel confident you are dealing with complete professionals in the industry. And yet we have remained committed to delivering individually customized service to our customers. We are not a billion-dollar corporation complete with red tape and a “do it our way” attitude. Instead, we want to hear your individual problems and challenges and try to help you find solutions. Our team of engineers, R&D staff, nonwovens experts, and fiber technology experts has stepped in countless times to engineer creative solutions that have delighted our customers. Whether it is improved products, cost reductions, process improvements or new product development, Spartan Felt is ready and willing to partner with you to advance your business.
Give us a try…we think you will be amazed by our capabilities and most of all, by how much we care.