Different Types of Garment Finishing Methods

What is Garment Finishing?
Finishing is one of the last major operations in the manufacture of garments before they are bagged or boxed and delivered to the finished goods warehouse. As the name implies, finishing covers all the operations required to complete a garment. For most garments this process starts after top pressing. To make a garment attractive to the customers then garments should have good appearance that appeal to customers to buy it. In this case there is no alternative of garment finishing treatment to give attractive look of garments. The garment finishing processes can assist to a certain extent to fulfill the requirement of fast-moving fashion and to add functionality. Garment finishing consists of a series of finishing operations performed in the garment to improve its aesthetics, handle and functional properties. Finishing treatment may be either mechanical or chemical in nature.

garment finishing department
Figure 1: Garment finishing department

The term ‘garment finishing’ was a buzzword for the process in the denim industry; now the term has been extended to a range of ready-made garments such as shirts, T-shirts, trousers and jackets and even to all other types of clothing. Various chemicals are used for value addition to garments through effects including various feels such as soft, supple, dry feel, bouncy feel; and to adding functionalities such as water/oil repellency, wrinkle free, moisture management, stain protection and durability to the garment.

Garment dyeing, one of the finishing operations, allows the manufacturer to produce special color effects that may not be feasible from continuous processed fabric. However, the recent technical advancements have assisted in the garment finishing techniques to achieve improved functionality and/or to create customized garments.

Different Types of Garment Finishing Techniques:
There are various types of garment finishing methods or techniques. Popular and frequently used garment finishing techniques are discussed below:

1. Permanent crease and wrinkle-free treatments:
Garments made from 100% cotton, particularly trousers, slacks or pleated skirts may require the addition of a suitable permanent pleat treatment. The necessary creases are applied to the garment by hot-head pressing at a temperature of at least 150ºC. The pressed garments are then given a heat treatment for 5 min at 150ºC in a suitable oven. If the treatment is required on garments made from cotton, linen or viscose, the appropriate chemical can be applied by using a robotic spray system that utilizes a spray machine. This system ensures that the chemicals are applied uniformly to all parts of the garment. Garments can then be dried, hot pressed and the resin treatment cured as previously outlined. Finally, the garments may be rinsed in warm water to remove any unreacted resin, hydro-extracted, dried and finish-pressed.

garment pressing
Figure 2: Garment pressing

2. Antimicrobial treatment:
Different types of antimicrobial finishes used in other areas such as food preservatives, disinfectants, swimming pool sanitisers or wound dressings, can also be used for textiles. The antimicrobial finishes are potent in their bactericidal activity, which is indicated by the minimal inhibitory concentration values. However, repeated laundering of the textiles leads to the gradual loss of the biocides. In addition, their attachment to the surface of a textile or incorporation into the fibre substantially reduces their activity and limits their availability. Different chemicals such as organic compounds (amines, biguanide, alcohols, phenols and aldehydes), mineral compounds (metal ions, oxides and photocatalysts), organometallic compounds and natural compounds are used for antimicrobial finishes.

Antimicrobial treatment on fabric
Figure 3: Antimicrobial finishes

3. Water repellent treatment:
In water repellent treatment, a coating is added to fabrics or garment at the factory to make them water-resistant. In this way, hydrophobic properties are achieved by the application of the water/oil repellent treatment to the substrates. But they should have some property to prevent both air and water passing through them. The main product groups for this treatment are: (1) Metal salt paraffin dispersion, (2) Polysiloxane and (3) Fluorocarbon polymers. For certain uses such as Tarpaulin, Umbrella cloth, Rain coat fabrics etc.

Water repellent treatment on fabric
Figure 4: Water repellent treatment

4. Enzyme washing or bio-polishing:
The application of enzyme treatments on cotton and regenerated cellulose materials has become widely accepted. The process referred to as bio-polishing has the advantage of preventing pilling, as the enzyme “cellulase” hydrolyses the loose surface fibers on the yarns, causing them to break off and thus leaving a smoother, more uniform fabric. A softer fabric with improved color brightness is also achieved by this technique. Cellulase treatments also enhance the surface features of the fabric, giving it a smooth, silky appearance. Treatment temperatures range from 50 to 60 degree Celsius and pH ranges from 4.5 to 6.5 depending on the severity of effect required.

5. Flame retardant finishing treatment:
Flame retardant finishes are essential to reduce flame propagation, hence to achieve flame retardant properties. The flame-retardant (FR) finishing of fabrics can be divided into wash-resistant or non-wash-resistant finishing, depending on the end-use application. In the case of garments, FR finishes that are non-durable can be applied to avoid the constraint in the application techniques involved. Although these non-durable finishes are fast to dry-cleaning, they are not fast to repeated laundering.

Flame retardant finishing treatment
Figure 5: Flame retardant finishes

6. Garment dyeing:
In garment dyeing, fully fashioned garments such as pants, sweaters, shirts and skirts are dyed after manufacturing is completed. Most garments are made of cotton or a cotton-rich blends which may contain other fibers such as wool, nylon, silk, acrylic, or polyester as a minor component in the blend. Traditionally, garments are manufactured from pre-dyed fabrics before the cutting and sewing. Garment dyeing has been gaining importance and popularity due to cost savings and fashion trends in recent years, and will continue to grow in the future.

7. Other functional finishes for garments:
Often, garment finishing includes softeners, soil-release finishes and finishes for ultraviolet (UV) protection. Softeners can alter the handle of the garment, and the degree of softness depends not only on the chemical character but also on their position in the textile. Soil-release finishes facilitate the removal of stains from various fabrics that usually show some resistance to stain removal by normal cleaning processes. The UV finishes ensure that the clothes reflect the harmful rays of the sun, reducing a person’s UV exposure and protecting the skin from potential damage.

Conclusion:
Finally we can say that, finishing is a beautification process of garments. To achieve a good result in finishing, it is absolutely essential that the garments are well prepared, and that the recipes and processes are strictly followed and exactly monitored.

References:

  1. Garment Manufacturing Technology Edited by Rajkishore Nayak and Rajiv Padhye
  2. Cooklin’s Garment Technology for Fashion Designers By Steve Hayes, John McLoughlin and Dorothy Fairclough
  3. Advances in Apparel Production Edited by Catherine Fairhurst
  4. Apparel Manufacturing Technology By T. Karthik, P. Ganesan and D. Gopalakrishnan

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