Dyeing has been a staple of the textile industry for virtually as long as textiles have been produced.
For most of human history, dyes were painstakingly extracted from plants or animals and then manually applied to textiles. However, around the mid-19th century, advances in the dyeing process began to take off beginning with the production of the first synthetic dyes in 1856 and continuing until the 1970s, when Italian clothing designer Massimo Osti began experimenting with garment dyeing techniques. Osti's discoveries soon became the foundation for the technique of complex garment dyeing.
Little has changed in the textile world since that time, and Osti’s experimental dyeing processes still form the basis of the techniques we use today.
Researchers at Texas Tech University, however, believe they have made the next big stride in textile manufacturing. Working in tandem with Indigo Mill Designs through their IndigoZERO brand, researchers have laid the foundation for a new foam-dyeing process.
The process works by combining a foaming agent with an aqueous solution that is then applied to a fabric and put through high temperatures. With this process, the need for sulfur compounds is eliminated and water and energy requirements shrink as much as 90%. It also reduces floor space and drastically lowers the production time for dyed fabrics.
Research and development are still ongoing, but the team at Texas Tech is confident that the new process will be beneficial for the future of American textile manufacturing.