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Major changes came to the textile industry during the 20th century, with continuing technological innovations in machinery, synthetic fibre, logistics, and globalization of the business. The business model that had dominated the industry for centuries was to change radically. Cotton and wool producers were not the only source for fibres, as chemical companies created new synthetic fibres that had superior qualities for many uses, such as rayon, invented in 1910, and DuPont's nylon, invented in 1935 as in inexpensive silk substitute, and used for products ranging from women's stockings to tooth brushes and military parachutes.
Silk in the Indian subcontinent is a luxury good. In India, about 97% of the raw silk is produced in the five Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir. Mysore and North Bangalore, the upcoming site of a US$20 million "Silk City", contribute to a majority of silk production. Another emerging silk producer is Tamil Nadu where mulberry cultivation is concentrated in Salem, Erode and Dharmapuri districts. Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh and Gobichettipalayam, Tamil Nadu were the first locations to have automated silk reeling units.
The brocade weaving centers of India developed in and around the capitals of kingdoms or holy cities because of the demand for expensive fabrics by the royal families and temples. Rich merchants of the trading ports or centers also contributed to the development of these fabrics. Besides trading in the finished product, they advanced money to the weavers to buy the costly raw materials that is silk and zari.
The ancient centers were situated mainly in Gujarat, Malwa and South India. In the North, Delhi, Lahore, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Varanasi, Mau, Azamgarh and Murshidabad were the main centers for brocade weaving. Northern weavers were greatly influenced by the brocade weaving regions of eastern and southern Persia, Turkey, Central Asia and Afghanistan.
Gujrati builders and weavers were brought by Akbar to the royal workshops in AD 1572. Akbar took an active role in overseeing the royal textile workshops, established at Lahore, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri where skilled weavers from different backgrounds worked. Expert weavers from those distant lands worked with the local weavers and imparted their skills to the locals. This intermingling of creative techniques brought about a great transformation in the textile weaving industry.
The textile industry is primarily concerned with the design and production of yarn, cloth, clothing, and their distribution. The raw material may be natural, or synthetic using products of the chemical industry.
Artificial fibres can be made by extruding a polymer, through a spinneret into a medium where it hardens. Wet spinning (rayon) uses a coagulating medium. In dry spinning (acetate and triacetate), the polymer is contained in a solvent that evaporates in the heated exit chamber. In melt spinning (nylons and polyesters) the extruded polymer is cooled in gas or air and then sets. All these fibres will be of great length, often kilometers long.
Natural fibres are either from animals (sheep, goat, rabbit, silk-worm) mineral (asbestos) or from plants (cotton, flax, sisal). These vegetable fibres can come from the seed (cotton), the stem (known as bast fibres i.e., flax, Hemp, Jute) or the leaf (sisal). Without exception, many processes are needed before a clean even staple is obtained- each with a specific name. With the exception of silk, each of these fibres is short being only centimeters in length, and each has a rough surface that enables it to bond with similar staples.