Eco-Conscious cellulosic fiber yarn realized with Rieter expertise

Eco-conscious blend of Naia fibers with polyester.

Eastman, a global specialty chemicals company, turned to Rieter regarding a process consultancy for their new staple fiber. The cellulosic fiber NaiaTM already exists as a filament yarn and can now be utilized for a wider range of textile applications. Eastman and Rieter worked together to find the right blends and yarn counts for the Naia staple fiber to increase its market penetration while giving fashion brands a truly sustainable choice. 

Eastman, headquartered in Kingsport, TN, USA, turned to Rieter for help in developing a new staple fiber, made from cellulosic acetate. The fiber with the brand name Naia exists already in the market in the form of filament yarn. To increase market penetration, and bring the Naia fiber to more textile applications, Eastman decided to also offer it in the form of a staple fiber.

Figure: The eco-conscious blend of Naia fibers with polyester.

This is where Rieter came into play. Rieter has broad experience across all spinning systems and in processing all types of staple fibers from bale to yarn. The company’s expertise also extends to processing and testing further applications of the yarns in the downstream process.

The eco-conscious blends created with the Eastman Naia staple fiber are supremely soft and dry quickly. Naia consistently reduces pilling, giving designers more freedom and choice. The fiber is produced from wood pulp and sourced from sustainably managed pine and eucalyptus forests.

It is produced in a safe, closed-loop process where solvents are recycled back into the system for reuse and without hazardous chemicals. The manufacturing process has a low tree-to-fiber carbon and water footprint. This combined with biodegradable certification results in a sustainable material that is perfect for T-shirts, comfort wear, jumpsuits, sweaters, and dresses and delivers a truly sustainable option to fashion brands globally.

First trials with Naia – understanding the fiber

The cellulosic fiber used in Rieter’s first trials highlighted some challenges. By more deeply studying and understanding the characteristics of the cellulosic fiber, the technologists targeted their process approach and shared their intermediate learnings.

New fiber and new blends

The second set of trials showed more promise. Building on the initial trial results, Eastman went back to their laboratories and further developed the Naia staple fiber, improving the fiber’s processability. A noteworthy improvement in the carding process resulted in a high-quality sliver.

Rieter’s textile technologists continued to process the different blends with polyester, modal and lyocell fibers. This included winding cones, spun conventional ring yarn and compact-twin yarn made from each blend in the Rieter spin center at the company’s headquarter in Winterthur, Switzerland.

They spun single ring yarns, Ne 30 and Ne 40, and compact-twin yarns, Ne 40 and Ne 60. Running performance throughout fiber opening and carding was smooth. The Naia staple fiber performed well on the draw frames, and sliver was produced with acceptable uniformity. All blends could be processed with normal production speed.

Process recommendations for Eastman

After all the tests and trials, the Rieter textile technologists gained a good understanding of what is possible with the Naia fiber. Learnings from the trials were shared with Eastman for further evaluation and testing. In addition, Rieter trained the Eastman team, including technical sales, on the process recommendations, machine settings and blend ratios to spin the best version of the fiber.

The Naia staple fiber was launched into the market in February 2020. Leading global fashion retailer H&M was first to market with its Conscious Exclusive autumn/winter 2020 collection made with Eastman NaiaTM Renew cellulosic fiber.