What Is Flocking?

Flock adhesion is the use of small fibers to bond materials together. Flocks are used in many industries including construction, automotive, electronics, aerospace, textiles, and medical devices. In this instance, flocking is used on fabrics for garments.

What Is Flocking?

Essentially, flocking creates texture on fabrics, which is often used in the fashion industry to extend creative methods and form something more interesting in the designers’ fabric other than the color, etc.

What Exactly Does Flocking Mean?

Flocking is the process of applying millions of tiny fibers onto a substrate to create a velvety-looking finish.

Flocking is most often applied to the interior surfaces of jewelry cases, glove compartments, decoy shells, and other small objects where a smooth finish isn’t desired.

Flocking is also used to make faux leather look like real leather, or to add a nice sheen to wood furniture.

The flocked material is usually composed of polyester fiberglass or nylon. A glue solution is sprayed onto the substrate and the flock is sprinkled over it. Once dry, the flocked product is brushed off and vacuumed away.

How Long Has Flocking Been Around?

Flocking is a process where small particles are applied to a surface, usually paper, to make it look like something else. The process dates back thousands of years and was originally developed in China.

In the 19th century, people began applying the material to walls and furniture as wall coverings and decorative elements. By the early 1900s, the material had become widely used in the textile industry.

As the technology improved, manufacturers began producing larger quantities of flocks and the material found itself in many consumer goods such as cosmetics, phonographs, and photocopiers.

By the 1980s, the material was becoming increasingly common in the automobile industry. Today, it is still used in the manufacturing of car interiors and even some types of sports equipment.

How Is Flocking Applied To Fabrics?

The decorative flocking process begins with the application of a release agent to the substrate. This is followed by the application of a flock material, either dry or wetted.

Flock materials are applied using one of several different methods. Dry flocks consist of small particles of synthetic fibers that adhere to each other due to static charge.

Wetted flocks contain resin binder mixed with the fiber, allowing the particles to bond together.

After the flock material is applied, it must be dried. Drying times vary depending on the type of flock used. In general, however, drying takes about 30 minutes.

Once the flock material is completely dry, the next step is to apply adhesive to the surface. The adhesive is generally applied in three ways:

  • By hand – applying the adhesive by hand is the least desirable way to apply adhesive because it requires significant skill and dexterity.
  • With a sprayer – A sprayer is a device that sprays adhesive onto the surface. Sprayers come in many sizes and styles, including manual, electric, airless, etc.
  • With a roller – Rolled, adhesives are typically used for smaller jobs where there is limited space. They are usually less expensive than sprayers and require less maintenance.

Once the adhesive is applied, the flock material is pressed into place. Pressing is done by hand or with a press machine. 

Hand pressing is very labor-intensive and therefore costly. Press machines are designed to do the work quickly and efficiently.

Press machines use rollers to compress the flock material against the substrate. There are two types of presses: flatbed and rotary.

Flatbed presses squeeze the flock material down to the desired thickness, while rotary presses flatten the flock material out to form a thin film.

How Is Flocking Made?

There are two types of the flock – milled and cut. Milled flocks are manufactured from cotton or synthetic textile wastes. These are usually longer strands of yarn, about 2 inches wide. They’re often sold in rolls.

Cut flocks are made from high-quality synthetic filaments. They come in shorter lengths, typically less than 3/4 inch. They’re usually sold in boxes.

Milled flocks are sometimes referred to as “machined” because of the way they’re processed. The raw material is fed into a machine, where it’s chopped up into small pieces.

Then, it’s passed through rollers that twist the individual fibers together. Finally, it goes through another set of rollers that spin the yarn into a continuous thread.

Cut flocks are made from the same high-quality synthetic filaments as other synthetics. However, they’re cut into smaller pieces during processing. This makes them easier to handle.

Both kinds of the flock are spun into yarn. Yarn is formed into threads, which are then wound onto bobbins. Bobbins are stored in large containers.

When you want to make something, you take one of the bobbins off the container and feed it through a knitting machine. The knitting machine winds the yarn onto a needle. As the needle moves forward, it pulls the yarn through the fabric.

Flocking Adhesives

The use of adhesives has been around since ancient times. In fact, it’s believed that the Egyptians used glue to bind papyrus together. Today, there are many different types of adhesives available.

Some are solvent based, while others are water-based. Most of them require heat to activate the adhesive. However, some do not.

There are several different ways to apply adhesives. One way is to spray them onto the surface. Another method is to brush them onto the surface. 

Yet another option is to roll them out. When applying an adhesive to a surface, you must take into consideration the type of material being applied.

For example, if you’re applying an adhesive to paper, you’ll want to make sure that the adhesive is compatible with the paper. If you’re applying an adhesive directly to wood, you’ll want to ensure that the adhesive is compatible with the wood.

Once the adhesive is applied to the surface, you’ll want to wait about 15 minutes before starting the printing process.

This allows the adhesive to be set up. Once the adhesive is set, you’ll want to print your design. You can either use a screen printer or offset press. Screen printers work well for small runs. Offset presses are best suited for larger runs.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to add textiles to your business, you should consider using flock. It’s easy to use and comes in a variety of colors and textures. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly. It’s also the texture that you’d find ring boxes, for instance.

Willa Price
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