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Pure Appl. Chem., 2002, Vol. 74, No. 3, pp. 423-427

Plasma treatment of textile fibers

Hartwig Höcker

Deutsches Wollforschungsinstitut an der RWTH Aachen e.V., Veltmanplatz 8, D-52062 Aachen, Germany

Low-temperature plasma technologyboth glow discharge under reduced pressure as well as barrier discharge under normal pressureare well established in different industrial applications. Since recently, however, the plasma technology is being introduced in textile industry as well. Fields of application are desizing, functionalizing, and design of surface properties of textile fibers. Plasma technology is suitable to modify the chemical structure as well as the topography of the surface of the material.
Examples of natural as well as man-made fibers prove the enormous potential of plasma treatment of textile materials. It has proven to be successful in shrink-resist treatment of wool with a simultaneously positive effect on the dyeing and printing.
Not only the chemical structure of the surface is modified using different plasma gases but also the topography of the surface. A highly hydrophobic surface with a particular surface topography in contact with water is extremely dust- and dirt-repellent and hence should be also repellent to bacteria and fungi.
Man-made fibers to be used under chemical stress are modified with diffusion-barrier layers on their surfaces without modifying the bulk properties; hence, the stability of those fibers is significantly improved.