Robert Wood (left) and Steve Gebbie finish work on a KiwiScour
AgResearch’s textile engineers have developed a wool-scouring machine to overcome the need for small-scale producers to resort to high-cost commercial processing services.
Specialty producers face the frustration of lack of appropriately-scaled machinery and the high cost and inflexibility of commercial processing services, for what are considered by the industry to be niche quantities. However as the industry has grown so has the demand for suitable technology and bathtub processing in no longer a viable option! Until now, appropriately-scaled machinery was not readily available.
The scouring process is essential because it washes out contaminates in the wool such as dirt, sweat and grease leaving the wool ready for processing. Fibre is processed in approximately 1kg lots contained within a cube shaped basket and progress along a series of bowls of heated water that are continually agitated. This allows for easy separation of individual lots or even fleeces. Detergents are added to the early bowls and the counter current flow of washing water ensures clean fibre at the exit.
The AgResearch KiwiScour is pitched at growers, processors and manufacturers of specialty and craft market textiles. The complete technology package includes high pressure squeeze and dryer units. The system has been patented and is being developed to include options for chemical treatments, such as dyeing plus options for pre-scour opening of soiled fibre.
Two units have been shifted to Carolina Specialty Inc., a US company specialising in providing high quality solutions to a range of textile machinery needs. Carolina Speciality is the licensee for KiwiScour in the Amercias. These machines are to be installed in a showcase mill in North Carolina, while a third machine is under construction.