How it is made

The Manufacturing process of Felt

The Manufacturing process of Felt

It is no secret that nearly all textiles are woven; however, this is not the case for felt. Felt is one of the oldest fabrics known to man, and is manufactured from fur and/or fibers which are matted and compressed through pressure heat and moisture. There are some felts which are entirely synthetic (made from synthetic fibers such as acrylic) and often used as alternatives by those who prefer non-animal felt; the other is wool mixed with a synthetic. The synthetic makes the felt stronger and enhances its durability, hence, which type selected is largely dependent on the purpose it is intended to serve- industrial, designer, craft or technical usage.
At the same time, the manufacturing process remains the same regardless.



Due to the fact that there are some felts which are made up of more than one type of fiber, they must be mixed and then blended to get a consistent composition before anything else is done. The unprocessed fibers are therefore placed into a large enough opener which contains a sizeable cylinder that is studded with steel nails. This cylinder then churns and mixes the fibers together to form a uniformed mass.


After a consistent mass of fibers is obtained, the process of carding must be carried out so that the fibers are parallel to each other. This is done with by using carding machines, which are large cylinders used to mat the fibers into a sort of web- hopper-feeders allow a mass of fiber having a specific weight to pass through the cylinders and create an unvarying web. The fibers are then carded (pulled by wires) until they are parallel.


Two carding machines are generally used in the manufacturing of felt with each web being refined as a new one is created. The purpose of the second machine is to make a new web which is thicker than the original and completely carded. To do this a conveyor or transporter feeds the webs from the first into the second machine.


There is a comb which removes and rolls up the carded web form the second carding machine. This removal can be done in two ways:

What is known as a cross-lapper can be used to roll the web perpendicularly- across the original direction of the fibers.
What is known as a Vlamir can be used. This will roll the web in a parallel direction.


At this point, every carded webs are combined. They are rolled up in groups of four in alternating directions which are based on the way they were rolled- using a vlamir or cross- lapped. These rolls of four layers are considered a single unit and known as a batt’. They are layered this way to produce different thicknesses or density.


After combination the batts must be matted or hardened together to create dense felted material. Firstly, the batts are subjected to both heat and moisture simultaneously by passing them through a steam table.


Then comes the process of shrinking separated batts down to length and width to make dense felt. Again, these batts are subjected to moisture and heat but also pressure as well. This is done by firstly placing wetted batts on a plate-hardener which is made up of a large flat, square bed and a huge plate which falls over the wet and hot batts. It compresses this material by applying pressure to it- this is done to shrink the width of the fabric. While the plate exerts pressure, it simultaneously moves from edge to edge to further matt the fiber to a specific width.


The length is then shrunk to a specified measurement by feeding the batt into what is called a fuller machine. The catch here is that while it shrinks the length, it increases its density by width. This process is accomplished by feeding the batts through a series of plastic or rubber covered upper and lower steam-rollers, with tyre-like treads that allow ease of movement across the batt. A mixture of water and sulphuric acid is used to continually wet the felt.


Note that the upper rollers are stationary while the lower rollers move upwards to apply pressure. At the same time, both rollers move forwards and backward combining pressure, acid and heat to shrink the length of the felt while increasing its density. That is to say that a piece of felt 34.7 m long will turn out fuller with a length of 24.7m.


The acid is then neutralized by running it through tanks containing a solution of the carbonate soda ash along with warm water. This is a process which is carefully timed according to the length and width of the felt. The felt is then laced in a refulling machine one last time so that irregularities can be smoothed out.


Some companies dye their felt in a dye vat before drying. Felt for industrial purposes however, go straight to drying.


Some companies simply employ the usage of centrifugal dryers to spin the water out of their felt (similar to the mechanisms of a washing machine). Others pin their felts to a dryer bed or leave them to air dry by hanging or lying flat in a drying room.


After drying is complete most companies want to further guarantee consistency in the thickness and so they press of iron their felt. Some even go as far as using the ironing to increase fabric density as ironing sometimes decreases the length even further. The edges are then trimmed neatly by a gaging table after which the piece is ready to be packaged, labelled and shipped.

Once materials arrive quality control immediately begins with the checking of quality and weight. There are some companies that request that their wools be scoured and baled- how pure a bale it has is examined on arrival. There are a few other import quality control checks which are done under continuous monitoring. An important starting test is shrinking the felt to the required length and width. This is done by continuously monitoring the carded webs and when the shrinking of the batt has been completed weight, width, length, density and evenness are checked.
On completion of this process, inconsistencies such as surface unevenness and acidity can be detected. It is important to remember as mentioned before that acid baths are timed to batt dimensions. Any less or more time in the acid bath will ruin the felt. Checks against government standards are then carried out and anything less or more than the specified government standards mean that the felt cannot be placed on the market. The general specifications for felt are: 7.3 kg in density, 2.5cm thick, 91.4cm in width, 9.14cm in length and 7.3 kg in weight.graphite_felt_c_c_composite_processing_factory

During the trimming process small pieces that are filled with grease and oil from the machinery used to process the felt are cut of and sent to the landfill as they are not reusable.

The demand for felt is constant due to extremely versatile attributes. While the civilian applications of felt are far too many to count or list here, it has military applications including boots, rockets, small ammunitions and helmets. Excess felt which is white in nature and contains no grease or oils have been found very useful when grounded, coloured and placed in aerosol cans. Its unique purpose is to be used as spray for covering bald spots and have been growing in popularity.

Understanding the Press Felt Process

Understanding the Press Felt Process

The pioneering conception used in felt manufacturing is known as the press felt process. Wool fiber is the ingenious structural model employed in the whole process. The wool fiber begins splitting apart from the main core where short fiber strands are formed. The interlocking and the process of binding these strands together forms the Felt.

Matting, which produces a batt is the first process which involves layering of the wool fibers. Plying is then done on the batts formed with respect to the density of the felt desired. The next step which is steaming is done to the batts before being passed to a hardener where it is pressed. The fiber strands are finally hardened through a mechanical process where the batts are interlocked together resulting to the initial stage where wool felt is the resulting output.


Fulling, which is a similar mechanical process is then done to the wool felt. The desired density of the wool felt is achieved by passing the wool felt through the fuller which is a series of rollers. After this drying is necessary to ensure the felt is free from any kind of moisture. Steaming is used to obliterate any moisture content and wet treatments that may have been used on the felt.


Hybrid technologies have recently been rolled into the US felt processes. This usage of these technologies have resulted in production of diverse densities and various felt grades which confirms the US felt production to be efficient. Set standards and specifications by SAE have been well embraced in these felt press processes. International standards and military specifications have also been clearly met as these US Felts products have an ISO certification as well as the government approval seal. These standardization and these conformity grants the end-users a wide variety of applications at their disposal.

Felt Making: A Top Textile Making Technique

Felt Making: A Top Textile Making Technique

Wool felt, which is also known simply as felt, is a unique
fabric that is formed when a sheep’s wool or another animal fur is exposed to
heat and moisture. The entire process is hastened by the presence of an alkaline
such as soap. The heat and moisture is applied on the wool to open the outer
scales of its fibers. The soap serves as a lubricating agent that causes the
fibers to slide over one another in a fairly easy manner. This sort of natural entanglement
eventually becomes permanent and irreversible because of the chemical bonding
that takes place amongst the keratin proteins present on the fibers that are
responsible for forming the fabric.

As you can clearly see, the process is quite simple. This is
ones of the main reasons why craft workers prefer felt making over other
textile making techniques. In addition, the finished product is achieved within
a very short period.


Humans are believed to have discovered this simple process
by studying the effects of natural elements on the wool and fur of different
animals. There is also evidence that shows early humans used wool to keep their
feet warm during the night and cold seasons. After years of walking and
stomping, the wool became stiff and eventually turned into felt.

The oldest archeological evidences that show the use of wool
felt were found in Turkey. Researchers discovered different wall paintings that
went back as far as 6500 BC. They depicted some form of felt making process. In
ancient times, the Greeks and Romans knew how to use felt. In fact, some Roman
soldiers were known to have worn felt breastplates, boots, tunics and even socks
for protection purposes against things like arrows.


Over the years, the felt making process has remained
relatively the same. Different discoveries have been made during our time,
which endorse this fact. For instance archeologists found the burial grounds of
a nomadic tribal chief in Siberia, who was a true warrior of the Iron Age in
Scandinavia. They also uncovered an old tomb in Norway. All these findings exhibited
marks of wool felt usage.

Felt is currently used in different parts of the world,
especially in regions that experience harsh and very cold climates. In
Mongolia, nomads use it to make tents known as gets or yurts. In Turkey, felt
is used to make hats, rugs and other similar items. The nomadic tribes of South
Central Asia also use it to make blankets, rugs and tents. In Russia and
Scandinavia, felt is mainly used for making boots and cloaks known as kepeneks.
They offer protection against the rough climate.

The Felt Production Process

The Felt Production Process

Wool felt construction process

Wet felting is the major process used in felt making; in the process natural wool is stimulated
by use of friction and then lubricated by use of moisture. The moisture is
usually obtained from soapy water. The fibers are moved at 90 degrees towards
the source of friction and then away from the source. This results in making
tracking stitches. During the movement of the fibers only 5% of the fibers are
active. Due to the fact that the process is continuous, different fibers are
activated and deactivated throughout the process at different intervals.

  grey felt

The wet process makes use of inherent nature of different materials such as animal
hairs and wool. Due to the fact that hairs have scales which are directional in
their mass, they also have kinks. The presence of scales makes the hairs to
react in the process of simulation by friction. The reaction leads to the
phenomenon of felting. The phenomenon works with woolen fibers, this is because
their scales after being activated they bond together easily to form a cloth.

Knitted woolen garments which mostly shrink during the process of hot machining sometimes are
said to have been felted, but in real sense they are fueled during their
manufacturing process. Fueling differs from felting significantly. The difference
comes in where during the process of fueling the process is done to fabrics
while felting is a process applied on fibers. Modern fueling can be a good
example of how fibers bond together when subjected to the movement of washing
machine, addition of soap and addition of hot water in the washing machine.

 Gray felt texture

Needle felts construction process

This is a popular felting process that is conducted without making use of water. It is a
fiber craft process in nature. There are special barbed felting needles used in
felting machines which an artist uses as sculpting tool. The artist can use a
combination of 2 to 5 needles held by a hand tool. The needles are used in the process
of sculpting the wool fiber while the barbs are used to catch scales available
in the wool fiber. After catching the scales they then push the scales through
the wool layers. After pushing the scales through the wool fibers they tangle
and bind them together, this is similar to the wet felting process. The
technique can achieve fine details which make it very popular in 2D and 3D felt

How Felt is Made

How Felt is Made

Most woven are related to fabrics, meaning they can be built
on a loom and have interlocking warp (the thread or fiber that’s lined
lengthwise in the loom) and weft (the thread that cuts across the warp fiber
and interlocks with it) fibers that produce a level piece of fabric. Felt is a
dense, non-woven material and free of weft or warp. Rarther, felted cloth is
created of compressed and matted pelt or fibers with no clear threads system.
Felt pressed together using heat, wetness, and pressure is made as these pelt or
fibers. Felt is usually composed of wool that’s combined with a synthetic to be
able to make strong, bouncy felt for industrial use or craft. Nevertheless,
some believed is made completely from synthetic fibers.


Felt may change in width, depth, colour, or length depending
on the planned use. This matted stuff is especially useful for lining and
padding as it may be quite thick and is compact. Also, since the material isn’t
woven the borders could be cut without the anxiety of threads becoming the
fiber unraveling as well as loose. Felted fibers normally require dye well and
craft felt while the industrial grade felt is usually left in its natural
state, is obtainable in a large number of colours. Actually, believed is used
in a broad range of uses both within the industrial and residential
circumstances. As air fresheners felt is used, kids’s craft kits, bulletin
boards, decorations and holiday costumes, within appliances, stamp pads, gaskets,
as the clothes stiffener or lining, plus it could serve as a pillow, to supply
ink pads for polishing equipment, or as a sealant in industrial machinery.


Felt might be the early material known to mankind, and there
are a number of references to believed in historical writings. Since felt isn’t
woven and will not need a loom for its creation, early man made it fairly
readily. A number of the first felt remains were discovered in the frozen
graves of nomadic horsemen in the Siberian Tlai mountains and date to around
700 B.C. These tribes made saddles, clothing, and tents from felt as it was
powerful and immune to wet and snowy weather. It’s said Clement stuffed his
sandal with tow (linen fibers or short flax) to be able to make the tribes more
comfy. St. Clement found that the mix of wetness from the perspiration and soil
dampness some with strain from his feet, together tow fibers with these matted and
created a material. St. set up workers’ group to come up with felting processes
after becoming bishop. St. Clement became the patron saint for hatmakers, who
commonly use felt to this day.

Now, hats are connected with felt, but it’s usually presumed
that all is made of wool. Initially, hatmaking that was early felt was created
using animal pelts (typically beaver pelt). The fur was matted with other
fibers–including wool–using pressure, heat, and dampness. The ideal hats were
of beaver, and the fine hats of men were commonly called beavers. In the late
Middle Ages beaver felt hats were made and also were coveted. But, by the end
of the fourteenth century they were made by many hat makers in the Low Countries
so driving the cost down.


The measures contained in making felt have changed little
through time. Felted cloth is made using pressure, wetness, and heat interlock
and to mat the fibers. In the Middle Ages the hatmaker split the fur from the
used and hide pressure and warm water to the material to shrink it. The
processing demands remain unchanged while machinery is used now to carry
through a number of these jobs. One exception is the fact that until the late
nineteenth century mercury was utilized in the processing of felt for hatmaking.
Mercury was found to possess debilitating impacts in the hatter causing a form
of poisoning that led to hallucinations, tremors, and other psychotic symptoms.
The expression mad hatter is related to the hatmaker due to the psychosis that
came from the mercury poisoning. Hats of wool felt are mainly worn in winter
and stay fairly popular.

Using felt has enlarged in the last century. Crafts
enthusiasts use it for all kinds of jobs. Many teachers find it to be a simple
material for kids to handle once it’s cut at the borders don’t unravel do woven
materials. Industrial uses felt, and for felt have burgeoned is discovered in
automobiles in addition to generation machinery.