The role of filtration textiles within industry

Anti-static fabrics help mitigate risk of ignition during solvent-based particle separation.
Anti-static fabrics help mitigate risk of ignition during solvent-based particle separation.

While the technology news of the textile industry sector is often dominated by innovative industry firsts, filtration media often goes under the radar in high performance textiles.  Andy Smith from Arville shines the spotlight on this commonly-overlooked area.

Rolls goods, sleeves, socks, bags, cloths and sheets, are just some of the various types of media that make up the large family of wet and dry filtration products.

These bespoke micron-rated fabrics can be designed to a specified particle size and flow-rate, giving customers exacting filtration materials across a wide arena of applications. Each solution is engineered to meet the requirements of both everyday challenges, and sometimes very specific niches. Which can often be very demanding in terms of chemical resistance, temperature resistance (hot and cold), high pressure and durability.

So, whilst aerospace or military advancements might typically grab all of the ‘technical textiles’ headlines, it is filtration media which is quietly keeping the wheels of industry turning.

Advanced production

Versatility, consistent performance, effective particle retention and efficient flow rates, are just some of the capabilities achieved by technical textiles manufacturers who, by design, supply these engineered products for use in increasingly advanced production, separation and filtration processes globally.

And the market is not standing still. As refinement processes become more complex and demanding, filtration media has to advance in parallel, in terms of everything from the fibres used, to the weave construction, and the consistency of the resulting filtration process itself. Performance criteria will only become more multifaceted over time, and that’s before any thought is given to sector-specific legislative frameworks that the filtration media has to work within. The regulations imposed by the FDA in the food and beverage industry, represents just one example where filtration textiles must meet specific criteria for critical applications where they come into direct food contact.

However, the innovative use of filtration textiles does not stop there. Such fabrics are also used in ‘heavy’ industries such as nuclear, mining and construction, as well as wider pharmaceutical scenarios which involve the separation of liquids, gases, powders and suspensions.

But because synthetic man-made fibres are predominantly insulators which do not promote the flow of electricity through their structure, some of these processes can create a build-up of inherently hazardous static charge where there are combustible liquids or powders present. As such, anti-static properties must therefore be designed and manufactured within certain filtration media, to mitigate the risk of ignition.

This typically sees such fabrics woven to include carbonised filaments or stainless steel, which allow the charge to disperse safely. It is also possible to manufacture the fabrics from yarns that are chemically inert to the process, and design weave patterns and constructions that allow for good cake release and efficient flow rates. An example where such a bespoke fabric was designed is Arville’s development of a multi-pocket glatt bag, which was certified by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and used by GlaxoSmithKline.

High performance

Elsewhere, materials which are constructed from high-performance monofilament yarns are used to convey, filter and separate products in industrial, water purifying and waste processing facilities with varying degrees of permeability, giving them excellent drainage properties.

These technical products represent just a handful of examples where the industry has stepped up to innovate products that fulfil a whole host of varying and conflicting criteria. But with performance demands evolving apace, the journey won’t stop there for filtration solutions. It’s therefore about time that they received a little bit of praise for the challenges they address within this complex ‘technical textiles’ arena.