Carpet fibre

Helping carpets look better longer

By Invista Antron Carpet Fibre.

THE carpet fibre plays a central role in the performance of the carpet or carpet tile, impacting factors such as wear and stain-resistance, light-fastness, maintenance, depth of colour and design versatility.Selecting the right carpet fibre is crucial in ensuring your carpet performs to expectations.

In carpets for the home there are several different types of carpet fibre, but for commercial environments, there are three main types of carpet fibre used; wool, polypropylene and polyamide. The last of these comes in two main derivatives – Polyamide 6 and Polyamide 6.6 – each providing a different set of performance aspects and so worthy of separate treatment.

Wool fibre is used in woven and tufted broadloom carpet in the hospitality industry, where historically it’s favoured for its depth of colour and matt-lustre.

A natural product, wool has a resilience that makes it suitable for high-wear applications. Thanks to a ‘crimped’ structure that gives the fibre good recovery, it’s a good choice as a long-term solution in hospitality environments, where carpets are replaced infrequently.
Wool fibres can be twisted together, most commonly in two-ply or three-ply yarns, and this brings added resilience to the carpet.

Wool fibre isn’t stain-resistant and so special attention has to be paid to ensure spills are quickly dealt with. That said, it does offer good appearance retention and is often used in areas that come under high-levels of foot-traffic for this reason.

In commercial environments, wool fibre is used in traditional or contemporary woven pattern carpets. Partly the traditional fibre for such applications, wool also lends itself particularly well to these types of carpet, because its ability to take dye gives good depth of colour and allows for subtle tonal differences.

Emphasised by a low-lustre, dyed wool has a natural look, again which makes it popular in commercial environments looking to provide a home-like quality for users.

As a natural fibre, wool cannot be engineered to build-in particular design aspects such as high-lustre or fineness. This makes wool poor for applications where changes in texture, lustre and handle are used as a part of the carpet design.

This approach is commonplace in carpet and carpet tile designed for office and workplace environments, meaning wool isn’t generally encountered in carpets designed for these locations.

Polypropylene is a man-made fibre that is cost-effective to manufacture, and which comes with inherent stain-resistance. This makes it used in really value-orientated carpets and carpet tiles for commercial locations.

A thermoplastic polymer, polypropylene is the world’s second-most widely produced synthetic plastic and is used in various applications. Such ubiquity means that when made into carpet fibre, it offers a reasonably economical solution.

When made in tight, low-level loop-pile carpet polypropylene can provide a suitable commercial quality. Polypropylene fibres are coarse and stiff and don’t recover as well as other carpet fibres, and so are prone to flattening in areas subject to constant traffic.
Hydrophobic, polypropylene resists water-based stains and can be cleaned with bleach without loss of colour, but unfortunately the fibre is also oleophobic, attracting oils from traffic which then makes dirt difficult to remove. For this reason, polypropylene has a reputation for looking dirty quickly.

This hydrophobic nature also means polypropylene has to be solution-dyed and with the molecular structure of the fibre, this leads to colours that are flat and not particularly vivid.
However, they’re permanent and UV-resistant, meaning polypropylene carpets won’t fade or lose colour, even when exposed to direct sunlight.

As polypropylene has to be made in tight and short loop pile qualities to provide durability in commercial environments, it passes over design flexibility to give a functional carpet that provides good initial value.

In the ‘30s, a new class of synthetic polymer called polyamides was invented. The most widely utilised polyamides in commercial carpet fibre are PA 6 and PA 6.6, commonly known as nylon. It’s different polymer building blocks that separates these fibres and which also affect their performance.

Polyamide 6
Possessing high tensile strength, elasticity and lustre, PA 6 is a commonly used polyamide in carpet fibre. It offers strong durability and design flexibility.

The PA 6 molecular chain means the fibre has strength, while providing value, so is ideal for use as carpet fibre. PA 6 is widely used in commercial carpet for offices and workspaces where it offers a long-term, high-quality solution.

While offering strong wear-resistance, PA 6 not inherently stain-resistant and can fade if exposed to strong sunlight over prolonged periods, so care should be taken when specifying PA 6 carpet in buildings with glazed facades or atriums with high-levels of natural light.

With quick dye-take, PA 6 carpets have good colour richness and are suitable for carpet printing, a technique that gives access to short-run bespoke designs and carpets with corporate branding.

As a man-made fibre, it’s possible to alter the lustre, fineness and density of PA 6 yarn to create many different looks. This makes the fibre suitable for carpet designs that focus on combinations of texture, gloss and fineness.

Polyamide 6.6
With an extremely ordered structure for exceptional strength, recovery and lustre, as well as the ability to alter cross-section; nylon 6.6 is considered the best carpet fibre for use in commercial carpet.

With a tighter and more-dense polymer structure, PA 6.6 carpets can perform better than equivalently constructed carpets of PA 6. Retaining texture and with greater resilience, it’s been in use for more than 40-years and has proven itself to offer excellent longevity and recovery.

One property of PA 6.6 is its ability to be extruded in different shapes and with hollow channels running through its length. These altered profiles and cross-sections have an impact on the fibre’s surface area and ability to refract light.

A trilobal cross-section refracts light and has a reduced surface area when comparted to a standard round cross-section. Antron Legacy and Antron Lumena carpet fibres come with a square shape and four hollow channels running through the length.

These are the only carpet fibres to use this cross-section to minimise the appearance of soil for a carpet that stays visibly cleaner for longer.

PA 6.6’s tighter polymer structure makes it harder for dirt to stick to the surface and also gives lower permeability than PA 6, for better resistance to soil and spills.

However, it isn’t stain-resistant in standard form, though this can be addressed by making colour an inherent part of the fibre’s molecular structure in a process known as solution-dying. Solution-dyed PA 6.6 is available in Antron Lumena carpet fibre to give resistance to stains and intensive cleaning chemicals.

Delivering permanent stain-resistance and soil-resistance, this fibre is suitable for commercial environments looking for the very best carpet performance.

Light and colour-fast so suitable for exposure to strong sunlight over prolonged periods, Antron Lumena carpet fibre is available in a palette of more than 300 colours. These colours are developed in-line with customer feedback, workshops and trend research to ensure relevance in today’s and tomorrow’s commercial, office and work spaces.

As colour is an inherent part of the fibre, Antron Lumena Carpet fibre is a solution-dyed PA 6.6 and offered in different decitex to ensure versatility in carpet design.

Fibre engineering has also been used to make piece-dyed nylon 6.6 more vibrant, delivering richer, high-lustre colour in a carpet fibre that offers excellent longevity and recovery, as well as soil-hiding capability, through a special trilobal shape with a hollow channel.

It’s possible to alter the lustre, fineness and density of PA 6.6 yarn to create many different looks without any discernible loss of performance. This makes PA 6.6 suitable for designs that combine texture, gloss and fineness.

Owing to its flexibility and performance, PA 6.6 has been used in some of the most striking carpets ever made for commercial spaces and it is regarded as a carpet fibre that offers exceptional performance, helping carpets look better longer.

Invista Antron Carpet Fibre