Heathcoat Fabrics firmly believes in regular investment; be it within the people who work here, the local environment and surrounding area, or the machinery used to create our products.

Our dye house recently took delivery of a brand new Henriksen Jigger, and what a sight it was, craned off the lorry against a sunny blue sky on a brisk Winter morning.

A jigger, or jig, is a traditional style of machine used in the dyeing process. It is most suitable for the dyeing of woven fabric, and can do so up to boiling point. As jigs exert considerable lengthwise tension on the fabric during the process, jigs are more suitable for the dyeing of woven rather than knitted fabrics which may stretch under tension. Since the fabric is handled open-width, a jigger is also very suitable for fabrics which crease when dyed in rope form.

The search for a brand-new jig started several years ago and has involved quite a few trials on various innovative designs of machines, but in the end we returned to the new range of jig from firm favourites Vlad Henriksen.

This sizeable investment in the dye house will allow us to remove some of the burden of the current atmospheric jigs, enabling our dyeing and finishing unit to meet increasing future demand for scoured and atmospheric dyed fabrics. It will give us the technical capability to handle lightweight and potentially wider fabrics, yet at the same time improve our operational health and safety aspects by automating chemical handling.

A state of the art adaptive controller was also purchased as the operator interface; this will monitor and control key systems critical to successful jig dyeing, including time and temperature. The controller will also link into the dye house central system, meaning that all jobs will have their key running parameters, machine running conditions and dye formulations stored.

Two new warp knitting spacer machines were also delivered in line with the already-in-motion strategic growth plans here at Heathcoat Fabrics.

Warp knitting spacer machines are used to create a three-dimensional knitted material that consists of two knitted substrates which are either fused together or held apart by spacer yarns. All of our dynamic spacer fabric falls under our patented spacetec® brand, and is used to create products such as sportswear, baby mattresses and carriers, body armour, furnishings, within automotive products, aerospace designs, and geotextiles.

These new machines will allow us to increase capacity for some of our core clients, and are equipped with electronic patterning capability rather than pattern chains or disks, enabling time-critical reaction times for structural developments.

By regularly investing in the technology we use and the people who work here, we continue to maintain a position of strength and reliability within the global technical textile industry.