How Cotton is Processed at Factories and Graded for Commercial Use?

Though archeologists have found the cotton cloth that is over 7,000 years old, yet the exact origins of cotton are not known. In this article, we will cover the techniques by which cotton is processed in factories.

How Cotton is Processed?

The first automated cotton processing machine was invented in the early 18th century, before that cotton was traditionally processed by hand.

There are several steps and machines which are followed to complete the processing of cotton and turn it into textile.

Initial Stage of Processing

Cotton must first travel from the field to the mill for spinning and weaving before it can be turned into textiles.

Cotton Picker

From the time of planting to the time when the plant is fully mature, cotton takes about five months to grow.  The cotton is then harvested using an automated cotton picker, which departs a trail of burrs in its wake.

  • Initially, cotton is plucked from the plant and then loaded into a buggy pulled by a tractor.
  • Moreover, these machines have the capability of producing humongous rectangular blocks, or modules, out of seed cotton.

Cotton Gin

Once the cotton reaches the cotton gin, it is cleaned of burrs, sticks, and any remaining debris and seeds. A truck transports the module to the cotton gin.

It is transported on a conveyor belt to a hot box. After falling onto the feeder, the seed cotton is dispensed. It helps the seed cotton to become easier to clean because it absorbs hot air, allowing moisture to evaporate.

Wad Buster and Steady Flow

It is broken up into clumps by distributing the seed cotton between two lines by using a machine called the “wad buster.” Then it is transported to another machine, steady flow, which moves the seed cotton evenly between lines.

Cotton seed is mixed with a burr and swung against metal bars by the burr machine. As the machine spins, seed cotton is expelled through one pipe and the heavier debris through another, with centrifugal force crushing the heavier debris.

In the final stage of processing, the seed cotton will be dumped in a waste chute, followed by an auger that moves the debris out of the plant.

Final Stage of Processing

Gin Stands

Gin stands use a network of pipes to transport the seed to automated machines that separate seed from fluffy stuff called lint. Within each machine, there are 116 circular saws, spaced evenly and supported by steel ribs.

Seed cotton is grabbed by the saw teeth and pulled through the small gap between saw and rib. Because the seeds are too large to pass through, they bounce off the rib and fall into a conveyor belt. The lint drops into the flue that leads to the packing area.

Dairy cows feed primarily on cotton seeds because they contain 23% protein, 20% fat, and 25% fiber. In addition, to feed, cotton seed oil, which is widely used in salads and other food products, is derived from cotton seeds.

Tramper and Grippers

After being formed into bales, the cotton lint is fed through a pipe to the press area. During the tramper process, the lint is compressed into individual bales, and the tramper pushes it through a mesh.

A bagging machine then places the bales on a conveyor belt and feeds them through grippers that pull samples from each side. The grippers deposit the samples into a bin as the bags slide into place.

I.D. Number

Technicians labeled the bale with an identification number and retrieved corresponding samples from the bin into a bag while labeling the bag with the identification number.

Sample Analysis and Grading

Factory representatives hand over samples to state agricultural officials to test the samples for quality, cleanliness, and color.

Bales are graded and processed according to their types after they undergo the testing. After that, bales are delivered to industries for commercial use and local storage.

Types of Commonly Cultivated Cotton in the World

There are four different types of commonly cultivated cotton in the world, each one has its distinctive features.

1. Egyptian Cotton

Pima and Egyptian cotton are both classified in the same scientific class: G. barbadense. Both are resistant to wear, but Egyptian cotton is cultivated in Egypt’s Nile River Valley as opposed to the Pima district in the United States.

2. Pima Cotton

Cotton Pima is one of the strongest, softest and longest types of cotton in the world. It’s native to central and southern South America, it is durable and resistant to fading, tearing, and wrinkling. It is accounted amongst the finest type of cotton available in the world.

3. Organic Cotton

Organic cotton comes from plants that are grown without harmful chemicals and do not contain any genetic modifications.

4. Upland Cotton

The crop is native to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and southern Florida. Furthermore, it accounts for about 90% of global cotton production. One of the known features of upland cotton is that it has very short fibers.

Characteristic Features of Cotton

Textile companies rely on cotton for a variety of reasons, including its distinguishing characteristics.

  • Absorbency: Fabrics made of cotton are very absorbent since each fiber is relatively close together.
  • Breathability: Cotton fibers have a higher degree of breathability than synthetics.
  • Durability: Cotton plants produce a tough fabric because of their strong cellular structure.
  • Keeping Dyes in Place: A fabric like cotton has the ability to absorb dye easily, which allows it to be dyed in a variety of colors.
  • Static-free: In cotton, the static charge does not occur because it does not conduct electricity.
  • Softness: Fabric made from cotton retains its soft, fluffy texture.

Uses of Cotton

  • A cotton crop is a source of both food and fibre.
  • Clothing, homewares, and industrial products can all be made from cotton.
  • Oil and stock feed can be produced from cotton seeds.

Useful Article: Climate Friendly Cotton Varieties Need of Time

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