Damask producer bounces back with Simtex

Hough’s unique elastic roll helps customer overcome slump in luxury fabric demand

Political turmoil in Africa is having a serious impact on demand for highly-specialised damask fabrics, for which Richard Hough calender rolls are an ideal manufacturing choice. The result is that the luxury damask trade has been squeezed, with only the very highest quality fabrics now marketable – and technical requirements in the manufacturing process have become even more critical.

Damask is a highly-prized material, used in the manufacture of prestige robes worn by the wealthier strata of African society. For these fabrics, quality is defined by the smoothness and gloss of the surface finish, which can only be produced by high-temperature calendering using suitable elastic rolls.

The impact of the reduction in market demand recently is well illustrated by one of Richard Hough’s European customers, which is a leading manufacturer of top-quality damask. Says Hough MD Anthony Ashton: “We know that our customer has had to rationalise its business significantly, to tailor production and costs to the new demand level. The firm has also been fighting to maintain its quality standards, since the composite calender rolls it was using were subject to poor performance and cracking.”

Simtex bowl in action

Hough had the solution, introducing its ‘game-changing’ Simtex calender roll to the customer in May this year. Simtex is an elastic roll that creates a microslip effect at the nip – the essential factor in increasing both glaze and smoothness. It can also resist even the highest of temperatures, and has a usable diameter of more than 80mm.

“The customer reported immediate benefits, with the glaze and smoothness far out-performing both composite and cotton rolls used previously,” said Anthony. “The improvement was highly significant and could be felt immediately just by touching the damask fabric.”

Additionally, Simtex delivers a dramatic improvement in roll durability, with a theoretical lifetime of  30,000 hours – compared with the maximum of 5,000 hours for a composite roll.

The customer is now ready to revitalise production by as much as 50% in the next year, and has immediately ordered a further two Simtex rolls – “ultimate proof of the superior finish and long lasting toughness that the Simtex roll exhibits,” according to Anthony. “Traditional cotton rolls can’t cope with the high temperatures and pressures, and can last less than six month, while composite replacements suffer from cracking, reduced glaze through the lack of microslip effect, and a much shorter service life.”