The Perfect Jeans: Integrating Spectrophotometric Analysis in Denim Manufacturing

spectrophotometric analysis
In today’s competitive marketplace, it is more important than ever for denim manufacturers to optimize color quality control.
Image Source: Unsplash user Chelsea Francis

Jeans have come a long way from their humble beginnings. Originally designed by Jacob David in 1871, this wardrobe staple was developed to stand up to the demands of miners and cowboys who used and abused their clothing in harsh environments. By the late 1990s, premium denim emerged to set a new standard for jeans in terms of material, cut, and color, leading more affordable denim manufacturers to step up their game to compete with high end products.1 Today, expectations across all segments of the denim apparel industry are higher than ever, requiring careful attention to detail and responsiveness to rapidly changing trends amongst major players and artisanal designers alike. The color measuring abilities of spectrophotometric instrumentation can give you the ability to manufacture the best products possible and stay ahead of the competition.

Spectrophotometric Analysis During Development and Production

Spectrophotometers are critical to the development of denim dyeing and processing methods to give jeans their desired appearance. Not only does the initial dye color have to be visually pleasing, but the jeans have to stand up to washing and wear and tear over time, often requiring testing to ensure color fastness. Spectral analysis allows you to precisely identify color changes as the result of both manufacturing processes and external stressors to develop an ideal dyeing and processing formula.2 Once a formula has been perfected, the data provided by the spectrophotometric instrumentation can be used to set the benchmark for future production, allowing for monitoring of color against the standard. By integrating an in-line, non-contact apparatus such as HunterLab’s SpectraTrend HT in the production line, operators receive instant feedback regarding denim pigmentation. Typically, spectrophotometric instruments are mounted over the yarn ropes as they exit the dyeing range, ensuring consistent color of the material before weaving and allowing for corrective action to be taken before defective material undergoes additional costly processing.

spectrophotometric analysis
Spectrophotometric instrumentation can allow manufacturers to develop and consistently produce their signature look.
Image Source: Flickr user shlala

Today’s sophisticated denims often receive additional finishing once woven, such as washing, brushing, singeing, sandblasting, bleaching, and drying. These processes are vital to creating the signature look of a particular style or brand and give jeans the special aesthetic qualities your customers are seeking.3 Spectrophotometric analysis of the finished product can be undertaken as the final quality assurance step to ensure that the color falls within your personal tolerance for pigment variation. The precision of instruments like the SpectraTrend HT allows identical measurement to occur across manufacturing locations, establishing consistency not only within a particular production line but between all lines. True, predictable color production enables customers to receive exactly what they want and is particularly important for customers ordering online, without the benefit of in-person visual inspection. If a customer falls in love with a pair of jeans, you want to be sure that they can find a virtually identical product easily.

spectrophotometric analysis
HunterLab’s sophisticated connectivity puts color measurement data at your fingertips, allowing you to analyze your manufacturing processes with precision and ease.
Image Source: Unsplash user Thomas Lefebvre

 State-of-the-Art Control

While HunterLab instrumentation does provide the most accurate color analysis for denim available, it also goes beyond simple measurement to expand the responsiveness, efficiency, and functionality of your manufacturing process. The innovative connectivity of the SpectraTrend HT gives you the option of interfacing the instrument with your own DSC or PLC control system, allowing measurement data to be used to tailor a range of process variables affecting the color of denim, including chemical levels, dyebox and washbox levels and temperatures, and dyeing can temperatures and pressures. Detailed and summary reports for each run are available and include event logs, alarm conditions, and process variable information. Historical color data can be stored in a database to enable you to examine patterns over time, identifying correlations between color and process variables, and optimizing control over your production lines.

By harnessing the power of HunterLab’s state-of-the-art spectrophotometric instruments and software, you can bring denim manufacturing to new heights both during development and production. Please contact us to learn more about how we can meet your color measurement needs.

  1. “Denim Still Works,” February 3, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/03/style/03iht-rdenim4.4.9707370.html?pagewanted=all
  2. “Dyeing of White and Indigo Dyed Cotton Fabrics with Mimosa Tenuiflora Extract,” April 2014, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319610311001207
  3. “Denim Dry Processing for Creating Vintage Jeans,” October 15, 2009, http://www.denimsandjeans.com/denim/manufacturing-process/denim-dry-processing-for-creating-vintage-jeans/

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