Rofin-Sinar UK Ltd is behind recent BBC News articles on the increased use of lasers to finish jeans with the fading, tearing and patterning special effects which are popular on denim today. Rofin-Sinar’s products are used by the world’s major suppliers to the denim jean industry. Lasers are incorporated into the finishing stage of the jean making process, allowing manufacturers to reduce chemical and water use, and the time taken to make faded, distressed and ripped jeans.
The finishing systems incorporating CO2 lasers transfer a grey-scale design to the surface of the denim by varying the intensity of the focused laser beam. The laser beam modifies the surface of the fabric, designing shading, rips and even intricate patterns without damaging the texture of the material.
With lasers, jean manufacturers can finish a pair of jeans every 90 seconds, instead of 20 minutes, a significant advantage for an industry faced with increased competition and a fast fashion cycle. By comparison, other surface-altering techniques such as stone-washing and bleaching pose problems such as non-reproducible designs, an inability to apply the design to different fabrics, and reduced fabric quality after processing – not to mention the toxic nature of the harsh chemicals needed.
Dr Ken Lipton, Managing Director of Rofin-Sinar UK Ltd, said: “We have been actively supporting our customers in the denim industry for over 15 years to get this innovative technology accepted by the market. The productivity improvement it brings, together with the environmental benefits, have resulted in a significant increase in our business in this market.”