According to Bart Rich, director of brand management for Mohawk Industries, the mill’s newest fiber innovations include both nylon and polyester advancements that focus on enhancing durability and softness. “In nylon, Mohawk introduced WearDated SoftTouch featuring our new soft fusion technology. This proprietary process combines the benefits of superior durability along with ultra-soft comfort. We market it as the softest soft nylon in carpet. This fiber gives consumers an irresistibly comfortable carpet that is tough-tested and long lasting.
Steve Sieracki, vice president of product development for Shaw Industries, also touted the soft story. “The advancement in fiber recently has been in its overall softness. BCF nylon and polyester have continued to increase in softness. This is matching the trend to consumer preference as well. The female consumer wants soft in her home today.”
The newest fiber from Shaw is the innovation in its soft Anso nylon BCF fiber, he explained. “The featured item here is the Anso colorwall. It is industry leading in soft nylon and it also contains 25% recycled content.”
Ralph Boe, CEO of Beaulieu of America, believes the biggest thing in fiber over the last few years has been the introduction of products constructed of polyester BCF. “For years nylon was the primary fiber, whether it was nylon BCF or nylon spun yarns. Polyester BCF hadn’t been given much consideration because most of our supply came from outside fiber companies that weren’t really interested in making it. But now, as the industry has backward integrated to the extent that we and our two biggest competitors make our own fiber, we’ve gotten more involved in polyester BCF, and that’s been the growth fiber.”
The mill’s SoftSense is constructed in either filament nylon or solution-dyed polyester. It has eight nylon styles that come in textures, friezes and level cut loops from 35 to 50 ounces. Two solution-dyed polyester styles are all friezes and range from 45 to 70 ounces.
Steve Griffith, Invista’s vice president, residential, said he sees most of the growth happening in BCF because “it is more flexible, you can make more, different constructions from it, and it is a lower cost way to extrude fiber. The interesting thing is, at least through the end of 2009, nylon BCF had not lost share to polyester. What has lost share is polypropylene and nylon staple. Polyester BCF has grown predominantly at the expense of polypropylene and nylon staple.”
Griffith also commented on the fiber producer’s three new platforms for 2010—920, launched under its Luxerell nylon fiber label; 925, launched under the same label, and 1127, launched under Extra Body II. “The first two, 920 and 925, are expansions of our soft fiber platform. They are extremely soft BCF and have much better hand than the original Tactesse fiber that came out about 10 years ago, while having retained the original performance characteristics of Tactesse.
“As we continue to make our products softer,” he explained, “they perform at the same standard because of the LotusFX Fiber Shield technology we use on the fiber. We believe it’s equal to the same softness of anybody else’s, but it performs. We’ve had an excellent launch. From the day it hit the street we’ve been running at capacity. We’ve actually added capacity. It’s been every bit as strong as any fiber we’ve ever launched. That’s one of the reasons why we are gaining share right now.”