Home > Technology > Raw Materials: Nylon Carpet Technology Posted on: May 07, 2010 Raw Materials Raw Materials: Nylon Carpet Shaw Contract Group uses new and recycled materials to produce carpet at its mills in Georgia, following these basic steps. By Bradford Mckee Jameson Simpson Extrusion: The nylon for Shaw's carpets arrives by rail or tractor-trailer in the form of resin pellets or chips, some brand-new and some recycled. From storage silos, the pellets are fed into an extruder, which melts them together at 400 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. The softened material is like taffy. It then enters a controlled feed into a "spin pack" (shown), the exit end of which is perforated like a showerhead. The extruded nylon cools as it falls down about three stories, like a shower of fishing line. It eventually winds up rolled onto cones. Jameson Simpson Twisting: The 24 extruders at Shaw's plant can produce up to 30,240 miles of fiber threads per hour. After they emerge from the extruder, the threads (which can number from 50 to 240, depending on the holes in the spin pack) are pulled together to form one larger fiber. They are given a coat of lubricant to keep them supple. Once twisted, the yarn is stretched across fast-spinning wheels, which heat it for strengthening and prepare it to be texturized. Jameson Simpson Dyeing: In skein dyeing, one of two main methods used to dye carpet yarn, twisted and heat-set yarn is turned a new solid color. It is hung loosely in 1,000-pound batches on a carrier that keeps it from tangling and is plunged into a stainless steel vat filled with a dye mixture for about three hours. The dyed yarn is then bulked up for texture, wrung of excess liquid, and spun onto cones. Jameson Simpson Tufting: The process of turning yarn into carpet, tufting occurs in a facility separate from yarn production. Multiple 10-pound cones of yarn are hung together on treelike frames called "creels." Rollers pull the yarn and guide it through slender tubes into the needles of a tufting machine. There can be 700 to 1,200 needles working at once to sew the individual yarn strands into the primary backing material, which is made of polypropylene or a blend of PET and nylon. Jameson Simpson Recycling: Shaw gathers 100 million pounds of used carpet a year from around the country. The used carpet is sorted by fiber type to isolate the preferred product, known as Nylon 6, and is fed into huge shredders that then take the material to an extruder for melting. Reactors vaporize the melted material to separate out non-nylon substances for reuse as an alternative energy source. The remaining nylon is then liquefied for purification into the recycled nylon pellets that, in turn, enter the beginning of the process again to become new carpet.