The selected fibers are broken up and separated in compact bales. Because most felts are a combination of different fiber types, the varying materials are weighed and blended using a carding machine. The carding machine breaks up the clumps of fibers to create individual fibers aligned parallel to one another, forming a web.
The web leaves the carding machine to a cross-lapper that folds the layers of webbing over itself to achieve the desired weight and thickness of the finished felt. The webbing, or batts, ender the needle loom where barbed needles vertically pierce the materials at a rate of 600-2000 punches per minute. These needles repeatedly puncture the webbing until a mattified material is produced.
The needle size, quantity, and placement affect the functional characteristics of the finished felt. The number of times the needle loom punctures the fabric and their distance can be adjusted to enhance the fabric’s density (the higher the density, the more durable). Overall, calibrating the appropriate needle sizing, quantities, puncture frequencies, and distributions will form the material according to type and thickness.
Here is the end of the process for some non-woven felts. Others go on to receive different finishing treatments, including:
- Additional needling for more density
- Heat treatment