From Research to Production: How Foam Dyeing with Indigo Could Revolutionize the Denim Industry

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The denim industry is constantly evolving to incorporate new technologies, processes and production methods, many of which are efforts to improve sustainability throughout the supply chain. Thanks to industry-wide collaboration, a new method of indigo dyeing is now commercially available. Indigo foam dyeing originated at the university level and has moved through testing and trials and is about to be debuted in production after many years of research.

Wrangler recently announced that they are releasing a “Dry Indigo Denim” collection in 2019 featuring foam dyed denim fabrics from the Spanish mill Tejidos Royo. The dyeing machines are from U.S.-based Gaston Systems, using a patented technique called IndigoZERO™ developed by Indigo Mill Designs. Indigo Mill Designs originally partnered with Texas Tech University on the development and trials of this technology and is able to dye both light and dark shades of denim. This technology adoption is a great example of how collaboration at all stages can bring a new piece of technology, idea, or innovation to the market and has the potential to change an industry.

What is Foam Dyeing?

Foam dyeing technology is not new and has been available in the market, though major advancements have been made in recent years. Foam dyeing is an attractive alternative to traditional dyeing methods due to the potential environmental benefits and supply chain savings. The main dyeing element in this process is foam, using air instead of water to carry the chemistry or dye onto the fabric. Foam systems can also be used to apply fabric finishes and are used for many different cotton fabrics, including knits, wovens, and denim. Major advancements in foam chemistry, generation, and application control have been made to allow for increased mill adoption for this technology. Foam dyeing with indigo eliminates the use of several chemicals but still allows for traditional processes, washdowns, and effects seen with traditionally-dyed indigo fabrics.

foam dye machine in action

The Benefits of Indigo Foam Dyeing

The savings potential with this dyeing method is significant for both the environment and the bottom line (1,2). There are many benefits of indigo foam dyeing, including:

+ Significant water and energy savings
+ Improved production efficiency
+ Potential to reduce the product development cycle by 50-90%
+ Can be easily combined with hand processes, laser and ozone garment treatments
+ Limits the number of chemicals needed during processing
+ Allows for smaller lot sizes

This technology could revolutionize the denim industry and allow companies to rethink traditional processing methods. Through continued industry collaboration, the possibilities are endless!

people wearing various shades of denim jeans

More Information

+ Read Wrangler’s press release.
+ Learn more about the foam dyeing process and other ways to reduce WEC in your supply chain.
+ Learn more about the research done at Texas Tech and collaborative efforts.
+ View Cotton Incorporated’s webinar on Sustainable Solutions for Denim Processing.
+ Learn more about sustainable denim finishing.