Textile Finishing Explained:
Ultrasonic Cavitation VS. Wet Processing

Textile Finishing Explained:
Ultrasonic Cavitation
Wet Processing

Chemical or wet textile processing is designed to enhance textile properties and attributes by chemically treating textiles in a liquid medium. While there are many types of chemical finishing processes designed to achieve different characteristics in textiles, all of them have one thing in common – the huge negative impact they have on the planet as a by-product of the high pollution levels they generate in wastewater and harmful chemicals. In recent years, growing awareness has led to local and global initiatives to minimize the textile industry’s pollution levels through the development of more eco-friendly wet processing solutions. Sonovia has dedicated 10 years of research and development to an alternative textile processing solution through ultrasonic cavitation. But what are the differences between the prevalent wet processing techniques and Sonovia’s processing via ultrasonic cavitation? Read on to find out.

What is the purpose of textile wet processing?

Textiles are normally made by binding yarns or threads together into a mesh configuration through knitting or weaving. After the textiles go through the coloration or dyeing stage, they are still not at the level of cleanliness, hand feel, visual appeal and desired performance required of commercial fabric. To make fabrics marketable, they would need to undergo a series of preparatory and final processes which are referred to as finishing processes. These could include washing, softening, pre-shrinking, or heat-setting. In addition to finishing processes which pertain to the basic appearance, texture and dimensions of the fabric, there are also finishing processes which have been developed to enhance the performance of the fabric. Types of performance-enhancing finishes vary as per the desired properties that are to be added to the fabric. Examples of performance-enhancing finishes include antimicrobial treatments, water-repellency, and fire-retardation, to name a few. In this article we will focus on performance-enhancing processing and explain the differences between the common practices today and the innovative technology developed by Sonovia to achieve these properties.

What is wet processing?

The purpose of performing chemical processing on fabrics is to manipulate or add to their properties. The procedure usually entails either processing batches of dyed textile in dyeing machines or through immersion of continuous fabric in a bath of solution which includes the desired chemical formulation. The by-product of these processes is highly pollutive wastewater and chemicals which need to be treated at the manufacturing plant. The substantial consumption of water and usage of harmful chemicals in existing textile wet processing is detrimental to the environment and to the people who incorporate chemically-treated textiles into their everyday life. 

What is the impact of standard textile
wet processing on the environment?

According to the UN Environment Programme, the textile industry accounts for approximately 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as generating over half a kilogram of chemicals for every kilogram of fabric produced, while using up huge volumes of fresh water. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), textile mills use 20,000 types of chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic, as well as generating 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution, making the textile industry one of the largest pollutants on the planet.

What is ultrasonic cavitation and
how does Sonovia use it to reinvent wet processing?

Ultrasonic cavitation is a physical phenomenon in which vapor is created within a fluid. Vapor can be generated in liquids through increase in temperature, like the vapors you see over boiling water, or through a drop in pressure at constant temperature. As vapor bubbles form and pressure continues to drop, the bubbles keep growing bigger and bigger until eventually imploding. As the bubbles collapse, they produce high energy shock waves. Sonovia’s wet processing runs continuous fabric through a bath with an eco-friendly chemical formulation which contains the nanoparticles with the desired properties to be added to the textile. As the fabric passes through the liquid bath, Sonovia’s ultrasonic machine that is immersed in the liquid creates the conditions for vapor bubbles to form. Once the bubbles implode, the high energy jet-streams generated by the implosion propel the nanoparticles of the desired added-value properties onto the textile, thereby embedding them in the textile. Due to the extremely high velocity with which the nanoparticles are embedded onto the fabric, these functional properties become an inherent part of the fabric and maintain their performance over time and multiple wash cycles.


What performance additives can be embedded in textiles through Sonovia’s ultrasonic cavitation?

Sonovia is in various stages of R&D and commercialization of a wide range of performance textile solutions for multiple industry sectors. The antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal fabrics used to make the Sonovia SonoMask™ and SonoMask Pro™ face masks were well received and supported hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide in protecting themselves from COVID-19.  Sonovia is currently patenting, developing, and piloting additional performance textiles with leading manufacturers worldwide to create strategic partnerships. These include but are not limited to water-repellent fabrics, fire-retardant fabrics, anti-odor fabrics and thermoregulating fabrics, to name a few.

With the peaking demand for green textile processing alternatives and more and more focus being placed on moving away from the pollutive wet processing methods used today, Sonovia’s ultrasonic cavitation processing is quickly gaining attention from investors and strategic partners. Sonovia’s innovative ultrasonic technology not only delivers durable performance textiles that get the job done but also protects people and the planet in the process.

Sonovia – the green machine of future textiles.