Filament Processes in Carpet Manufacturing

All of the available carpeting on the market is made in one of two ways: via the bulked continuous filament (BCF) process or the staple process.

The Processes, Explained

The BCF process involves manufacturing carpet fibres in a single long string. Once the string has been produced, several fibres are twisted together and then heat-set, which creates a strand of yarn. The staple process produces carpet fibres in a series of short strings which are then spun together into a long strand of yarn.

Staple fibres are used to manufacture a number of higher end carpets. This is because a manufacturer can spin a yarn bundle of any size, which provides more flexibility in the styling of the carpet. For example, a pinpoint Saxony carpet requires spinning into yarn piles that are very small, where cabled or shag carpeting requires very large yarn bundles. Plush and velvety carpeting is also manufactured using the staple process.

A carpet made with the BCF process will look distinctly different and have different characteristics from one made with the staple process. The BCF process is close to becoming the industry standard for carpet manufacturing among many well-known companies.

The Staple Process and Shedding

Staple carpet will shed soon after it’s been installed. This is normal, and usually lasts no longer than a few weeks. This process does not affect the performance, nor does it affect the appearance of carpet made using the staple process.

Shedding occurs due to the cutting process during manufacturing, when tufts are cut for cut pile. Shorter fibres are sometimes cut completely from the rest of the carpet due to one end of the fibre may be being anchored in adhesive while the other end may not be. This will cause a moderate amount of fibres to be removed during vacuuming in the beginning, which will reduce in amount over time. The amount of shed fibres can be greatly minimised with frequent vacuuming.

Believe it or not, there is a difference between low and high-quality staple fibres. Lower quality carpeting made with the staple process will see filaments working loose and then accumulating on the surface of the carpet. High-quality carpeting made from staple fibres is made of longer fibres, and so will shed less frequently.

Carpet Types and How to Distinguish Them

Nylon carpeting is manufactured using both the BCF and staple process. Olefin fibres are produced using BVF only, where polyester fibres use only the staple process. Inherently staple are both wool and cotton.

The difference between a carpet made with BCF process is easy to distinguish; simply consult the label on the sample for either a description containing ‘BCF’ or one with CFN, which stands for ‘continuous filament nylon’. Should a sample label include neither description, it is likely to be made of a staple fibre.

Those looking at roll carpet as opposed to samples can tell a staple fibre from BCF by rubbing their thumb across the fibre. If some short pieces of fibre come loose, the carpet is likely made of staple fibre.

Purchasing carpeting requires understanding their various types, as well as how each of them clean and respond to matting and crushing. It is also a good idea to understand how each carpet types responds to sunlight and stains.

Professional flooring specialists can provide some insight about the properties of different carpeting so that the ultimate decision you make about the best carpeting for your home is as informed as possible. The purchase of new carpeting is a long-term investment, and the more you understand, the more you can save.