This year’s Expo Detergo certainly attracted the textile care industries’ main players. The laundry sector was perhaps more to the fore than in previous years but the drycleaning machine and finishing equipment manufacturers – traditionally, the “main attractions” at the Italian show were well represented and had plenty to talk about.

There were important launches in solvents, chemicals, cleaning systems and drycleaning machines.

Operating efficiency is now one of the main trends influencing buying decisions and so the main manufacturers/suppliers of finishing equipment were also keen to show their latest developments for drycleaning businesses of all sizes.

Several industry associations also used the Milan show to launch initiatives, reinforcing the show’s attraction. For example Cinet, the International Committee of Textile Care, chose Expo Detergo to launch its latest training initiative, E–Dryclean. Supported by several leading manufacturers in the sector, E-DryClean is an internet-based platform for the drycleaning industry to develop skills in many areas of textile cleaning.

Drycleaning solvents

Kreussler, a leading manufacturer of chemicals for the textile service industry, introduced a further development in alternative solvents.

SystemK4 is claimed to have similar cleaning properties to perc. At its heart is SolvonK4, which is described by the company as a non-toxic, biodegradable organic solvent that is non-hazardous according to current European regulations.

Although the German chemicals company will not reveal the solvent’s composition, it says that SolvonK4 is halogen-free and has a Kb value of 75 – exceeding that of hydrocarbons, 25Kb, and cyclosiloxane D5, 13Kb. Kreussler adds that SolvonK4 is the only bipolar organic solvent available in textile care, so making it effective against fats, oils and resins and water-soluble soiling.

SystemK4 also includes a dedicated detergent called ClipK4, a brushing agent PrenettK4 and a water- and stain-repellent, VinoyK4.

Kreussler has formed a partnership with the Bologna-based FMB Group – the company behind the Union, Realstar and Firbimatic brands – to develop ready-to-use machines.

SystemK4 has been undergoing field tests in Europe and the USA since autumn 2009.

Thomas Zeck, commercial director at Kreussler, said that feedback so far has been positive, with perc users surprised by the cleaning performance on

water-soluble soil, while businesses already using HCS technology or other halogen-free alternative solvents remarked favourably on cleaning performance and the ecological advantages.

Kreussler says that the system also requires less energy for distillation and drying and allows cost savings in the disposal of distillation residues.

The solvent has also passed toxicological, dermatological and mutagenic testing without incident.

Rynex Technologies in partnership with Equinox Chemicals of Albany, Georgia, is establishing a European operation to launch the alternative drycleaning solvent Rynex 3E

to an international market.

The European operation is headed by Marty Brucato, who is responsible for all aspects of the launch including sales, technical support, administration and setting up a distribution network. Rynex Technologies Europe plans to establish its headquarters in Ireland.

Brucato explained that Rynex 3E has been developed jointly with Equinox and is an environmentally friendly solvent that has been designed to replace the three main options – perc, hydrocarbon and silicone solvents.

Rynex 3E is a special propylene glycol that is designed to “carry” a certain percentage of moisture. This ensures that both solvent-soluble soil (grease, fat and wax) and water-soluble soils and stains are removed effectively in the same bath. The company claims that its solvent has virtually no toxicity and is not mutagenic, bio-accumulative, persistent or dangerous to aquatic species.

Rynex 3E has been tested at several independent European laboratories and is said to clean as well as perc while meeting EU regulations on non-flammability.

At the Büfa stand, sales manager Dominique Suttheimer said: “We are very satisfied with the results

of the show.” He expressed the company’s pleasure at being awarded the Cinet Excellence Award 2010 for its commitment to the European E-DryClean project, an educational platform for the drycleaning industry.

Suttheimer said the company’s Lotus series of fibre protection products had attracted much attention. The range includes Secasit Lotus for use with perc, Secarbon Lotus for use with hydrocarbon solvent and Terasit Lotus for use with water. These are said to provide water, oil and soil repellent properties of a level not previously achieved.

Based upon a formulae that is free of PFOA (perfluoro-octanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluoro-octane sulphonate), Lotus is described as a new generation of products that creates a much softer hand and therefore a more voluminous fabric when compared to conventional impregnating agents.

Büfa’s Secapur Mega Plus soap for perc solvent cleaning is a high-tech soap that guarantees excellent cleaning results thanks to its combination of highly active anionic and cationic surfactants. Büfa was also promoting the advantages of wetcleaning with its Büfa-Care concept.

Suttheimer said that the range of perfectly balanced products and procedures gave wetcleaning clear advantages and the huge variety of different applications opens up opportunities for all launderers and drycleaners to acquire new customers and increase turnover.

Seitz took a similar view and Alexander Seitz was keen to stress that “there is no wetcleaning versus solvent cleaning argument”. He said that wetcleaning and solvent cleaning are both answers for modern professional textile care and that having both available makes sustainable cleaning possible.

Solvent developments such as GreenEarth make “green” textile care possible, said Seitz and he added that textile care is one of the few industries to deliver sustainable performance each day.

Additional cleaning methods and systems could significantly reduce environmental impact, he said.

Seitz added that “green” textile care is a reality today and in time it would become standard around the world.

Expo Detergo visitors were invited to learn more about the Luxor detergent and additives range that can be used with perc and hydrocarbon systems and the opportunities it presents for cleaners and their customers.

Drycleaning machines

Frank Ziermann, the managing director of Böwe Textile Cleaning, was spreading the word that the company is back in business as a manufacturer of premium quality drycleaning machines.

Ziermann Holdings became Böwe’s owner at the beginning of 2010 and Frank Ziermann became the managing director of Böwe Textile Cleaning at Bühl.

Now a 100% family-owned German company, Böwe will focus on its established range and on the smaller machines up to 30kg. It will supply both perc and multisolvent machines and both Premium and Starline ranges. Ziermann said the Böwe brand will regain its reputation as a top quality name in drycleaning. Böwe Shanghai is now a 100% German company and will only produce the machine’s hardware and piping, using quality components shipped from Germany. Software, electronics, dosing equipment and final adjustments are the responsibility of Bowe’s factories at Buhl and Sasbach.

The company showed its 6th generation perc machines and multisolvent ranges. The Premium multisolvent range covers 21, 26 and 30kg machines. The Premium perc line covers 12, 15 and 18kg machines.

Both ranges feature Böwe’s Electronic Balancing and Power Drying systems.

Perc machines also have self-cleaning solvent tanks and can be supplied with an optional Slimsorba integrated adsorption unit to reduce solvent concentrations.

The Bologna-based equipment manufacturer FMB Group has become the master licensor for GreenEarth Cleaning in Italy. The agreement, announced at Expo Detergo, gives FMB exclusive rights to license and distribute the silicone-based drycleaning process throughout Italy.

As the manufacturer of the Union, Firbimatic and Realstar brands, FMB is the world’s largest exporter of drycleaning machines, as well as the leading producer of machines running GreenEarth.

GreenEarth’s president Tim Maxwell said that the majority of GreenEarth-licensed machines in operation around the world were manufactured by the FMB Group so it made sense for the two companies to become partners for the Italian market.

The FMB family of companies also announced several machine developments to tie in with the launch of Kreussler’s System K4.

The Union K series has been designed specifically to operate with Kreussler’s SolvonK4. The range consists of nine machines with load capacities ranging between 15 and 40kg.

On the Firbimatic stand Gino Biagi said the show had been very important because the market was now coming out of recession.

The Hydroflex machine was officially launched at the show. Described as a combination of washer-extractor and drycleaning machine, it can wash, wash and

dry or dryclean with any of the alternative solvents. It has three advantages, said Biagi. First, a business can invest in one machine rather than a washer, dryer and drycleaning machine. Second, it allows the drycleaner more options and third, it reduces energy consumption.

Marissa Stefanini for Realstar said the market had not been easy for laundries and drycleaners but the company had seen dealers from all over the world including Turkey Spain, Saudi Arabia and North Africa although there had been fewer from North America. The stand featured a range of hydrocarbon machines and also some washers and dryers for laundries.

Expo Detergo was the official launch platform for the Nebula multisolvent cleaning system from Renzacci. The system is already being promoted and sold worldwide. There are two machines, a 12kg (30lb) model and a 15kg (35lb) unit. The machine uses Renzacci’s Combiclean system. This allows operators to select from several wash techniques so that they can choose the best combination according to the type of garment being treated.

The Nebula features Renzacci’s Dynamic Saving Flow system (DSF), which is said to reduce power use by over 45% and increase energy savings by 40% without sacrificing speed and productivity.

Renzacci’s laundry division has introduced the EcoCare washer-extractor. This features a system that recovers water from the last rinse and by so doing can save up to 40% in water use and up to 15% in energy consumption. The EcoCare name relates to a specific program on the machine’s computer. The program can be set so that the last rinse either goes to the drain or to a storage tank. If the water is sent to the tank there are two options. The stored water can either be re-used in the washer or the machine can be connected to the Nebula drycleaning machine and the water then used to cool down the machine’s solvent.

EazyClean Technologies, a subsidiary of Fresenius Umwelttechnik GmbH of Germany, is an established German-based manufacturer of HCS solvent drycleaning machines.

Director Dirk Rehage said that the machines on show were “characterised by innovative solutions, forward-looking technologies and high quality.” Three machine cover load capacities of 15, 24 and 35kg.

The range features spin speeds up to 900 rpm, short cycle times and efficient vacuum distillation.

The EazyClean Smart HCS complements the standard range. It is just 96.5cm wide and conforms to European regulations. It takes a 12kg load and has a 800rpm spin.

At the Ilsa stand, Claudio Bonvicini said that there had been tremendous interest in the company’s Ipura drycleaning machines, which have been designed to use aliphatic hydrocarbons. Ilsa had received enquiries from Italy and other European countries and even from countries further afield such as Venezuela.

The Ipura system, which was introduced just over four years ago, was expected to reach 1,000 manufactured units by the end of 2010. The Ipura system works with a reduced amount of an aliphatic hydrocarbon solvent injected and dispersed in the drum and the garments are then dried without the need for extraction.

Alessio Montanari, export manager at Maestrelli said the show had been quite good. The company had seen visitors from areas it had not expected including Poland, Czech Republic, Russia and Germany and also more contacts from Italy.

The company introduced its latest Dreamclean series of drycleaning machines, which are suitable for use with hydrocarbon/silicon solvents.These machines feature high-speed extraction with soft-mounted basket.

Unisec of Spain is a manufacturer of drycleaning equipment. According to director Roman Prado, the company invested in a large stand and this had been a good decision, given the show’s increased visitor numbers.

Prado said that drycleaners are now looking more closely at the options when they upgrade their equipment. Rather than choose between a machine to run just perc or an alternative solvent, drycleaners now have a further option in the Unisec M323 HC/perc machine which will allow a switch from perc to an alternative in the future. It is currently the only machine in the market place that can run on either perc or alternative solvents such as silicone or hydrocarbon. The machine has a three-tank wide format design with a 16kg capacity and stainless-steel construction.

Prado explained that changing solvent at a later date is straightforward. An approved engineer can drain the perc, make the changes and have the machine operational in half a day.

At the Italclean stand, Eugenio Boni said that although investment in machinery was still being held back by the difficulty in obtaining credit from banks, there were some encouraging signs of recovery.

The company was showing its latest hydrocarbon/multisolvent machine with a capacity of just 10kg, the smallest in its range and priced accordingly to appeal to businesses handling small volumes.

Finishing machines

Pony was exhibiting its latest developments in shirt finishing, the 405EVO and the Angel single-buck shirt press. “Our reason for attending was to meet current customers and to introduce products to potentially new dealers,” said export manager Massimo Sanvito. “We have made a number of interesting contacts.”

The Angel has been specifically designed for high-volume shirt finishing and can be used by unskilled operators as its controls are simple and intuitive. The shirt press is equipped with a touch screen PLC.

Sleeve finishing is enhanced by two cuff placket presses as well as the Angel’s pneumatic adjustable-height sleeve tensioning.

The latest addition to Pony’s established 405 range of shirt finishers is the model 405 EVO. It is available with yoke press and tuck press devices as standard.

Corinna Mapelli at Trevil said the show had been very good. She said that the more entrepreneurial drycleaners were now becoming stronger because their competitors were going out of business. These entrepreneurs planned for investment and were buying more expensive machines to automate production. Mapelli also noted an increase in drycleaners installing wetcleaning equipment.

Trevil introduced its Trevilpress and Easypress cuff-and-collar presses. It also unveiled its latest model in the Trevistar series of shirt finishers. It comes complete with a press for the finishing the cuff placket and a module for the drying the shoulders and yoke.

Mapelli described Trevil’s Pantastar as the world’s first machine able to finish the hip and crease of trousers in one unit.

Roland Fleischmann, sales manager at Ghidini Benvenuto noted a definite trend towards automation. Often the operator only has to put the garment on the machine which then takes care of the quality. For Expo Detergo, the company was introducing the Ambria steaming and vacuum finishing table. The table is electrically heated, with its own boiler and suction unit.

Boris Höfges of Veit in Germany said there had been great interest in its shirt finishing solutions. This year Veit introduced the 8326 shirt finisher. The machine features Veit’s direct airflow function, which directs airflow through the front clamp for fast, efficient drying. Long-sleeve and short-sleeve shirts can be finished without marks with the drop-shaped sleeve tensioner.

On the Barbanti Carlo stand, export sales co-ordinator Katia Losi said that energy-saving features were important. The company’s Model 483 steam-heated Shirt Finisher features an integrated energy-saving device that provides 25% savings in steam consumption and a heated shoulder plate and cuff vent plates that increase finishing production by 20%.

Alux from Poland was attending its first Expo Detergo. It showed examples of its finishing machines for drycleaners and also a bagging machine that been very popular.

Battistella launched its Pegaso/A steam dummy with10litre boiler. Export manager Maurizio Giomo said that the Pegaso body former is designed for shirts, overalls, jackets and coats. Equipped with a heated front paddle and automatic stretching mechanism, the machine has pneumatic arms and sleeve clamps with photocell and features a electronic card with 20 programs. A version without a boiler – the Pegaso/V – is also available.