Towel Manufacturing – An Introduction

This article is contributed by Debdulal Gain

Terry Towel, a pile fabric is known as a towel worldwide. In terry towels, loop piles are present on one or both sides of the fabric. The research indicates that the terry towel was first developed in Turkey first and later towel manufacturing concept spreads across the world. The manufacturing of a basic terry towel has been discussed in the following paragraphs. A basic towel has different parts as shown below picture.

Different Parts of a Terry Towels

Towel with different parts name

The parts mentioned in the above image are known by different names like
  • Side Hem is named as Selvedge,
  • Cross Hem is named as top and bottom hem, 
  • Borders are called as Dobby and 
  • Terry Bar is known as Cuff. 

A wide variety of towel styles are available in the market. All the above towel parts may not be present in a particular towel.

Classification of Towels

Towels are classified according to its weight, production process, pile density, pile presence on fabric surfaces, pile formation, pile structure, and finishing. However, some basic concepts of classification are mentioned below under the categories based on 
(1) end uses, 
(2) weave and 
(3) terry loop formation. 

Common terminologies used in the export market are mainly based on end uses. Commercially 3 pick terry towel is viable for the all the aspects like quality parameters, look, and appearance.

Table-1: Towel Classification

By End Use                           
By Weave                         
By Terry Loop Formation 
Bath Sheet
Bath Towel
Hand Towel
Wash Towel
Face Towel
Guest Towel
Bath Matt
Bath robe
Kitchen Towel 

2 pick terry towel
3 pick terry towel
4 pick terry towel
5 pick terry towel
6 pick terry towel
7 pick terry towel

Manufacturing of Towels

Terry towel is one type of woven fabric where during weaving of this fabric 2 beams are used. One beam for ground fabrication and other beam for loop formation. The weaving concept has been shown in the following images.
Front view of Terry Loom
Back view of Terry Loom

Top beam is responsible for loop formation by terry loom’s beat-up mechanism. Commercially 3 pick terry is most popular. 3 picks terry means after each 3 picks insertion full beat-up is made and one loop pile is formed of the fabric. See the following illustration of beat-up position.

Pile formation

Pile of the towel plays major role for a towel for its water absorbency and other properties. Loop length is decided by the quality, weight etc. as per requirements. Pile manufacturers use better quality yarn like combed, compact, hydro, zero twisted yarns.

Piles are made from different high value fibers like superior qualities of cotton suvin, giza, pima, bamboo, modal etc. to get better absorbency and lint properties. For ground yarn, comparatively coarser counts are used in OE and 2-ply option to give better strength and compactness in ground fabric. Both piles and ground yarns are prepared in the same manner of warping, sizing, and drawing-in.

Like other textile products shirting, suiting, sheeting fabrics, towel making has the same process sequences – desizing, bleaching, mercerizing, dyeing and finishing.

Basic Parameters of a Quality Terry Towel

  1. Weight & GSM: Weight and GSM should be the same as required by the customer. Every manufacturer has some template or software (ERPs) where towel manufacturers calculate everything like the pile’s height, the density of picks, and ends to meet requirements. This database or any software has been developed through some basic calculation.

  2. Softness/ Hand feel: It depends on the properties of the yarn used in a pile, finishing chemicals and too some extent on pile orientation.

  3. Pile Orientation: Totally depends on the process line.

  4. Lint: Lint are basically protruding fibers present in a finished towel. It is measured by weight of accumulated fiber collected from the washing machine and tumble drying machine during testing.

  5. Absorbency:  Terry towel should be highly water absorbent.

  6. Dimensional Stability: How a towel is behaving after washing is fall under dimensional stability properties. Dimensional stability is measured by the residual shrinkage % in a finished towel.

  7. Other Parameters are strength, color fastness, etc.

Also read: Quality Parameters of Terry Towel

Some Useful Calculations

  • Production of loom (towel/per day/mc) = Rpm×60×24×efficiency/picks per towel

  • Pile Height = Pile ratio x 15 / picks per cm (for 3 pick terry towel-commercially it is running) 

  • Pile Ratio = (Pile weight in gram × 2.2046 × 840 × pile count × 36) / (pile ends per towel X length of towel X 1000) 

  • Finished Weight of Towel = (Gsm × Towel length X Width in cm)/10000 

  • Weight per Dozen (Lbs/doz) = (Finished towel weight × 12)/ 453.6

About the Author

Debdulal Gain is a B.Tech. in Textile Technology from Serampore, University of Calcutta. He has more work experience of more than 16 years in Product Development and Quality Control in the textile sector
Debdulal Gain has worked at Bombay Dyeing as a Senior Manager (Product Development). Earlier he worked at Welspun India Limited as a Manager (Product Development) and at Vardhman Group for 3 years as In-charge (Quality & Inspection).  

Publishing date: 14th Aug 2012
Post updated on: 14th March 2023

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