Submitted to: International Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 2006
Publication Date: March 23, 2006
Citation: Akin, D.E. 2006. Developing standards to judge flax fibre quality. 28th International Cotton Conference (Bremen Germany). pp. 177-187. Interpretive Summary: The lack of objective quality standards prevents assessment of quality and knowledge on how to efficiently use natural fibers like flax. As a result, domestic fiber industries are at a disadvantage for both domestic production and in assessing imports. Scientists at the Russell Research Center along with colleagues at other ARS laboratories and universities have been developing a series of standards through the international testing organization ASTM International. These standards will allow an objective assessment of color, fineness, and cleanliness and further pave the way for additional standards and ultimately a classification system as in used in cotton.
Technical Abstract: Unlike cotton, flax and other bast fibres do not have objective standards for testing or classification. Flax fibres are evaluated and graded within countries or individual companies, but only one test method (ISO 2370 for flax fibre fineness) is recognized on an international level. Marketing of flax fiber is generally based on subjective methods of evaluation, but strong interest has existed for developing objective standards such as those that exist for cotton. Subcommittee D13.17 of ASTM International was established in 1999 as part of the Textile Committee with the goal of developing standards for flax fibre. Currently, four standards have been approved through the ASTM International and include standards for 1) terminology, 2) color, 3) fineness, and 4) shive content. These standards were developed through “within laboratory” data and are valid for 5 years. Round robin tests must be carried out in several laboratories to re-certify the methods. Research continues using near infrared and mechanical methods for standards related to other flax fibre properties.