November 11, 2002 in Social Responsibility News

Cheil Industries Develops World's First Fabric with 170 Yarn Count

Cheil Industries Inc. (CII) was established in 1954 and subsequently has come to play a leading role in the wool fabric industry at home and abroad. Recently, the company has achieved yet another historical milestone.
Cheil Industries has taken spinning technology to unprecedented heights by completing development of Lansmere 220, the world's first fabric with a 170 yarn count. This means that one gram of wool can be drawn into a thread reaching 170 meters in length, resulting in an extremely fine and soft yarn that can be made into a "dream" fabric.

Breakthrough Significance
Yarn count is a unit for measuring technological expertise in the fabric business. Lansmere 220, with a 170 yarn count, is a technology breakthrough comparable to the development of a world-best 1-Giga flash memory chip in the semiconductor industry.
Cheil Industries became the world's first to complete development of worsted fabric with a 130 yarn count in 1994. The company bested its own world record with the completion of a 150 yarn count fabric last year and then raised the yarn count further to 170 this year. Thus, CII has taken the lead in the market for the world's very best worsted fabrics, surpassing Italian and British makers that have been in the business more than 200 years.
Adding to the significance, CII accomplished this feat by exclusively using the expertise and experience of Korean engineers for all processes, from raw materials procurement to spinning, dyeing, weaving and finishing.

Procuring the Very Best Wool
Producing the world's best fabrics depends to a large extent on being the one to procure the rarest, best grade raw materials. Cheil Industries has maintained close relations with the Hill Creston ranch in Australia for more than ten years, working to improve the wool grade as part of ongoing efforts to obtain better quality wool than the competition. The raw wool used to make 170 yarn count fabric is just 12.7 microns thick, or one-seventh the size of the average human hair.
No more than 200 kilograms of the finest grade wool are produced each year, although total world wool production is some 1.6 million tons. This top grade wool sells for over US$1,000 per kilogram, more than 200 times the price for other high wool grades. Moreover, only the wool from the shoulders of the best sheep can be used as the top grade, and the animals themselves must be raised under very carefully controlled conditions. Thus, more than 2,500 head of sheep are required to produce enough top grade wool to make one suit. This very rare material can truly be dubbed the "diamonds of wool."

World's More Advanced Technology
Cheil Industries applies ten core technologies to more than 130 different production processes to craft 170 yarn count fabric. The work environment is completely different from that for normal fabric production, and security is so strict that even most CII employees do not know production details. Only the most highly trained workers are involved in Lansmere 220.
Lansmere 220 production requires the care one would give to a newborn baby. The spinning process, which entails drawing a thread from the raw wool, must be performed in an environment where temperature and humidity are controlled almost as much as in a semiconductor fabrication clean room. Instead of the conventional chromium method, dyeing is performed in a low-temperature process that minimizes damage to the fiber and greatly enhances yarn color and feel. The thread is so fine that it will snap immediately if subjected to a two-gram weight. To weave Lansmere 220, the looms operate at no more than half their regular speed.
The world's best fabrics have always been plagued by lack of strength and wrinkling problems. However, CII's core technologies have overcome these deficiencies and have imbued Lansmere 220 with a feeling of fullness and thickness, while maintaining its gloss and feel unlike any other.

Technology Developed Domestically
Cheil Industries launched a program two years ago to engage core engineers who could help the company catch up with the industry leaders, with more than two centuries of experience. Company policy has empowered highly qualified engineers specializing in specific processes to exert their influence fully on the production line. These core engineers are also given excellent incentives for R&D results and provided the company's full support in the effort to develop in-house technology.
CII's core engineers have compiled an in-depth technology report more than 2,000 pages long. They also train other technical people, improve production processes, and research new products. A team of 20 core engineers was also involved in the development of Lansmere 220, with each team member contributing his respective expertise to make the necessary process breakthroughs.

Suits with a W20 Million Price Tag
Annual global production of the top grade wool needed for 170 yarn count fabric is about 200 kilograms, enough to make some 50 wool suits. Currently, Lansmere 220 is the only product of its kind anywhere. It requires raw wool that is at least two hundred times more expensive than other grades and employs unique processes. These factors considered, the price tag for a single suit made of this fabric comes to around W20 million.

Building the World's Best Brand
Cheil Industries Inc. plans to supply its Lansmere 220 to a select few tailor shops of the highest renown in Italy, the UK, the US and Japan. A special marketing campaign is also to be launched to create the image of a brand unsurpassed.
Managing Director Young-Soo Yun of the Product Planning Division, who has been in charge of Lansmere 220 development, stresses, "Cheil Industries has managed to develop a 170 yarn count fabric for the first time in the world, giving us an opportunity to take the lead in the market for the world's best fabrics. Fiber is seen as a sunset industry, so we are cultivating the image of a company that makes value-added, top-quality products and that possess the world's most advanced technology. In the process, we will help to elevate the stature of Korea as a whole and prove that we can maintain a solid business."
What is Lansmere 220?
The name "Lansmere" comes from lana, Latin for "wool," and mere, old English for "lake." The name is used to describe the world's very best fabric. Two hundred twenty refers to the 12.7-micron raw wool used to make Lansmere. The International Wool Textile Organization (IWTO) applies 220 to the grade of raw wool that is 12.5 microns (plus or minus 0.25 microns) thick. Currently, Cheil Industries in Korea is the only place allowed to use the "Super 220" grade designation.

Why Lansmere 220 is the Best.
1. The most sophisticated spinning technology is sued to draw a 170-meter thread from a single gram of raw wool.
2. The raw wool strand is 12.7 microns thick, just one seventh the thickness of a human hair.
3. A thread 70 kilometers long is needed to produce enough Lansmere 220 to make one suit.
4. A suit made of Lansmere 220 will retail for some W20 million and it is one of the world leading products.
5. The raw wool is so rare that only 50 suits can be made each year.
6. Around 2,500 head of sheep are needed to obtain the wool needed for one suit of 170 yarn count fabric.
CII's R&D Track Record
1990: 100 yarn count fabric developed in-house.
1992: Production technology acquired for 120 yarn count fabric.
1993: R&D begun on 130 yarn count fabric.
1994: Development of 123 yarn count fabric completed.
1994: World's first 130 yarn count fabric completed.
2000: Work begun on 150 yarn count fabric.
2001: Lansmere 210, the world's finest 150 yarn count fabric, completed.
2002: Lansmere 220, the world's first 170 yarn count fabric, completed.

Obstacles Overcome during R&D Project
The world's best grade wool is a natural raw material.
.Once one process is complete, the next process cannot be begun immediately.
.The fiber requires a period of rest between processes to minimize damage.
Lack of 12.7-micron raw wool hinders experimental work.
.Only 200 kilograms of the wool is produced each year.
.The fiber is so thin that a weigh of just 2 grams will make it break.
.Weeks are needed merely to determine the proper speed of the spinning machines.
Once the yarn is drawn, difficulties are also encountered in weaving the fabric.
.Looms normally capable of producing 130 yards daily can only turn out 15 yards of Lansmere 220 per day.


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