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  • Making raw thread for weaving, braiding and weaving and processing and sericin fixation. Develops base materials for medical use which are gentle on the skin by an integrated production system.

Aderans Research & Development

Making raw thread for weaving, braiding and weaving and processing and sericin fixation. Develops base materials for medical use which are gentle on the skin by an integrated production system.

Seiren Co., Ltd. is a long-established company with more than 100 years of history. Seiren started its business as a company to "refine silk" from silkworm cocoons in 1989. It goes without saying that the company name of Seiren was named after "Seiren (refinement)" of silk. The company's textile technology keeps evolving with the times and has become more and more diverse. I had interview with the company under the theme of "Sericin, silk protein" in the previous issue entitled "From the research field on the cutting edge of hair science". It has been demonstrated that sericin has anti oxidant properties for preventing aging as well as moisturizing and beautiful skin effects. Moreover, the protein is shown to have hair growth effect by activating cells.

Operations in various fields based on its sophisticated textile technology

The basic stance of the company is to keep being a textile manufacturer. The company has been substantially engaged in silk textile and in the meantime they paid attention to natural silk-derived protein, sericin, and expanded its business into biotechnology. Needless to say, the company's leading products are those making good use of its textile technology.The company's best-selling products are automotive materials including automotive upholstery materials and airbag materials. They are delivered not only to Japan's auto manufacturers but also foreign ones. Moreover, the company has developed the state-of-the-art production system called "Viscotecs (the state-of-the-art digital production system)" which enables color representation of 16,770,000 colors with short delivery time under the goal of "From mass production to customized production". The Viscotecs can be used both for custom-made clothing, the only one in the world and for mass production by global scale order. The technique has revolutionized not only in fashion industry but also various fields. On the other hand, the company keeps expanding its business to electronics, medical and environment and life materials while focusing on textile technology. Taking an example of sophisticated technology, the company provides a soundproofing material called as "Soundproofing blanket" for Epsilon rocket launched by JAXA. Moreover, a material provided by the company is used for artificial blood vessels in the human body. The company's textile technology has attracted attention from all over the world.It was around 15 years ago when Aderans started to work with Seiren. "As women's wigs come in a direct contact with the skin, we were interested in the fact that sericin has high moisture retention and is gentle on the skin as well as Seiren's high level of braiding and weaving technologies" said Mr. Shinichi Sendo, Director of the Department of Product Planning. As a result, a base material made by Seiren's sericin and its braiding technology was employed as women's wig "Sifore". Since then, Seiren continues to show its technology in women's wig to the fullest. Then, Aderans asked Seiren to make a wig material which comes in a direct contact with people with sensitive skin including cancer patients as wigs for medical purposes. The material using the latest technique has just been successfully made.I asked Mr. Seiichi Takahata, Manager of the Division of Product Development, Department of Environment and Commodities who was successful in making a base used for the latest medical wigs in response to Aderans request about how they made it.

Developed a base material which has a pleasant texture using Bellcouple

Extracts sericin having antioxidant properties from silk which is composed of two proteins, a core protein, "fibroin", and "sericin" surrounding fibroin. Uses sericin in underwear and stockings.

What request did Aderans make?

Aderans requested for a base material which placed no stress on the scalp because the material would be used by people with sensitive skin including cancer patients. We initially thought what no stress on the scalp was like. In the meantime, we noticed that the touch of a base material itself mattered. If a base material feels rough, it causes an uncomfortable feeling when wearing a wig and can irritate the skin. Thus, we thought that it was important to make a base material with comfortable touch as much as possible so that it caused no skin irritation. In addition, as we had a unique technology called as "FRAICHIR" which enables sericin gentle on the skin to coat with the fabric surface, we came up with the idea of applying "FRAICHIR" to the fabric. Then, we started the development.

First, could you tell me about raw thread which comes in a direct contact with the skin?

We chose raw thread provided by KB Seiren in order to materialize comfortable touch. The tread is composed of two layers of polyester called as "Bellcouple" which is made up of a "core" and a "shaft" which melting points are different. It makes the fabric surface flat as well as stabilizing its morphology and adjusting hardness level by applying heat to the raw thread and by melting shaft polyester with lower melting point (refer to the figure below). Typically, polyester melts at 260℃ or higher, while the polyester with lower melting point melts around at 150℃. However, the base material must not be melted completely.

Characteristics: surface smoothness, heat-sealing properties, morphological stability and hardness adjustment
Intended use: lter, mesh, interlining and cushion

Why is it melted partially?

It is because polyester will harden when it is melted completely. Thus, we need to make the fabric have smooth and soft touch. This is the characteristic of the fabric.

Speeded up the development of a new product by the established integrated production system

Has the Bellcouple been developed by KB Seiren and is the braiding technique by Seiren's conventional one?

Generally, processes of making raw thread, braiding/weaving, processing and sewing are taken care of a different company in the textile industry.Seiren had already a production system which the company could take care of braiding/weaving, processing and sewing within its own group companies as early as 1990s. The only thing the company could not do was to make thread for weaving. However, as KB Seiren which took over Kanebo's textile business joined the Seiren group in 2005, Seiren has established an integrated production system from making thread for weaving to sewing, which is an unprecedented business model. Thanks to this integrated production system, we could speed up the development by bringing all engineers in the relevant departments together for discussion by the Department of Planning. If each company takes care of each process although they know how to make raw thread or technology, you will have difficulty in settling the matter.

You mean that joining KB Seiren has substantially speeded up the time to launch of a product.

This is a time when a product life cycle shortens. In order to distinguish ourselves from competitors in terms of quality, design, cost, delivery and environment, etc. in response to various requests from each company quickly, this integrated production system from making thread for weaving to sewing has given us a big advantage.
For example, thanks to KB Seiren, it is able to commercialize a product which was previously unable to deal with by processing only. Now we can make it possible by developing thread for weaving and by processing it.

You have ground fabric here. This is a base material (refer to photographs on the right). Is it different from others in braiding?

A base material is generally braided in a coarse mesh, while this product is braided using thin raw thread braided specially with a fine mesh. Braiding in a fine mesh reduces unevenness of fabric surface and makes it better touch. On the other hand, fine braiding impairs breathability and makes it steamy easily. Then, we successfully improved fabric breathability by making the raw thread thinner and by widening the interspace between raw threads.
The newest medical wig called as "Rafra AI Fit Plus" is made by "FRAICHIR" a technology only we have which coats the fabric surface with silk protein "sericin" as well as gives antimicrobial function using this wig base. Thus, we believe that patients with alopecia caused by cancer treatment or atopic dermatitis can also use it.

Is it possible to quantify whether it has a pleasant texture?

Of course, it is possible to quantify, but the best way in measuring it is to touch it with hand. If we receive feedback from patients who wear the product, we are further motivated to develop a new one.

Seiren Co., Ltd. based in Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture. Production bases including raw thread production, weaving and braiding, processing and sewing are dotted near the Research and Development Center.

Interviewer/writer: Akiyoshi Sato Photographer: Naoyuki Tamura

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