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Piumafil – a Gebr. Otto success story

Modified spinning method ensures the safe embedding of the kapok fibres.

25th May 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Dietenheim, Germany


The kapok fibre is still used by native tribes along the Amazon River in blowgun darts.

Wrapped around them, this fibre – the lightest known in the natural world – forms a perfect seal that allows enough pressure to be created to blow the dart considerable distances through the tube of the gun.

The kapok tree is most heavily cultivated in the rainforests of Asia, notably in Java, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Hainan Island in China, as well as in South America. Its flowers are an important source of nectar and pollen for bees and bats and its fibre has been widely used as a filling material in seat cushions, mattresses, stuffed toys and insulation for many years.

In addition to its lightness, kapok fibre is very buoyant, resilient, and resistant to water, but it has proved notoriously difficult to spin over the years.

Gebr. Otto, based in Dietenheim, near Ulm in Germany admits that when it first began attempts to spin kapok, at the request of a mattress-making customer, its mill looked like a pillow fight was taking place.

However, building on its 120 years of spinning know-how, the family-owned company succeeded in developing what has now become a very successful yarn called Piumafil.

The company uses a modified spinning method to ensure the safe embedding of the kapok fibres within cotton, and while the kapok mass ratio content is just 15%, its actual volume ratio is 50% of the overall yarn as a result of its lightness.

Piumafil yarns have a silky feel and are both thermo-regulating and breathable.

A cellulosic fibre, kapok can be dyed with the same dyestuffs as cotton, but because it is so sensitive, Gebr. Otto has developed gentle processes for retaining its hollow fibre structure at its own dye house.

Gebr. Otto’s success with Piumafil perfectly illustrates the company’s motto that “nothing is impossible”.


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