For over 60 years now, the company of Mattes & Ammann GmbH & Co. KG has been highly successful as a manufacturer in the piece goods, large diameter circular knitting, circular knitting and tricot sectors. It has also had a successful partnership with Groz-Beckert for many decades in everything related to knitting-machine needles, all the way to the patents. The two companies are connected by a great deal more, however: the mission to discover sustainable solutions in the textile world.
A current example of this will be bearing fruit in 2013: together with partners, Mattes & Ammann has discovered an economical alternative to cotton – in the shape of the nettle „Marlene".
With around 300 employees and approximately 500 machines, Mattes & Ammann produces 50-60 million square meters of fabric annually. As a rule it is exclusive, but always in line with customer requirements. The fabrics are used in the automotive industry, in the domestic textiles sector, in hygiene applications – and in 25 further industries.
For this diversity the company requires large amounts of cotton – a total of 1,500 tonnes of it annually. Growing this raw material requires not only high temperatures and chemicals, in the form of pesticides and fertilizers, but also a great deal of water.
In search of an environmentally-friendly alternative to cotton, Mattes & Ammann has found the right partners: an internationally active product engineering office, the Institute of Plant Culture Schnega, which originated at Hamburg University, as well as further research institutes.
The result of this cooperation is the fiber nettle "Marlene". After the nettle clone was used and propagated, planting could be carried out as early as this year. A total of 40,000 nettles were successfully planted in the vicinity of the corporate headquarters of Mattes & Ammann in Meßstetten-Tieringen, Germany. The plant is a select cultivation from the University of Hamburg: Over a period of 50 years, the fiber content of the nettles has been successfully increased from 4 percent to 15 percent.
As early as next year the plants are due to be harvested, roasted, de-stemmed und macerated. The fibers thus gained can then be used straight away for nonwoven automotive carpet production or in yarn creation.
In the further processing of the sustainable fibers, knitting-machine needles from Groz-Beckert are indispensable to Mattes & Ammann in order to achieve maximum processing safety and product quality. The excellent partnership is thus also continuing in the form of the "Marlene" project.
"Marlene fibers" are breathable, tear-resistant and pleasantly soft – which makes them an environmentally-friendly as well as profitable alternative to cotton. Obviously this is of enormous interest to the market. According to Mattes & Ammann, the harvests for the coming five years have already been sold.