An outline of the manufacturing process
Raw materials are the basis of any product, and that applies to billiard cloths too. It is therefore vital to make the right choice of types of wool to be used in order to obtain the yarns that are best suited to the various cloths. All Iwan Simonis billiard cloths are woven from yarns that are either 100% wool or wool combined with a small amount of nylon.
BEAMING : The warp yarns are wound onto a beam in 10 cm sections until the desired width is reached. With the warp set up in this way, it is possible to weave approximately 30 rolls measuring 60 metres each.
WEAVING : Fairly recently, a number of new ultra-fast looms were brought into service. Production is controlled using the latest technology, so that if a machine stops as a result of a malfunction, the nature, source and location of the problem can be determined immediately.
INITIAL CHECK : At Iwan Simonis, we do everything possible to provide a high-quality product, and this makes thorough checking essential. When the untreated billiard cloths leave the weaving mill, fifteen or so women examine the basic product in order to locate and repair any weaving faults and/or imperfections. These tasks (burling, mending and stitching) are done by hand using burling irons, needles and thread. The care with which each fault in weaving or spinning is located and repaired plays an importance role in the game of billiards. For example, the tiniest knot in the cloth can prove catastrophic in an international championship and a regional competition alike, because it can cause a deviation in the path of the billiard balls. Billiards is a sport that demands attention, calculation and precision, and the materials must be beyond reproach. In order to be sure of having a skilled team in the long term, we offer opportunities of trainee placements through local schools. These allow students to be trained by experienced professionals, and those who successfully complete this programme have the assurance of a position within this department of the company.
FULLING : Hot water and soap are used in this process, which strengthens the fabric and eliminates the softening products used during weaving. As the piece of cloth is washed and rinsed, the natural felting properties of the wool are used to bring the fabric to the required dimensions and weight.
DYEING : The cloth is introduced, several rolls at a time, into the dyeing machine, where the dye is fixed to the fibres of the cloth. Both temperature and pH are electronically controlled throughout the process. Rinsing is then necessary to remove the dye residues from the cloth.
New techniques About three years ago, a new machine (a stenter) was brought into service in a special, purpose-built area. This cutting-edge piece of technology is used for four operations (stages 6, 7, 8, and 9).
WRINGING OUT : Pressing of the fabric in order to remove as much water as possible.
Weft ADJUSTMENT : Once this process has been completed, the warp and weft threads will once again be configured at right angles to each other.
STRETCHING of the cloth widthways to the required dimensions.
DRYING : The cloth is passed into a sealed heated chamber at a speed appropriate to the type of cloth. It is completely dry when it comes out.
PICKING : The cloths are given a second thorough check in order to eliminate any contamination by other fibres, or any remaining weaving knots.
SHEARING : This process is essential to create a regular playing surface.
DECATISING : The cloth is steam-treated in a machine specially designed for this purpose, in order to prevent any relaxation of the cloth after it has been positioned on the table. It is then pressed flat against a cylinder, which eliminates any creases and gives the cloth its glorious shine.
FINAL CHECK : At Iwan Simonis, because we want to be sure that only a quality product leaves our factory at Verviers, the cloth is thoroughly checked for a third and final time. Only when this has been done is the famous Iwan Simonis signature applied to the edges of the cloth. An absolutely perfect product is then ready for export to around fifty countries across the globe.