Ege Carpets Factory Visit ~ Denmark
I have been a fan of Ege Carpets for the past few years. This Danish company doesn’t make ordinary carpets, they create flooring that has incredible and cool patterns across the full width. Sometimes not even repeating – mind blown! When I found that out, I became a super fan.
So this blog is about my factory visit. I think it’s a totally sexy blog, and who doesn’t want to understand where and how all of our materials are made?
The award winning Ege Carpet factory is huge, it’s massive. They use bicycles to get around and excess manufacturing heat is used by 180 local houses. If factories were athletes this one is Caroline Wozniacki the Danish tennis ace.
Ege Carpet factory in Herning, Denmark.
Set at the edge of the city of Herning on the Jutland peninsular. Ege employs hundreds of people. Take into account its many sister companies and it will be in the thousands. That said, it feels like a family unit. The employees ranging from directors, managers, designers and ground staff were happy and joyful, although it was a bank holiday the very next day. Honestly, they were a wonderful team who looked after me and laughed alongside me.
It has a strong heritage and time line stretching right back to 1939. This is the exquisite ‘Crooked house’ and illustrates Ege’s pioneering attitude toward design and manufacturing.
Yarn is spun into tighter stronger yarn ready for tufting.
On the tour, I soon learnt that Ege is in control of nearly every element of their product. Various yarns including the wool blend seen here are spun by a sister company in Lithuania. When the yarn arrives is goes through more twisting to make it tighter and stronger and more luxurious. Making it better for injection dying, tufting, it becomes more hardwearing and softer under foot.
Robotic arms replace spent yarn cones.
Sometimes a cone of yarn can weigh 5kg, so rather than employ bodybuilders they employ two graceful robots that I grew very attached to. I wanted to name them and was mesmerised by them. On their millionth come, the factory celebrated by having food and drinks right next to them. They rarely break down and require very little maintenance. The robots see everything through cameras and once a job is complete make a little ‘clip’ to say, complete! I loved them.
Tufting machine and its complicated yarn array.
One can now understand why robots are employed to replace the yarns. Here on this specialist machine that ‘tufts’ carpets, there are hundreds of yarn ends threaded through to hundreds of needles and hooks. The set up must take days. On this machine they can tuft textures and patterns that repeat or dont repeat.
Filigree of tubes feed individual yarns into another specialist machine.
Some of these machines are 4m wide. So imagine how many yarns must go into the carpet construction. I understand weaving, and threading up my 8 shaft loom back in 1990’s Winchester was an exercise in patience and precision, but this is another level all together.
Tufting machine in action.
The yarns are tufted onto a non-woven base. Here you can see the speed it works at. The yarn is looped through to the back where a hook, that is pre programmed, decides to keep the yarn as a loop or to cut it to make two yarns ends. If I remember correctly, this machine can tuft front or back of the base non-woven seen in grey. Any minor tufting errors are fixed by the machine operator with a hand held tufting gun.
Giant dye head.
After the carpet is complete, it goes through a whole range of processes including, cropping – to make it super neat, quality control and immersion etc.
The carpet is now ready for dying. This machine is essentially a giant ink injector. The structure has hundreds of tiny holes where ink is sprayed at high velocity. The dark tubes seen at the from of this picture is excess dye being drawn away and stored for later use. Typically the carpet lays 50mm away from the spray jets, that have been programmed with a pattern to dye. Micro jets of air are used to deflect each of the colours away from the carpet. This is how they get the many colours that are in their palette, by switching on or off, one or more off the 12 primary inks that constantly spray.
Retro is cool.
Ege Carpets have employed digital injection dyeing since the late 1970’s! Mind blown. I didn’t now the technology was around in that decade I thought it was from the late eighties or even the nineties!
Quality control and multi screen monitoring.
The freshly dyed carpet and its pattern is now very unstable so must go through various other processes including steaming, baking, shearing and ironing.
Foam glue backing.
The carpet is now upside down and foam glue is being poured onto the reversed surface. A steal tube flattens the foam to the exact thickness that is millimetres. Foam is shock absorbing and insulating. Following this process, once the foam is set, the carpet is sharply trimmed and ready for final rolling.
Single prong fork lift.
The finished roll is now taken away for storage and shipment.
A Visit to the Dye Lab.
Dr. Kim is a scientist in charge of colour development. He explained that the factory tries to be environmentally neutral. So many waste dyes are re-used.
The waste ink is divided between the gum and the dye through a filter that catches different sized molecules. The gum is re-used while the dye is colour tested and stored for later use. These samples, in a beautiful range of tertiary colours are all waste inks in storage waiting to be used.
Dye injection in operation.
Here, Dr. Kim is colour testing. You can see how close the carpet is to the dye head and how the dye is sprayed deep into the fibres at high velocity and speed. The Carpet is wet with chemicals so the dye covers all the filaments evenly and richly.
Finally these 1m x 1m swatches are some of the latest designs using their brand new colour palette. I particularly like the knitted pattern and the red fractals. However 50% of there work is contract and bespoke to the clients design.
The breadth of designs, quality, robustness and environmental credentials is what makes Ege Carpets the incredible company that it is.
There is a show room in Manchester and Clerkenwell in London.
Thank you to Jan Magdal Poulsen for showing us around the factory. It was exciting and enlightening.
Check out the Ege Carpet website