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Polartec® Manufacturing is where the Science of Fabric goes from theory into practice. Whether our factories are producing the newest design solution or our staple synthetic fleece, it's there where you find what sets our fabrics apart and makes Polartec, Polartec.

Processes that are equal parts science, art, and craft transform tons of fiber every day into feats of premium fabric technology.

In Hudson, Massachusetts, Knit Technicians and Machine Operators carry on a generational knitting tradition that began at Malden Mills over a century ago. Their greige is finished at Polartec Tennessee Manufacturing (PTM) in Cleveland, Tennessee, where endless yards of fabric are dyed every color in the spectrum and tested far beyond industry standards.

Polartec Manufacturing is closely knit into every yard of fabric we make.

When you choose Polartec, you add the expertise of the best ​people​ in the business, the unique precision of our ​machines​, a century-long ​knitting tradition, precise ​finishing​ practices, and rigorous ​testing​ methods to meet our industry-leading standards."

The head, heart, and hands behind Polartec's success. They're craftspeople with the skill of an artisan and the tools of a manufacturer. Their years of experience guide the ship from generation to generation, ensuring the lessons from the past are built upon with an eye to the future.

PTC Manufacturing People Edinson Ullon
Edinson Ulon
Knit Tech
Edinson started working at Polartec Hudson in December 2013. He started as a Machine Operator but is now a Technician. It's a multifaceted role that requires deep knowledge on a range of machines and quick-thinking problem solving. Even when there's a mistake, he knows his team has his back:
When I first started working at Polartec, I was working on a machine and realized I [forgot to place a beam]... but thankfully I was able to fix the error. The support I received from my team was great.
PTC Manufacturing People Gandy Vasquez
Gandy Vasquez
Twister
Gandy started at Polartec Hudson as a Knit Machine Operator in August 2018. Recently, she was promoted to "Twister" — a highly skilled position that's something like the fabric mill's version of a pit crew member. When a beam of fabric is nearing its end as it's fed into a knitting machine and needs a replacement, she must quickly "twist" or "tie in" hundreds of threads from the new beam to continue the run. The pressure doesn't seem to phase her one bit:
It was a new experience for me... It seemed to be a bit more difficult to run, but with great training, I realized it was not so difficult after all.
PTC Manufacturing People Julio Fernandez
Julio Fernandez
Technician
Fixing machines is the name of the game for Polartec Technicians. They fix chains, broken needles, and perform real-time quality control on fabric runs, making sure it matches the prototype swatch. Julio is another seasoned Polartec Hudson Technician who started with the company in 2011. He takes a great deal of joy in his job:
I just love to see the machines running... I love working on every machine. Some machines are harder to fix than others, but I love what I do.

Part of what separates Polartec from the fray is our decades-old approach to the process of weaving fine fabrics, embodied in these rumbling beasts. Many of these machines have long since gone out of style, but without them, we couldn't produce some of our more intricate patterns.

Circular Knit Machine
Circular knit machines may look like fanciful fabric carousels, but these beasts are all business. Specifically, research and development business. Both single jersey and double jersey versions of this machine knit fabrics in a seamless tube. Aside from producing fabrics that have yet to go public, circular knit machines produce our Power Stretch, Wind Pro, Micro Fleeces, and FR fabrics.
Richelle Knitting Machine
Instead of knitting in a tube, this machine produces a "flat knit" — in this case, Polartec® High Loft® — which will later get split. Though slower than circular knitting machines, the flexibility of flat knit machines allows for more control over the final knit. Technicians can make precise adjustments to the width and shape of a knit, allowing for unique and intricate stitching, but the work doesn't stop there. To change the massive beams of fabric that are fed into the machine before, after, and during a run, we use a special electro-hydraulic lift — just one more way we're reducing carbon emissions throughout our supply chain.

Polartec fabrics start as fibers when they enter our Hudson factory. This is where it all comes together — and Polartec's bread and butter. Yarn packages are wound onto giant beams, fed into knitting machines, and come out as greige ready for delivery to PTM.


We achieve intricate patterns using machinery that has stood the test of time, guided by the hands of the most skilled twisters and knit techs in the business, with yarns that persistently push the boundaries of technical possibility.

Sectional Beaming Machine
Here we see Technician Edinson Ullon working on a Sectional Beaming Machine. For Polartec, this is largely an R&D machine, with which we take single-end yarn spools from partners like Repreve and wind them directly onto a beam. This allows us to create our own proprietary yarns at volume and prepare them to be fed into our industrial knitting machines.
The Twister
Those hands are the best in the world at twisting ends. When a fabric beam needs to get replaced, sometimes in the middle of a run, the Twister is charged with replacing it. This incredible feat of digital dexterity requires tying the new beam's ends (up to 1,040 on a single beam) onto the fabric run. These talented hands can twist hundreds of ends in mere hours.

Whether it's circular or flat knit, all Polartec greige comes to PTM for finishing. Our Cleveland factory specializes in three finishing processes: dying, wet finishing (applications that must be done while the fabric is wet like DWR and antimicrobial treatments), and surface finishing (napping, shearing, etc.). Once fabrics are dyed and finished, we test samples from every batch to make sure they're ready for our partners. We set industry standards and then invent the testing methods to consistently reproduce them.


Our finishing processes are tailored to the needs of our partners and the many categories they represent. What's right for the outdoors, won't be for the runway, and our decades of experience ensure we get it right every time.

Dye Lab
The dyeing process begins here. Polartec Dyeing experts have encyclopedic knowledge of fabric colors and how to achieve them. Using a spectrometer and a deep understanding of how dyes interact with fabrics, Colorists can match a partner's sample — which come in the form of other fabrics, pantone cards, or on one occasion, the handset of an avocado green rotary telephone — with incredible accuracy. To give you an idea of Polartec's palette, our Dye Lab produced 115K colors in three years, and Dye House Clerks keep all the dyeing histories in detailed shade folders to show for it.
Technorama
Fabric that has yet to undergo bleaching or dying is called "greige." With this dye-extracting machine, we can begin the process of turning our nylon, polyester, FR, and wool greige into just about any color a designer can imagine. A robotic head extracts dyes from the master colors and mixes them to match a pantone — or telephone — sent to us by the customer. <br /><br />The Technorama is an automated lab-dipping machine working 24 hours a day to produce up to 20 2"x2" lab-dip sample swatches at a time for our partners to choose from. This sampling capacity allows us to greatly increase speed to market.
Dye Jet
Once approved for production, a Dye Layer weighs out and bags precise ratios of various colors of powdered dyes to match the prototype. The bags are then placed on a rack for a Dye Mixer, who adds the mixture to a liquid solution to be fed into the Dye Jet.<br /><br />Finally, 300-500 lbs. of greige at a time are loaded into the Dye Jet to be dyed in any color imaginable.
Wet Finishing
The Kenyon machine seen here has two main jobs. Because fabric can't be wet for the remainder of the finishing process, the Kenyon's first function is drying fabric after it comes out of the Dye Jet — it's effectively a giant oven. Chemistry can be applied through this machine as well, making its second function the wet-finishing part of the finishing process. This is where DWR, water-repellency, or antimicrobial treatments can be applied to a fabric run before it's dried and doffed to be sent down the line for continued processing.
Surface Finishing
This is one of our Napper Operators, whose role represents a crucial step in what makes Polartec, Polartec. Napping involves a spinning thin metal wire that effectively tears the fabric's surface to give it the soft and fuzzy hand that has become Polartec's trademark.

No Polartec fabric run is shipped to our partners before it's been beat, snagged, ripped, torn, pilled, and set on fire to make sure it meets our industry-leading durability standards. Our inspectors use several methods and machines to test abrasion-resistance, pill-resistance, stretch recovery, and more. When a run is found to be suspect, re-inspectors work closely with plant managers to fix the issue or reject the run.


In short, the Inspection Department is charged with ensuring every yard of fabric PTM ships to our partners is first quality — and they're really, really good at it.

Martindale Abrasion-Resistance Tester
This machine tests a fabric's ability to stand up to the expected wear and tear a garment experiences throughout its lifetime. By rubbing abrasives against a sample from the run in continuously changing directions, we can tell if the fabric meets our durability requirements.
Mace Snag Tester
We'll admit this testing method looks a little… medieval. The rollers under the "mace" are wrapped in a sample from a run and quickly spin the fabric, allowing the spiked ball to drag across its face. Even through these intentionally harsh conditions, a fabric ready for delivery to our partners should still see minimal snagging — yarn loops pulled from the fabric.
Random Tumble Pilling Tester
Fiber loss is often confused with pilling. "True" pilling, or fiber reattachment pilling, occurs when foreign fibers or the fabric itself breaks filaments that then ball up along the fabric's surface. This test recreates pilling conditions by rapidly batting fabrics around with rotating paddles. From the revolutionary Polartec® Power Air™ platform to our Classic Fleece Series, we strive to produce pill-resistant fabrics to maximize their look and feel for the life of a garment.