Cashmere and wool are two protein fibers with analogous geometrical attributes, but distinct physical properties. Due to its scarcity and unique features, cashmere is a much more expensive fiber than wool. In the textile production, cashmere is often intentionally blended with fine wool in order to reduce the material cost. To identify the fiber contents of a wool–cashmere blend is important to quality control and product classification. The goal of this study is to develop a reliable method for estimating fiber contents in wool–cashmere blends based on near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy. In this study, we prepared two sets of cashmere–wool blends by using either whole fibers or fiber snippets in 11 different blend ratios of the two fibers and collected the NIR spectra of all the 22 samples. Of the 11 samples in each set, six were used as a subset for calibration and five as a subset for validation. By referencing the NIR band assignment to chemical bonds in protein, we identified six characteristic wavelength bands where the NIR absorbance powers of the two fibers were significantly different. We then performed the chemometric analysis with two multilinear regression (MLR) equations to predict the cashmere content (CC) in a blended sample. The experiment with these samples demonstrated that the predicted CCs from the MLR models were consistent with the CCs given in the preparations of the two sample sets (whole fiber or snippet), and the errors of the predicted CCs could be limited to 0.5% if the testing was performed over at least 25 locations. The MLR models seem to be reliable and accurate enough for estimating the cashmere content in a wool–cashmere blend and have potential to be used for tackling the cashmere adulteration problem.
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