Switzerland’s Uster highlights contribution of silk pioneer

Switzerland’s Uster has shared the story of its silk pioneer, Peter Haettenschwiler, who passed away in August 2021. He dedicated his career to making the finest yarns and fabrics out of the delicate silk. He was an assistant who worked in the development of the first yarn evenness tester for Uster. He is known as the company’s first textile technologist.

Haettenschwiler tested silk spun yarn, but it must be said that it was some years along in the manufacturing of raw and spun silk until the first trials were made with commercially available testing systems. In the course of this work, cooperation with experts from silk institutes in Switzerland, Italy and later China were started. The European silk trade was first to hear about the new test technologies. Early studies quickly showed that even very fine silk could be tested after certain adaptations of the devices. The test results were more neutral, more meaningful and more precise than the data obtained with traditional testing methods, Uster said in a media statement.

At the beginning of the 18th century, the ‘silk courts’ in Zurich were world famous and by 1900 the silk industry was one of the most important industries in Switzerland. Silk processing reached its peak at the beginning of the 20th century. What remains today are a handful of silk producers focusing on niche markets, as well as Testex, founded as `Zuerich Seidentrocknungsanstalt´ (institution for silk drying) 175 years ago and the financial institutes which arose to provide capital to support the industry’s profits.

Silk has never been a big business for Uster, only a niche for which Haettenschwiler showed his passion. There were Uster Statistics editions for both spun silk and raw silk, however, not surprisingly, as Haettenschwiler also played an outstanding role in developing Uster Statistics in its early years and through the decades. This story opens another page of Uster history.

“He was a formative personality for the company and a highly engaged colleague who dedicated his working life to the textile industry with respect to an advanced quality management in staple and filament spinning. Silk was one of his great passions and the development of possible objective quality testing possibilities with Uster products was always his intention and he was always pushing for investigations and publications. We would like to honour his working life and we should inspire future generations of textile professionals with his story,” Wolfram Soell, senior textile technologist at Uster said in a statement.

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