Flocking is the process of applying different types of fibers or materials that contain adhesive to other materials. It may be used in a wide range of applications. People are most commonly familiar with Christmas trees that are flocked with white, or even pink or blue snow. This is accomplished by spraying the tree with a sticky color of choice that gives the tree a different look. This type of flocking is only the tip of the iceberg.
There are several different types of flocking, depending upon the process and the types of fibers used. These types are roll-to-roll, object, automotive, and graphics flocking. Flocking can be as simple as spray painting with adhesive materials made up of tiny fibers on objects like the Christmas trees, or it can be complex, changing the texture and designs of the object it is applied to.
Graphics flocking, for example, is used on clothing, floor mats, cards, and stationary, among other things. The simplest type would be the application of a small logo to an item of clothing. Alternately, T-shirts with their many graphic designs are essentially flocked T-shirts. A person can feel the difference between the flocked and non-flocked areas. Many T-shirts with graphic design feel almost plastic or rubbery where a flocked design has been added, and to keep the design looking fresh, the wearer may have to keep the shirts turned inside out when they are washed.
Roll-to-roll flocking looks like carpet, and carpeting may indeed be flocked. Decorative paper like wrapping paper can also be flocked, as can rolls of fabric or wallpaper. Generally, the entire outside area on the roll is flocked, with anything from stain resistant coatings to shimmery designs that add more interest to home decorations.
In automotive flocking, the goal may be to coat different auto parts to better protect the metal and also to give a uniform look or color to the part. Metal parts of a car engine are often painted black or grey, and the exterior of an automobile, whether plastic or metal, is essentially flocked. Standard house paint cannot be used to paint a car with desirable results. Instead, special polymer paints are used that will bond with the car’s exterior to create a smooth finish.
Object flocking has many applications. It can mean flocking or bonding fibers to many different types of objects large and small. For example, a lipstick tube might be object flocked on the exterior, or pieces of furniture may be given this treatment. Flocking may be used to provide a different texture, a different look, or to improve the durability of the object. Sometimes, adding extra layers of fiber to an object accomplishes all three goals.
In any case, flocking remains a way to change the look, feel, or durability of a variety of products, both homemade and commercially produced. Flocking supplies are available in a variety of craft stores, and many stores also offer great tips and books on how to flock successfully.