A textile mill is a manufacturing facility that is involved in some aspect of textile manufacturing. Many people use the term to refer specifically to a plant where textiles are made, although it may also refer to facilities that process textiles and turn them into finished products, such as clothing. Textile mills can be found in operation all over the world, and the working conditions are highly variable, depending on the type of textiles being produced and the location of the mill.
At a mill, the raw materials for textiles are turned into thread that can be woven, crocheted, knitted, or used in other ways to make textiles. Many specialize in a particular type of raw material such as silk, cotton, nylon, or rayon. The mill includes facilities for cleaning and processing the raw material, spinning it, and dying it, along with facilities to turn the raw materials into fabrics. Fabrics can also be dyed, printed, or embroidered.
The base fabrics produced by a textile mill can be sold to members of the public, or used in other manufacturing processes. For example, a mill may specialize in making cotton prints for quilters to use, in which case it sells fabric bolts to companies which supply sewing and quilting stores. A facility that supplies fabric to clothing and other textile manufacturers, on the other hand, does not work directly with end consumers or companies which supply products to end consumers.
Historically, the production of textiles was highly labor intensive. Modern mills are mechanized, with a variety of specialized equipment that does much of the work. Employees must be familiar with the operation of the equipment, which usually requires on the job training, and the work can be dangerous, as the heavy machinery can pose risks to people working on the factory floor. Poorly maintained factories or equipment can be especially dangerous for workers, and textile mills can also generate environmental pollution in the form of emissions from their power plants or the release of chemicals used in textile manufacturing.
The staff at a textile mill includes production workers who run the machines, maintenance crews who keep the machines and the factory in good order, and supervisors who have scheduling and determine what will be produced when. Mills also hire textile designers and engineers who develop new fabrics, come up with new patterns, and are involved in all aspects of the manufacturing process.