Royal Fiber Spinnery
Rod Dakan, the owner of America’s largest Alpaca fiber processor, Royal Fiber Spinnery in Ruidoso, says his company’s greatest challenge is the expense and logistics of transportation. According to Rod Dakan, most of the 100,000 Alpacas in the U.S. exist in herds of 20, scattered in all 50 states. Moving the annual fiber clip from farms to processing centers across the U.S. is prohibitively expensive based on available wool or cotton balers. Current equipment creates bales weighing 700 pounds and measuring 4’ x 5’ x 2’, which is more fiber than most small farms would produce in a year.
Bob Winters, from Sandia’s Organic Materials in Advanced Manufacturing Department, provided design consultation on a baler hat compresses Alpaca fiber to a maximum weight of 50 to 70 pounds and a size of 1.5’ x 1.5’ x 1.5’. As the design developed, a testing device was built to validate the concept, then a 3D model and detailed drawing were created for Royal Fiber to have the baler manufactured.
Dakan has taken the designs to a metal fabricator to begin production and plans to market the smaller, more efficient balers to the Alpaca grower community, as well as utilizing it in his own processing facility. As a result, he anticipates significant increases in revenue and business for Royal Fiber Spinnery.