What is Flatwork Finishing?

The Flatwork Finishing Process

There is no substitute for the appearance and feel that only a crisply ironed tabletop, napkin, pillowcase, or sheet can provide. Ironed linen conveys a message of quality and cleanliness: that an establishment is "first class" all the way. This is especially true where linen is exposed to constant usage and washings which quickly take a toll on its appearance. “Tumble dried only” linen often gives the impression that it has already been used by a previous guest and may not be as clean as it should be. Our equipment puts the final touches on freshly laundered products for well presented ironed and folded packages. The last step in the commercial laundry process is also the first thing your customer sees.


Chicago specializes in designing and building systems to separate, feed, dry, iron/finish, and fold washed sheets, pillowcases, and table linen, as well as tumble dried towels, blankets, patient gowns, scrubs, and specialty or luxury items.  As you will see, technical expertise, product innovation, quality, local support, and tradition are powerful reasons to choose Chicago as your single source for flatwork finishing innovation and solutions.


Chicago is the first U.S. company to automate the physically demanding job of pulling and shaking sheets apart by hand. Operators no longer have to bend and lift tangled linen, eliminating FTE hours and ergonomic concerns. Pieces per operator hour are dramatically increased because sheets are presented to the feeder in a condition that is easier and faster to handle. Chicago Cascade® models are available for use with laundry carts or to receive linen automatically dropped from overhead storage.

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Chicago’s Edge® automatic spreader/ feeder line offers ergonomic labor-saving solutions for the accurate high volume presentation of sheets and table linen into flatwork ironing and/or folding equipment. Because our patented cornerless technology electronically locates sheet corners for spreading, operators are not wasting valuable time searching for corners, increasing productivity. Spreading quickly but gently stretches linen for a quality laydown and dual angle air pulses reliably deliver accurately fed sheets to the ironer or folder to ensure a high quality finish to the entire area of the linen.

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Ironing is the most efficient method of removing moisture from flatwork. Chicago ironers actually perform three functions on wet linen in one continuous process: drying (removing moisture), ironing (removing wrinkles), and finishing (creating a fine gloss finish). An ironer uses moisture left in extracted flatwork in order to remove wrinkles and create a "finished look" on linen. When ironing, wet linen does not have to be tumble dried first, so there is no chance for wrinkles or creases to set in while dried linen waits in a dryer or laundry cart before folding.

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The last step in the finishing process is accurate, crisp, and consistent folding of ironed or tumble dried items. Through a blend of mechanical ingenuity, compressed air blasts and electronically controlled crossfold and stacker conveyors,  linen and tumble dried items are folded into compact packages to be stacked and/or stored for delivery back into circulation.

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