Combing is a method for preparing carded fibre for spinning. It separates out the short fibres by means of a rotating ring of steel pins. The fibres in the 'top' it produces, have been straightened and lie parallel to each other. When combing wool, the discarded short fibres are called noils, and are ground up into shoddy.
The combs used have long metal teeth, and only barely resemble the comb used on hair. However, they are used in a similar fashion with one comb holding the fibre while the other is moved through, slowly transferring the fibre to the moving comb.
Combing the fibres removes the short fibres and arranges the fibre in a flat bundle, with all the fibres going the same direction. This preparation is commonly used to spin a worsted yarn. Woollen yarns cannot be spun from fibre prepared with combs, instead the fibre must be carded. Cotton is combed when it is to be used for quality fabric with high thread counts.
In general, combing is done with fibres that are longer, and carding with fibres of a shorter length. Worsted yarns pass first through a gilling machine instead of a carder, which starts the combing process, and then through a comber. 
In cotton manufacture, the Heilmann comber was superseded by the Naismith comber. In worsted a Noble comber was a common make.
See also 
- Collier, Ann M (1970), A Handbook of Textiles, Pergamon Press, p. 258, ISBN 0-08-018057-4, 0 08 018056 6 Check
- Dooley, William H. (1914), Project Gutenberg Textiles (Project Gutenberg ed.), Boston, USA: D.C. Heath and Co., retrieved 13 November 2011
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