In one embodiment, a fiber treatment system includes a rotatable nubbed roller including an axis of rotation, a surface, and a number of spaced apart nubs projecting away from the surface, the number of spaced apart nubs imparting a number of spaced apart openings in a fiber tow. In another embodiment, the fiber treatment system further includes an optionally rotatable spreader roller for flattening the fiber tow. In yet another embodiment, the loosened, but still continuous fiber tow is chopped by a downstream chopper to form short fibers with reduced tow sizes.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 The present invention was made with Government support under Department of Energy Cooperative Agreement No. DE-FC26-02OR22910. The Government has certain rights to the invention.