Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Lenzing shipments to Nonwovens up 13%

Extracts from the 2013 annual report. 269,000 tonnes sold mainly into wipes...

The upward trend for man-made cellulose fibers, which has achieved growth significantly higher than the global fiber market as a whole, continued in 2013. Following a 12.9% production increase in 2012, total man-made cellulose fiber production was up 9.6% during the year under review, according to preliminary estimates, rising to a new record level of 5.8 mn tons. This included 4.4 mn tons of cellulose staple fibers, comprising a considerable rise in a year on-year comparison. For the most part, new production capacities were put into operation in China in 2013. The higher production volume can also be attributed to the higher capacity utilization on the part of the Chinese viscose fiber industry, with capacity utilization up by some 10 percentage points to about 85%.The nonwoven fiber market in 2013 was once again characterized by attractive growth rates.  According to initial estimates, global growth in the largest nonwovens segment, namely for wipes, once again reached a level of between 6% and 7%. Increasing prosperity in the developing and emerging markets served as the basis for above-average sales increases in this segment. The North American market also showed ongoing growth in contrast to the stable development of the nonwovens market in Europe. Asia continued its upward trend towards catching up with the rest of the world in 2013.

Demand for Lenzing’s nonwoven fibers [including viscose] was stable but at a high level in 2013. In contrast to the textile market segment, prices were considerably less volatile. However, the weak price situation prevailing on the textile fiber market increasingly impacted the nonwovens business in Asia in the second half of the year. Europe and the USA were not affected as much by this development. On balance, average fiber selling prices in 2013 were below the prior-year level.  

The nonwovens business of the Lenzing Group once again featured increasing sales volumes in 2013. Shipment volumes amounted to about 269,000 tons, about 13% higher than the 238,000 tons shipped in the previous years. More production capacities in the Group were made available for the production of nonwoven fibers in the course of the year due to the weak development of the textile fiber segment. Furthermore, additional capacities which came on stream in the USA and Indonesia in 2012 were available all year for the first time.  Most of Lenzing’s nonwoven fibers are used to produce wipes. Existing cooperation agreements in the wipes segment in the important American market were extended, new customers were attracted and new fields of application were conquered in spite of competition from China and India. 

In Asia, Lenzing nonwoven fibers scored top marks with customers in the
high-quality cosmetic face mask segment as well as in the women’s hygiene sector. Cooperation programs were set up with local partners in Indonesia for the first time.

 Source - Lenzing Annual Report 2013

Monday, 21 April 2014

Flushability Update

More from INDA's Vision 2014 - Dallas...

Steve Ogle, Technical Director of INDA reported that the focal point for communicating with the Waste Water Treatment (WWT) industry was now the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA).  NACWA were supporting the EDANA/INDA 2013 Guidance Document 3 and their Code of Practice (CoP) which required wipes producers, retailers and consumers to insist on the use of the “Do Not Flush” (DNF) label on wipes that did not meet the CoP.   A pilot consumer education program was underway in Portland Maine and this would develop into a campaign for WWT operators nationwide.

The CoP is based on the use of the 7 sequential fabric tests developed by EDANA/INDA all of which have to be passed to avoid the DNF label.  The tests are:

·         FG501 – Toilet and drainline clearance.
·         FG502 – Slosh box disintegration test
·         FG503 – Household Pump Test
·         FG504 – Settling Test
·         FG505 – Aerobic Biodegradation
·         FG506 – Anaerobic Biodegradation
·         FG507 – Municipal pump test

These tests effectively screen out any product with permanent wet strength – including Kleenex tissues - according to one participant.   Non-compliant products, which will now need to show a DNF label prominently include Baby Wipes, FemHi wipes, Disinfecting wipes, Haemorrhoidal wipes, cosmetic wipes and any of the older “flushable by size” products.  Feminine Hygiene products and paper towels are too strong to flush but are not in the scope of GD3.  

Mr Ogle reminded us that INDA’s investigation of municipal pump blockages indicated that 47% of the problem was paper towels, 18% Baby Wipes, 14% Household wipes, 13% Fem Hygiene, and 8% Flushable wipes.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Spunmelt Polypropylene Supply and Demand

More from INDA's Vision Conference in Dallas, Jan 2014

David Allan, Nonwoven Markets Editor at RISI Inc. foresaw the demand for spunbond PP fabrics growing by 2-4% per annum over the next 5 years.  Demand for use in diapers would be flat in tonnes, but increase slightly in area.  Inco and medical uses would grow about 5%.  The slight over-capacity would be tamed, with less new capacity coming on stream and older lines failing to compete in diapers.  The market should be in balance by 2016. Other figures of interest:

  • ·         Global nonwoven production would hit 10 million tpa by 2016.  3.6 million of this would be spunmelt PP.
  • ·         North American demand would reach 1.8 million tonnes by 2016, 600,000 tonnes being SMPP.
  • ·         About 80% of the SMPP use has been in disposables and of this about 65% has been used in diapers and pull-ups.
  • ·         Within the coverstock category, 26% is topsheet, 21% is leg-cuff, 31% is backsheet and the other 23% is mainly core-wrap.
  • ·         US Birth-rate is recovering from the recession low of 3.95 million and will reach 4.37 million in 2020.
  • ·         Nonwovens R&D spend in 2012 focused mainly on “improvements” (42%) and “new benefits” (28.5%)
  • ·         US production capacity would increase by ~100,000 tonnes from the 4 new lines now scheduled.
  • ·         PP resin costs have been on a slight upward trend since 2009 and 14gsm spunbond prices have been roughly level.  The NW producers are being gently squeezed in the diminishing gap.
  • ·         Future demand growth would be driven by the incontinence market.

Monday, 14 April 2014

US Manufacturing Update

More from INDA's Vision Conference in Dallas, Jan 2014

Chad Moutray, Chief Economist at the National Association of Manufacturers observed that US manufacturing sector growth had been accelerating since July 2013, but January 2014 was slower than expected due to the weather.  

In 2013 as a whole, manufacturing grew 2%, compared with 0.1% in the EU, and 3% was expected for 2014.  This would be the highest growth since 2005. Consumer spending is up, inflation down, housing starts are increasing, energy production is high and productivity gains are expected.  Vehicle sales have increased steadily from the 2009 low of 9.5 million to 16 million in 2013. 

A survey of INDA members at the end of 2013 suggested that the main nonwoven growth drivers would be:
·         New product development (71%)
·         Stronger domestic sales (47%)
·         Increased process efficiency (35%)
·         Increased exports (35%)
·         Mergers and acquisitions. (12%)

Russia, India, Argentina and Turkey were currently growing less than expected.

A huge boom in chemicals was underway in the US due to the renewed availability of gas and oil.  $91bn  investment was underway in 130+ new plants including much foreign direct investment.  Labour force increases of a million would result by 2020 and petrochemicals would again be exported to the EU and Asia.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Vision 2014: INDA Report

David Rousse, President of INDA saw the increases in US gas and oil production attracting foreign investment, especially in petrochemical industries.  The result would be high availability of ethylene and propylene and low PP and PE prices.  This would favour spunbond nonwoven production.  Other positive factors would be the increasing importance of “quality of life” issues leading to higher demand for cleaner air and water (filters), convenience products, sustainable goods, and improved healthcare where nonwovens had a role to play in reducing infections in general and from superbugs in particular.

Between 1987 and 2012, US Durable nonwovens had grown at 7.4% p.a., faster than Disposables (3.8%) and now amounted to one-third of the tonnage sold in the USA.  Growth from 2012 through 2017 would be 4.3% for disposables and 6% for durables.  US Production capacity was now 2.1 million tonnes, comprising 0.75 million tonnes of spunlaid and 0.7 million tonnes of dry-laid, the latter being mainly needlepunched/stitchbonded.  Dry laid capacity was now growing at 3.4% p.a. (up from 2.9%) compared with 3.9% for spunlaid (down from 5.3%).

The visible “game changers” were similar to last year’s:
  • ·         China’s relaxation of the 1 child policy would create a demand for diapering for 9.5million extra babies per year.  Demand for cleaner air and water would result in a rapidly growing demand for filtration products. China’s nonwoven capacity exceeds the USA and will pass through 3 million tonnes p.a. in 2017 according to ANFA.  (According to CNITA it reached 3.12 million tonnes in 2012!)
  • ·         The US Patient Protection and Care Act will encourage hospitals to use more disposables to reduce the frequency of hospital acquired infections.  Medical nonwovens amount to 9.4% of the total or 177,000 tonnes in 2012.
  • ·         Fracking  to extract shale gas had reduced US gas prices to a third of the EU’s and a fifth of Asia’s.  The lower ethane and energy costs would increase the competitiveness of US spunbond nonwovens.
  • ·         US Oil production is up 60% since 2008 due to shale oil extraction.  Major refinery investments will be coming on line between 2016 and 2020.
  • ·         The “Boomer Echo” – when the baby-boomers children have children – will increase the US birth rate, despite the fact that the marriage rate is low.  This is no more than a delay in reproducing.  The so-called Millenials (78 million of them) have a more cautious approach to starting a family, but 70% say they want to get married and 74% want to have children.  The Echo should start in a few years from now.
  • ·         The EPA Wiper Rule should result in an 6.1% p.a. growth in industrial wipes, with nonwovens being the main benefactor.  The current US nonwoven market for industrial wipes is 37600 tonnes/a and worth $600million.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Splittable Bico Fibres in Decorative Nonwovens

The final summaries from Roubaix...

Ralf Taubner of STFI (Germany) promoted STFI’s facilities mentioning their Reicofil spunbond, Hergerth carding, Fleissner hydroentanglement, Danweb air-laying and Küsters calendering.  He provided a wealth of data on nonwovens which could be made from the kit before concentrating on a current project for Duni (Sweden) intended to improve the lustre and colour intensity of their majority-pulp tableware range.  All composites where the pulp was sandwiched between spunbond and/or carded webs looked and felt better than those with a pulp surface, and surfaces of splittable PLA/PE fibres which had been hydroentangled were best of all.

Modelling Nonwoven Compression Behaviour

Amit Rawal of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (India) has developed a two-step model to describe the uniaxial compression behaviour of thermally bonded nonwovens.  The results from this model have been compared with experimental data on the thickness under various pressures of parallel and random laid structures.  Good agreement was obtained.  It was concluded that fibre modulus, fibre volume fraction, Poissons ratio and the alignment of fibres are the key determinants of compression behaviour. The model could be applied to other porous networks such as those made from multiwalled carbon nanotubes.

Modelling the Spun-laid Nonwoven Process

Christian Leithäuser of the Fraunhofer Institute of Industrial Mathematics (Germany) described the modelling of melt-flow in the spin pack, of extrusion and drawdown, of turbulence in the drawing air and of fibre laydown.   By combining these models developed within 8 different doctoral theses undertaken between 2009 and 2013 the Fraunhofer ITWM has, in essence, created a virtual spunbond line.  The models are now being used to optimise or even completely redesign the spinning process and to evaluate and compare virtual nonwovens prior to their production.

A Viscose/Bico Air Laying Expert System

Tobias Maschler of DITF Denkenorf (Germany) presented an expert system for the development of air-laid nonwovens which is being constructed with funding from the Allianz Industrie Forschung programme.  It is a Web 2.0 client server application which can be accessed via a browser.  It contains all the important facts about the process, and how they relate to the Oerlikon Neumag air-layer and the Fleissner through-air bonder at STFI.  It also contains data on the fibres which might be used, allows input of the desired nonwoven properties (e.g basis weight, density, thickness, absorbency) and calculates the fibre blend and process parameters to obtain those properties.  It also calculates an initial estimate of the likely nonwoven production costs.