Thursday 12 June 2003

Edana Nonwovens Symposium: Rome June 4th-5th 2003

Key Points

  • The development of 3-layer spun-laced nonwovens containing pulp promises to allow further wipes-substrate cost reduction by removing the need for the more expensive viscose fibres.
  • As a step on the way to viscose elimination, the development of a 3-layer viscose/PP/viscose substrate with 75% PP offers cost reduction and better release of lotion.
  • A 36 gsm 3-layer laminate of spunbond PP with a pulp core contained 20gsm of pulp.
  • A semi-durably hydrophilic polyester staple also allows spunlaced wipes substrates with minimal viscose content.
  • A breathable backsheet with comfort levels between microporous film and SMS is claimed to result from a 3-layer laminate of conulated film, melt blown and spunbond.
  • “Extreme Modularity” in diaper machinery, said to be used by P&G and K-C, allows the production of training pants and diapers on the same line.
  • A long-fibre card-less air-layer allows heavier weight nonwovens to be made with two layers. Powders and scrims can be easily added to allow, for instance, through-air powder bonded high-loft structures without use of bico fibres.


Krzysztof  D. Malowaniec

Krzysztof D. Malowaniec (Paul Hartrmann - Germany) opens the meeting

Approximately 300 delegates, 12 from the USA, braved the heat, traffic and expense of a flaming Roman June to hear 18 diverse papers loosely linked by the themes of Strategy, Markets, Value, Environmental Benefits, New Materials and Machinery Development. As often happens with EDANA programs, the days are so full of speeches that the opportunities for networking and speaker cross-examination are limited. Nevertheless the audience appeared well satisfied with the event and looked forward to meeting again in Barcelona in June of next year.

World Market Update

Tom Van Gyseghem of Arthur D Little ( Belgium ) updated the 1999 survey of nonwovens in Europe presented at the EDANA Nonwovens Symposium in Prague . The current study was based on 35 interviews throughout the value chain and conversations with industry experts.

The key points:
• In 2006 world production will be 5.14 million tonnes; Western World growth will be 5% and the emerging countries 10-15%, giving an overall 7% CAGR.
• Most growth will be in the Middle East (CAGR 15%: Turkey , Israel and Saudi Arabia being the leaders) with Asia/Pacific at 11%, Rest of World 10%, and US/Europe at 5%.
• Recent growth in Asia has been entirely due to China : other major Asian nonwovens markets ( Korea , Japan , Taiwan ) declined.
• China continues to show the largest growth potential.
• Within Europe, Germany and Italy are the key producing countries; the former being strong in huge volume high speed lines while the latter favours smaller more flexible production.
• While wipes have grown at 25% between 1996 and 2001, this will reduce to 9% over the period from 2002 to 2006.
• Hygiene growth will similarly decline from 10% (1996-01) to 5% (2002-06) p.a.
• Overcapacity, a slowdown in innovation and a slowdown in industry consolidations characterise the current nonwoven roll-goods scene.
• Structural factors (commoditization, market saturation, consolidation failures, private label pressures) and cyclical factors (RM price increases, health care savings programs, slowdown in investment) combine to cause low profitability. European NW producers profitability is ~2%.
• Raw materials now account for 60% of total manufacturing cost.
• Half of world growth with be in spunlaid production.
• Worldwide market for web-forming and web-bonding equipment in 2002 was €700million: €450M in webforming, mainly spunlaid, and €250M in bonding, mainly needling.
• Most investment will be in China , Turkey , India , Korea , Taiwan .
• Chinese machine makers are beginning to break in to the Western equipment supply market.

In response to a question, Mr Van Gyseghem said that niche products were now providing the profitability for the roll goods producers, but large scale commodity production is needed to sustain the big-business approach to innovation. Learning to combine these extremes was a key to success. He recommended a book: “Innovation Premium” by a colleague at ADL.

China Market Update

Mr Wang Yanxi of CNTA ( China ) could not be present to give his paper, but the written version was available.
• Average annual growth of nonwovens production since 1978 was 23%
• 477,700 tonnes of nonwovens were produced in 2002 representing 0.36kg/capita.
• >90% of this feeds the domestic market.
• 71% were dry-laid and 29% were spunmelt
• Of the dry-laid, 145,000 tonnes were needled, 21,500 tonnes were spunlaced and 15,000 tonnes were airlaid.
• The spunlaced was produced on 18 lines, 7 of which used imported (western) machinery.
• The 128,000 tonnes of spunmelt is produced on 76 lines (65 PP, 10 PET and 1 SMS) Half of these lines were produced in China .
• Waddings (120,000 tonnes) remained the largest application.
• Hygiene/medical used 78,000 tonnes and Household/Wipes used 28,000 tonnes.

Nonwovens Declining

Teruo Yoshimura of the All Nippon Nonwovens Association ( Japan ) said Japan 's deflation had caused drastic restructuring of the nonwovens industry, which had declined by 5% in 2001 and 1% in 2002. Imports had increased by 70% since 1998 (30,000 to 51,000 tpa) but these changes were minor compared with the effects of deflation on the textile and fibre producers.

Over the same period, exports had also risen, from 24000 to 30000 tpa but the value of exports, 1461 Yen/kg was very much higher than the value of the imports (406 Yen/kg). 21% of these exports go to the USA and only 7% to Europe , so Mr Yoshimura felt that new emphasis on the European market was required. He drew some comfort from the fact that the decline was in commodity products, not in the high value specialities.

Of the 296,000 tonnes of nonwovens produced in Japan in 2002, 86,000 were needled, 83,000 were spunmelt, 42,000 were thermal bonded, 38,000 were latex bonded and 17,000 were spunlaced.

2003 had started well with Q1 nonwoven shipments up 2.6% over last year, but prices were still too low for comfort. Domestic demand (Production plus imports less exports) remained strong and did not show any decline over the deflationary period.

He felt the future lay in further developments of quality products made to Health, Environment, IT and Living themes:
• Biodegradable nonwovens
• Flushable and biodegradable diapers
• Stain-free materials using photo-catalysis
• Antimicrobials
• Industrial waste management nonwovens
• Chemical absorbing masks (esp formaldehyde)
• Anti-virus masks
• Anti-pollen masks
• Products for old age, e.g. Incontinence products, compresses for aches and pains.
• Fuel-cell separators
• PTT polymer for ultra soft nonwovens
• Aramid nonwovens for tyre reinforcement
• Precision Wipes (e.g. for LCD displays)
• Antistatic and electromagnetic shielding nonwovens

Hydrophilic Polyester for Wipes

Michael Witschas of Dupont-Sabanci Polyester ( Germany ) introduced their new Hydrofix® fibre which addresses the problem of finish wash-off in hydroentanglement. The fibre was “semi-durably” hydrophilic and the only clue he provided to how this had been achieved was to say what they had not done: i.e used plasma treatment, which was too slow and costly, or modified the polymer, which would make the fibre weaker. His definition of semi-durable was that the hydrophilicity would survive wet processing and several further wet extractions.

Comparisons of Hydrofix® with viscose in wet-wipe structures showed it to have:
• Better total absorbency and a sink time of 3 seconds compared with 1 for viscose and >600 for PES after hydroentanglement.
• In the nonwoven drop absorption test, the drop disappeared in 108 microseconds compared with 20 microseconds for viscose and 50 microseconds for the viscose/Hydrofix® blend.
• It has the same strength as regular polyester and gives HE fabrics 2-3 times as strong as viscose.

Asked publically about the cost, he could not say more than that it would be at a premium. Did they modify the polymer in any way? No: the process involved an aftertreatment to the fibre. In private conversation he said the price was likely to be nearer viscose than polyester. They had not used alkali hydrolysis to make the surface hydrophilic, neither had they grafted a surfactant to it. Wipes made from 100% of the fibre pass the lotion-drainage-in-storage test.

Better Lotion Release

Niina Salonoja of J W Suominen ( Finland ) described their development of a new wet-wipe substrate. The converters need strength with softness, wettability, absorbency and bulk and these properties were largely met with current market leading products. However, functionality, as perceived by the consumer, could be improved by providing better release of the liquid onto the surface. The standard 65% viscose/35% polyester substrate only needed absorbency for holding the lotion in place in the pack: in use it retained too much fluid. Increasing the synthetic content or moving to PP from PET both improved release, but compromised the in-pack performance.

The solution in all its elegant simplicity was to separate the viscose and synthetic into layers which will release the fluid more easily and hence allow the wipe to be made with less fluid addition in the first place. The 3-layer product, essentially a PP core with thin viscose skins, required three cards prior to HE.

Testing using a Dynamic Wiping Device provided proof of principle by showing that an 80/20 PP/viscose substrate released 75% of the simulated lotion (Triton X100) in 6 wipes compared with 56% for the 100% viscose. Further testing was carried out on a layered 70/30 PP/viscose blend in comparison with the 33/67 PET/Viscose standard. The layered product had a total free absorbency of 10.5 g/g compared with 8.5 g/g for an intimate blend of the same fibre composition, and 10.0g/g for the PET/Viscose control. Lotion release improved to 80% compared with 67% for the control.

Porosimetry measurements showed that the layered structure collapses more completely under pressure and hence retains less fluid. Clearly the main unspoken attraction of this approach will be the saving in costs for the nonwoven producer who needs to buy less viscose, and the converter who needs to use less lotion. Privately she confirmed they had tested the new fabric to prove it had sufficient vertical wicking to allow the top layer of a wipes pack to stay wet in prolonged storage

New Spunlace Structures

Mr Münstermann of Fliessner Maschinenfabrik ( Germany ) provided an update of developments on their Aquajet™ system. The newer claims were:
• Their twin-belt wet-out system with through-belt HE allows 10gsm webs to be processed on the line as a whole
• 300m/min was the top line speed quoted, 200m/min being the top speed for aperturing.
• 7m wide lines can now be made.
• They have an exclusive licence for 3-layer production with pulp filling whether tissue or air-lay. (From Georgia Pacific).
• Structuring or embossing the webs increases their bulk by 50-100%.
• Spunbond-fluff-spunbond structures allow 75% pulp to be used. (Collaboration with Reifenhauser)
• A 60 gsm SFS embossed wipe fabric is 1.2mm thick and costs €0.925/kg cf €1.52/kg for 60gsm viscose/PET with a 0.6mm thickness. Without embossing the SFS structure would cost €0.762/kg. (All costs for raw materials only)
• For 200gsm and above they can now process direct from a tuft-feeder, avoiding the cost of cards. (Collaboration with Trutzschler).

In response to questions, Mr Münstermann said embossing does not affect strength but increases fabric elongation. The lightest 3-layer staple product is currently 40gsm (10/20/10 PES/pulp/PES). 8gsm spunbond could also be used on the outside to reduce the weight further.

Better Breathable Backsheet

Dr Antonietta Splendiani of Tredegar Film Products ( Italy ) identified a gap in the breathable fabrics market. SMMS products provide excellent breathability but poor barrier performance while microporous films provide excellent barrier performance and poor comfort.

To fill the gap Tredegar has created a laminate of conulated film, melt-blown nonwoven and a spunbond, where the perforated cones of the film are upside down creating a raised surface to the composite. The spunbond only contributes abrasion resistance to the other outer surface. When a conulated film with a hydrostatic head of 32mm is laminated to a meltblown with a hydrohead of 305mm the composite had a hydrohead of 686mm. Dr Splendiani thought this was useful synergy rather than evidence that lamination reduced the permeability of the apertured film.

With regard to breathability the new laminate tested at 21,000 g/m 2 /day compared with 40,000 for SMMS and 5000 for a microporous film with a hydrohead of 877mms. Wearer trials showed that the humidity inside the new laminate rose more slowly, to lower peak levels and decayed more rapidly (when exercise ceased) than in the commercial “breathable” control. Tredegar will also develop a version for diaper backsheet use.

Disposables Production Revolution?

Thilo König of GDM ( Italy ) described how their latest “extreme modularity” approach to diaper making would allow the manufacture of training pants and diapers on the same line simply by switching 3 modules. Slides illustrating both the P&G and KC use of the principle with the BT 600 TP system were shown.

The various modules making up the line were independent and were built and tested as stand-alone units, to be assembled on site in whatever way the customer required.

Softness and Touch

Catherine Renault-Hartmann of BBA Nonwovens Corovin ( Germany ) noted that our overall impression of softness is made up of 5 key elements:
• Surface structure
• Stiffness
• Volume or bulk
• “Climate” – does it feel dry, wet, warm, cold, squeaky, slippery)
• Appearance

Every market needs a different combination of these elements. For instance diaper topsheet softness judgement relies mainly on surface structure and appearance and improving other softness elements could be wasting money. For surgeons gowns the key elements were stiffness, surface structure and appearance. Regional differences in the perception of softness exist also, Asian needs differing greatly from US needs.

The Value of Binders

Dr Holger Poths of Air Products Polymers ( Germany ) provided an overview of latex-bonding en-route to showing how their new Airflex EP1188 emulsion could improve resistance to moisture without spoiling the moisture vapour transmission rate.

EP1188 is a vinyl acetate ethylene copolymer with FDA approval, ultra-low (<5ppm) formaldehyde, and free of alkyl phenol ethoxylates. When 15-20 gsm is added to SMS or air-laid pulp nonwovens a contact angle of 91-93 degrees is obtained along with a hydrostatic head of up to 180mms. This is achieved without any lowering of the Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate.

In response to a question, he could not provide a copolymer spin-finish to make viscose hydrophobic.

Long-Fibre (and powder) Air-Lay

Akiva Pinto of Bettarini and Sefarini SRL ( Italy ) introduced a new long-fibre air-lay system that produced heavy felts directly from what looked like a traditional chute feed to a card. The Bemaformer® works with two fibre feed streams to give a two sided product and can also incorporate powders and scrims. The result could be a 100% PET high-loft nonwoven with a 10 kilo/m 3 density or could be compressed into denser structures.

The two fibre feeds to the Bemaformer® are provided by two Bemablow® units which in turn can be fed from Bemamixers® which improve the fibre blend or incorporate powders and chemicals (e.g for fire retardant). Bemaopener® units process the fibre feed to the mixers.

The system can process wool, glass, bico, kenaf, card waste, foam chips with shoddy, and ground-up carpet waste. Woodpulp was also possible! Throughput could be 1 tonne per hour but whether this was per meter width on the 2.5 meter wide line was not clear.

Absorbing Spillages

Robert Van Langeveld of New Pig ( Holland ) reviewed the evolution of oil absorbents from an outlet for waste melt-blown fabrics to the specifically designed systems for:
• Removing oil spillages from sea water, in harbours as well as in major incidents.
• Removing hydrocarbons from drinking water in water treatment plants
• Containing oil leakage from machinery, especially in the metal-working industry
• Cleaning up emergency spillages of oil and fuel in road accidents.

The key product development which “changed the paradigm” was the absorbent sock, a tube of spunbond which could be filled with a variety of cost-effective absorbents according to the problem and local conditions. Waste nonwovens, melt-blowns, vermiculite, straw had all been used.

The key market development was the MRO (Machine Run-Off Oil) which allowed the products to be used to prevent spillages and to keep the working environment in workshops safer and cleaner. The metal-working and chemical industries had become the leading users of these products. Rolls, pads and the more sophisticated disposable mats weighed from 175 to 400 gsm and sold for €8 to €14/kg.

Perhaps unsurprisingly with such a good mark-up on the PP granule price, the industry was now beginning to suffer from what Mr Van Langeveld called a cowboy element. It needed industry standards covering the strength and capacity of the products. Edana had taken the first step of establishing a sub-committee to look at test methods. Commoditisation was also becoming an issue. Incineration is the preferred disposal route, New Pig products being practically ash-free.

Nonwovens for absorbing spillages

Mr Büchsel of Schoeller and Hoesch (France) continued the oil absorbent theme from the standpoint of a fabric producer, pointing out that cleaning up major spills needs a high capacity product with fast uptake that can be delivered to the scene of the spill quickly. Melt-blown PP could be formed into booms, pillows, sheets, rolls and sweeps to replace the fluff, waste, cotton, sawdust, clay, and calcined diatomaceous earth now used. The products needed to have maximum capacity for rapid accidental spillage clean-up and here low strength was acceptable. However for preventative use, higher strength products with high abrasion resistance (spun bond skins) were needed and here the absorbent capacity could be lower. Contaminated products were covered by the hazardous waste directive and needed separate collection and storage in special containers. To absorb and dispose of 1 tonne of oil using the melt-blown products would cost €624 compared with €1200 for the cheaper powders. Furthermore 1 tonne of oil could be absorbed by 40kgs of MB and leave 20gms ash after incineration, cf 1 tonne of ash if diatomaeceous earth was the absorbent.

The main producers of the systems for oil clean-up were 3M, New Pig, and SPC in the USA and these all export to Europe . Ecotextil (Cz) and S&H (Fr) were the European producers. The system approach was however being spoiled by dumping of excess melt-blown capacity into this market.

Clay-filled Landfill Liners

Dr Han-Yong Jeon of Chonman National University ( Korea ) described the development of a clay-filled polyester for use in landfills. Here there is a problem of toxic inorganic compounds in the leachate and the clay helps the polyester to absorb these toxins. In the study presented, 12 denier staple fibre containing 2-3% of clay had been needled into fabrics from 272 to 1500 gsm and compared with similar products without the clay. The clay product had about twice the toxin absorption efficiency as the regular polyester. At one extreme the clay had no effect on iron absorption, and at the other it removed ~95% of the cadmium and lead compared with ~37% for the unfilled polyester.

Why limit the filler to 3%? Because the strength specification for landfill liners cannot be met with higher concentrations. Dr Jeon explained that in use the leachate can reach 80 0 C and has a pH above 8 so that a polyester needlefelt loses half its original strength. There was no consideration of how long the liner might remain effective.

Nonwovens in Furniture

Max Castellani of ATEX ( Italy ) enumerated the requirements the furniture construction industry placed on spunbonds:
• Good barrier to liquids and dust-mites
• Antimicrobial
• Low flam
• Good aesthetics
• Available in a wide range of colours to match the face fabrics.
• Good light fastness
• Breathable
• Sewable/heat sealable

The furniture industry also needed nonwovens for use in the finishing process:
• Polishing wipes
• Anti-scratch surface protectors
• Transit Blankets

Wipes had to be very soft microfibre materials to avoid scratching. Dry wipes were needed for dusting, wet-wipes which can release the lotion and reabsorb it were needed for polishing

Improving Barrier Performance

Clemens Tuente of Cognis ( Germany ) described work aimed at improving the alcohol, oil and static properties of SMS without spoiling the hydrostatic head. Cognis targeted an improvement in alcohol repellency ranking from 2 to 10, in oil repellency from 0 to 7 and a reduction in electrical resistance from 10 13 to 10 11 ohms by using combinations of their fluorocarbons, extenders and antistats.

Unfortunately the drying/curing temperatures required for the fluorocarbon were close to the melting point of PP, and the heat treatment spoiled the water barrier performance (hydrostatic head test, HH). Furthermore the HH was also adversely affected by the antistats used.

Mr Tuente concluded that with a low melting fibre like PP, it was impossible to meet all the goals simultaneously. However their Repellent NFC/KFC would allow higher alcohol hold-out (>5) without compromising the other properties.

Dr Schacher of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Industries Textile de Mulhouse ( France ) compared disposables and reusables in hospitals in France and Portugal . The EU-funded study carried out between March and September 2001 contacted 169 French and 83 Portuguese hospitals and was compared with a 1996 survey of 89 Portuguese hospitals. Only 32 of the French hospitals responded. None of the data appeared convincing and the only conclusion of note was that private hospitals used more disposables than public hospitals, a trend that had increased since 1996.

Innovation Focus

Rich Chapas, Consultant (USA) reviewed the route to the successful introduction of new products from a nonwoven industry viewpoint. He listed:
• Set Strategy and Goals
• Define the Innovation Leadership Team
• Analyse the portfolio of possible projects
• Define the opportunity
• Appoint the project champion
• Use tools such as market research, focus groups, trend analysis.

Cotton Surfaced Nonwovens

Dr Larry Wadsworth of TANDEC (USA) recycled his paper on cotton/PP laminates made by calendering the webs together in various combinations. The work was supported by Cotton Inc. and Eastman. If the PP was replaced by Eastar Bio or PLA a biodegradable laminate could be obtained. Unfortunately Eastar Bio proved uncardable due to its elasticity, and the PLA as received proved unwettable. A bico fibre with a PLA core and Eastar Bio sheath gave better laminates with cotton. Sonic bonding gave better bulk than calendering, but less strength. Wetting agents gave faster wetting.

C R Woodings 11/6/2003

Tuesday 3 June 2003

PLMA 2003: Amsterdam Holland : 27-28th May


This Amsterdam PLMA show was smaller and less crowded than last year's Chicago event, and according to several exhibitors was probably less well attended than the previous Amsterdam show - “but the quality of attendee has been excellent”.

From a nonwovens and disposables viewpoint a notable feature was the large number of stands showing wet-wipes, cosmetic wipes, dry-dusters and floor-cleaners of every description. Micro-fibre wipes, both nonwoven and knitted were also much in evidence.

You can't ignore Private Label say SCA Hygiene

SCA Hygiene AG, Europe 's leading producer of tissue and personal care products with such well known brands as Velvet, Edet, Tena and Libresse had a large presence to underline their commitment to the private label sector. According to Peter Irish, Director Customer Development , private label was shedding its cheap and cheerful image, and supermarkets were increasingly interested in premium own-label products. This was seen as a new retailer strategy: they want to match the quality of the international brands and still undercut them while in some way differentiating their products from those of the other retailers.

SCA want to participate in this quality-end of the PL market, not just to fill up capacity but as real partners of the major retailers. The growth in PL and the advance of the discount retailers such as Aldi and Lidl could not be ignored. 61% of tissue products were now sold under private labels. With regard to nonwovens, SCA now made very few, buying-in most of their requirements. They no longer produced tampons, having swapped their made-under-licence o.b. product for the Serenity incontinence range in a deal with J&J last year.

Baby Wipes 13% PA Growth

Nice-Pak UK 's Chris Hall (Marketing) reported that after some signs of stagnation a year ago, baby wet-wipes were not only the biggest wet-wipe category, but they were still growing at about 13% per year thanks to mothers continuing to use them on toddlers. Whether this should really be counted as baby wipes or part of a “toddler” wipe category can be debated, but at Nice-Pak, the baby wipe category remains way ahead of the rapidly growing cosmetic and floor-wipe categories.

Convenience remains the key growth driver in all categories although some seasonality is evident most especially in deodorant wipes. Spun-lace continues to progress outside premium baby wipes at the expense of air-laid which cannot match the strength or aesthetics and has been rising in price recently. Air-lace does not really figure, maybe because consumers don't differentiate it from air-laid. Wet-laid nonwovens are now mainly found in single-wipe sachets, most of which are supplied as complementary refresher wipes. Which products suffered most from the growth of baby-wipes? Mr Hall felt it was the absorbent cotton-wool products that used to be introduced to new mothers by the maternity wards.

On the stand were wipes for: Lime-scale removal, toilet cleaning (flushable), floor cleaning, intended for use on a mop, Exfoliating, Deodorising, Anti-ageing, Glass cleaning, Scouring, Hob cleaning and Personal refreshment. New product introduced at the show: a deodorising foot wipe.

Waiting for a breakthrough?

Rostam were showing the plastic applicator tampon launched at the Chicago PLMA show last December. They were keen to point out that a recent magazine article claiming that it was flushable and biodegradable was in fact a mistake. They said it was nevertheless being very well received in the UK , but its future in Europe as a whole really depended on the increasing success of the branded plastic-applicator products.

According to Haim Ezer, VP Business Development, Rostam could not grow the market by themselves: they could only follow the high-spending branded product producers in. In the USA , the plastic applicator was now well established and selling well. Since Rostam's launch, First Quality had followed with another PL plastic applicator product.

PL Plastic Applicator Tampon in UK

The Chilwood stand displayed plastic applicator tampons as part of its range of private label femcare products. These were made by Rostam and supplied by Chilwood only in the UK to Tesco and Morrisons supermarkets who wanted to buy a full range of femcare from whoever supplied them. Chilwood also make a full range of external protection.

You can't ignore Private Label say Kimberly Clark

Kimberly Clark were showing tampons for the private label market . John Bebbington, the Director of Customer Management, Retail Brands, Europe said their Kotex and Camelia branded tampons come up against very stiff competition and they now believe that private label or “retail branding” provides an excellent additional route to growth. In this sector Rostam is the leading producer, and their introduction of the plastic applicator at this show was a surprise because plastics were still rather “taboo” in Europe .

Talking wipes, the zip-lock fastener on early versions of the highly successful “Huggies” wipes pack had proved troublesome so they now used a new closure without the tab, which could, like freezer bags, be closed by the fingers alone.

Apart from the baby wipes, most of their wiping products were dry. Mr Bebbington thought that K-C's Consumer and Professional divisions could, in principle, move into a broader range of wet-wipes. On the other hand, were wet-wipes really necessary? Maybe in the same way as P&G were promoting the ability to wet-out “Bounty”, K-C would decide to focus on wet-out products rather than pre-wetted products.

Microfiber Wipes the Floor

Christina Hild of A&N&A ( Germany ) demonstrated their new premoistened nonwoven microfibre floor-cloths, one of numerous microfibre products on the stand, all made from the 80% polyester/20% nylon segment-pie bicomponents, many of which appeared durable and either knitted or woven. A&N&A were currently selling 10 packs and 2x15 packs of the nonwoven floor cloths, and intended to introduce a multipack where wet and dry wipes were added. The products were designed to be attached to a lightweight mop.

Keep Your Nose Clean

Fischer Pharmaceuticals ( Israel and Belgium ) claimed more new product introductions than any other exhibitor, but not all of these were wipes. Keren Sliwowicz (International Marketing Manager) showed fruity-fragranced toddler wipes and, also for toddlers, a nose-wipe. Also new at the show were “Age defying facial cleansing wipes with Q10” and pre- and post- birth intimate wipes, apparently with a haemorrhoidal treatment.

Elsewhere on the stand: patient-care wipes, a “head-bath” system intended as a bed-shampoo for institutionalised patients, menthol-loaded vapour-wipes for easy breathing, sunscreen wipes and self tanning wipes (not to be mixed up), and pet-wipes, said to be very popular in the USA. According to Ms Sliwowicz, Fischer have 70% of the Israeli wipes market and are major suppliers to Asda and Superdrug in the UK .

Random Dots for Abrasion

Tecnofibra had an Abrasive/Soft two-sided spun-lace fabric on display, the abrasive side created by random dot-coating with EVA hot-melt in a process which must be similar to that used in fusible interlining manufacture. The dots could be in different colours for different applications. According to Dr Francesco Natale this could be sold at 2-3 times the price of the standard 50/50 viscose/polyester spunlace at 50gsm. A new “embossed” version of this standard wipe was now made using a new patterning roll on the HE machine and this was available at a small premium. A supersoft material for the ultimate baby wipe was made with a PP/viscose blend.

More Microwavable Bathing Towels

Diva International SRL ( Italy ) introduced a microwavable bathing towel in two pack types, one for home and one for hospital use. Unlike the long-established “Comfort-Bath” product from Sage in the USA , these “Daily Comfort” body wipes appeared to be multi-layer spun-lace wipes, bonded and bulked in an embossing process carried out by Diva during conversion. The overall effect was a most attractive soft and bulky material. Elsewhere on the stand were multi-layer tissue kitchen wipes suggesting that the spun-lace had been put through a similar layering and embossing process.

Inherently Antimicrobial

Noam Urim (Israel) were showing an antibacterial kitchen wipe based on needled and thermally bonded 65% viscose, 20% PP and 15% Amicor antimicrobial acrylic fibre from Acordis. According to Sophie Tuviahu, marketing manager it had been on the market for 18 months and was selling particularly well in South America, Europe and Hong Kong . They also had a body-cleansing mitten made from a lofty through-air bonded (and maybe needlepunched) nonwoven impregnated with soap. This dry product was intended to be wetted with hot water prior to use in nursing homes, hospitals, or when camping. A version for car cleaning was also available.

Pulp Friction Disguised

Daniele Mamoli of Orlandi Spa ( Italy ) showed a unique 3 layer wipe substrate made on their new high-output fourth HE line. This 50gsm fabric was remarkably soft considering it contained no viscose and 50% wood-pulp. The pulp was sandwiched between 12.5 gsm of polyester and 12.5 gsm of polypropylene. Mr Mamoli commented that while the dry softness was good, the wet texture was excellent. As well as needled and spunlaced rollgoods, Orlandi supply consumer wipes direct to supermarkets and professional wipes for the healthcare and catering trades to specialist wholesalers. While wet-wipes are a major outlet for the spunlace variety, they do not convert themselves, preferring to feed rollgoods to the major converters for both private label and branded products.

Daily Facials etc

Wecovi bv ( Holland ) were showing Wecotec “Daily Facial Cleansing Cloths” looking very like the P&G Olay® product. They bought in the coarse-apertured spunlace product and added the soap themselves. A transparent plastic tub and a refill pack were on display.

Their microfibre wipes were woven or knitted by their subsidiary in the Far East . Dust attracting floor wipes were described as “3D Quality” apparently due to the embossing achieved during hydroentanglement. These were made without a reinforcing scrim, but they also had a version made with the scrim, and a spray-jet sweeper with absorbent pads made using a needlefelt central layer.

Green Tea Wipes

Albaad's ( Israel ) Amnon Brodie (President and CEO) emphasised that growth, either by verticalisation or acquisition was essential for a company such as his. They had transformed themselves from chemical-bond and spunlace nonwoven producers to fully vertical suppliers of wipes of all kinds. Their offerings were now colour coded to assist differentiation: Yellow for surface wipes, Blue/green for windows, Orange for furniture. He pointed out the springless self-opening plastic wipes box, the “White Cloud” baby wipes for Wal Mart, and their use of embossing patterns to increase the bulk of the spun lace.

Their “Green Tea” line of wipes “delivers the idea of indulgent Spa treatment while cleaning your face and body.” The range includes “Relaxing and Moisturising Facial Cloths” with the calm and healing power of Green Tea's Theanine”. The Deep Cleansing Peeling Facial cloths use the “purifying antioxidant power of the polyphenols in Green Tea” while the Deodorant cloths utilised the antibacterial qualities of the tea's flavonoids.

Biodegradable Femcare?

The CIP4 stand had a display case promoting a fully biodegradable femcare range. The “exploded” pad had a conulated film cover, and an apparently normal synthetic backsheet and acquisition layer, displayed against a photograph of a field of corn. No-one on the stand could say whether PLA fibre was used to make the synthetic components: the display was said to illustrate a concept product which had yet to be commercialised.

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Sitclin had an innovative “origami” toilet seat cover that stretched over the top and outside edges of the seat and fastened with two small adhesive thumb-tabs. According to Ralf Conrads , the many small paper segments were joined by water soluble glue so that the whole product was totally flushable, and disintegrated within 4 metres of leaving the toilet bowl.

Instant Real Cappucino

Maurice van den Boomen of Fort E.P. Leidische described how the launch of a new coffee making system by Philips and Douwe Egberts 2 years ago had proved popular for making single cups of frothy white coffee, and now had 15% of the Dutch market, where over a million of the Philips machines were now in use. Fort is now introducing PL versions of the coffee bags (called “pads”, but in reality they appear identical to the UK 's round tea-bags) in several flavours and decaffeinated.

The system has so far been introduced to Belgium , France , Spain and Germany and could be expected in the UK shortly. The obligatory taste test proved the coffee to be excellent, and we look forward to an increased market for the apertured tea-bag paper accompanying the success of the PL launch.

O-Pac SRL ( Italy ) were showing a bulky embossed spunlace make-up removal wipe said to be 70/30 Viscose/PET and 50 gsm.

Stenago SRL ( Italy ) “Bio Salviette” cosmetic wipes were 100% cotton and ICEA certified.

Calvin Woodings