Wednesday, 30 April 2008

INDEX 2008 Geneva April 2008

INDEX 2008: Geneva , April 15-19th

Key Points• Bio-refineries for the production of a wide range of organic chemicals from biomass are becoming viable now that fossil-fuel price and availability is less favourable.
• Despite growth in bio-polymers, woodpulp will remain the predominant renewable resource for fibre, and viscose and lyocell still have “no sensible alternative for absorbent nonwovens.”
• The two spun-laid lyocell consortia formed in 2006 appear to be rearranging. Reicofil is moving to a Biax Fiberfilm head, and Nanoval have fallen out of favour with Lenzing.
• Birla promoted their Excel™ lyocell staple and their Purocel™ heavy-metal free viscose.
• Viscose is becoming cheaper and more available as production capacity increases and it becomes less fashionable in textiles.
• Viscose alloy fibres containing chitosan (antimicrobial), milk protein and superabsorbents are being distributed by Waxman Fibres Ltd.
• PP spunbonds down to 8gsm for core-wrap were commonly available and 6-7gsm has been made but fails on the strength specification. 800m/min is now possible according to Reicofil.
• Fitesa ( Brazil ) are expanding aggressively and plan to install 2 R4 lines in the USA .
• More products containing nanofibres are being commercialised using the Elmarco Nanospider system of electrospinning from smooth rollers. This system does not work with lyocell.
• Fleissner followed Mitsubishi Rayon Engineering and introduced steam-jet bonding as a final stage of their hydroentanglement system. This reduces energy required in drying and could be important in lowering the minimum basis weight potential.

For the first time, Index was held without a conference alongside the exhibition. The Global Nonwovens Summit, an invitation only event sponsored by EDANA, INDA and ANFA occupied one morning, and free Product Presentation sessions in the main Hall allowed exhibitors to give short promotional presentations on their products for a few hours each day.

This summary concentrates on information gathered from the Exhibition. Your correspondent was not invited to the Summit , but copies of the two papers were obtained and are summarised below.

Raw Material Change in the EU Chemical Industry

Dr Jörg Rothermel of the German Chemical Industry Association discussed the prospects for organic chemical production switching to renewable raw materials when oil and gas feedstocks get increasingly costly. With biomass being the only renewable resource which has the potential to be carbon neutral, the EU will inevitably increase its industrial use from the present level of about 9 million tonnes/year or 8-10% of feedstock for organic chemicals.

Of this 9 million tonnes, starch (35%) and vegetable oils/fats (31%) are the most used, but cellulose (16%) and sugar (14%) are important and growing sources of a range of organic chemicals and polymers. Their competitiveness, traditionally based on economic and technical advantages, is now being enhanced by sustainability, security of supply and climate change considerations. The result is increased innovation in the use of biomass for the development of new products, and while the price differential c.f.fossil fuel was steadily diminishing, prices are now fluctuating wildly as rising demand, regional programmes for biofuel production, and climate change related weather problems influence their availability.

The EU is not well supplied with biomass compared with Central and South America, Africa south of the Sahara, the former Soviet bloc or North America . By 2050, according to an IFEU 2007 study, 6-15 billion tonnes of oil-equivalent in the form of biomass will be available, and this is at best 70% and at worst 30% of the projected demand for energy. Only 7% of this biomass will be available locally in the EU. More efficient techniques for the production of biomass must therefore be developed, along with other renewable energy sources for heat and electricity generation. This will involve the development new biotechnology to increase biomass production and the development of bio-refineries for the production of basic chemical building-blocks. Sustainability would be the criterion on which political strategy and targets would be set.

Unfortunately, only 10 to 16% of the EU's primary energy needs could be provided by locally produced biomass, and to meet the current strategy, biomass would have to be imported. In addition the chemical industry needs biomass at competitive prices and will have to compete not only with the energy sector but with those industries using the biomass directly, i.e. timber and paper. Similarly, land for the production of biomass will have to compete with food crops and animal feeding. So, just as the organic chemical sector is the smallest consumer of fossil carbon (after power generation and transport) it will be the smallest consumer of renewable carbon, and risks being the victim of subsidisation of the power generation and transport use of renewables.

Finally, while climate protection and sustainability will motivate the politicians to back biomass strategies, it will be crucial to subject these strategies to a comprehensive life-cycle assessment. In principle, 20% of biomass chemicals can be extracted and used directly, but the rest, comprising lignin and cellulose will need new processes to break them down into fossil fuel substitutes. It is these bio-refinery processes which will need to be scrutinised to ensure they do not need more energy than the calorific value of the original biomass. Logistics and infrastructure developments will be needed because large scale economic bio-refineries would necessitate transportation of biomass from farms spread over a wide area.

What does this mean for the fibre and polymer industries? Starch, cellulose and other natural polymers will become increasingly available and important. Polylactic acid and polyhydroxybutyrate will benefit from using biomass other than corn, as will ethanol which can then be used to make polyethylene and PVC. This latter process now being commercialised in Brazil .

Feedstocks for Nonwovens

Colin Purvis, Director General of CIRFS and EATP thought high-priced oil was here to stay and the feedstocks-to-nonwovens chain will have to find ways of absorbing or passing on the higher costs. The superficially more attractive renewable resources would also suffer due to their energy requirements and transportation costs. So, investment in new capacity to produce petrochemicals would continue, mainly in areas of abundant fossil reserves, and the producers of these petrochemicals would encourage the local production of high value consumer products made from them to maximise revenue. Woodpulp would remain the dominant renewable.

Mr Purvis reminded us that the nonwoven industry used less than 0.2% of world oil production, and that a 70km drive in the family car uses more oil than the average per capita consumption of nonwovens. Looking at each of the main fibres in turn:

Polyester: Feedstock demand is increasingly driven by the non-fibre polymer end-uses. While there are no shortages of feedstock, the non-fibre uses are willing to pay premium prices for resin to meet e.g. the growing demand in bottles, so the fibre producers must also pay the premium. “Permanent” structural overcapacity exists in fibre production, and this may keep fibre prices down for some years. Also the ability to recycle the bottle polymer into fibre will support continued competitive fibre pricing.

Polypropylene: Propylene continues to be widely available and new capacity is being added in the Middle East and China . However while the new capacity will reduce cost pressures, prices are likely to remain higher than in the past. Polypropylene capacity is also expanding in the Middle East and China and this is likely to lead to a surplus of polymer, and hence poor margins for polymerisers of propylene. PP Staple capacity exceeds demand now that Spunbond has taken the diaper market, but PP staple is under pressure from cheap polyester staple. PP will not return to the position of the cheapest fibre for nonwovens and while the move to spunbonds will continue, the staple fibre will remain competitive and attract innovation and speciality developments. (Graphically, propylene price was quoted as €930/tonne and PP resin as €1260/tonne).

Viscose and Lyocell: Being based on renewable raw materials converted in a process, which in the hands of the technology leader at least, has outstanding environmental credentials, these fibres are expanding again and no future shortages are envisaged. New dissolving pulp capacities are coming on stream and fibre production capacity is growing in line with demand. Most of this expansion is in Asia but some is occurring in Europe for nonwovens specifically. Suppliers of top quality fibre with high levels of purity are limited in number. There is still no sensible alternative for absorbent nonwovens.

Polyethylene: No shortages foreseen, but the costs will remain linked to oil price. Only 1% of production is used in nonwovens.

Spandex: Will remain a premium product despite the huge increases in demand for stretch apparel, and the increasing investment in raw materials and yarn production.

Renewables : Viscose and lyocell will remain pre-eminent and the relative success of the others, primarily PLA and PTT based on bio-PDO, will depend on a real environmental advantage being confirmed in detailed and independent life cycle assessments. Their current dependence on food crops is a disadvantage which would disappear if large scale bio-refineries succeed.

Points from the Exhibition


…were showing the first roll of 7 metre wide spunbond produced on their Neumag line. The main advantage of the Neumag approach – apart from the width which was said to be only necessary for agricultural applications – was that it could produce fine fibres without needing the more expensive metallocine resins. The resulting 1.1 denier fibres led to better web quality than possible on Reicofil and the Neumag SS system could match the hydrohead of Reicofil SMS, avoiding the need for the high melt-flow resins. 10-12 gsm fabrics were being produced. They could go lighter but then strength became a problem.


… were now developing a new hook system optimised for the new Dounor loop laminate. This loop fabric was not yet commercial but prototypes were available for testing (see “Dounor” below) . Aplix have 2 plants in the USA , 2 in the EU and one in China . Where would the new hook/loop system be commercialised first? All options were open but Latin America seemed most likely.


… who had announced an intention to acquire Fibreweb, had several personnel in deep discussion with the CEO of Fibreweb on the front of the stand on the first morning. They produce spunlaid PP from 3 lines in Mocksville (NC) where a 4 th line (R4) is on order, although this may not go ahead if the Fibreweb acquisition goes through. Avgol need to raise the finance to buy Fibreweb and their success is by no means taken for granted. They admit to being less busy than in the past having lost the Covidien business as a result of Covidien being acquired by First Quality Nonwovens. They expect to gain through FQ's inevitable losses of business as competitors of Covidien decide to take their business elsewhere.

Their plant in Israel has 2 old single-beam SB lines and 3 newer Reicofil lines. They also have a line in Russia and one in China . 10 gsm is the current lowest commercial basis weight, but they expect to go down to 8 gsm and even lighter for wettable SMS.

(At the time of writing Avgol had resolved not to proceed with the bid for Fibreweb)


…were selling their Luquafleece® superabsorbent fabric to IQTEX as “an intelligent system which adapts to suit weather conditions.” IQTEX process the fleece into a ventilation element (“Vayu Verde®) which is incorporated into the soles of shoes. In dry weather it is highly air-permeable, but in wet conditions the swelling SAP seals the layer and holds out the water. Further applications in rainwear, gloves and tents are envisaged.


…were demonstrating their high-hole-density spinnerette making a 10 gsm PP meltblown with high strength, and possibly a higher fibre denier than is usual for meltblown. Their recent involvement with Reicofil and lyocell is mentioned below. Their President said they will be building a 1 metre wide pilot line, maybe in the USA , maybe in Germany .

Birla Viscose

Purocel, their heavy-metal free fibre made by a zinc-free viscose process was being positively marketed for the first time. This is not a new development, more a realisation that their use of aluminium rather than zinc in spinbath to meet Indian pollution laws could result in a marketable reduction in their heavy-metal content compared with their zinc-based competitors. Their 3 Indian factories output a total of 930 metric tonnes/day of zinc-free staple fibre in a wide range of deniers, lengths and colours. In Indonesia where they now concentrate the nonwovens types for export, they have 200 mt/d of zinc-free output, all for nonwovens, and an additional 330 mt/d for Asian textiles. Their Chinese (200 mt/d) and Thailand (350 mt/d) plants use zinc so of their total output of viscose (2030 mt/d) over half is zinc-free and hence low in heavy metal content compared with the competition. The Chinese plant is only producing for the local textile market. The Purocel is also available in a variety of spun-dyed shades.

Excel – promoted as a third generation “fully natural and organic” cellulosic fibre was in fact lyocell, despite the fact that the brochure appeared to be completely free of the word. Their lyocell is now being made on a line using a 10,000 tonne/year capacity List DTB dissolver, more similar to the early Courtaulds “Genesis” route than the current Tencel. More detail was hard to come by.

Their sales of viscose into textile markets had suffered a sharp downturn, apparently fashion related, and while the nonwoven demand was still strong, prices were suffering as the fashion fibre sought sales in the nonwoven market.


… introduced Hyperlacing: extreme needlepunching using the newly developed Cyclopunch loom which has 20,000 needles per metre of board. Lightweight felts (down to 35 gsm) are said to be possible with fine denier fibres, and throughput speeds of up to 100m/min are achieved using the circular needle path. The system, clearly targeting a sector of the hydroentanglement market, uses little floor space, no water and very little energy. Applications in medical, hygiene and synthetic leather products are envisaged.


…have a partnership with Aplix on the development of a new soft loop fabric which works with standard hooks for diaper fasteners. The samples shown appeared to be a simple laminate of a bulky card-thermal coverstock fabric with a spunbond, the lamination being done in patterned roll calendar. The printing was done on the laminate.

Dounor have 8 spunbond lines, 5 of which are Reicofil. The R4 line started last year and can make 8 gsm, although commercially it concentrates on the 10-20 gsm range. Weights below 8 gsm have been made, but the strengths are below the current specifications. They also have one R3.1 line and 2 R3 lines. 80% of their production goes to hygiene.

DS Fibres

…were now producing about 500 tonnes/year of PLA staple using Natureworks® polymer. The 6.7 dtex spun-dyed fibre was at present mainly used in pillow fillings, and was available at €3.50/kg, said to be a 50% premium over regular polyester. Sommer Needlepunch were making short-live Ecopunch® carpets out the DS fibre, mainly for use in exhibitions. They also reported great interest from IKEA who were adopting a “Bio-Trend” in their stores. DS were planning to be able to produce up to 2000 tonnes/year of PLA in counts down to 3.3 dtex.


…has formed a Sustainability Committee to evaluate and communicate the sustainability performance of nonwovens and to identify ways of improving the sustainability of disposables – presumably without making them reusable. They are also in the process of developing a series of EU policy briefings to help members understand how the EU Sustainable Development Strategy and its Waste Incineration and Landfill policies (amongst many others) will impact the nonwovens industry. They have appointed Pierre Conrath as their Sustainability and Public Affairs manager. He commented that the European Commission would focus their attention first on energy generation, and then on the energy intensive industries. While disposable diapers were being challenged in the UK , he thought polypropylene as such was unlikely to attract EU attention. Life Cycle Assessment was the key and while in the past reusable and disposable diapers had been shown to have roughly equivalent LCA's, reusables, which required most energy for washing and drying, would show an improved LCA in future as the energy mix moved to more renewables.

The EU is making funding available for developments in Green Technology and Sustainable Production as part of the European Framework Programmes for Research and Technology. Examples were provided:

INTELTEX: – a radical approach to intelligent textiles – targets the development of thermal self regulating textiles, textiles with built-in strain sensors, and textiles with and ability to detect of toxic chemicals. This progam has EDANA as a partner, but none of the other partners were known to your correspondent.

STELLA: Stretchable Electronics for Large Area Applications. “As a consequence of the ambient intelligent vision where the citizen carries along more and more electronic systems near the body, wearable electronics are needed” The applications envisaged were “personnel (sic) healthcare” and fitness monitoring. ( Maybe we should read “soldier” for “citizen” )

ACTECO: – the eco-efficient activation of hyperfunctional surfaces. This targets the development of an ecological plasma treatment process to give surface activity which last for the lifetime of the final product.

EU Commission DG Research: Nanotechnologies, Materials and New Production Techniques.


…introduced the EastONE™ S112 water dispersible co-polyester for the production of segment-pie or islands in the sea microfiber nonwovens. Unlike most other splittable fibres, the microfibers can be released by a simple water wash, the copolyester being recoverable from the water for reuse, and the water can be recycled.

Baiksan Lintex Corporation ( Korea ) is using EastONE™ in its new eco-friendly synthetic leather Cleanoble-E1™. Cleanoble is made of continuous filaments to give a premium leather of high strength and durability.


…claim their Nanospider systems are now producing nylon 6, polyvinylalcohol, polyethersulphone and metapolyaramid (PAA) fibres commercially. Production rates are 0.05 to 1 gm per metre width per minute per head, with 4 heads being used in a module. 1.6 meter wide lines have been supplied and wider systems would be possible. 10 m/min line speeds have been achieved, and this could be increased by using lines made up of several 4-head modules, but the relationships is not linear – 40 heads would not give 100 m/min. The webs can be electrospun onto paper and these jumbo rolls can be unwound at high speed into conversion processes. Filtration, sound absorbtion, medical, and electrical (capacitors and batteries) appear to be the main polymer applications, and titania nanofibres are being used in solar cells. Samples of spunbonds coated with various nanofibre layers were on display.

Polyurethane, polyester, PLA, PVA, chitosan and gelatin nanofibres have been made on Nanospider, but lyocell and cuprammonium rayon have proved impossible. Acetate rayon ought to be possible but the current systems are not safe with highly flammable solvents.

Their new Antimicroweb™ is a 5-layer assembly of spunbond and meltblown nylon and nanoweb-on-viscose to make facemasks with improved filtration efficiency for viruses, bacteria, fungi and yeasts. The nanoweb has an antimicrobial additive and is said to be cosmetic approved. 0.4 gsm of nanofibres are coated onto a 23 gsm viscose fibre web.


…is collaborating with Albis on the development of elastic fabrics from their Vistamaxx resins in a single step on a conventional spunbond line. The fabrics allow the production of hygienic absorbent products with the fit and feel of textile underwear.


…claim an 8 gsm capability for core-wrap from both R3 and R4 systems, but the bulk of their output is at 15 gsm, down from 17 gsm last year. They featured their recent JV with Innowo Print of Germany and will now provide prints on spunbond for top-sheet and leg gathers commencing early June. They see the trend to more and more graphics on diaper components as fundamentally important.

They have 2 R3 lines and 1 R4 line in Denmark and 1 R3 plus 1 R4 line in Malaysia , the latter being bico-capable. They admitted bico has not really taken off as expected due to the extra costs, PE now costing as much as PP, but it may well move ahead in future.

Fiberweb ( India ) Ltd

…use a 2 beam Reicofil 2 line (The first in India ) to produce PP spunbond for the usual range of hygiene, medical and agricultural uses. Interestingly they are unrelated to the other Fiberweb.

First Quality Nonwovens

…operate 6 spunbond lines, 2 of which are Reicofil 4, and they have another R4 on order. They produce down to 8gsm, not as a result of any R&D breakthough, but simply as a result of incremental improvements in the technology. They are working with PLA for environmental diapers but feel the economics of these will be against their large scale use. At present they are being made for the Whole Market chain store in the USA .


…part of the South American Petropar group announced plans for 2 new R4 lines to be built in the USA at a location to be decided at the end of June. This plant would have a capacity of 40,000 tonnes. They had recently installed a new R4 line in Brazil , and were now installing a second which would be operational in July bringing their capacity there to 50,000 tonnes/year. All the new installations were multibeam fine denier lines “at the highest level of the technology”. The growth they anticipated was partly the replacement of older R2 and R3 capacity in diapers, and partly market growth, particulary in incontinence products. Lightest on display? Novotex Soft Extra White, a hydrophilic SSS at 10gsm.


… claim 80 Aquajet hydroentanglement lines have been delivered so far in widths up to 5 metres and speeds up to 300m/min. All combinations of card-webs with tissue, air laid pulp and spunbonds can now be made and hydroentangled. They confirmed that 20 gsm was the lower limit for hydroentangling 1.5 denier fibres, and agreed that in principle a 10 gsm hydroentangled fabric could be made from a 0.75 denier web if it were strong enough to be removed from the forming wire.

Their SteamJet entanglement head was developed in conjunction with STFI Chemnitz and is currently working on a 1 metre wide pilot scale. Like the Mitsubishi Rayon Engineering system introduced at Anex 2006, this uses superheated steam to further bond, soften, sterilise and dry a web pre-bonded in the usual way by water jets. Fleissner claim it works with superabsorbent and other water sensitive fibres such as PVA.


… claim nothing lower than 14gsm spunbond, but this is available spun-dyed.


… Felibendy™ high-bulk nonwovens were being made from Sophista™ sheath-core and/or side-side bicomponents. The sheath-core has an EVOH sheath on a polyester core and provides good bonding. The side-side uses a regular PET with a copolyester and is designed to give a very high level of microcrimp. The webs are bonded using a steamjet nozzle to melt the lowest melting point polymer, bulk the side-side fibres and to give some entanglement. These sponge-like structures could be pressure moulded into complex shapes and had high fluid uptake.

They were also displaying nanofibre nonwovens apparently produced from the islands-in-a-sea bicomponent with hundreds of islands.


… remain at full capacity but observe a softening of demand for viscose now that their new plant in China is on stream. Tencel sales remain strong, especially in nonwovens, and they are proceeding to add spinning capacity to utilize the additional 10,000 tonnes of dope capacity which has been available at Heiligenkreuz since its construction. They also plan to add 60,000 tonnes of new capacity, presumably viscose, to their South Pacific Viscose factory in Indonesia , in addition to the new site announced last year for India . Lenzing will give a further paper on sustainability and the life cycle analysis of cellulosics at the Orlando PIRA conference at the end of the month. Where their Paris paper dealt with Modal and Tencel and left questions about regular viscose unanswered, the Orlando paper will compare viscose, Tencel and PLA.

Their work with TITK and Nanoval on spunlaid lyocell appears to have ended in failure, but they are now using the Biax Fiberfilm meltblowing nozzle with greater success. Reicofil, who publicly announced that they would henceforth be using Biax nozzles because they were better than their own for lyocell, may be part of this newly emerging consortium.


…were claiming to able to air-lay down to 0.01 g/cc density using their new Dan-Web pilot line; this being an advance on the previous 0.05 g/cc limit. On closer inspection this density reduction was being achieved partly by pleating the air-lay web in a way similar to the old Cor-Web process (used to make cores for the J&J Serenity inco-pad in the 1980's.) Very soft webs (even before pleating) could be produced from 0.5 denier polyester and 0.8 denier bico, and these could be loaded with up to 90% SAP to give pulp-free absorbency. As well as cores, anti-static wipes superior to “Swiffer”, and various filters were possible. Automotive panels made out of compressed 100% PP air-laid were also possible.


… despite clearly being out of favour with their previous partners, Neumag (for PP) and TITK/Lenzing (for lyocell) had developed a new nozzle which they claimed produced several hundred fine filaments from each 1mm hole. Some aspects of the Biax Fiberfilm approach seemed evident. Throughputs per hole ranged from 2 to 20 g/min, the latter producing a spunbond with normal-sized filaments, whereas the former yielded an average fibre size of 2 microns. NBSK pulp could be used to make the lyocell dope and they had proved that longitudinal splitting of the fibre did occur (a single photo of a splitting fibre was shown). Furthermore they had “proved”, contrary to Lenzing's expectations, that the hemicellulose in NBSK stayed in the fibre and was not removed in washing. It was not clear who they would be collaborating with for dope supplies in future, but they have in the past had good relations with Birla.


…were starting up their 3.2 metre wide SSMMMS R4 system this year (Line 9), their previous R4 (Line 8) being a 4.2 metre SSS system. Basis weights of 8 gsm were commercial now, and they had produced in the 6-7 gsm range just to prove it was possible. Fibre counts down to 0.9 denier were possible. Topsheet, backsheet and leg gathers had previously been made at 15 gsm, with core-wrap at 10-11 gsm. The new lines enabled all these product to be made 2 gsm lighter.

New products on display included both 8gsm SMS and 8gsm S made from 1.1 denier fibres. 80/20 S bico was available at 12 gsm.


…was showcasing its newly installed R4 spunbond line in Buenos Aires and its SMS line now under construction in San Luis Potosi – Mexico , which is scheduled to start producing in 2009. Their expanded range of protective apparel fabrics and garments now includes FR materials, and the Medisoft® Ultra™ medical fabrics are now being introduced into Europe .

Spinlace® which combines spunmelt, airlaid and hydroentangling technology (including patterning) was also being introduced into the European market in the form of disinfecting wipes


…announced they were collaborating with Biax Fiberfilm to get access to their high output melt-blowing heads for lyocell. They were planning a new 1 meter wide lyocell spun-laid line, which may be built in the Reicofil innovation center, or maybe in the Fraunhofer Institute where lyocell dope-making facilities exist. Would Weyerhauser continue to be involved? Maybe – discussions were in progress. Were they collaborating with any potential customers for the nonwovens? Not formally, but at least one had expressed a desire to be first with the new material.

Reicofil 4 continued to be the leading PP-to-hygiene nonwovens system, and there were no plans for an R5 yet. R4 is still selling well but almost entirely in countries to the east of Europe . The latest systems were capable of producing 8gsm SSS fabric at 800 m/min. Would they follow Neumag into widths above 5 meters? Probably not. In fact the trend may well be for narrower more flexible lines in future.


… claim the installation of eight Perfobond lines. These spunbond systems are said to provide excellent uniformity at low weights while giving isotropic properties. One beam gives the quality and strength of two beams from the leading supplier. 5000 tonnes/year per beam is possible at an energy consumption of less than 1 kwh/beam.


…claimed to make 30,000 tonnes/year of hygiene, medical and agricultural nonwovens using their Reicofil 3 and Reicofil 4 multibeam lines. The bico-capable R3 was concentrating on medical grades, where their off-line treatments allowed the production of IPA resistant and antistatic fabrics. They were collaborating with and supplying Ahlstrom in this sector. The new R4 line is also bico-capable and is currently producing SS types down to 11 gsm for all diaper components. They will start up the meltblowing heads in August.


…part of the Nuqul Group – Jordan, showed a range of SS spunbonds down to 12 gsm (hydrophilic), and SMS down to 13.5 gsm with a green pigment and a 140mm hydrohead.


…suffering from the loss of the card-thermal market to spunbond, were happy to discuss the limitations of this technology compared with spunbond. They could certainly build 6 metre wide lines capable of running at 300-350 m/min on 15 gsm polypropylene and make softer, better looking nonwovens than a spunbond line. Unfortunately the strengths of such fabrics would be below that now required for the diaper production process. Forgetting the strength issue, they could go even lighter, 6-7 gsm being possible from a single doffer with 0.7 denier polyester fibres. However here they ran into the density disadvantage of PET c.f. PP and the fact that it would be harder to thermal bond. They had achieved 7.5 gsm lyocell webs from a single doffer but did not think this would work in hydroentanglement. (See also “Fleissner”)

Their latest commercial card-thermal installation was running in Turkey and was 5.1 metres wide processing 1.7-2.2 dtex PP to 15 gsm at 300-350 m/min.

United Saudi Nonwovens

…a subsidiary of the SABIC and NIC companies claimed to be flat-out and sold-out. They still use card-thermal technology with a 14 gsm minimum potential and were able to produce both coloured nonwovens and blends of PP with viscose. Despite their petrochemical parents they had no access to locally produced polypropylene staple fibre. So they ship PP resin to Korea for conversion into fibre and having processed these fibres into hygiene nonwovens in Saudi, proceed to sell to Unicharm in Japan (and presumably to Unicharm Gulf Hygienic). Their “Superclean specially treated cloths” were targeted at the dry Swiffer sector.

Waxman Fibres Ltd

… a UK distributor of Kaneka Corporation specialities such as Kanekaron FR fibres, introduced So Ch'I, a fibre containing Chitosan, So Soft, a blend of cellulose and milk protein, and So Absorbent, a superabsorbent fibre. Claims made were as follow
So Ch'i: Inhibits bacteria and odour, purifies water, absorbs heavy metals, is biodegradable, strengthens the body's immune system, promotes lysozyme secretion, accelerates wound healing, reduces cholesterol, and is haemostatic
So Soft: is packed with 18 natural amino acids, including eight “essentials”, is environmentally friendly and kind to the skin.
So Absorbent: is reusable, absorbs 150 times its own weight, has a high rate of absorbtion – 100 times its own weight in 10 seconds, has high retention under pressure, is insoluble in water and most solvents, returns “almost” to original state after drying, and is processable on standard equipment.

All appear to be viscose-based alloys.


… reported dissolving pulp prices were now around ~$1050/tonne with 10% discounts being available for the higher-hemi Pearl™ variety. This was being used at about 15% of the pulp blend by viscose producers interested in saving a few pennies, and was a variation on their Peach™ process. The resulting viscose fibres were said to be more absorbent and faster to dye. Their Peach™ high-hemi pulp for lyocell (a purified Kraft) could now be used 100% in the Mobile Tencel plant, and in blend at Grimsby Tencel, but was less viable in Europe due to the extra transport costs.

Their collaboration with Fraunhofer Institute and Reicofil to make spun-laid lyocell was likely to change as a result of the discovery that the Biax Fiberfilm nozzles were better for lyocell than the Reicofil nozzles. This situation was evolving, but the leaflets for Lyoweb™, the product of the Weyeraeuser/Fraunhofer IAP collaboration were still being distributed.

Calvin Woodings