About 100 delegates, mainly staff and students from Europe’s technical institutes and universities attended this now bi-annual conference. Two thirds of the papers presented were from technical institutes and universities and provided interesting updates on progress made on numerous EU-funded initiatives in nonwovens.
Ryan McEneany, Research Scientist, Kimberly Clark, USA described the outcome of a 10 year development programme on biopolymers. This was part of a strategy to cease being the world’s largest single user of polypropylene and become a major user of sustainable materials. Their PP use was mainly in SMS processes and while PLA worked well in spunbond, it was difficult in melt-blown due to the non-availability of the right Melt-Flow Rate.
Commencing with Natureworks 6201D PLA resin (MFR = 80g/10min at 210oC), quite apart from the viscosity problem, they experienced slow crystallization due to its high Tg (~60oC), high fibre shrinkage, biased orientation in the web and poor thermal bonding when draw ratios were high. They looked at flow modifiers, higher process temperatures and lower molecular weight polymers and it was the latter, obtained by processing undried resin, which showed the most promise...