Monday, 31 October 2011

Insight 2011 Conference Minneapolis USA – 23rd-27th October

Global Tissue and Hygiene Markets

Howard Telford, Research Associate of Euromonitor International (USA) observed that the global tissue and hygiene retail markets were immune to the recession and apparently detached from the core economic trends.  However the global picture hid stasis in North America and Western Europe which had been offset by growth in the emerging markets where population and incomes were still growing.  Between 2005 and 2010:
·         Global $ growth of 32.4% was made up of an emerging market growth of 75% and a developed market growth of 12%.
·         Highest growth rates (11-12%) were in Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.  Asia Pacific as a whole grew 7.5%.
·         The USA was still the largest market ($26bn) but China ($18bn) is catching up fast with 9.2% per annum growth. 
·         China has accounted for 80% of the Asia/Pacific growth, but India hardly progressed.
·         P&G ($25.3bn at retail globally) were the largest supplier.  K-C was second at $23.3bn and SCA third at $6.3bn. 
·         Both P&G and K-C had grown at 4.5% p.a. over the 5-year period, but for 2009-10, P&G showed 5.4% growth against K-C’s 4.3%.
·         All major manufacturers grew through repositioning their presence in emerging markets with China being the key target.
·         Private label remains over-dependent on mature markets, especially Europe which has seen both low growth and a resurgence of brands in 2010.
·         Supermarket and Hypermarket sales still dominate, but Internet sales are now growing at 25% per year and in Korea the internet accounts for 45% of diaper sales.
·         Incontinence products have grown at 40% p.a. from a low base in developed markets and appear unaffected by economic instability.
For the future, considering the 2010-15 period:

·         By 2015 the emerging markets will be overtaking the developed markets.
·         2010 – 15 growth will be 3.8% in the developed markets and 37.6% in the emerging markets.
·         The main “second tier” emerging markets (1st tier is China, Russia, Brazil, India and Mexico) will be South Africa, Turkey, Iran, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and Argentina and these will outperform the developed markets.
·         There’s a baby boom in Russia.  K-C installed 2 new “Huggies” lines there in 2010.
·         South Africa will be the fastest growing diaper market in the next 5 years.
·         Wipes will be the next big growth market after diapers and femcare in the emerging markets.
·         P&G will increase its focus on incontinence products.

Emerging Hygiene Markets

Pricie Hanna of Price Hanna Consultants LLC (USA) pointed out that 92.7% of the world’s 320 million diaper-age infants are in the emerging markets.  Half are in Asia.  China, India, Indonesia and the Phillipines represent over 36% of the available diaper market.  Birth rates are declining globally by 1% per year, but survival rates are growing by 2.5% per year. 
·         Global diaper penetration was 23% in 2010 and future growth of 4-5% p.a. could be expected.
·         Mature market penetration was 94% in the same year, with India, China, Africa and the rest of central Asia being 8% penetrated.
·         Mature markets represented only 8.5% of potential diaper changes.
·         India has the largest infant population and its diaper market penetration will grow faster than China after 2015 when the GDP/Capita begins to rise above the critical level of $6-8000.
·         In 2010 India’s diaper penetration was 5-7% including insert diapers whereas China’s had reached 22-23% overall and 45% in the cities.  This represented a fourteen-fold increase in 10 years yielding a $2.8 bn market.
·         P&G (India) is promoting the idea that babies grow better in diapers because they sleep better when kept dry through the night.
·         P&G continue to add diaper capacity in countries with high population and low penetration such as Egypt, Indonesia and the Philippines.
·         K-C has opened global R&D centers in Seoul and Bogata to generate local insights.
·         Brazil’s diaper market was 65% penetrated in 2010.
Femcare is projected to grow globally by 4 to 4.5% through 2015 with China, India and the rest of central Asia accounting for about 45% of the incremental volume.  Other global growths to 2015:
·         The Middle East and Africa: 19 - 20% .
·         South and Central America and Eastern Europe: 11-12%.
·         Other Asia-Pacific: 9-10%
·         North America: 1.5-2%
·         Western Europe and Japan: decline due to demographic factors.
In India the Government is subsidising the distribution of femcare to schools so that girls can attend during their periods.  P&G has also launched initiatives to help low income girls and women to obtain affordable protection.
Adult Incontinence will grow at 7% per annum through 2015 with the mature markets generating 40% of the incremental volume.  The developing markets will generate 45% of the incremental volume, the rest going to the undeveloped markets.  Central and Eastern Europe are growing at above average rates and SCA have recently started a new line in Russia.
Raw material suppliers are following the diaper makers to build capacity in emerging markets:
·         Pegas (nonwoven), RKW (film) and Bostik (adhesives) are supporting P&G’s expansion in Egypt.
·         Toray (nonwoven) in Indonesia will be able to supply P&G’s new plant there.
·         SAP expansions are occurring in Saudi Arabia (Evonik), Indonesia (Nippon Shokubai), China (BASF), and Brazil (BASF).
·         Large state-of-the-art spunmelt lines are being installed in China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Turkey, Russia and Peru to meet diaper demand.  Almost all will be from Reifenhauser.
Asked if ultra thin cores were coming to the emerging diaper markets, Ms Hanna thought a version with some pulp was planned.  Was Always Infiniti™ gaining share?  No: it had been stable since the launch promotion had been withdrawn.  Were any other producers using foam cores? Not yet.

Turkish Hygiene

Berna Yalcin, R&D manager of Hat Kimya San. A.S. (Turkey) provided 2010 data for the Turkish market: 
·         Of the €3.5bn domestic consumption of FMCG, 25% was tissue and hygienic disposables, 39% was cosmetics and personal care products, and 36% were cleaning products. 
·         70% of disposable hygienic products were sold in supermarkets.
·         4 billion diapers accounted for 66% of diaper changes in 2010 and the population of 0-3 year olds is 4 million and growing at 2% per year.
·         Diaper production capacity is 11 billion/year, with 50% of this exported to Iraq, Iran, Bulgaria, Syria, North Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia.
·         The 4 main producers in order of market share are P&G (“Prima”), Hayat Kimya (“Molfix”), Ontex (“Canbebe”) and K-C with “Huggies”.
·         Turkish-made diapers each cost €0.14 on average compared with an EU price of €0.2 and an equivalent US price of €0.18.
·         There are 18 million women between 18 and 45 using about 2 billion units of femcare in 2010.  The market is 52% penetrated by disposables.
·         The leading femcare products are P&G’s “Orkid”, Hayat Kimya’s “Molped” and K-C’s “Kotex” which is imported from Korea.
·         Turkish femcare averages €0.08 per napkin compared with €0.21 in the EU and €0.13 in the USA.
·         Turkish women used 10 pantiliners per year on average and the 2010 market was worth €32.5 million.
·         Hayat Kimya’s “Molped DC” led the field with P&G’s “Orkid Yaprak” and “Discreet”  and K-C’s imported “Kotex Alldays” following.
·         Adult incontinence product use is 300 million/year with the population of over 70’s being about 3 million.  Ontex, SCA and Eruslu lead, with K-C “Depend” being a recent introduction.
·         12 billion baby-care wipes worth €148 million were sold in 2010, along with 1416 million (€18 million) general purpose wipes.  J&J’s “Nivea Baby” was the only recognisable brand at no.  4 on the list.
·         Turkey had 65 nonwoven producers in 2010 producing 131,000 tonnes of fabrics.  There were 5 spunlace lines, 8 spunmelt lines, 9 card/bond lines, 32 needlepunch lines and 33 wadding lines.
·         Gulsan was the leading producer of diaper components with a 60,000 tonne spunmelt capacity.  They would be starting a 20,000 tonne R4 line for hygiene products at 4.2 metres wide in Egypt in 2013.
·         45,000 tonnes of spunlace are consumed, 50,000 tonnes of SAP, 120,000 tonnes of fluff pulp and 12,500 tonnes of hotmelt adhesives.
·         Cultural issues mean the tampon market is very small.

Vision 2020

Abby Bailey, EDANA’s Marketing and Communications Director provided information from the “Nonwovens Vision 2020” study.  The main market for hygienic disposables comprised the under 5’s, females in the 15-49 age group and the over 65’s.  This sector of the world’s population would reach 2.1 billion by 2050, up from 0.63 billion in 1950.  By 2050 only the over 65’s segment would be growing, the females having plateaued and the under 5’s being in decline.  The other key points were:
·         Globalisation will accelerate and economic power will move East.
o    Nonwoven markets will polarise with high volumes but low margins being realised from the emerging middle classes, while the developed world will need high margin, low volume products.
·         Sustainability will remain the concern of the decade with a larger and wealthier world population growing more concerned about climate change and the release of GHGs.
o    Nonwovens will benefit from sustainability opportunities in some sectors (crop protection illustrated.)
o    Conspicuous-consumerism is giving way to considered-consumerism and prolonging the life of consumer products through exchange and on-line trading will increase.
·         Innovation is the key to addressing the other sustainability issues.  It will become more open and prolific and like the markets, will move East.
·         Innovation will have to deal with reduced raw material availability, driving down production costs and the increasing demand for health care products.

SAP Update

Ian Davenport, President of Davenport International Associates LLC said the US acrylic acid supply problems of 2010 are now behind us with American Acryls running well, Dow Deer Park operating at high rates and new investments planned here and at Clear Lake.  Economic reasons for not making SAP had diminished due to the downturn-related decline in demand for acrylates in paints. New SAP capacity being built in the East will raise annual global output from around 2 million tonnes to 2.8 million tonnes by 2014.  230,000 tonnes of this will be in China (San Dia, BASF and Danson), 108,000 tonnes in Korea (LG Chemical), 90,000 tonnes in Indonesia (Nippon Shokubai) and 84,000 tonnes in Japan (NS and Sumitomo Seika).  Evonik will start an 80,000 tonne SAP plant in Saudi Arabia, and BASF are putting a 60,000 tonne plant into Brazil. The growth is driven by the major diaper producers (KC, P&G, SCA and Unicharm) who will use 50% of the increased production in responding to the increasing demand for diapers in the emerging market.
SAP consumption will rise less quickly reaching about 2.1 million tonnes by 2014, so capacity utilisation will decline from ~97% in 2010 to below 80% by 2014.   However if the diaper market grows slightly faster than anticipated at ~7% p.a., supply will remain tight and capacity utilisation will be at 85% in 2014.  On the downside, falling birth-rates in China, the concentration of 20% of global SAP capacity in Japan (earthquakes etc), and the relative unprofitability of SAP production inhibiting investment were listed.  In conclusion all the changes were relatively superficial and the SAP market will stay balanced and tight.
Asked about sustainability issues, Mr Davenport thought these remained to be addressed.  Maybe acrylic acid could be made from sugar cane (ADM mentioned).  Maybe SAPs based on natural polymers would emerge but these would have nowhere near the economics of acrylic acid. 

3D Jet Forming

Jens-Erik Thordahl of Airlaid Nonwoven Systems (Denmark) described a new 3-Drum former now under development.  In essence this is the old 2-drum Dan-Web forming head and SAP feeder working inside a third large drum to give much better basis weight uniformity and blend evenness.  The outer drum is 1.7 m diameter and allows the formation of webs down to 35 gsm at high speed.  Other design changes on the line as a whole (c.f. Dan-web) include Disk Mill defibrators (from Cellulose Mill, Italy) to save 34% of the energy c.f. hammermilling, minimal waste from in-line binder mixing, a new cooling/cleaning system for the binder spray wires, the use of heat recovery systems (Strahm EnRec©) and a heat-pump for dryer air heating (Johnson Controls Inc – Sabroe system) .  Experience so far shows that in addition to the evenness and energy benefits, raw material savings of up to 600 tonnes/year on a 20,000 tpy line are achievable.
Asked about the progress of the development, Mr Thordahl said the prototype is under construction and they hope to sell a line soon.  He thought speeds of 600 m/min would be possible and this would allow economical integration into a spunbond line.  However it was not clear whether a latex curing and drying system could be made to work at these speeds.  The drums now had round holes and these had proved better than slots.

Polymer Softness

Jackie deGroot, Senior Technology Manager at Dow Chemical Co put global spunbond capacity at 3.4 bn lbs in 2009, with 46% being used in hygiene, 90% of which was monocomponent PP.  Patent analysis showed increasing activity on developing softer polymers both intrinsically and by the use of additives. 
Dow’s Versify™ is a PP/PE elastomeric copolymer with 5-15% ethylene content which can be blended with PP to achieve greater drape and flexibility at lower bonding temperatures and good tensiles.  Bicomponents made with a Versify™ skin on an hPP core (30/70) gave panel-test softness, smoothness and noise ratings midway between hPP (100%) and 50/50 PE/PP where the PE was Aspun™.  Unlike the softer Aspun™ bicos, Versify™ bicos did not degrade due to cross-linking of PE on ageing. 
A new Aspun™ resin was under development to give game-changing softness and this was already being spun at 0.53 g/min/hole on a Reicofil R4 system.  In 100% form this gave only 1/3rd the strength of PP but was thought to be suitable for lamination to film as a textile backsheet.  Handle-o-meter softness values were 1/3rd of those from Aspun/PP bico spunbond.

Melt-spun Nanofibre

Arnold Wilkie, President of Hills Inc (USA) described their two ways of making nanofibres at higher productivity than electrospinning.  Nano-MB used unique melt-blow nozzles and HICINS (high island count islands in a sea fibre) produces thousands of nanofibre “islands” per filament in a soluble sea.  For Nano-MB heads, the holes are made by forming slots in opposing plates and bonding the plates together.  This allows many more (up to 4000 per metre) and much smaller holes (0.125mm) than conventional drilling methods.  The holes are longer than usual, generating higher pressure drops and greater flow uniformity at the low flow rates required.  Fibres down to 250nm were shown (on  a 1.5 denier spunbond) and in PP these could be produced at 1.6 kgs per metre per hour from a 100 holes/inch nozzle.  A 1.7m beam would produce a 2.5 gsm layer at 11 m/min, and when laid on a 37.5 gsm meltblown PP would cost about 75c/m2.  A 1.7m line, both Nano and Bico capable is now available.
HICINS spunlaid with 2010 islands of diameter 250 nm has been spun from nylon 6 in a sea of EVOH, the untreated filaments being 4 denier/fil.  A 1.7 m spinbeam operating at 6000m/min filament speed could produce 40 gsm of islands at 20 m/min in a 40gsm sea which has to be dissolved. The approximate cost is again 75 c/m2. Further developments include experiments with 10,000 islands in the sea, multi-limbed and hollow island fibres, and filaments from which the islands can be liberated by hydroentanglement rather than sea-dissolution.

Elastic Nonwovens

John Flood, Senior Staff Research Scientist with Kraton Polymers (USA) described conversion of styrenic block copolymers into bicomponent spunbond and meltblown nonwovens.  Elasticity arises because the polystyrene end blocks are incompatible with the rubber chain blocks and associate into rigid domains leaving coiled rubber mid-blocks in between.  The resulting thermoplastic elastomer has excellent strength without vulcanisation.  The new Kraton high MFI grades can be spun as the core of a PP/Kraton 20/80 bico at commercial speeds to give high elongation and elasticity for elastic SMS applications.  The resulting soft, flexible, quiet nonwovens are good for protective apparel, adult incontinence products and wound-care dressings.  Load/elongation graphs showed a 10/90 PP/Kraton spunbond giving 100% extension in the CD with recovery to 20% over several cycles.  More elasticity and a better drape is obtained with a polyester copolymer sheath, and here the 20/80 bico gave almost the same elasticity as the 10/90.
More durable textiles can be made by hydroentanglement splitting and bonding of a spunbonded tipped trilobal fibre where the tips are nylon 6 and the Kraton center is either fully enclosed in the nylon or exposed.  These nonwovens compare well with knitted and woven elastic fabrics of the same weight, stretching over 50% and recovering 90% on relaxation.
A new ultra high melt flow grade (EDF 9897) is under development which has very narrow molecular weight distribution and should give good spinning with high tensiles and elasticity.

Nanoval – Splitspinning?

Martin Stobik, Technical Director of Nanoval GmbH & Co KG (Germany) sought to address suggestions that their Laval nozzle melt-blowing process did not work as advertised, i.e. by splitting a single forming filament into many microfibres, but rather by the very high draw down of one filament per nozzle.  Admittedly it did not matter much because the resulting products proved that very fine fibres were being obtained at high productivity (gms/hole/min). 
It could be calculated that a 0.8 micron filament diameter arising from a 1.5 g/min melt flow through a single Laval nozzle would need to reach 54,000 metres/second velocity to achieve the measured diameter whereas the air velocity at the 800 mBar pressure used would only be 316 m/sec. Clearly the required filament speed can never be reached so the fibre size can only arise by splitting.  Some local “overspeed”, where filaments travel faster than the air, has been observed in conventional melt-blowing but the factor has always been less than 2.
High speed photography apparently shows splitting but Nanoval acknowledge that with the smallest pixels on sensors being between 5 and 7 microns it is difficult to distinguish 2 fibres of 2 micron diameter within such pixels.  Optical magnification of the fibres should solve this, but then the depth of focus reduces to less than a millimetre and falls to 40 microns at 10:1 magnification.  Getting sharp images of rapidly vibrating filaments in order to measure their size is clearly impossible.
Splitspinning has been known to work with lyocell dopes made from dissolving pulps and attractive nonwovens of fine pure cellulose fibres have been shown at other conferences.  In passing, this paper mentioned the use solutions of waste-paper 50/50 with paper grade pulp and also 50/50 SAP/paper-pulp being converted into nonwovens.  For the last 2 years the 75cm Nanoval pilot line has been operating in a JV in China.

Polyolefin Adhesives

Christophe Morel-Fourrier (Global Technical Marketing Manager) and Benjamin Funk (Applied Technology Chemist) of Bostik Inc (France) recalled that the first polyolefins used as adhesives were the atactic PP by-products of crystalline PP production.  Catalyst technology and especially metallocene catalysts led to “on-purpose” PP adhesives with a better balance of cohesion and sprayability through control of molecular weight and co-monomer distribution.  However, the ideal target viscosity and softening point for packaging and film adhesives could not be met with polyolefins. 
Bostik’s new Relyance™ adhesive has properties which recommend it for construction applications in hygiene products, providing comparable performance to the styrene-butadiene copolymers in standard or newly developed spray applications at slightly lower application temperatures.  It overcomes the reduced spray processability and limited performance after ageing of earlier polyolefin adhesives.

Polyolefin Nonwovens and Adhesives

Koichi Nishimura, Project Manager for Idemitsu Kosan Co Ltd (Japan) described the three methods of making low modulus PP as a) blending with elastomers, b)copolymerisation with other monomers such as ethylene and c) controlling stereo-regularity. L-MODU is a new type of polypropylene for soft elastic nonwovens and hot melt adhesives made by controlling stereo-regularity of PP in the space between atactic (amorphous and liquid) and isotactic (crystalline and hard).  It was developed by investigating numerous catalyst systems before lighting on a “new original metallocene” which gave the desired properties.
Grades of L-MODU with molecular weights of 45,000 to 120,000 have softening points between 90 and 120oC, tensile modulii one-tenth of that of isotactic PP and elongations at break of 600 to 900%.  They are non-sticky despite the extreme softness, and can be blended in any proportion with IPP.  Blends were converted into spunbond on a Reicofil 4 line and gave half the frictional coefficient and half the bending length of 100% PP when 20% - 30% of the PP was replaced with L-MODU .  The 20% blend gave dramatically improved spinning and 15gsm fabrics made from 1.2 denier were higher in CD strength than 17gsm 100% PP at 17gsm (from 1.7 denier).
100% L-MODU spunbonds were highly elastic but hard to calender.  However as the core of a bico inside an iPP sheath, good nonwovens were made. 
L-MODU based hot melt adhesives (50% L-MODU with 40% tackifier and 10% oil) gave much higher peel strengths than the standard SBS or a similarly formulated atactic PP.  Lower bonding temperatures were also possible and target strengths could be met at lower hot-melt add-ons.
L-MODU could be blended 50/50 with PP for meltblowing and gave narrower fibre size distributions and a higher hydro-head.
The L-MODU plant starts up in March 2012 and will produce 40,000 tpy of the low modulus PP in three grades, 400 for hot melt, 600 for melt blown and 900 for spunbond.  It is available for trials now.

Polyolefin Binders

Paul Newick, Senior Technical Manager at the Dow Chemical Company introduced Hypod™ binders made by a novel process which pairs a range of polyolefins with surfactants before mechanically dispersing them in water.  The binders give physical properties comparable to the acrylic emulsion systems but their larger particle size helps to provide mechanical stability while their surfactant stabilisers keeps the emulsions stable for up to 6 months.  The precise chemistry was not stated, but examples of ethylene and propylene copolymers with high, low and medium carboxyl contents and Tg’s in the -26 to -56oC were illustrated.  The carboxyl content was said to facilitate adhesion and high filler retention when used as paper coatings.  Surfactant levels of 5% are needed for stability. Films made of -30oC Tg polymers were were wettable, non-tacky and very soft, like a +10oC Tg acrylic.  Results of the treatment of Whatman No.1 filter papers were provided.

The importance of Airflow

Christopher Ritter, Sales Manager Europe and Middle East for Osprey Corporation stressed the importance of tight control of air in many nonwoven processes and provided many examples of process and product improvement arising from attention to the details of air movement in:
·         Pneumatic raw material transport
·         Core forming
·         Air-laid web forming
·         Cleaning and dust control systems
·         Filtration systems
·         Edge-trim recycling
·         Vacuum systems
Air handling can account for half the energy use in hygienic products production, and air speeds of above 28 m/s in ducting wastes energy.  Speeds below 12 m/s risk deposit formation.  Mr Ritter recommended training 1 or 2 key people in airflow system design and stressed the importance of regularly documenting airflow measurements to identify design and air-balancing errors.  Asked if Teflon coated ducts would save energy, he commented that polishing the inside of ducts certainly did, but he had no experience of Teflon linings.

Superabsorbent Fibre

Dave Hill, Business Development Manager of Technical Absorbents (UK) reminded us that this 1993 JV between Courtaulds and Allied Colloids to spin SAF® fibres from polyacrylate superabsorbents had, in 2007, been bought by Bluestar Fibres Co. (China).  The polymerisation process uses acrylic acid, methyl acrylate and sodium hydroxide and the resulting viscous  aqueous solution is dry spun into hot air when an additive thermally cross-links the polymer to create the  superabsorbent fibre.  The fibre could be processed on most textile and nonwoven routes, was non-irritant, non-flam and listed by the FDA for indirect food contact.  Applications developed from the plant in Grimsby (UK) were:
·         Ultra thin “Anerle” panty liners by Heng An for the Chinese market
·         Washable light incontinence  designer underwear
·         Advanced wound dressings (hydrogel)
·         Operating Room mats and other medical waste management products
·         Diagnostic fluid transport packaging
·         Performance apparel cooling layer. (“Koolsorb” knitted SAF® for rapid sweat containment).
·         Filters to remove water from oil and fuel, blood treatment filters, waste water treatment.
·         Geotextiles: water blocking layers, tunnel linings, reservoir sealing.
·         Fire blankets and flame barrier suits.
·         Cable wrap yarns and tapes
·         Food packaging – exudates absorbent.
Asked about spunlace nonwovens Mr Hill said these were under development.  The new Chinese SAF® plant would have a 20,000 tonne/year capacity.  The fibres are made washable by being contained – presumably in a gel-proof bag: none is lost in washing, and over 50 washes are possible.  The fibre cannot be crimped and is therefore tricky to process.  It absorbs 50 g/g 0.9% saline at a very high rate due to the very high surface area of the fibre.

Fluff Pulp Update

David Fortin, Economist at RISI (US) predicted increasing global demand for fluff pulp with China and other Far Eastern countries generating the majority of growth.  By 2013 usage will reach 5.5 million tonnes, up from 4.7 million in 2009, giving an overall growth rate of 4% per annum.  However this statistic conceals growth of 24% in emerging markets with minimal growth in developed markets.  Diapers will remain the main end-use with 40% of the tonnage, followed by femcare (26%) adult incontinence (23%) and airlaid/other (11%).    Incontinence use is increasing  in the developed regions but the  trend to thinner products reduces fluff usage.  Private label products tend to use more fluff per unit than brands and fluff does better where PL has a larger share of the market.  Innovations to watch are:
·         Pampers “Dry Max” with a fluff-free core.
·         Huggies “Pure and Natural” with its renewable, recycled and organic themes.
·         gDiapers – cloth diapers as a green alternative to disposables.
·         WooDi – a 100% wood-based diaper from SCA and Sodra Cell.
Demand growth is keeping pace with capacity growth and if short-term fluctuations are ignored the profitability trend has been steadily rising since 2002.  Prices will continue to follow paper-grade prices with a slight lag, but the way in which the swing capacity swings will affect outlook.
Asked about possible substitution of fluff with anything other than SAP, Mr Fortin thought there were no other threats.  CTMP would not be an issue because there was plenty of softwood kraft.  Would Russia produce fluff?  Not in the near-term.  The market would soften in 2015.  For the predicted impact of thinner products we would need to buy the RISI report.

Rando Airlaid

Mike Flaherty (President) and Greg Moran (Director Marketing and Sales) of the Rando Machine Corporation (USA) described the development of their Randowebber technology to process more difficult fibres into lighter-weight air-laid nonwovens. 
·         Light-weight was defined as 0.25 to 150 gsm!
·         Fibres processed included 200 denier nylon, 25 micron stainless-steel, silver-coated nylon, glass, composite reinforcement fibres, short fibres (>0.5 inch), wood, cardboard, recycled waste fibre, rock wool, ceramic wool, basalt, sea-weed and collagen.
·         Rando-webs were isotropic.
The collagen fibres were from waste cowhide and could be processed into a leather-like nonwoven.  The sea-weed, presumably in the form of alginate fibres, was being used in surgical products.
They would provide pilot lines down to 1ft wide for development purposes.

Jumbo Spooling and Splicing

Pierre Croutelle, Sales Manager of Spoolex (France) described the principles of spooling acquisition distribution layer (ADL) nonwovens and concluded that keeping the material running in line while oscillating the large spool gave better quality with sensitive materials than the traditional approach of traversing the material across the surface of the spool.  Either way, spools gave up to 10 times the ADL length (i.e. 10 to 40 km) between changes compared with pancakes, and therefore fewer rejected diapers.  Their Calemard™ spooling technology used the new principle and combined it with Decoup+™ ultrasonic cutting and laminating on their Pegase II spooling line to obtain perfectly flat joins when mother rolls were changed.
Asked if the system was dedicated to ADL, Mr Croutelle said it could also spool thicker products such as femcare cores, but airlaid pulp rolls were too bulky and weak.  The Pegase II line with 10 heads would cost about a €1 million.  Could the spools be unwound simply or would they need a despooler on each diaper line?  Mr Croutelle said despoolers were needed and these were now fitted to most high speed diaper lines.  They were not made by Spoolex.

Product Decoration

Ondrej Kruk, Market Development Manager of Videojet Technologies Inc (USA) compared product decoration with traditional advertising and concluded that at 60c per 1000 impressions it was the cheapest.  Furthermore it could add value and differentiation, and be functional (e.g. wetness indicators) or fashionable (e.g. denim print diaper backs).  Femcare and incontinence products are now being decorated and diaper printing had progressed to in-register printing with up to 10 colours.
Processes could be off-line or in-line.  Off-line flexographic 10-color printing of film for backsheet required a $6m investment plus another $1m if wetness indicators were needed.  It can give high quality prints with multiple colours over a large print area but reduces flexibility and increases cost and complexity for the diaper producer.  In-line flexography is possible but complex, while in-line digital printing can apply 1-2 colours over a smaller area very effectively. In the case of Videojet’s BX system, this has proved to be the most cost effective route with a good return on investment.  In-line printing of hot-melt can be used for wetness indicators.
Asked about the differing regional responses to decorated hygiene products, Mr Kruk said the Latin American countries loved it, Japan was proceeding somewhat cautiously, while the US and EU were somewhere in between.

New Airlaid Machine?

Ingo Maehlmann, Expert – Air Laid Development at Oerlikon Neumag (Germany) listed their development goals for what used to be the M&J (Kroyer) air laid system as increasing production speed, lowering basis weight, increasing product uniformity and saving raw materials. 
A new formation tester has been developed using digital image processing and fast-Fourier transformations to quantify the formation quality.  This has allowed adjustments of the positioning of the forming heads relative to the wire and increases of air-flow through the heads.  Traditionally, only 30% of the air removed by the suction box under the forming wire was fed in with the pulp, the difference being drawn in through the top and sides.  In the new system, the heads have been raised, top and sides sealed and all the air removed by suction now enters with the pulp.  The formed pulp mat exits under a compaction roll which is also sealed to the sides.  The prototype is giving significantly improved forming quality which allows lower basis weights to be produced, or the same quality at line speeds 67% higher.  Speeds of over 600 m/min are now targeted.
In questions:  Longer fibres can now be used due to improved screen design.  Dryer capacity is an issue at high speed when latex bonding.  Sealing rolls are cleaned automatically and are heated to reduce pickup.  Old “M&J” lines can be retrofitted with the new system.  The new forming head can remove the “beaching” (rippled surface) effect if required.

Calvin Woodings

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