Friday 6 May 2011

EDANA's INDEX 2011: Geneva 12th - 15th April


This was the largest nonwovens show ever both in terms of exhibitor numbers and total content.  In addition to the main exhibits, EDANA had arranged a Special Features and Events programme comprising a Global Nonwovens Summit, the INDEX Awards, a Management Innovation Workshop, Nonwovens Tutorials, and Exhibitor Product Presentations.  Your correspondent had to focus, and chose to focus on the Exhibition stands and conversations with the exhibitors, the emphasis being on seeking out new and interesting developments, especially those from the East.  The notes are roughly classified according to whether they relate mainly to Raw Materials - Natural or Synthetic, Nonwovens - Spunlaid or Carded, Machinery - Spunlaid or Other and Miscellaneous. 

Natural Raw Materials

Birla Cellulose (India), the largest viscose rayon producer, had no fibre available and nothing they  wanted to sell.  They thought what Courtaulds used to call the Cellulosics Gap had finally arrived.  Demand for cellulosics was now much higher than even cotton could reasonably be expected to fill without serious encroachment on food-growing acreage, so Dissolving Pulp capacity and rayon production were now expanding as rapidly as possible.  They hoped to start up another 150,000 tonnes viscose plant

in India within 2 years and were planning a viscose plant in Egypt.  Their DP mills could supply 65% of their current 800,000 tonne cellulose needs.  Prices were at record levels.  Market DP now cost 2.6 Euro/kg and compared with 2.05 Euro/kg for rayon staple.  Bleached cotton was at US$4/kg.  World DP demand had risen from 3 million tonnes to nearly 5 million tonnes since the turn of the century, and the rayon processes now accounted for about 4 million tonnes of the DP.
Domsjö Fabriker (Sweden) make totally chlorine free dissolving pulp, bioethanol and lignin from wood.  Like the rayon producers, they feel the Cellulose Gap has arrived and that the future for wood chemistry is good.  They plan to expand from the current 210,000 tpa pulp capacity to 255,000 tpa by end 2012.  (Since Index, they have been acquired by Birla Cellulose as part of their plan to expand viscose fibre capacity to 1 million tonnes/year.)

Tangshan Sanyou Group Xingda Chemical Fibre Co. Ltd. (China) have expanded their capacity for viscose rayon from 150,000 tonnes to 260,000 tonnes in the last 2 years and now produce staple for nonwovens in deniers from 0.6 to 5.0 and lengths from 20 to 120mm.  They were still showing the Bamboo fibre "a kind of cellulose fibre purified from natural bamboo according to a special chemical process" which has deodorising and antibacterial functionality due to the "Penny-Kun contained in natural bamboo".  With a specified sulphur content of 80-120 ppm, the fibre is clearly made using a viscose process fed with bamboo woodpulp and the mystery of how the bamboo chemistry survives remains unexplained.  Photos of their new viscose line indicate a large and modern vertical spinning system.
Shandong Helon Textile Science and Technology Co Ltd (China) makes 270,000 tpa viscose rayon staple and 8000 tpy filament using mainly cotton pulp from their own 250,000 tpa pulp mill.  They also make 7500 tpa nonwovens and were displaying HE fabrics on the stand.  They have a couple of flame retardant staple specialities and new for this show was "Jutecell - a hollow cross section fibre made from jute".  They import the raw jute from Bangladesh and make the jute pulp in their own pulp mill prior to feeding it into the viscose process.  But for a hint of "C-Shape" in the crenellated cross section, the fibre looks and tests like a lowish-strength regular viscose staple.  Nevertheless they claim "special manufacturing technology" to maintain the natural antibacterial and antifungal activity of the original jute fibre and presented test data showing a log 4.6 kill rate of staph. aureus.  The Jutecell fabric, like the Bamboo fabric they introduced 3 years ago, looked like perfectly ordinary bright unbleached regular rayon HE at about 35 gsm. 

Lenzing (Austria) were similarly embarrassed by the unmeetable demand for their viscose and Tencel fibres and had announced numerous expansion projects including extra Tencel capacity in Heiligenkreuz, Lenzing and Mobile Alabama.  Like Birla, their capacity is expected to rise to a million tonnes by 2015, but here Tencel is included in the mix.  Notable for its absence from the stand was “Tencel Web”, the spunlaid Tencel which had been announced at the last Index.  The small Tencel expansion at Mobile Alabama (a restart of ~7500 tpa, or half the capacity of the long-mothballed  SL1 plant) will replace  the original in-line tow washing with a new conveyor-belt system.  This will allow the Heiligenkreuz fibre presentation (no mechanical crimp) to be supplied to US customers and obviate the need for imports.  It could also, in principle, make it usable to wash webs of staple fibre or tow.  No-one was available on the stand to discuss Tencel Web so it remains unclear whether or not the original "melt-blown" concept for Tencel Web has survived.  No plans for the second half of the old SL1 line have yet been announced but another major expansion on the site is not ruled out. Click Here for Tencel Development History
Kelheim Fibres (Germany) were showing their range of Italian viscose Fibres:

·         Bramante, a 100% cellulose segmented hollow fibre with considerably higher absorbency than regular viscose and intended for use in medical and hygiene products and speciality papers.

·         Bellini, high width-thickness ratio, smooth section, highly self-bonding, flat rayon for papers and wet-laid nonwovens.

·         Verdi, an alloy of cellulose with a gel former for applications where high absorbency or a gel effect is important.

·         Dante, a combination of Bramante cross section with a gel former for the ultimate in fibre absorbency.

·         Poseidon, a viscose fibre with ion-exchange properties.

Solam (Sweden) were introducing biopolymers (starches) as competitors for latex binders in nonwovens on the basis that they supply them as alternatives to synthetic sizes in papermaking.  They now cost substantially less than the synthetics.  The big disadvantage was the absence of wet-strength but Solam felt there would be opportunities in wall coverings, roofing systems and coating bases.  They will also supply the starch cooking equipment needed to make the solutions for either spray or pad application.

Synthetic Raw Materials

Idemitsu Chemical Europe PLC (Germany) introduced “L-MODU”, a new stereo-regular PP based polymer using single-site metallocene catalysis.  This soft, low modulus polymer makes elastic fabrics when used in 100% form or can be blended with standard PP to soften the final product.  It was described as low isotacticity, low melting point (70-80C, but not sticky at room temperature).   A bico fibre with L-MODU core and L-MODU/PP sheath had been spunlaid to give a fabric with 85% MD elastic recovery.  A 15 gsm spunbond with 20% L-MODU was significantly softer than the control fabric.  They had all been produced down to 10 gsm on a 2m wide Reicofil 4 line at 400 m/min.  A 40,000 tpa polymer plant will be fully operational in Q1 2012

Dow Chemicals (Switzerland) introduced their “Soft Touch” PP resin for the production of mono-component spunbond nonwoven fabrics.  This new resin offers softness, enhanced drape and low noise  as required for adult incontinence products.  It has a low bonding temperature and a broad bonding window for processing efficiency and flexibility and has been engineered to offer tensile properties comparable to polypropylene, as well as abrasion resistance for low linting and fuzzing in the final nonwoven article.  Nonwoven webs formed with this resin can be recycled back into mainstream production.   The samples, like the Idemitsu L-MODU, felt like polyethylene.  However Dow were still showing the Aspun range of PE resins for bico applications.

Technical Absorbents (UK), manufactures Oasis Superabsorbent Fibre and is now part of Bluestar Fibres Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of ChemChina.  In addition to the established cable-wrap, food packaging and hygiene/medical markets for this dry-spun sodium polyacrylate-based fibre, the company has now developed performance apparel applications using a hydroentangled blend of Oasis and hydrophobic fibres as a water reservoir layer in an evaporatively-cooled composite textile.  Blends with phase change materials give a fabric where the Oasis absorbs perspiration and enhances the cooling performance of the PCM.  A wound dressing on display was impregnated with Manuka honey.

EMS Griltech (Switzerland) introduced a range of bacteriostatic polyester fibres incorporating silver and zinc ions for shoe liners, sportswear, mattresses and medical.

Spunlaid Nonwovens

Elmarco (Czech Republic) were showing their 2nd Generation Nanospider® lines which now use single wire electrodes coated with dope rather than roller-electrodes rotating in dope.  Each spinning module uses 2 wires about 25 cm apart, these being fed with dope from a reciprocating roller system which licks it onto the wire.  The voltage (up to 140 kV) forms and transfers the nanofibres from the wires to a paper substrate running about 20cms above the wires and under the upper electrode.  Fibre diameters can be from 80 to 700nm, with a variability of +/- 30%.  The 4 wires together produce 0.02 to 4 gsm webs depending on conveyor speed, this being variable between 0.2 and 12 metres/min.  The NS 4S1000U machine being demonstrated was using 2 modules to make a web 1m wide at a conveyor speed so slow it looked stationary at first glance.  Furthermore the layer of nanofibre being collected was invisible, but definitely present according to the exhibitor.   The NS 8S1600U line uses 4 modules to make 1.6m wide webs.  Up to 4 machines can be arranged in line to coat a single carrier if higher productivity is required.  Polymers used have to be soluble in a non-aqueous solvent and include polyamides, polyacrylonitriles, polyether sulphones and polyvinylidene fluorides.  Asked what productivities could be achieved from the new system, an example of a 0.05gsm surface coat on a filter was used.  For this a 1.6m line would make 20 m2/min of coat with 4 wires, and double that with 8 wires.  The latter works out to 2g/min of nanofibres.

Elmarco is also working on melt-electrospinning but have yet to make an acceptable product.  At the very low melt-flow rates needed for spinning, the resulting polymers are very short-chain and the fibres too weak.  150nm fibres from molten PP had nevertheless been collected.

Khimvolokno (Belarus), part of the Svetlogorsk Production Association, has started up a 3.2m wide Reicofil 4 line with a Fleissner hydroentanglement bonding option to make either “SpunBel” thermal bonded diaper components or “AquaSpun” spunlaced for both wipes and diaper components.  Using the thermal bond option, 10-150 gsm PP spunbonds can be made, currently at a rate of 5000 tpa, but with extra beams, 10,000 tpa is possible.  The spunlace option gives similar throughputs in a 30-250 gsm range and the lighter weights will be used as topsheet in a new Russian diaper.  The heavier weights are being developed for construction and geotextiles fabrics where the absence of fibre damage caused by needling allows stronger products to be produced.   Their original Reicofil 1 line is still in operation and produces 3,500 tpa of thermal-bond only nonwovens. The company was founded in 1961 to make viscose tyre yarn which is still in production on the same site.  Yuri Tishkevich, who provided the information here, feels they have the potential to produce viscose nonwovens in an integrated pulp-to-fibre-to-nonwoven operation.

Regent Nonwoven Materials (Russia) make SS and SMS "Neotex" nonwovens down to 10 gsm on a  3.2m Reicofil 3 line installed in 2008 and now producing 9,000 tpa.  In October 2012, they will start up a new 15,000 tpa Reicofil 4 line with a width of 4.2 metres to make SSS fabric at weights down to 8 gsm.  Hygiene will be the main target, but construction, packaging and agriculture fabrics are also under development. 

Avgol (Israel) were now going Global with a new CEO, a new team, a consolidation program and 110,000 tonnes/year of SMS and Spunbond capacity around the world.  They had recently announced new lines for China, the USA and Russia which would be on stream in 18 months and add a further 40,000 tonnes capacity.  While 12 gsm is still their main SMS fabric, they had good-looking 10gsm rolls on display and claim an 8gsm version will be available soon.  12 gsm spunbond-only was on display, but 14 gsm was still the main product in this category.

Kuraray (Japan) have meltblown a polyarylate liquid crystal polymer to make “Vecrus” nonwovens.  Its zero moisture uptake and low dielectric constant make it useful in IT equipment circuit boards, insulation and Li-ion battery separators.  Its high heat resistance makes it useful for industrial polishing machines, heavy duty motors and aerospace honeycombs.  Their meltblown thermoplastic polyurethanes are now complemented by a styrenic elastomer polymer system which is finding applications in elastics, sticking plasters and permeable waterproof membranes for wound care.

Toray Polytech (Nantong) Co. Ltd. (China) claims state of the art equipment supplying 17,000 tpa of top quality SMMS and SS nonwovens from a 4.2m wide SXMMS line.  They were displaying an excellent 8gsm "Livsen" PP SMMS but admitted that this was a development product, 12 gsm being their current standard.  Also on display were a PE/PLA bicomponent fabric, a very soft Bico PE/Block Copolymer fabric  and and elastane spunbond.  A 2nd 4.2m line (SSMMS: 20,000 tpa) is now starting up and a 3rd line (also 20,000 tpa) is scheduled to be operational in June 2012.

Asahi Kasei (Japan) continue to promote Bemliese™, the 1970’s spunbond cupro-rayon, for its ultralow lint generation, biodegradability, high absorbency and purity for use in ultraclean environments and for agricultural, horticultural and tea-bag use.  Precise™ is a polyester spunbond nonwoven with a nanofibre layer providing high barrier performance for membranes, medical adhesive tapes and filter bags.

Zheiang Jiahong Nonwovens Co Ltd (China) was set up in 2006 with an investment of 35 million yuan (~5.4 million US$) to make 5000 tonnes/year of spunbond in the 10-150gsm weight range.  They now have  1.6, 2.4 and 3.3 metres wide lines and use FDA grade PP to make "non-toxic" fabrics for medical/sanitary uses, geotextiles, and agriculture the latter having "weak resistance" to sunlight for rapid decomposition.

RKW SE (Germany) had sample packs of wet-wipes made from 100% PP, spunlaid, hydroentangled and hydrophilically treated.  They claim the same  single-beam line can be used to make panty-liner absorbent on roll, ready-backed with film or waterproof coating.

SAAF (Saudi Arabia) is adding a third Reicofil line to start up in 2013.  This one will have 6 beams and will produce medical and hygiene nonwovens.  It has added Medalon Lite (35-50 gsm) to its range of medical barrier fabrics.

Saudi German Nonwovens (Saudi Arabia), the first and still the largest spunbond maker in the Middle East has 3 Reicofil lines (up to 4.2m wide) and was showing the usual range of products down to 10gsm for core wrap.

Huzhuo Jihao Nonwovens Fabric Co (China) make 3000 tpa of spunbond PP in a 10gsm to 150 gsm weight range using 2 "Chinese Modified" lines, 1.8 and 2.4 metres wide.  They specialise in a wide range of colours and added functionalities such as FR, anti-static and hydrophilicity.  Their fabrics are high strength and "Non-poisonous".

Foliarex (Poland) who make Perfecta polypropylene fibres for nonwovens, has just invested in a new PP spunbond line to make products for construction, agriculture, furniture, automotive, apparel and hygiene industries.  It can produce 10-200 gsm fabrics up to 1.6m wide.

Ecotextil SRO (Czech Republic) make meltblown PP on 3 x 1m wide lines, buy-in spunbond PP and laminate on-line using ultrasonics to produce rolls and square mats for spill absorbents.  They make a hydrophilic version using a copolymer melt additive.

General Nonwovens and Composites (Turkey) now produce 12,000 tpa of PP and PET spunbond on their 3.6m multibeam line in weights ranging from 10 to 200 gsm.  Hydrophobic, hydrophilic, antistatic, antimicrobial and flame retardant finishes are available.

First Quality Nonwovens (USA) refused to deal with the “what’s new and interesting since last Index” question.  This was a new and interesting policy development since last Index.

Carded and/or Spunlaced Nonwovens

Blue Web SAS (France) use mainly natural fibres to make hydroentangled wipes, handkerchiefs, fem-care and incontinence products, make-up removal pads and diapers.  Their 100% cotton/organic cotton range converted on Trutszchler/ Fleissner equipment is facing tough competition due to the high price of cotton so they also make cotton/viscose blends (which include bamboo) and plan to add PLA to the range.  The plant, which houses a 2.5m wide line capable of producing 5-6000 tpa was built on a greenfield site in Nogent.  They made their first deliveries in November 2010 and claim interest from both Kimberly Clark and P&G.  They have Global Organic Textile Standard certification (GOTS) for their organic cotton products.  For the future they expect cotton prices to peak in 2012 and then decline, but not to old levels.  This will be due to the extra cotton acreage planned for the 2012 season.

Sandler AG (Germany) has just started up its third HE line based on Andritz technology.  They now make 80,000 tpa nonwovens mainly using HE, and mainly for wipes, but thermal bonded carded webs are still important and are finding new applications in technical products and hygiene.  Competition with spunbond in the mainstream hygiene market is next to impossible because prices are low due to major overcapacity in spunbond and SMS, but they do make attractive 12 gsm card/thermal fabrics with superior softness due to the staple fibre content.  New for this Index is the “Bio by Sandler” wipe substrate based on viscose from Lenzing.  These have a unique hydro-embossed design.  They also process some Tencel.

Nan Lui Enterprise (Taiwan) claim their Shanghai operation now has the world’s largest production line for spunlaced polyester pulp nonwovens.  The 4.5 m wide line using Andritz spunlace technology started in 2009 and makes nonwovens for operating room drapes and gowns and low-lint industrial wipes.  The OR fabrics, based on carded polyester sandwiching western red cedar tissue, are repellency treated, and as close to identical to Dupont Sontara as possible.  They export to the EU and USA and claim to be the first company in the world to meet the EU norms. 

Baby wipes are produced on the 2 older spun-lace lines in the Taiwan factory and this used to be their core business: Kimberly Clark were a key customer for their flow-packs. 

Zhejiang Spread Nonwoven New Material (China) were founded in 2006 and claim to lead in the design and manufacturing of biodegradable spunlace nonwovens in China.  Their range includes Tencel, bamboo, chitosan, meta-aramid, para-aramid, PLA, and porous elastic spunlace nonwovens.

Beijing Dayuan Nonwovens (China) now make 28,000 tonnes/year of nonwovens from 2 HE lines and 6 card/thermal (through-air) lines.   Their main markets are diapers and femcare and they claim to sell mainly to Kimberly Clark and Johnson and Johnson’s Asian plants.  80% of the output is exported from China.

Ihsan (Pakistan) have started up their 2 metre wide spun-lace line to make 30-70gsm 100% bleached cotton fabrics, plain or perforated for medical and hygiene uses.  These "Belcot" fabrics are entirely for export and are currently shipping at the rate of 30 tonnes/month.

Winner Medical Group (China) specialises in medical disposables based on “PurCotton” hydroentangled US cotton fabrics.  They have one HE line, but were showing a very wide range of plain and perforated 100% HE cotton fabrics ranging from 30 to 120 gsm.  One of the fabrics had been converted into a hydrogel dressing presumably by carboxymethylation of the cotton.

DS Fibres (Belgium) are spinning PLA fibres and making a range of natural fibre and PLA blend nonwovens mainly for geotextile, automotive and filtration applications.

Other Nonwovens

JX Nippon Anci (France - part of JX Nippon Group) showed the unusual “Milife” silky-touch nonwoven alongside the usual range of Claf reinforcing scrims .  Milife is made by laying a weft of MD-oriented polyester spunlaid filaments at right angles across a similar warp.  The resulting gauze-like nonwoven looks woven but for its very light weight.  The two polyester spunbond layers are 5gsm giving a remarkably tough 10gsm final product.  Heavier versions, up to 40 gsm total are also available and they have almost "square" MD/CD properties.  2.2 metres is the widest currently available and the sheets are unusually thin compared with random laid spunbonds (0.07mm at 10gsm).  Applications include window blinds, wallpaper and adhesive tapes.

Landolt SAS (France) were converting what looked like normal polyester and polypropylene crimped tows into tough lightweight nonwovens using a tow-spreader.  These "SkillCoat"  nonwovens were available in weights from 40 to 300 gsm and widths up to 4.8 metres.  Applications targeted were mainly carriers for roofing membranes, geotextiles, waterproof tapes and impregnated composites.  One of the samples on view looked like a 2-layer product, with one layer being almost straight MD oriented tow and the other being somewhat overfed to add CD strength.  Other samples were needlefelts with the spread tow giving MD reinforcement only.

Machinery for Spunlaid

Reicofil (Germany) let their fabrics do the talking.  On display were rolls of:

·         8gsm SSMMMS PP produced at 900 m/min

·         8gsm SS from 1.2 denier PP also at 900 m/min

·         8.4 gsm SSS from 0.7 denier PP at 660 m/min

·         55gsm hydroentangled PP/Pulp/PP (10/35/10) made from 1.1 denier PP at 250 m/min.

·         20gsm M (Meltblown only) produced at 12 m/min for HEPA filters

·         150gsm hydroentangled S (Spunbond only) produced from 1.9 dtex PP at 25 m/min.

8 gsm products are currently only used as core-wrap: Reicofil are still working on improving the strengths for use in other diaper components.  The hydroentangled products are now being evaluated as wet-wipes and as Acquisition Distribution Layers.  They are collaborating with both Fleissner and Andritz on the hydroentangled developments and have so far sold one line of each: an R4 with both thermal and Fleissner bonding to Khimvolokno and an R4 with Andritz (Rieter) to RKW.  Both of these companies are developing hydroentangled spunbonds for wet wipes.  Reicofil see no need to introduce an R5 system yet, there being plenty of further scope with the latest R4 and no real competition.  However they do have a new RE system, where the E stands for Emergent.  These basic and narrow lines are being sold as starter-kits into emerging markets.

Oerlikon Neumag (Germany) were still promoting the Neumag Spunbond system but admitted that the spunbond market growth is practically all going to Reicofil.  Albis/Ascania had taken the big risk of installing the largest ever spunbond line (a 7m wide Neumag) and had shown the product at the last Index.  However they had run out of money shortly afterwards and the line was now idle.  Oerlikon remained in touch with the administrator and pledged technical support to whoever acquires the assets.  The way forward for Neumag Spunbond technology might well be in polyester and PLA.  PLA works well on the Neumag system and developments are proceeding to new products in this area.  They are now developing hydroentangled Spunbond/Pulp/Spunbond absorbent nonwovens.

Wenzhou Changlong Textile Technology Co Ltd (China) supply turnkey SMS production lines for PP, PET and PLA, and claim more than 300 installations around the world.  They also have capacity for producing 30,000 tonnes of 10-250 gsm spunbond/SMS nonwovens with the usual range of finishes.  They have 5 machines, 2 built in 2000 making PP nonwovens (10,000 tonnes in total), 2 making PET nonwovens (8000 tonnes) and a new bico system capable of PP/PE, PE/PET and PE/PLA spunbond production which is starting up this month.  50% of their production is exported, mainly to the EU.  There have been many enquiries for machinery at this show, but no orders as yet.

Huada (China) is offering pilot spunbond lines in widths of 10cm to 50cm.

Other Machinery

NSC Nonwoven (France) discussed two new developments, their new “Tambour Transfer” carding system and an advance in cross-lapping using an Air Control System.  They had decided not to give a presentation at the Suppliers Forum, but were revealing it to interested parties.

Geoff Kershaw explained that the carding advance arises when a large TT cylinder is inserted between the main carding cylinder and the double-doffers to allow the webs to be removed over the tops of the doffers rather than underneath.  This also prevents any recirculation of the staple and allows speeds of 240 m/min when making 35 gsm webs with MD/CD ratios below 2.7:1.  In the absence of the TT roll, this could only be achieved at 170m/min.  On the new system 50/50 PET/Viscose at 1.7dtex/38mm can be carded at 350m/min.  The prototype is now in the showroom and available for customer trials.  It took 2 years to develop with the help of EC funds.

The improvement in cross-lapper speed arises from abandoning the use of suction and fitting a grooved roll to allow air entrapped in the web to escape naturally.  Cross lapping speeds increased from 70 to 100 m/min when suction was first used, and now, with ACS in use, 150m/min is possible.

These developments are allowing card/crosslay to compete with spunbond in the heavyweight Geotextiles and construction sectors, and staple products are now preferred to spunbond in the 90-300 gsm range.

On the stand was an attractive roll of 100% raw cotton spunlace at 60 gsm but no-one was available to discuss this product.

Biax Fiberfilm Corporation (USA) described the “melt-blown” Tencel nonwovens as technically excellent with fantastic properties, but likely to be too expensive to be commercially successful.  The meltblown heads worked at 1g/hole/min dope flow, but due to the low viscosity solution of cellulose used, this only amounted to 0.1 g/hole/min of fabric.  They’d be happy to build a pilot line given €100,000 but feared there would be no market for the output.

Nanoval  (Germany) continue to promote their split-fibre spinning process which produces 100+ microfibers from each spinneret hole, as a route to spunlaid cellulose nonwovens from NMMO solutions.  The currently proposed system is as follows:

·         Pulp, NMMO and water are fed to a List reactor where the cellulose dissolves as the water is evaporated.

·         The 8% cellulose dope is fed by spinning pumps to the spinneret and through the Laval nozzle which splits the forming filaments and sprays them with water to coagulate them. 

·         The web is collected on a suction drum for water washing, pressed and dried on a drum dryer.

·         Fibre sizes from 15 down to 1 micron can be achieved.

·         Spinneret hole sizes can be from 0.25 to 1mm allowing cheaper woodpulp to be used.

They currently offer several sizes of pilot line (up to 75cm) for process development purposes.  

Three Wood Machine Company (China), founded in 2007, makes baby diaper, adult diaper, sanitary napkin and training pant production lines.  The SM-500YK-SF diaper machine runs at 200 m/min at efficiencies above 80% and with wastage below 3% and includes hammer mill, drum former, SAP auto-feed, ADL, cuff, waistband, frontal tape and side tape applicators, along with a cloth-like backsheet lamination unit.   500 pieces/min is claimed.  The training pant line is designed for 400 pieces/min.

Dachang Wipes Machinery Co (China - part of Quanzhou Dachang Paper Machinery Co Ltd) was established 12 years ago to make wet-wipes production machinery for China and now targets becoming a global brand, boasting sales of machinery to 60 countries.  Their fully automatic high speed DCW-4800 machine takes up to 40 spunlace rolls (~50gsm) and converts them into 150-250mm wide and 180-220 mm long wipes for pop-up or non pop-up packs at the rate of 10,000 sheets per minute. 

Imanpack SRL (Italy) provide packaging machines for wet-wipes and also act as agents for the Dimatra (Mexico) wet-wipe machine maker.  Their vertical flow pack (replacing canisters) looked interesting and they also had a machine to make a novel two-compartment pack for tissues and wet-wipes which could be integrated with the wet-wipe conversion line.    One idea was to use one compartment for daytime wipes and the other for nighttimes.   Asked who is using the new system, they claimed interest from  K-C and P&G.


Btampon (Switzerland), founded in 2009, displayed its Be-Easy tampons in what looked like highly colourful retortable pouches.  Clearly innovative packaging development is distinguishing this newcomer from the leading brands, and the range includes pretty boxes for handbag use, and a multipack with different sizes to cope with 4 different flow rates.  The tampons, which are produced in France appear to be the usual fluted digital type but claim to be the first with a secure barrier system, which according to the illustrations was a region at the string end which did not expand.  Also mentioned were Chafleen's intra vaginal delivery device, a tampon modified to carry immunotherapy or pharmaceuticals; Be Easy Nano, a separate applicator for the Be Easy digital tampon, and Voileen, an intravaginal nonwoven for end of period discharges to be introduced next year.

Tigil Closure Systems SRL (Italy) is now marketing "Tigil" from Magis SpA's range for baby and adult diapers. The usual range of PP film based tapes (including Y-bond) and landing zones (both knitted filament and spunlaced loops) is now complemented by a biodegradable range using "Mater-bi"-like films.  They supply mainly to lower volume private label but claim to be in touch with K-C and Ontex. 

Nikoo Group (Iran) comprises 8 companies and about 800 employees and describes itself as a young persons company.  They supply fibres for nonwovens including PP, PET, bico and  cotton, but also make card/thermalbond nonwovens ("Narmineh") and spunlace nonwovens based on cotton and blends with synthetics ("Nikoolace"), all mainly for export.  Nice embossed bleached cotton spunlaced nonwovens were shown.

Freudenberg (Germany) were showing Vilmed® 100% PLA acquisition layers for diapers and femcare.  They also showed bioresorbable nonwovens based on centrifugally spun gelatin microfibres.

EDANA (Belgium) presented their vision for nonwovens in 2020:

·         Accelerating globalisation

·         Economic power shifts to the East

·         Current low-middle income regions become the largest consumer markets

·         Demand for all nonwovens increases.

·         Boom in agricultural and construction products.

·         The elderly will outnumber babies  with consequences for hygiene nonwovens.

·         Sustainability concerns will prevail and lead to opportunities for nonwovens e.g. Air and water filters.

·         Consumers will be increasingly sensitive to the chemical composition of nonwovens.

·         Innovation is the key to addressing the globalisation and sustainability trends.

·         Nonwovens will help to improve health and control healthcare costs.


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