Alfred Watzl, director of sales and marketing, Fleissner GmbH
In times of continually rising raw material costs, the question of which fibers to use for the production of a specific nonwoven product is gaining in importance. The reasons for the increase in raw material costs are quite different. The costs of synthetic fibers, for example, depend largely on rising crude oil prices, while the steep increase in viscose fiber costs is due mainly to a growing demand in combination with limited production capacities.
The rise in costs of wood pulp fibers, on the other hand, is quite moderate because these are renewable resources available in sufficient quantities. The example of the heavily growing wet wipes market for consumer, medical, household and industrial applications will be used below to show what are the consequences and which market changes are already well under way.
In addition to consumers’ price consciousness, other aspects such as a growing awareness of environmental issues, which include the use of disposable products, have very much gained in importance.
In this connection, the use of bleached cotton as a renewable resource naturally has become more attractive because it now can compete with viscose fibers whose shortage has made them more expensive.
Many of Fleissner’s AquaJet spunlace lines were designed so that wipes producers can also process cotton or cotton blends; but we all know that today's high-performance lines cannot process cotton with the same effectiveness.
To make allowance for all these factors, Fleissner has followed its own course with the development of composite sandwich products and technologies for nonwovens producers. These allow manufacturers to produce high quality nonwovens at attractive costs while meeting the demands for environmental protection and renewable resources.
As a result, various high-quality wet wipe products consisting of CPC, SPC, CP, CNC and CT composites (C = carded web, P = pulp, S = spunbond, T = tissue roll, N = net, scrim) were developed together with customers.
Fleissner initiated this technology of spunlaced composite nonwovens having realized already that with increasing raw material costs it would no longer be possible to produce nonwovens for wipes from expensive high-quality staple fibers alone, but alternatives using low-cost raw materials needed to be found. Delivering these lines provided Fleissner with extensive know-how so customers can receive sophisticated equipment and technology that no other machinery supplier can offer in such concentrated form.
From the beginning of 2000, several CPC and CP lines were successfully put into operation at Orlandi, Orma and Tenotex in Italy and Spain. This success was achieved by the manufacturers’ foresight and creativity as well as through unique Fleissner technology for the production of composites allowing these nonwovens to be produced at clearly reduced costs and high quality.
Recently another generation of composite production lines using SPC technology was developed and Ascania-Vliesstoffe GmbH Deutschland, a company of Albis group in Italy, put into operation a Fleissner AquaJet spunlace line with high-performance through-air dryer combined with a Neumag spunbond line, an M&J airlaid section and a carding machine.
Another SPC line will be commissioned shortly at Dalian Ruigang in China. Here also Fleissner technology has been the decisive impulse for investment into this complete composite production line.
Another generation of SPS composite lines for wipes and also for other applications is being planned by Fleissner in close cooperation with all renowned spunbond producers.
The quality and cost advantages of composite nonwovens produced with this technology will advance the immense change from all-staple fiber webs to pulp composites, which has already begun.
These products, for which there is a strong demand in the market, are provided with absorbency by low-cost pulp, strength (in longitudinal and cross direction) by the spunbond layer and textile hand by the carded web layer made of staple fibers.
The continuously rising raw material costs for viscose and synthetic fibers make investments in these installations more and more attractive and highly profitable. No other technology offers nonwovens producers so many possibilities to be less expensive and more competitive.
Composite nonwovens produced with Fleissner technologies combine the advantages of spunlaced staple fiber webs, which offer high quality but are more expensive, with binder-bonded or thermally bonded airlaid cellulose fiber webs, which are less expensive but cannot compete with spunlaced nonwovens due to their reduced strength and other disadvantages. Thus, the success of these nonwoven composites is guaranteed.
Being a member of the Trützschler group, Fleissner can deliver complete installations as seen above. Fleissner as a special service also offers a technical center where customers can carry out trials on a production line at speeds of up to 500 m/min for developing their own nonwovens qualities.