Expert's Opinion

Adhesives at the Core of Diaper Innovation

By Heather Campe, North America Business Director, Nonwovens H.B. Fuller | February 13, 2012

Diapers have changed dramatically over the past decade and continue to evolve.

Gone are the days of big and bulky diaper cores loaded with fluffy pulp. Today’s diaper industry is driven by product innovation designed to answer the call for less waste, greater sustainability, lower transportation costs and most importantly greater comfort for active babies and toddlers.

But just as diapers have transformed, so too have adhesives. We have more raw materials to choose from than ever, more processing variables and more application techniques. While in the past adhesives may not have been a focal point, today’s innovators realize adhesives can do much more than simply stick two materials together. They can be the key to diaper innovation.

Diaper manufacturers can take a note from a breakthrough in another industry where adhesives provided the answer to the noisy compostable SunChips bag. In addition to adhering the packaging films together, the adhesive was designed to deaden sound.Manufacturers can think beyond the traditional function of adhesives and gain innovative ground with the help of their adhesive partner.

For example, take today’s ultra-thin diapers. In order to achieve a thinner diaper, most manufacturers are reducing the amount of pulp in the core. However, this magnifies the risk of the core bunching, making the diaper uncomfortable and prone to leaks. To achieve a thinner core, adhesives have been formulated to construct and penetrate the core to stabilize the fibers, ensuring consistent performance and a positive consumer experience.

Tomorrow’s Innovation Will be Driven by Today’s Collaboration
The rate of innovation continues to increase and manufacturers are looking throughout the supply chain for the next “win.” The next wave of diaper innovation will likely be a direct result of greater collaboration between diaper manufacturers and their suppliers, including their adhesive partner.

Here are a few recommendations for getting the most innovation from your adhesives:

·Establish a partnership with an adhesive partner that has a broad range of products for nonwovens and experience using their adhesives to help innovation in diapers.

·Involve your partner early in the R&D process. Share your vision and goals.

·Challenge your supply partners to collaborate. Adhesives, materials, and packaging supply partners should be encouraged to work together to reach your goals with truly innovative thinking.

·Share your challenges. What is missing from your value proposition?It may be that adhesive technology can help you meet your challenges.

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Heather Campe is North America Business Director, Nonwovens at H.B. Fuller. She can be reached at heather.campe@hbfuller.com.
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