highlight of the 2004 IDEA Show was the second installment of the
IDEA Achievement Awards, which recognize nonwovens innovation in five
key categories. Three finalists were selected for these awards in
each category by a team of industry experts, and the entire nonwovens
industry was invited to vote on these winners in an online poll in
March. Criteria for consideration in the event included: the product
had to be introduced after IDEA01, it had to gain market acceptance
and prove commercial viability and it had to be specifically designed
for engineered fabric applications.
The final categories were: raw materials/fibers, machinery and equipment, roll goods, long-life end use and short-life end use. Additionally, recognition was given to an entrepreneur company, or one that has opened its doors in the past three years, and an industry veteran, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The awards were jointly sponsored by IDEA organizer INDA and Nonwovens Industry.
In the fiber and raw material category, H.B. Fuller received the award for its HydroLock product, which was introduced in early 2002. Hydrolock provides a new way of adding a superabsorbent material to personal care products. Other contenders in this category included FiberVisions and Xtreme Fiber.
Machinery and equipment supplier Sonobond Ultrasonics received the award in its category for the RingMaster, used to bond a felted filter bag to a plastic collar, replacing stitches. It is faster and produces parts without the stitch holes and strings and threads of the previous method. Other finalists included Fleissner and Amotek. On the roll good front, DelStar beat out Ahlstrom and DuPont to be recognized for its DelPore filter media, a composite of polypropylene meltblown media and netting and apertured films. This product enables the media to achieve HEPA efficiency while maintaining excellent airflow characteristics.
In the end use category, awards were presented to both short- and long-life products. On the short-life side, Dove Essential Nutrients Cleansing Pillows from Unilever, introduced in 2003, won. These lather-filled cleansing cushions have a soft side for delicate areas and a textured side for gentle exfoliation. And, while new Dove Essential Nutrients Cleansing Pillows are cleansing and exfoliating, they are also depositing essential nutrients on the skin. Other contenders in the category were Huggies Convertible diaper-pants and Swiffer Dusters, developed by Kimberly-Clark and Procter & Gamble, respectively.
The long-life category winner was BBA Fiberweb’s Typar Housewrap, introduced in 2002. Typar HouseWrap offers exceptional water holdout that is more than twice the minimum U.S. code requirement. The best tear resistance in the category means Typar HouseWrap survives environmental and construction forces. Other finalists were 3M’s Filtrete Ultra Home Furnace Filter and DuoFlo filter element from CUNO.
Also receiving awards at IDEA were Advanced Fabrics (SAAF), an Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia-based producer of spunmelt nonwovens for the hygiene and medical segments. SAAF reportedly impressed the IDEA judges with its aggressive expansion plans that include producing high-performance fabrics and ultimately becoming a respected manufacturer of engineered materials. While these goals may appear a bit lofty for a company that just began nonwovens production in April, 2003, company executives are certain that the timing is perfect for a company focused on development and innovation to enter the nonwovens industry.
At its facility in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia, SAAF currently operates a five-beam Reifenhauser spunmelt line, capable of producing 14,000 metric tons of polypropylene-based SSMMS nonwovens annually.
The final award presentation of the day went to retired INDA president Ted Wirtz who took home the IDEA04 Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of the service to the nonwovens industry both at INDA and at various corporations. Mr. Wirtz retired from his post at INDA in 2003 and has since been working on a consultancy basis for the Cary, NC-based trade association.