Successful INDEX 14 Reflects a Strong Nonwovens Industry

By Tim Wright, editor | June 9, 2014

The 586 exhibitors on hand represented a 10% growth over previous event in 2011.

On Friday April 11, INDEX 14 closed its doors on one of the most successful ever global nonwovens exhibitions. With representation from across the nonwovens and related industries, displaying a diverse range of products and services, INDEX delivered on its promise to be the “global meeting point” for the industry.

More than 12,500 visitors made their way through the doors of the Geneva Palexpo exhibition center, where 586 exhibitors—a 10% increase from the previous edition held in 2011—from 41 countries, in more than 22,000 square meters of stand space displayed the latest innovations.

Visitors attending the show from April 8-11, 2014 were able to engage with a larger portion of the industry than ever before, as well as take advantage of the special events organized during the exhibition. Automotive nonwovens, packaging, product presentations, geotextiles and innovation events delivered value to the diverse group of attendees. Additionally, the introductory lunchtime tutorials on nonwoven production and absorbent hygiene products, first introduced in 2011 were continued, with an additional course on filtration added to the sessions available to attend. These courses, which provide an overview of the EDANA training courses, were popular throughout the exhibition, with several editions offering standing room only.

“Celebrating the 30th anniversary of INDEX in Geneva, INDEX stands as the most representative exhibition of the nonwovens industry. With more exhibitors than ever, we see this as a sign that points to not only a recovery in the global economies but to a healthy and diverse industry,” says Pierre Wiertz, general manager of EDANA.

“Since INDEX first appeared in Geneva, our industry has evolved,” says Wiertz. “Nonwovens and related materials are replacing traditional fabrics or plastic composites in vehicles and in building and construction projects, showing that nonwovens offer high-tech fluid management solutions for not only hygiene and medical purposes, but with cross fertilization in many other applications as well. Looking ahead to INDEX 17, we are reminded of how both resilient and innovative the nonwovens industry really is.”

INDEX 14 covered the entire nonwovens value chain from machinery and raw materials producers to converters and providers of added-value treatments and processes.

INDEX 17 will again be held at the Geneva Palexpo, from April 4-7, 2017. Previous exhibitors will have priority booking privilege when booking opens in the summer of 2015. Until then, any questions can be directed to index@palexpo.ch.

Roll goods review

Suominen introduced a new logo to depict the flushability and dispersibility of its Hydraspun Dispersible Substrates at INDEX 14. “We truly believe our customers will benefit from the chance to use our flushable logo on their packaging of flushable wipes in order to fully differentiate from other kinds of wipes, like baby wipes, which are mostly not designed to be flushed at all,” says Saara Soderberg, vice president of marketing and product management. “Our research with consumers confirmed their desire for such a logo to be easily seen on packs of flushable wipes so that they could be clear they could dispose of them by flushing down the toilet with confidence.”

Suominen also featured an array of new products in the personal care and medical market segments. One new product is the Novolina nonwoven range for tabletop products such as napkins, table covers, cutlery packs and guest towels.

Tenowo, the German-based producer of needlepunch, drylaid, spunlaced and stitch-bonded nonwovens announced a global expansion plan totaling about €50 million ($63 million) encompassing upgrades to its sites in Germany and the U.S. as well as expansion into Europe. Managing director Harold Stini says he expects the investments, which include a new spunlace line in Reichenbach, Germany, an expansion of needlepunch capacity in Hof, Germany, line upgrades in North Carolina and a new plant near Shanghai, China, to be complete by the second quarter of 2015 and to start contributing to sales growth one year after that. Much of the new capacity will create acoustical products for the automotive market but other areas of interest are construction and filtration.

Glatfelter promoted its eCore material, a pulp-based airlaid substrate containing as high as 85% super absorbent polymer. Intended for use in baby diapers and adult incontinence products, eCore not only allows manufacturers to conserve SAP by concentrating levels in certain areas of the core, it also streamlines the diaper making process, eliminating the need for drum formers and SAP dosing development. According to Glatfelter executives products featuring the technology will soon be available in Germany and the technology can be used in products ranging from light incontinence products all the way to pull-up adult or baby diapers.  “It is a much more efficient use of powders because it reduces usage by as much as 20% because of the lack of spill space,” says Jonathan Bourget, vice president and general manager of Glatfelter’s advanced airlaid business.

TWE Group highlighted many products for traditional 50:50 baby diaper and 35:65 adult diaper ratio cores. Paratherm and DryWeb ADL materials are used across the globe. For the new thinner cores it has developed a sophisticated multilayer ADL called SlimCore. TWE has also identified the growing trend for a soft backsheet and now operates fully converted lines designated for this material. Combined with the right substrate it delivers a luxurious soft touch sensation that the company says will be the next major trend in European diapers.

Nonwovens and personal hygiene products manufacturer KNH Enterprise of Taiwan revealed it is developing new types of absorbent materials and functional materials that will be launched soon across its nonwovens technology platform. In addition, KNH recently opened a new operating facility in Chengdu, China to meet demand from the growing hygiene industry. At the same time, KNH’s spunlace and thermal bonded materials are being used in soft and environmentally friendly product concepts for hygiene applications. KNH also announced plans to invest in pioneering medical, baby and incontinence care products designed to bring added value to consumers.

Mada Nonwovens reported that it is in a strong expansion phase. With a new Reicofil 4 line in its startup phase the Saudi Arabia-based company is more than doubling its current production capacity targeting the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). This area has a population of around 300 million people with a high birth rate and a favorable age pyramid. Mada says rising income and a rapid ongoing urbanization will ensure that the growth figure will be well above the global average growth for nonwovens.

Albaad Corp. of Israel, Trützschler Nonwovens & Man-Made Fibers GmbH and Voith Paper GmbH & Co. KG announced a partnership to develop an innovative technology for flushable nonwovens. Albaad, a producer of nonwovens and nonwoven products, independently developed a confidential technology for flushable fabrics, according to the EDANA/INDA definitions for flushability, that it says delivers advantages versus the existing technologies—both product wise and operational wise. By this investment Albaad says it aspires to secure its position as the leading moist toilet paper producer globally. The line will be established in Dimona, Israel, and will start operating next year.

Technical nonwovens provider Norafin presented its expanded range of products for industrial applications, as well as those for use in the hygiene and medical field. Norafin Komanda, the company’s range of heat-resistant nonwovens for protective wear, has been completed with materials for work wear. For hygiene and medical use, nonwovens with varying patterns, which allow improved absorbency, are available. In collaboration with its industrial partners, Norafin has also developed electrically conductive nonwovens. The electrically heatable and drapable materials with a good resin capacity were especially designed for panel heater elements and electrodes. The conductive materials can be used as molding tools or for antistatic applications in the composite sector.

Sandler spotlighted its diverse range of nonwovens at its booth including building materials for homes; acoustically efficient absorbers in the automobile that dampen driving noise; hygiene products that help users feel secure and comfortable in any situation and wipes that help remove any of a number of things. Sample collections showcased Sandler’s latest developments for automotive applications, filtration, technical insulation, hygiene and wipes.

Nonwoven spunlace producer Vaporjet presented its new product range including new 3D embossing technology, 25 gsm spunlace for diapers and other various applications, and a wide range of colored spunlace. The spunlace in different colors were developed mainly for household cleaning wipes, but the company says they have gained a lot of interest for their use in other items as well.

GPF presented its latest development—Cozyflex. Among other products in the family, Cozyflex is a highly stretchable laminate with premium softness, and provides what the company says is a unique cozy tactual sensation to meet product comfort demands. Also, high stretchability of the material is designed to meet the requirements of various product components, such as side panel to pull-ups, baby diaper stretch ears and fastening tapes. In addition, all products are available with breathability feature in cost-effectiveness.

RadiciGroup showcased its range of nonwovens sold under the Dylar brand name. Dylar spunbond nonwoven specialties offer various functionalities from anti-UV and UV Plus to flame retardant and antistatic. The company says all versions feature better than average mechanical characteristics. The functional properties of these materials make them ideal for applications in the automotive, filters, roofing, furnishings, agricultural and HORECA industries, as well as for protective and single-use items.

Freudenberg Nonwovens presented innovations across its broad portfolio of nonwoven products. For wound care, the company’s traditional portfolio is being complemented by solutions for ostomy applications. Highlights include innovations from antibacterial finishing to the use of chitosan fibers in advanced wound care products.

“Our experts have extremely extensive material know-how. We process all types of fibers and offer several options for individual solutions in addition to standard products,” says Oliver Heneric, business segment management medical Europe at Freudenberg Nonwovens. “That makes us the market leader in ostomy applications, for example, and we are also pressing ahead with the latest developments in transdermal applications in the U.S.”

Texsus unveiled its new strategic plan focused on the expansion of its European production site. The €25 million investment in Pistoia plant (Italy) includes the construction of a new building that will be 10,000 square meters. This will make space for two evolved air through bonding lines, which will be fully equipped with an automatic packaging system and spooling option.

Pantex displayed its wide range of products for baby and adult incontinence, including the newly developed 3D and MD elastic laminates. Pantex also introduced the most recent upstream grades of cloth-like perforated laminated topsheets, designed to grant converting stability and distinctive dryness, while the new Cotton Dry perforated laminated topsheet are aimed to give comfort to sensitive skins. Made with high softness, these products are offered with several different pattern designs, all with unique visual appearance and premium performance levels as far as acquisition, rewet and masking concerns.

Ahlstrom presented its extensive product range and featured its newest products for the life science, medical, beverages, water and transportation filtration markets. For medical markets, Ahlstrom launched its Dress for Surgical Excellence campaign for Europe. Single-use medical consumables offer the highest levels of protection and comfort to both the patient and surgical staff during high-risk surgeries the company says. The range of high performance offerings includes single-use surgical drapes and gowns and sterile barrier systems.

Machine makers unveil innovations

GDM presented new solutions for high-speed baby diaper converting lines as well as for baby training pants. The company also introduced new innovations in the field of core formation technology and new product features both for baby diapers and adult incontinence briefs. The show also presented the opportunity to unveil GDM’s new integrated stacker and bagger. The new packaging solution is characterized by a compact and ergonomic design allowing GDM to offer turnkey solutions for mid-range production capacity lines.

Leading Chinese nonwoven producer Dalian Ruiguang Nonwoven Group ordered a new wetlace line from Andritz Nonwoven. Dalian Ruiguang supplies mainly international customers. The Andritz NeXline wetlace line is designed for high speeds and integrates units for stock preparation, wet forming and hydroentanglement. The technology enables the manufacture of a wide range of products, including biodegradable nonwoven wipes without any chemical binder. Start-up of the line is scheduled for 2015.

In other Andritz news, the company also received an order from DDN Beijing Dongfang Dayuan Nonwoven-Fabric, China, to supply a new spunlace line for the production of wipes from viscose/PES (30-80 g/m²). Start-up is scheduled for the second quarter of 2015. DDN is one of the leading Chinese nonwovens producers and has already had two Andritz lines in operation for many years now.

Cellulose Converting Solutions (CCS) focused on its latest novelties. These include a new adult pant machine, a baby diaper machine able to run T-shape products with zero-waste or low-waste ears up to an 80-20% ratio SAP-fluff core, a new generation of high speed fem care machines (lady, panty, light inco) and new adult brief and underpad machines.

Rando Machine Corporation launched its new product—the Rando Reclaim Shredder. This new addition to Rando’s line is designed to ‘refiberize’ and reclaim the excess finished material produced from a nonwoven line. From soft to hard edge trimmings (skeletons), the Rando Reclaim Shredder is outfitted with state-of-the-art technology to break down the material into small, uniform tufts that can then be reprocessed, reintroduced to production and blended to create a finished product.

Texnology unveiled its new technology, the Crosslapper X-Series. Additionally, along with Bematic, Texnology presented their new Direct Needling System. The main components of this state-of-the-art system are Web Former T-Max Bematic Bettarini & Serafini srl and Needleloom Ellittica Texnology. Also highlighted were opening and blending equipment, carding machines, new generation crosslappers, needle looms, and end of line equipment.

Shemesh Automation showcased for the first time its automatic high-speed vertical round wipes canisters stuffer, the SAS120. According to the company, it is the world’s first machine to establish an empirical success in automating the process of stuffing nonwoven rolls of wipes into canisters at high speeds and accuracy levels. The SAS series offered by Shemesh Automation in speeds of 60, 120 or 200 products per minute, feeds the rolled product through a smart synching conveyors system vertically into a 90°chute that feeds the rolls to the main servo-driven rotary turret where each roll is stuffed by a pneumatic piston pusher into its designated canister.

Oerlikon Neumag unveiled its new staple fiber plant Staple Force S 1000 designed for the economical production of staple fibers in small lots of up to 15 tons per day, as necessary for the production of carded nonwovens.

“The Staple Force S 1000 is directed at downstream integrators who in the future want to produce the fibers for their products in-house, enabling the nonwovens producer to produce and further develop his end products without disclosing know-how and without quality fluctuations,” says Rainer Straub, vice president of product management at Oerlikon Manmade Fibers.

Falu promoted its whole range of machines for the production of all types of cotton swabs in Geneva, starting from an entry level machine up to the newest CBI that reaches a capacity of more than 3000 cotton swabs per minute in a 24/7 production environment. The company also offers fully automatic packaging systems and cotton pad machines stamping up to 5000 pads per minute.

Spoolex unveiled the Pegase III, a fully automated line designed with new technical development for high productivity, reduced labor contents in production, reduced downtime, an optimized cycle time and reduced waste. The France-based company has more than 200 spooling in 20 lines for hygiene applications in operation around the world through its Calemard brand.

Three Wood Machinery Industry showed its new elastic waistband baby diaper machine. The line adopts a servo control system, modular design, and has a number of invention patents, including in line making full waist surrounded by elastic ribbons system, simple process and high stability. Elastic waist width can reach to 280-300mm, making the wear fit and comfortable.

Reicofil launched an innovative combination product made of nonwoven and film together with its sister company Reifenhäuser Cast Sheet Coating. “We will create a completely new business field with the new product that offers great market potential for our existing customers,” says Bernd Klünter, sales manager at Reicofil.

In addition, Reicofil showed new lightweight material initially presented to the public at the K 2013 plastics show in October last year. It is a rollable fiber-reinforced plastic made from nonwovens.

Raw material and component suppliers offer solutions

Lenzing presented a new fiber concept for the nonwovens industry called Eurocel. The cellulose fibers used are made in Austria in an environmentally responsible process, according to the company, and it says Eurocel is based on the idea of offering a high quality European product to consumers.

German nonwovens manufacturer Sandler was a partner of Lenzing’s and adopted the idea of Eurocel and developed a new product for their customers.

“We are well known for quickly putting our ideas into practice and we immediately recognized the potential of Eurocel for the European market,” says Dr. Ulrich Hornfeck, member of the Sandler management board.

A wipe has now been created that the company says is extremely skin-friendly. Hornfeck says Eurocel improves product properties, such as the improved volume, high tear resistance and reduced elongation.

In addition, Eurocel provides logistical advantages for Sandle, whose company headquarters are at the center of Europe. “Production in Europe translates into shorter delivery distances, which means fewer carbon dioxide emissions during transportation and thus a lower carbon footprint,” Hornfeck says.

“The goal is to persuade other nonwoven manufacturers of this European idea and offer a convenience care product, which complies with today’s consumer who demands sustainable, natural and high quality products,” says Elisabeth Stanger, head of the hygiene business segment, Lenzing.

Wellman International, a subsidiary of Indorama Ventures PLC, featured new fine fiber production capability of 1.7 dtex and below, manufactured from European PCR feedstock. The company says this capability significantly strengthens its business platform in personal care and fluid management constructions and facilitates the supply of product to broader and more specialized technical areas.

The Swedish cleantech company OrganoClick that develops and produces environmentally friendly chemical products launched an expanded product portfolio of biobased binders at INDEX.

According to the company, the launch will enable the manufacturing of nonwoven materials that only contain biobased or biodegradable components, such as water-repellent disposable tablecloths or isolation material of cellulosic fibers for use in moist environments.

The first products containing the new binders are expected to be household products, such as disposable tablecloths, and it is anticipated that these products will reach the market by the end of 2014.

Manufacturers of nonwovens using chemical bonding have long had to use petroleum-based chemicals to achieve the type of strength and durability in wet conditions that their customers require, the company says.

“Throughout the years we have received numerous requests from customers who would like to produce cellulose-based nonwoven materials using only biobased raw materials, but where the end users’ requirements for water-repellency or durability in wet conditions have been impossible to achieve without using petroleum-based acrylic dispersions,” says Robin Grankvist, business area manager for textile and nonwoven at OrganoClick. “In many cases the cellulosic nonwoven material might contain 10 to 20% acrylics, and then one can argue that the eco-friendly characteristics of the cellulosic fibers are lost.”

One example is the new OC-biobinder 26, a biobased nonwoven binder applied via coating or impregnation, which confers increased tensile strength and hydrophobicity to cellulosic nonwoven materials.

ExxonMobil Chemical demonstrated how its technology can be used for innovative nonwoven hygiene solutions. A highlight was the introduction of three new Vistamaxx PBE grades. The company says Vistamaxx 7010FL and 7810 propylene-based elastomer (PBE) grades offer softer stretch while maintaining elasticity and force relaxation compared to Vistamaxx 6102FL PBE. They have improved tear resistance versus Vistamaxx 6102FL PBE and can enhance the aesthetics of laminates. There is also potential for process simplification using extrusion lamination, which can offer economic advantages.

“These new grades provide soft stretch functionality in elastic film laminates,” says Dave Schworm, market development manager nonwovens, ExxonMobil Chemical. “They can offer excellent value compared to alternative products such as SBC (styrenic block copolymers) and OBC (olefin block copolymers) systems.”

Vistamaxx 7050FL PBE provides excellent elasticity in nonwoven structures, says the company. Since it is suitable for spunbond and meltblown nonwoven processes and has good adhesion to PP, it is a good fit for numerous nonwoven applications such as those in hygiene and personal care. It can also be blended with polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and other polymers such as SBC to further expand its applicability in nonwovens.

BASF highlighted its binders for fibrous materials and additives for hygiene, filtration and medical applications. The odor control superabsorbent polymer HySorb is a product designed to improve the quality of life for people with incontinence. By blocking the formation of ammonia, it prevents the odor caused by urine for an extended period of time. In addition, its high absorption capacity helps to keep the skin dry.

HySorb B7015MB is BASF’s new superabsorbent polymer based on renewable feedstock. Working in cooperation with TÜV SÜD—a third-party certification body—BASF has developed an innovative mass balance approach for the use of renewable based feedstock in the BASF “Verbund”.

Based on this approach, biomass is fed into existing plants at the very beginning of the production chain of superabsorbents. This biomass share is then allocated to sales products according to their recipes using the new standard including 3rd party certification of the product. The quality of the superabsorbent polymers HySorb B7015MB remains unchanged.

H.B. Fuller showcased a new concept in adhesive handling developed under the Full-Care brand. The company’s free flowing adhesive pillows are designed with a non-tacky surface to allow packaging in easy to handle bulk bags.

“When we did some research with customers, 80% of them said they wanted to improve handling so it is something we were looking at since the introduction of the platform three years ago,” says marketing manager Lynne Purvis.

The company was looking to reduce handling times for customers, particularly in light of increasing line speeds and time lost refilling hot melt pre-melters. The pillows enable hands-free feeding from close to the machine or from a bulk bag in a warehouse.

“We know that sometimes customers let the melt tanks run too low or can put the wrong adhesive in the wrong tank, which can lead to downtime and issues with safety,” says business director of the EIMEA region Nick Taylor. “Automatic refilling of tanks can overcome these types of problems, keeping melt tanks full to increase the melt capacity and free up the operator’s time to work on other parts of the line.”

The free flowing pillows are currently being evaluated with different feeding systems to allow H.B. Fuller to offer tailored solutions that work for individual requirements using this concept.

Tredegar Film Products launched a significant expansion in its FlexAire elastic laminate family of products including FlexAire elastic laminates designed to provide exceptional softness for diaper ear applications, a breathable machine direction stretch laminate and a breathable cross directional stretch laminate. Tredegar says these new products were designed to satisfy consumer demands for increased comfort and garment-like experience in disposable hygiene products for baby, infant and adult applications.

Plastic netting manufacturer Conwed showcased its netting capabilities at INDEX 14. It presented its newest development in their elastomeric netting portfolio, Flat Rebound. The new Flat Rebound is the latest addition to a wide range of elastomeric options that Conwed offers to manufacturers of adult incontinence briefs and underwear, baby training pants, therapeutic wraps, bandages and other consumer product applications.

“Our elastomeric netting is steadily gaining awareness in the industry as an exceptional alternative to other stretch materials such as spandex, films and elastic nonwovens. This new configuration with flat joints allows manufacturers to create smooth and stretchable composites for superior comfort and feel,” says Ivan Soltero, strategic marketing manager at Conwed.

INDEX 14 Award Winners

INDEX 14 opened on Tuesday April 8 with a ceremony to showcase excellence in the nonwovens and related industries with the presentation of EDANA’s INDEX 14 Awards. In congratulating the winners and recognizing the efforts of the nominees, Pierre Wiertz, general manager of EDANA said, “If you’re looking for clues about how our industry will change and develop, look no further than the products and services of those winners and runners-up recognized here today. It is products such as these that are helping to drive our industry forward, and create a stronger industry, with solutions in so many different product categories and sectors.”
Winners for each section, together with summary comments from the judging panel were:

Nonwoven roll goods
Sandler’s Fibercomfort tread and waterproof roof insulation. This product expands the market for nonwovens in the construction sector, effectively and efficiently replaces wood by enabling a single solution for roof insulation based only on nonwovens and is a product that is lighter than alternatives and potentially recyclable.

Finished products made from, or incorporating nonwovens
Imeco Nocemi MED wipes. A virucidal, bactericidal, alcohol-free and disinfectant which offers a timely answer to help prevent healthcare associated infections (HAI), and which will help reduce healthcare costs through more efficient cleaning of potentially contaminated areas.

Most original marketing campaign for a product made from, or incorporating nonwovens
Lenzing Tencel Skin promotion campaign. This is a highly aesthetic and artistic video, which lends life to the fiber and connects it to people, and effectively conveys the main properties of the fiber.

Innovation in a raw material of special relevance to the nonwovens industry
Eastman Cyphrex microfibers. A useful way to provide custom microfiber blends, which enables a new level of flexibility in wetlaid nonwovens.

Innovation in machinery of special relevance to the nonwovens industry
ITW Dynatec Vector Surge Applicator. This simple and compact piece of hardware enables the customized application of adhesives, while minimizing waste. Highly versatile, the device can be integrated into any line.

Sustainable product
Ahlstrom Flow2Save filter media. An innovative filter media, which saves energy compared to conventional microglass media, and offers a low-pressure drop at all efficiency levels, providing significant cost savings over the lifetime of the filter.

Sustainable process or management practice
TJ Beall True Cotton Greige Cotton Nonwoven for wound healing and hygienic product applications. This is a paradigm change compared to cotton currently available for nonwovens, which efficiently exploits the natural properties of cotton fiber, and is an effective alternative to bleached cotton. A smart way to use ‘waste’ cotton.

ITMA and EDANA Team Up

Agreement to collaborate on nonwovens conference at ITMA 2015.

At INDEX 14, EDANA, The International Association for the Nonwovens and Related Industries, and MP Expositions, the organizer of ITMA 2015, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), intended to support the organization of a conference on nonwovens during ITMA 2015. Among the proposed joint efforts outlined in the MOU signed in Geneva is collaboration on a nonwovens conference to be held at ITMA 2015 in Milan. Details of the nonwovens conference will be released at a later date. It will be held during ITMA 2015 at Fiera Milano Rho in Milan, Italy. ITMA will be staged from November 12-19, 2015.