Nonwovens and Uncle Sam: Perfect Together

May 17, 2006

One might look at this month's cover of Nonwovens Industry and wonder what U.S. Armed Forces have to do with nonwovens. Well, the U.S. Marine Corps is investing significant resources in developing nonwoven composite fabric technology for combat utility uniforms, equipment and shelters.

Peaking the Marine Corps' interest is the fact that durable nonwoven fabrics can be designed with fibers that absorb and repel water, resist heat and fire and provide antimicrobial benefits while being lighter, more breathable, stronger and more cost-effective than their traditional woven counterparts. The military branch is working with a Tennessee-based nonwovens specialist on the effort.

During Phase I efforts, nonwoven fabrics were made 25% lighter and stronger than current woven military uniform fabrics while exceeding three times the air permeability or breathability levels of current fabrics. Now, the collaboration is working on Phase II of the project, which will focus on optimizing the nonwoven composite fabric construction and processes. Studies are focusing on carded, drylaid, spunbonded, wetlaid and hydroentangled webs. By late summer, it is expected that the materials will be dyed, printed, finished and lab tested in preparation for USMC field testing.

The interest of the U.S. military is only the latest of many plugs nonwovens have received in recent years as a diverse number of industries recognize the inherent benefits these materials possess. On page 24, we bring you a review of EDANA's newest conference, which focused on infection control. The barrier properties offered by nonwovens continue to protect medical personnel and patients from contagious diseases.

This issue also contains our annual Expo In Print, which provides our advertisers the opportunity to showcase their efforts in improving and broadening nonwovens technology. For a list of participants in the Expo In Print, please turn to page 30.

As always, we appreciate your comments.

Karen Bitz McIntyre

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