Technical Textiles Come to Frankfurt

By Helena Engqvist, Nonwovens Staff | July 16, 2007

last month's Techtextil and Advantex fairs break

Techtextil, held in Frankfurt on June 12-14, attracted 1086 exhibitors and 23,200 trade visitors from 80 countries. A wide array of materials and products were showcased for smart textiles with stretchable electronics, industrial filter media, automotive sound absorption and heavy duty flame protection apparel as well as a plethora of nano technologies and much more. Many of the traditional nonwovens companies and suppliers showed types of materials different than normally presented, making nonwovens stand out as high-tech materials. In addition to the exhibition, Techtextil and Avantex held 120 seminars and expert lectures.

“More exhibitors and 7% more trade visitors than two years ago make Techtextil and Avantex 2007 the biggest since they were founded – and the most successful: exhibitors and visitors gave both events top grades for their business quality,” said Detlef Braun, member of the board of management of Messe Frankfurt, summing up the results of the biennial fairs.

“Techtextil and Avantex are and will remain the world’s leading trade fairs for their segments: the range of innovative textiles for the various technical applications to be seen this year was more extensive and differentiated than ever before. The sector is facing a quantum leap in the industrial use of technical textiles,” said Michael Jänecke, brand manager, Techtextil and Avantex.

More Than Just a Kiss by Andritz Küsters

In reality, the new Nexkiss Twin is a machine concept making it possible to change spin finishes, i.e. from standard hydrophilic to permanent hydrophilic treatments, or vice versa, within minutes on the run by swiveling away one trough and replacing it with another. Added value and functionality in nonwovens can be further improved by the recently developed technologies by Andritz Küsters. Handling of light as well as heavy weight materials for filtration, medical and other applications is equally easy to do.

BASF Introduces Luquafleece, e-Textiles And Purista

BASF showcased Luquafleece, an innovative superabsorbent fleece material. It combines the high absorption capacity of superabsorbent polymers with the convenient handling of a nonwoven. Luquafleece has the unique ability to balance humidity levels as well as absorb enormous amounts of aqueous fluids. Luquafleece finds its use in transport packaging, seating furniture, mattresses and protective clothing. BASF also presented polypropylene textiles and nonwovens with pigment printing. E-Textiles, innovative electro-conductive textiles and nonwovens, can be connected with sensors and LEDs for illumination, design and heatable materials. Purista, a durable antimicrobial finishing on cellulose fibers, is being jointly marketed by BASF and Arch Chemicals based on a global alliance.

Degussa Introduces Hotmelts

Degussa, maker of high performance polymers, provides Vestamelt hotmelts based on copolyamides. Building and construction applications benefit from the durable adhesion of insulation materials and bonding webs and stable roofs attached in cars while seats, interiors and technical materials gain extraordinary properties such as better temperature resistance. Apparel uses benefit from better dry cleaning and industrial washing properties when using fusible interlinings. Degussa also provides specialty filament PA polymers for brushes and bristles with outstanding recovery at high wet strength.

ES Fibervisions To Begin 13th Bicomponent
Line in Denmark

Following the spin-off from Hercules to SPG in 2006, FiberVisions and ES Fibervisions are introducing a number of new polyolefin based fibers for textiles and nonwovens in disposable and technical applications. The technologies combine non-traditional fibers such as glass, metal, graphite and natural fibers with polypropylene binder fibers. Bicomponent PE/PP and PE/PET fibers deliver unique bonding capabilities, bulk and strength to new materials. Spunlacing of “Hy Wettable” PP fibers can replace more expensive viscose and cotton in disposable wipes, ensuring permanently hydrophilic properties and easy processing. In Q4 2007, ES Fibervisions will begin commercial operation on its 13th—and largest—bicomponent line at its production site in Varde, Denmark.

Fleissner Nonwovens Goes Beyond Drying and Bonding into Lamination

Fleissner Nonwovens is expanding its integrated systems, beyond the Siebtrommel drying technology into different lamination technologies. They have developed a hotmelt lamination system that differentiates the Fleissner portfolio with technical nonwovens and textiles in finishing, coating and lamination. In summary, Fleissner Nonwovens now has three systems for bonding: chemical bonding using conventional drying techniques, hotmelt without drying and air through.
    In other news, Fleissner has developed a new process for the bonding of nonwovens through steam-entanglement.  Samples were made available in PES and showed good uniformity and strength. The main benefit of using steam is
rnthat it eliminates the extensive water filtration plant required in typical spunlace systems.  It is a “dry” process that allows continuous production with both staple fibers and spunbond. It will process virtually any fiber, is especially good with water sensitive fibers (i.e., SAF, PVA) and has the added benefit of providing in-line sterilization.

Freudenberg and Innovation

The world’s leading nonwovens producer Freudenberg Nonwovens groups its business around four application areas—industrial, automotive, living and comfort and innovation and technology. The microfilament technology Evolon is expanding into passive seat climate in automotive and acoustic materials for sound absorption in vehicles. With the two new product lines Evolon Extended and Evolon Light, both to be produced at a new line in Kaiserslautern, Freudenberg Nonwovens expands its microfilament program by allowing for new polymer combinations and offering lower weights starting at 20 gpsm.
    A four-year EU-funded multi-company project, Stella, targets stretchable electronics on the basis of nonwovens, featuring body monitoring components. Lutradur fine denier at 1-4 dtex fibers and hollow fibers open new opportunities, while Vilene iQ conductive interlinings heat the skin by the use of silver and Comfortemp phase changing nonwovens  show cooling effects. Not the least interesting is TAU, a three-layered nonwoven substrate for enhanced lotion management in wet wipes applications, maintaining a consistent amount of lotion in each single wipe from the top to the bottom of a typical flow pack. The two Evolon microfilament layers on the outside of the sandwich construction provide conditions for the new concept that leads to more cost efficient use of liquids and to an improved quality perception of end users.

Henkel Hotmelts

Ranging from textiles for protective apparel to medical applications and hygiene products, Henkel hotmelts meet demanding requirements such as flammability protection, adhesion on moist skin and the inclusion of perfumes. PUR hotmelt innovations such as MicroEmmission are safe, allowing less than 0.01% rest monomer isocyanate.

HIP Adds Value

HIP-Mitsu equipment, systems and machines for web-coating and laminating, particularly with hotmelt, add value to nonwoven rolls. This flexible technology can be easily integrated into nonwovens lines for producing high value laminated and coated new generation composites. For instance, it adds softness to clothing, medical and sanitary applications. Production plants available at HIP-Mitsu’s competence center are close to Venice, Italy.

From Talking Tech to Living Tech by Huntsman

Responding to customer needs for value adding effects, Huntsman launched eight innovations at Techtextil 2007. These range from the recent Silpure alliance with Thomson Research Associates, to oil, water and stain repellent PHOBOL 7834 and flame retardant FLOVAN CWF. Silpure paves the way for new antimicrobial products based on silver technology. Focus areas include protective and industrial fabrics, wipes and filtration, in addition to customized solutions in automotive, roofing and construction. Technical textiles today account for about 40% of the Huntsman portfolio, with a target of 50% in three to four years. Nonwovens represent an important, fast growing segment within technical textiles.
    Following the acquisition of Ciba Textile Effects in 2006, Huntsman is increasing its speed of innovation emphasizing lifestyle and fashion, as well as cost reduction. Phobol and Flovan are registered trademarks of Huntsman Corporation.

Electrospinning For IFP

IFP Research in Mölndal, Sweden has been expanding its reach in technical textiles with electrospinning, targeting among other things filter media and sound absorption. In addition, IFP focuses on the use of electrospun nanofiber webs in biomedical applications. Supported by a grant from the Vinnova and in association with the School of Textile, University College of  Borås, IFP is evaluating the use of smart fibers for future textiles, such as conductive fibers for mattresses and EKG-sweaters, anti-static fibers to attract dust, in addition to the assessment of comfort when using new materials.

Invista Introduces FreshFlex
Stretch Nonwovens in Europe

According to David Duncan, executive vice president, “Invista, the largest integrated polymer and fiber technology company, is focusing in two directions: upstream on making polymers with superior polyamide and polyester fibers and downstream on materials for apparel, perforated materials, technical textiles and many other applications. We want to emphasize growth by innovation and the development of unique solutions. For the first time we are now introducing FreshFlex stretch nonwovens in Europe, in addition to technical applications for polyamide.”
    “Invista’s stretch businesses include both Lycra for functional fit and FreshFlex for breathable stretch nonwovens. We are going beyond fibers by providing more value by making the material. FreshFlex already finds its use in the sophisticated consumer market in baby diapers and we are now expanding further into other hygiene products, medical apparel, technical applications and other markets,” Robert van de Kerkhof, vice president, Stretch Performance Materials, continued. Additionally Invista has invested in several new plants in China, Thailand and India, to find new opportunities for innovation and cooperation.

Johns Manville Introducing Six New Products

At Techtextil, Johns Manville introduced six new products for filtration and building applications. Within its filtration line CombiFil Premium, SpunFil EasyPleat and Micro-Strand XP are setting the standards in air filtration, high stiffness, low-weight pleated filters and high-tech filtration papers. DuraSpun XTR for waterproofing membranes, Illuma White pre-coated glass fiber nonwovens for high quality ceiling tiles and glass fiber nonwoven DHY Forte allow for sound attenuation and provide customers with high-quality materials.

Recycling Textile Waste With Laroche Machines

Laroche is a maker of equipment specifically for recycling  textile waste, processing natural fibers and complete airlaid technology for specialty materials, i.e. insulation, mattresses and underlays. Many natural fibers, such as Bast (Flax, Kenaf, Hemp), cotton and wool fibers, processed by machines from Laroche, can be found in automotive, building, acoustics, reinforcement and conservation products as well as glass fiber replacement or rook wool.

Kelheim Fibers—Fast, Flexible, Innovative

Acrylic Dolan fibers and the latest innovation Dolan Nano for indoor and outdoor furniture fabrics and other applications were highlights this year from Kelheim Fibers at Techtextil. High-tenacity specialty Dolanit fibers complete the range of acrylic fibers for demanding requirements. However, fiber innovations Viloft, with a flat cross-section for easy-to-flush wipes, and Outlast viscose with Thermocules, micro-encapsulated phase-changing-materials that provide temperature regulation in apparel for extreme comfort.

Lenzing FR—A Head to Toe Success

Lenzing FR is one of the biggest success stories for Lenzing AG. Following the successful cooperation with Ten Cate Southern Mills, producer of military protective fabrics, the U.S. Army has in 2006 chosen new materials with Lenzing FR fibers to equip soldiers at war. The unique properties keep the body cool, even in case of extreme climate conditions. The most important features for Lenzing FR are its inherent flame resistant properties, ability to blend with other synthetic high performance fibers for different applications and risks, protection of the body from burns due to flames and explosives, moisture management and comfort. Due to innovative camouflage print, the apparel provides the wearer with additional visual protection.
Libeltex Expands To Romania
Libeltex, owned by British Vita, is opening a Greenfield operation for nonwovens in Romania. The production site, close to top-tier suppliers in Slovakia and Hungary, will produce materials for furniture, bedding and automotive. In Europe, Libeltex is further diversifying into segments such as high comfort solutions for furniture and bedding, healthcare (including diaper components and orthopedic cast paddings) and industrial uses including filtration, automotive and acoustics, with its well known product QuietWeb.

Busy and Successful Times at NSC Asselin-Thibeau

“For us at NSC it was a fantastic show and we kept very busy meeting customers in ongoing and new projects. Techtextil was the opportunity to finalize new business. We had positive feedback from the market that our Excelle  carding, ProDyn systems and our new developments in needling are highly ranked. Furthermore, this was the first time we had a common booth with Rieter Perfojet. Our customers were very positive about this move, since they have  the overall process know-how under a single roof to discuss their specific spunlace projects,” commented Jean-Philippe Dumon, sales and marketing director, NSC nonwoven.

New Nonwoven Developments by Rieter

Emblo, the new Rieter meltblown process, JETlace Essentiel spunlace system and SPUNjet online combination of spunbond and spunlace technologies, were all presented at Techtextil. The new meltblown system is designed to produce monolithic as well as layered fabrics as low as 1 gpsm with 1µ fibers and it can be perfectly integrated in line with the innovative Rieter spunbond towers to produce SMS webs. Driven by the market for wipes, Rieter has sold more than 150 spunlace lines since 1984. The latest innovation in spunlacing is JETlace Essentiel, which produces spunlace fabrics from 30 to 80 gpsm with a total capacity up to 2700 kg/h. While PERFObond is the spunbond system, its combination with the Rieter hydroentanglement system allows for the production of SPUNjet, creating high performance fabrics for a new generation of nonwovens dedicated to wipes, geotextiles and many other segments.

Spunlaced Continuous Fiber Nonwoven by RKW

At Techtextil, RKW introduced its new spunlaced continuous fiber nonwovens made of 100% PP. The material, bonded only with waterjets, generates 30% better strength MD/CD and 50% higher toughness versus the same basis weight spunbond. It also has better bulk and can be produced in a wide range of basis weights ranging from 25 to 120 gpsm. When required, the nonwoven can also be bonded thermally. Already a major supplier of nonwovens for technical applications such as automotive chairs, car covers, wet filtration and roofing, RKW is now entering a new generation of nonwovens.

Sandler Nonwovens For Acoustics, Filtration

Sandler AG, the German nonwovens manufacturer, provides numerous types of nonwovens for a large variety of technical applications. For the automotive industry, sawasorb nonwovens can be applied in acoustically effective components in the interior of vehicles. For exterior applications the newly developed fluid repellent sawasorb exterior, made of 100% polyester, provides a quick drying behavior due to a hydrophobic surface. Self-supporting, lightweight and temperature-stable moulding parts can be made of sawaform. Additionally, Minibond/Soft-Touch nonwovens for seat upholstery can be characterized by high uniformity and recovery rate, and provide an optimal micro-climate. Sawascreen synthetic filter media made of fine fibers (<1µm) feature a multilayer structure and are suitable for liquid and air filtration. Besides HVAC applications, fuel, air and cabin filtration in vehicles are also important product segments. Other business areas include fashion, wipes and hygiene markets.

TWE Dierdorf—Big Segments in Small Niches

TWE Dierdorf is introducing a new group, focusing on the main market segments of needlepunched, chemical bonded, hydroentangled spunlaced, air through and thermal bonded. Although TWE operates many diverse technologies in large market segments, it is also focusing its efforts on niche markets such as automotive and construction, shoe and leather coating, medical/surgical, hygiene and household cleaning wipes. In addition to the European plants, the Asian market is supported from a plant in China with additional investments to come.

Wellman—From Bottles to Fibers—Impacting the Carbon Footprint

Wellman, the Irish producer of polyester staple fibers, is Europe’s largest recycler of PET bottles. Dick Budden, managing director, commented, “Climate change is the single most important issue facing mankind. We have shown the benefit of reduced greenhouse gas emissions that result from using recycled PET rather than virgin chemicals to make fibers for technical (especially nonwoven) applications. This is the ideal raw material for our family of fibers optimized for different uses, such as fibers with unique moisture transport properties for personal hygiene applications.” Wellman also introduced HealthGuard, a unique and revolutionary fiber with antimicrobial and anti-dustmite properties for bedding applications and Fillwell Wellbond High-melt and Low-melt fibers for technical applications.