Last week French machinery specialist and spunlace technology leader Rieter said it would exit the nonwovens market following the sale of its Perfojet division to Andritz, the German owner of Küsters calendering technology. According to the company's official statement, certain economic factors encouraged it to narrow its focus on its core business of textile machinery, despite having launched new technologies to the nonwovens market as recently as last spring and announcing machine sales as recently as the fall.
The announcement that Rieter's machinery—including JetLace spunlace and SpunJet spunlace/spunbond hybrid technology—would now go under the Andritz umbrella is only the latest in a series of consolidation efforts that have been reshaping the nonwovens machinery market as of late. Two years ago, Rieter's key competitor in the spunlace arena, Fleissner, was sold to carding specialist Trütschler, although the unit continues to operate autonomously, for now. And, during the last three or four years, Germanbased Oerlikon has gobbled up a number of technologies ranging from Ason Neumag's spunbond assets to M&J Fibertech airlaid lines to Fehrer's carding know-how to Nordson (JM Laboratories) meltblown technology. Now, ironically, Oerlikon says it's looking for a buyer for its nonwovens businesses as they've had some trouble turning a profit. On the smaller side, Denmark's Dan-Webforming emerged from bankruptcy under new ownership, ready to make another go at the airlaid business.