Hofer Vliesstofftage (Hof Nonwovens Days) celebrated its 25th anniversary, when the conference took place Nov. 10-11, 2010, in Bürgergesellschaft in Hof, Germany. Forty-six exhibitors participated in the conference, including Hivesa Textil, Elovis, Hansa Mixer, Sandler, Andritz Küsters, Strahm, Kelheim Fibers, BASF, Kelheim Fibers, Strahm, Schmits and Saueressig and Synthomer.
The opening speech from Sandler’s CEO Christian Heinrich Sandler set the stage for a successful conference.
“More than 320 nonwovens professionals from 11 countries participated in this symposium. I am especially pleased with the wide interest that the associated trade exhibition has attracted. At 46 booths, you will have the opportunity for technical discussions and for establishing new contacts. I already met a number of attendees who have been coming to Hof for many years to attend the Vliesstofftage and who value this symposium for being an important annual opportunity for exchanging thoughts and ideas. Particularly the close cooperation between all partners in the nonwovens sector contributed to the very positive development of our industry,” said Dr. Sandler.
Noting that the successful development of the nonwovens industry didn’t begin until after World War II, Dr. Sandler said, “It is therefore still relatively young. It is based on consistently tapping the full potential of the disposable capability for innovation along the value chain of the industry’s products. In the beginning, the development and market launch of synthetic fibers was one of the basic prerequisites for the development of various nonwoven materials.”
Dr. Sandler’s father Christian Heinrich Sandler and Dr. Walter Loy, headmaster of the state school of textile technology in Münchberg at that time established an advanced training event for the nonwovens sector.
“The basic idea behind this concept was to create a forum with the participation of suppliers of fibers and auxiliary equipment, plant manufacturers and nonwovens producers for the advancement of our employees,” said Dr. Sandler.
Dr. Sandler went on to say that this central theme was also retained for the symposium. “Know-how and technical creativity, the cooperation of universities and research institutions with professionals from local companies constitute the basis on which we have to work in concert in order to shape a successful future,” he said.
Dr. Sandler stated he is confident about the nonwovens industry’s capacity for innovation and he is very optimistic about the future. “Our sector is not only a ray of hope within the textile industry, but for all of the manufacturing industries,” he said.
Commenting on the economic crisis, Dr. Sandler said the nonwovens sector was not entirely immune to this recession either. “However, our industry was affected to a different degree. Some of our most vital customer industries, such as the automotive and construction sectors, were abruptly affected and faced multi-digit declines in revenue. On the other hand, the demand for nonwoven materials, which have become irreplaceable in everyday life for personal care, health, cleaning, filtration and protective applications, remains undaunted.”
Dr. Sandler said an economic recovery for the European nonwovens industry is occurring this year. “Fortunately, this change has taken hold in many other branches of our industry in the meantime. A strong indication for this is the decrease in unemployment. However, the certifiable and intensifying shortage of skilled workers continues to arouse concerns. The positive developments during the past months and above all the current prognosis for the future allow me to look ahead with confidence,” he said.
Dr. Sandler predicted that growing cooperation between the automotive and nonwovens industries will continue to gain in importance.
“Particularly in the automotive industry, innovative developments are more urgent than ever. We require automobiles that consume less energy. In this respect, nonwovens still offer a wide range of possibilities. To me, the catch phrase “electric mobility” or “e-mobility” is only one vital aspect, although of varying importance to our sector,” he said.
Finally, Dr. Sandler said, “We will concentrate on sustainable and thus environmentally friendly products in our production and our customers will also adjust their product lines accordingly. However, our industry sector—and particularly the European nonwovens industry—will also increasingly exploit the opportunities and the possibilities for international trade in growth markets in Asia and South America.”
Tobias Schaefer, head of nonwoven sales at Andritz Küsters GmbH, was also on hand to present, “Wet Finishing For Nonwovens: Versatile Process Concepts For Adding Value To Nonwovens” at Hofer Vliesstofftage 2010.
Mr. Schaefer explained that spunbond nonwovens often receive a hydrophilic finish for use as top layers in baby diapers and incontinence products. “The low add-on of suitable spin finishes by kiss roll applicator is a long established process in the nonwoven industry,” he said.
Andritz Küsters and Andritz Perfojet developed a complete process concept tailor-made for the demands of the spunbond production at speeds of up to 1000 meters per minute.
For all processes of chemical wet finishing the interaction between machine and chemistry is of vital importance.
The technological concept was created in close cooperation between Andritz Küsters and leading suppliers of finishing chemicals. This resulted in a process engineering customized to the special requirements and properties of the finishing liquors used. This complete concept includes preparation, storage, dosing and application of the added surfactants as well as the subsequent drying. Also the market demands of quality control and reproducibility were met by a new process control and documentation system.
Mr. Schaefer said that the outstanding features of the concept include minimum fabric impact, prevention of bacterial growth by excellent liquor handling as well as special flexibility and maximum production stability.
Italy-based Canalair Air Systems provided attendees with a look at its new generation air treatment systems for nonwovens production lines during a presentation titled, “Quality of An Idea: Energy Savings And Technological Solutions.”
With branches in Mexico and India, Canalair offers installations and testing, services, spares, remote control, telephonic information and subscriptions for periodic maintenance as well as technological solutions and research and development.
Burckhardt of Switzerland highlighted its Perforation Services, which include consulting, product development, pilot run/zero series and contract perforation. The company’s roll-to-roll perforation machine provides winding up, hot or cold-perforation, slitting and unwinding.
Hivesa presented its shoddy fiber and natural and synthetic fibers for nonwoven and geotextile felts and mattresses insulation, automotive filling and more.
Elovis presented non-contact speed and length gauges with the following features: bi-directional, zero speed measurement and material presence detection.