Highlights from Techtextil

By Helena Enqvist, Contributor | July 5, 2011

Nonwovens innovation shines in Frankfurt

The trio Techtextil, Texprocesses and Materials Vision celebrated a successful show, counting 24,500 visitors from 107 countries, on May 24-26 in Frankfurt, Germany. A total of 1561 exhibitors from 60 countries presented innovations and new developments in technical textiles and nonwovens, as well as processes for the manufacturing of clothing textiles. The level of interest and sophistication was high, with special focus on Indutech, Mobiltech, Buildtech, Hometech and Protech, followed by Clothtech and Medtech.

Although technical textiles and nonwovens may be state-of-the-art, Techtextil displays a number of innovative news that surely triggers the mind to find their ways in the nonwovens field in the future. For example, the Hohenstein Institute showed a swim-suit treated with a super-hydrophobic coating, simulating the principles that prevent penguins from getting wet, helping swimmers get even better results. For forestry workers a protective coverall with sensors that immediately stop the electrical saw if it comes too close to the body. And, for women, a handbag equipped with solar cells to light up the inside of the handbag in the dark, making it easy to find keys and other important handbag stuff.

The next TechTextil will take place in Frankfurt am Main on June 11-13, 2013.

Smart Solutions From Sandler in Buildings and Cars
Sandler showcased a theme-based on PET nonwoven to be used in both new buildings as well as urban reconstruction objects. Instead of using dusty, bulky materials, the clean thick nonwoven materials allow building staff to work without any special protective clothing. From roof construction to footfall sound insulation, from façade renovation to interior walls: Sandler nonwovens provide excellent sound and heat insulation in diverse applications.

PET nonwovens have also been designed for automotive applications. Media-resistant materials for external applications, for example, protect the inside of the wheel houses against stones, water and other contaminants. With their high acoustic efficiency the PET nonwovens are equally effective under the hood and inside the car. Focusing on the theme of sustainability, Sandler presented a newly developed bio wipes substrate made of 100% spunlaced viscose nonwoven, which was highly accepted by consumers.

Tencel by Lenzing redefines the car
Tencel by Lenzing has the potential to redefine the car by being added to multiple car applications. Tencel powder is integrated into plastic parts as a reinforcement fiber, particularly adding strength to extrusion molded headliners and dash boards. Tencel fibers blended with conventional fibers enhance moisture management in seats and give the driver—and passengers—a drier seat climate. Additionally, Tencel fibers can be found everywhere in cars from electrical applications and air conditioners to audio applications and filters for oil and fuel filtration.

As a leader in nonwovens Freudenberg continues to focus on the development in new segments, like extremely thin surface coated nonwovens to be used in battery separators for electric cars. The separators play an important role in safety by isolating the battery poles and avoiding uncontrolled discharge. This is very important in case of battery pole dislocation for example caused by an accident.
Continuing on the eco-friendly theme, new generation low-weight automotive carpets, Lutraflor, have been developed. The carpets show high abrasion resistance and are based on recycled staple fibers and spunbond materials that are held together without any chemicals. Additionally, Freudenberg is producing and marketing efficient water-blocking tapes that have as part of their construction a nonwoven base material. These converted, finished products are sold directly to cable producers and surround sea cables that connect offshore wind parks.

Window shades made by flax. Pictures courtesy of Norafin
Norafin Using Flax For Hi-Tech Solutions
Since its start as an independent company a few years ago, Norafin has developed a number of unique technical nonwovens using its spunlaced and needlepunched technologies with high performance as well as natural fibers. Komanda, a military and industrial protective workwear, has the same feel as textile materials. Workwear clothes made of Komanda can be washed up to 100 times, while maintaining the same level of protection.

Norafin also showed “green” window shades made of flax for interior design. These window shades give a soft, natural ambience and come in
various natural colors. In addition to the provision of UV resistance up to 99%, window shades based on flax fibers show 98% IR reflection, altogether reducing the air conditioning energy consumption while textiles based on synthetic materials only show 50-65% reduction. Additionally, flax can be used in windmill wings as a lightweight and strong composite construction material, a development project in cooperation with external partners SLB, Kompetenzzentrum Strukturleichtbau e.V., and LSE, Lightweightstructures Engineering GmbH.

Hassan – Turkish expansion delight
The Hassan group has an ever increasing plethora of technologies and applications stretching from needlepunched, carded thermal bonded and air-through bonded nonwovens to lamination. Needlepunched nonwovens for heavier qualities in automotive, carpeting, and filtration are complemented by wipes and isolation materials. The increasing hygiene and medical markets benefit from internally laminated roll goods for diaper backsheet, carded air-through nonwoven, as well as materials for protective wear in hospitals like surgical drapes and gowns and wound care with silver-fibers. Of specific interest to the company is the growing market for construction materials for roofing and membranes but also medical and hygiene products.

Sustainability, The Overarching Theme at BASF
At BASF, sustainability is the overall driving theme in pigments and additives. With increasing raw material prices, technologies for recycling are becoming more interesting. In this area BASF has additives, Irgatec, to further enhance re-use of scrap materials and reduce the need for virgin polymer.

Heavy metal-free pigments and halogen-free flame retardants are also key drivers in development. A new range of high definition color pigments, especially targeting Build and Hometech, allow for full and warm colors for PET, PP and PA fibers used in most difficult applications like carpeting and wall covers.
The BASF cool black pigments show significant reduced absorbence in the Near Infrared Red (NIR) region of sunlight, corresponding to a reduced energy uptake of up to 50%.

Lumogen organic black pigments are transparent for NIR radiation; the NIR light is reflected by the layer beyond, the fiber material or special plastic additives. Sicopal black pigment is an inorganic pigment which is actively reflecting NIR radiation (other colors available). Those two mechanisms make it possible to manage near-infrared reflection and transmission or simply the energy uptake in sunlight.
Final applications are heat managed textiles, outdoor textiles as marquises for sun protection, car seats in automotive industry or flexible tops for convertibles.

News from Zschimmer & Schwarz
Hot from the press, Fasavin, was introduced as a totally new product by Zschimmer & Schwarz. The main applications, colored yarns, are used in safety belts, heavy duty and tire cords. While the specific benefits are improved weaving and even, deep color properties, the yarns maintain the high security requirements for safety belts and tire cords.

Another product, Lertisan HD 50 was recently introduced to improve the surface treatment of nonwoven for hygiene products. The formaldehyde-free, FDA-approved and skin-safe finish shows even results for repeated strike-through insults, while maintaining low wet-back.
“Performance that protects – Protection that performs”

Clariant presented sustainable-driven solutions in the four segments areas Protech, Medtech, Mobiltech and Hometech under the theme, “Performance that protects – Protection that performs.” Demanding medical products need efficient additives for alcohol and blood repellence and are supported by Nuva fluorocarbons. Strength is added to medical and hygiene nonwovens by formaldehyde free, self-crosslinking styrene-acrylate binders and a range of Sanitized anti-bacterial additives prevent growth of fungus and yeast in various products.Not the least important are the halogen free flame retardants for automotive, and firefighters and military personnel working under difficult and challenging conditions.

Wellman receives “Waste to Business Resource Award”
On April 14, 2011, Wellman won “The Waste to Business Resource Award” at the prestigious Green Awards 2011 ceremony in Dublin, Ireland. Wellman, Europe´s largest recycler of PET, is using 1.6 billion plastic bottles annually for its fiber production. Applications range from home furnishings and personal care products to technical materials for automotive, insulation and filtration. A newly developed fiber, Sensifil, is targeting asthma and allergy sensitive audiences. The fiber has been approved by the FDA and has a particular relevance for filtration applications. It is estimated that by 2015, 50% of people will suffer from at least one allergy, making this a particularly important advance within the industry.

Spoolex turning pancakes to spools
Spoolex consists in three brands, Calemard, Decoup+ and Roll Concept, which have been providing technical solutions for more than 55 years to textiles and nonwoven companies as well as tire manufacturers and other industries.

In the specific market of the ADL production—Acquisition and Distribution Layer—a technical and sensitive nonwoven for baby diapers and feminine care products, Spoolex is emphasizing the benefits brought by the latest features of its Pegase slitting and spooling line. ADL materials rolled in pancakes create problems in final process with splices with over-thickness between each pancake. Therefore one alternative is spooling. In average, this gives a strip 10 times longer than a pancake.

Today, from mother rolls as wide as 850 mm, strips are cut at 35-150 mm width and can be spooled at low tension, at 600 meters per minute via four to 10 spooling heads. As ADL materials are becoming more technical—fragile and bulky—a softer and more sensitive process like the Pegase allows for more regular and controlled converting.

Trützschler Nonwovens GmbH
Trützschler Nonwovens GmbH is the new name of the new company structure, comprising of Erko Trützschler GmbH and Fleissner GmbH. The integrated complete process chain up to the web bonding with all common methods, opening, carding, thermo and chemical bonding and spunlacing. A cooperation with Reicofil allows for the inclusion of spunbond technology. Like many other companies, Trützschler is emphasizing the reduction of energy costs by optimal line layout, highly efficient drive systems and energy recovery measures.

A newly designed spunlaced line runs lighter products for hydrophilic wet wipes at 400 m/min with Fleissner-Aquajet and a uniform and effective dewatering system. Fine pore filter, based on a new spunlace technology for exhaust fume filtration and compact power plants. Aramid, PPS and carbon fibers that are high temperature and acid resistant, are mechanically pre-needled, giving a stronger filter with a smoother surface when spunlaced with Fleissner AquaJet.

ANDRITZ Küsters and ANDRITZ Perfojet
New technologies in web bonding and energy efficient processes are significant measures for Andritz Küsters and Andritz Perfojet. Bonding efficiency is maintained, while high hydro energy savings are achieved in the bonding process. The interest for Jetlace, the spunjet technology, specifically targeting spunmelt nonwovens, is continuously increasing because of improved process economy at higher speed, now reaching 400-500 m/min, and aiming for more. Higher strength and softer materials are features that are attractive for industrial as well as consumer products. The spunjet process is also applicable for splittable fibers, adding another dimension to nonwovens and new applications as artificial leather or filtration.

NSC – the TT Excelle card benefits
The TT Excelle card system by NSC provides, according to the company, a “revolution for the nonwoven wipes producers” mainly because of 100% improved CD strength and 80% improved MD/CD balance. The strong quality requirements remain even at high speed, 250 m/min and more. For wipe materials nonwoven, CD strength together with bulkiness is particularly important. The TT card opens new perspectives including a basis weight reduction of about 10%, considering that the average market weight is around 45 gsm. It is also of interest to underline that those performances are achieved with high percentage of viscose. Today it is common to find wipes containing 70 to 80% synthetic fibres. Although higher amounts synthetic Fibers bring tensile strength and allow increased production speed, they also reduce the absorbency efficiency of the wipes. Independent of the share of viscose and PET, or PP, the speed and CD strength performances are always much higher with the TT card technology than what is currently obtained with the latest installed production lines.

Another increasingly important application is ADL-materials for feminine hygiene and baby diapers. In this case fragile fibers often cause dust. However, the new TT Excelle card is gentler to the fibers and the dust levels are lower. As an evidence of the market acceptance, new lines have been sold and are available for potential customer visits once installed.

A.Celli diversifying
While offering winding/slitting solutions for nonwoven lines including off-line slitting at production speeds of up to 1800 m/min, the company also offers roll handling and packaging technology that integrates winding, slitting and roll packaging into a unique cost savings concept for nonwovens plants. A.Celli Nonwovens has recently diversified and now offers turnkey printing plant systems by equipping its high speed, multifunctional lines with printing capabilities. The Flexo Printing Machine is available for testing at A.Celli Nonwovens Lab. This is a unique opportunity to make dedicated printing tests with material and product images using the new UV* Flexo printing technology developed by A.Celli for the highest quality of print on nonwovens, PE/PP film or tissue. A 550 mm wide pilot line is available for testing at A.Celli Nonwovens production site in Lucca, Italy.

A.Celli is capable of offering different printing techniques which include the traditional water based and solvent based inks.

Smart textiles for new applications
Smart textiles include many new solutions and some examples were shown by the Swedish School of Textiles in Borås, Sweden. For example, thermo-chrome pigments printed on textiles that react to heat. The picture below shows how warm hands rapidly can change the color of the fabric. Other applications include face masks that even can detect fever and the developments of new textiles in a prototype factory have been designed to be used in by-pass operations.

Nobody is a chair made by molded and pressed needle-punched nonwoven. The base materials are colored polyester and co-polyester fibers. The light, comfortable chair has been designed by Boris Berlin, Denmark, and is made by Nordifa in Halmstad, Sweden for Hay, Denmark.