The Converter Roundup

By Steve Katz, Managing Editor | October 5, 2011

Converting companies are an integral of the nonwovens supply chain. For all of the advantages the industry’s products provide, a lot has to happen prior to their end use. Nonwovens need to be cut into a variety of shapes and sizes, scaled down to become a single-use product, as well as printed, packaged and more. Sometimes the process is simple, and sometimes more complex, with converting companies using the latest technology to add value to products, and making them easier to use. The following is a compilation of capabilities and services of some the nonwovens industry’s leading converters.

Kleen Test Products

A close-up shot of a Kleen Test converting job
Kleen Test Products, Port Washington, WI, USA, is one of the world’s largest contract manufacturers and packagers of wet wipes, dryer sheets, nonwoven and liquid products. The company’s FDA and EPA registered manufacturing plants – five in Wisconsin and two in Ohio – have the ability to efficiently handle many diverse manufacturing and packaging needs, and are able to segregate confidential products and flexibly staff peaks in demand.

Kleen Test can pack wet wipes into canisters, tubs, cartons, single packs, rigid and flexible packs, and has the ability to cut and cross-fold, flat fold and interleave substrates. The company recently joined forces with Taiki USA to expand usage of Taiki’s patented “D Cap” flow wrap fitment products. The “D Cap” flow wrap and fitment is strategically designed to maximize product life by keeping products fresh and moist.

Kleen Test counts mitts among its converted product offerings.

The company is also a major player in the fabric softener sheet market, serving as one of the largest manufacturers of fabric softener sheets in the world, with shipments to North America and beyond.

Converting capabilities include diecutting and multi-layer sonic bonding. Kleen Test has multiple production lines capable of sonically bonding different substrates together and then diecutting them into their final shape. It can produce products with up to four layers that are cut into any shape desired. For formula delivery, these products can be dry coated, coated during production or wetted out post-cutting.

Kleen Test has custom and secondary packaging capabilities company-wide, allowing customers to simplify supply chains by having their promotional packaging done online. Kleen Test demonstrates its flexibility in the wide array of packaging options available, including thermoformed blisters, cartoning, tipping, multipacks, displays and sampling vehicles.

­­Berk Wiper Converting & Packaging
Berk Wiper Converting has been in the business of converting disposable wiping cloths for over 35 years. Located in Lansdale PA, USA, in a 248,000 square foot building, the company runs 16 production lines 24 hours a day.“Starting from humble beginnings in the garage of our childhood home, we built a business that today, is one of the fastest growing wiper converters in the country,” says Larry Berk, president.

Berk says the focus of the company is on “one stop shopping.” He says, “Distributors today are looking to simplify the purchasing process, while at the same time, provide a large selection of products to their customers. With one of the broadest lines of wipers in the industry, Berk Wiper makes this process easy. We have a wiping cloth for every market in the industry including jan-san, food service, healthcare, automotive and industrial. Everything you need in one vendor,” he says.

Berk Wiper and Converting’s facility is capable of flat sheeting, interfolding, 1/2, 1/4, 1/6, and 1/8 folding, perforating, laminating, and slitting up to 139 inches wide by 100 inch diameter.The company offers delivered pricing, private labeling, 3rd party and drop shipping, as well as contract converting services. There are no order minimums.

National Wiper Alliance

Wiper converting from National Wiper Alliance

A leader in the field of nonwoven converting, Asheville, NC-based National Wiper Alliance continues to meet the growing needs of its current customers and acquires new customers by adding production lines and flexible packaging equipment. Working from 240,000 square feet of production and warehouse space, its newest production equipment will go on-line in the first quarter of 2012, allowing National Wiper Alliance to offer higher speeds and more efficient production outputs for both the wet wipe and dry wipe industries.

National Wiper Alliance offers converting capabilities for every put-up required in dry wipes for all segments of industry needs including industrial, medical, retail and others. The flexibility of the new equipment allows for efficiencies required on the larger runs to meet the demand for lower cost products and the production capabilities to offer custom converting options specific to individual’s requirements and the ability to offer private labeling on inner and outer product packaging.

The company’s converting services are geared to the individual client’s requirements, working with consumers to design and build brand recognition with their own private labeled brands and also strengthening national brands while offering a competitively priced and value product offering.

With an outside warehouse, National Wiper Alliance has the ability to keep on-hand both raw material and converted items, and increase the outsourcing services the company offers to customers. National Wiper Alliance handles the turnkey converting of products from the ordering of raw materials and ancillary items to logistics and distribution of converted products directly to its customers.

Oxco’s converting machinery
Founded in 1994, Oxco is a supplier and converter of nonwoven fabrics including but not limited to spunbond, spunlace, needlepunch, stitch bond, chemical bond, thermal bond and more. Oxco’s converting and processing capabilities include narrow and wide web slitting, rewinding, perforating, center folding, adhesive powder coating, laminating, printing, finishing and custom packaging.

With diverse nonwoven production and converting capabilities, Oxco is capable of responding to many customer demands. The company continually evaluates its production services to insure it offers consistent, high quality and efficient output.As markets and applications evolve, Oxco adapts by implementing the necessary technology, the company says.

FIberweb (India) Limited
Fiberweb (India) Limited set up its first facility in India in 1996 for the manufacture of PP spunbond nonwoven fabrics. The facility is located in Daman, about 100 miles north of Mumbai. The plant has a 3.2 meterReifenhauser two-beam line for manufacturing fabrics from 15 gsm to 150 gsm. The company exports more than 70% of its production to various customers across the globe. Fiberweb (India) Limited has a presence in three major segments – hygiene, crop protection and textile applications. But Fiberweb has a converting division located in this same facility. The converted products handled by the company include mini-rolls (retail packs), mattress covers, pillow and cushion ticks, folded fabrics (flat packs), carry bags and more.

The converting division has about 50 sewing machines covering lock-stitch, chain-stitch and inter-lock, and is capable of turning out more than 300,000 mini-rolls. This section incorporates several winder-unwinder units as well as an automatic side-sealer and shrink-wrapping system. “The tailors in the stitching section are specialists in the field, having worked for many years in export-focused garment industries,” says Pravin Sheth, managing director.

“The retail packs generally require an insert label,” Sheth explains. “The converting division is in a position to get such labels printed in four to six or even eight colors, depending on the customers’ requirements. A barcode label can also be printed either as part of the main insert label or as a label to be affixed separately.”
All self-adhesive labels incorporating product and packing information are generated in-house at Fiberweb (India) Limited.

The retail packs can be manufactured in bundles/packs or in display boxes with outer cartons. The cartons can be palletized and stretch-wrapped, if required.

“Fiberweb (India) Limited is uniquely positioned to ensure quality across the entire chain of the converting process since the company is also a manufacturer of nonwoven fabrics,” Sheth says.

Films and laminates manufactured by Felix are produced as roll goods, however, a range of converting technologies are also available, including slitting – the company rewinds and slits a collection of materials, mostly films and laminates, to the width, length, core size and other specific requirements of the customer. Felix also does hot melt laminating. Here, a porous hot melt lamination technique is available to create custom composite fabrics, using hot melt and pressure to combine and bond two or more substrates together.

Other capabilities include film extrusion, as the company can deliver micro-embossed extruded film products. Two-color flexographic printing is available, and Felix has hot melt surface coating and extrusion coating capabilities to develop its coated products. Felix, with headquarters in Eskisehir, Turkey, also provides custom contract manufacturing and converting capabilities such as hot melt coating and lamination, printing and roll slitting.

Ginni Consumer Products

Ginni specializes in wipes converting.

Ginni Consumer Products is an ISO 9001-2000 certified business unit of Ginni Filaments Ltd., one of India’s leading textile conglomerates producing nonwoven spunlace fabric, cotton yarn, knit fabric and garments. The company is FDA-approved and manufactures of a wide variety of versatile products including dry and wet wipes for baby care, beauty care and cleansing and makeup remover wet wipes.

The converting unit situated in Haridwar, India, is equipped with the latest converting machinery. Among its converted products are ready-to-use wet wipes face masks and exfoliating facial dry cloths. Personal hygiene items include cleansing and calming wet wipes, refreshing wipes and anti-bacterial wipes. The company also converts home care wipes, hand sanitizer wipes, anti-bacterial wipes, sunscreen Wipes, fairness wipes, after-shave wipes and menthol wipes. Ginni also offers a wide range of surgical wound care dressing products.

The company’s nonwoven spunlace plant has a production capacity of 12,000 tons per annum, with technology equipped and supplied by Perfojet France.

Bacon Felt Company
Founded in 1825, the Bacon Felt Company (BFC), East Rochester, NH, USA, was America’s first felt mill. Growth was advanced as the Boston Felt Company was added to the team. Today, with its sister company, Supreme Felt & Abrasives, in Chicago, converted product and service offerings have been further enhanced.

BFC specializes in felt manufacturing and fabricating. Having a diverse set of technologies and engineering expertise, BFC offers performance, functional materials, prototype and small volume production, precision-driven quality and service. Process capabilities include felt and needled nonwoven manufacturing, laminating, diecutting, sheeting, slitting/stripping, coating, impregnating, skiving, machining/grinding/shaping, perforating, assembly and packaging.

Product design begins with fiber selection. BFC offers materials of all fiber types: natural or synthetic, as blends or composites. As a felt manufacturer, BFC specializes in wool, what the company says is naturally the most versatile known fiber. Along with offering a wide range of densities, products provide functional attributes such as fire retardant, heat resistant, acoustical/thermal insulation, abrasion resistant, absorbent and chemical resistant.

With such high performance characteristics for wicking, fluid retention and transfer, resilience, shock and vibration protection, BFC offers a versatile range of finished products that include pen nibs, piano felt, polishing wheels, drum beaters, adhesive-backed felt, metal processing wipers, erasers, wicks, seals, ring buffs, insoles and damping pads.

Independent Converting Equipment
Independent Converting Equipment [ICE] has steadily been building a following in the converting industry for producing high quality spools for leaders in many industries including nonwovens. Headquartered in Fairfield, NJ, USA, ICE began as a complementary service to machinery builder Independent Machine Company [IMC]. For over 44 years IMC has been a leader in the design and manufacture of a wide range of web processing systems with special emphasis on the development of slitting and computerized traverse winding systems. ICE was created to assist the converting needs of IMC machinery customers while systems were being built and has grown into a significant contract supplier to the nonwovens industry offering contract slitting and computerized traverse winding.

The most advanced traverse winding technologies developed by IMC enables ICE to meet unique and complex needs of the converting customer. The company’s computerized equipment and proprietary software provides an unlimited choice of spool shape, size and winding patterns as well as precise tension control. ICE offers a comprehensive range of spooling services for nonwoven materials.

A slitting and traverse winding machine from ICE
ICE’s attention to winding patterns, tension and overall spool geometry is key to the quality of finished spools. Selection of the proper traverse pattern is critical to the spooling process for converted nonwoven materials. Four basic traverse adjustments – stroke length, pitch, end dwell and winding pattern – are set through computerized traverse programming. Precise tension is controlled by the IMC Dancer/Tension Controller capable of maintaining tension within grams throughout the speed range. Very often, miles of material are traverse wound onto a single spool to feed the next operation without the need for splices and costly downtime. The integrity of the spool created by proper control of tension and selection of spool settings will ensure the success of the converted material in the unwinding application. ICE also offers Spool-Mate, a driven spool unwind with the same precise tension control used in its spooling systems.

Aurizon Ultrasonics
Aurizon Ultrasonics, Kimberly, WI, USA, has patented technology and years of experience in implementing rotary ultrasonic processing systems that offer an alternative to pressure, thermal, and adhesive bonding systems as well as other types of ultrasonic technologies used in nonwovens converting.

Aurizon rotary bonding

In addition to its capabilities in rotary bonding and diecutting, Aurizon Ultrasonics also has expertise in continuous liquid processing, a potentially superior alternative to traditional batch processing that has been demonstrated to dramatically improve blending of difficult ingredients, emulsify multicomponent formulations and effectively dispersing pigments and other particles,” says Bob Cool, executive vice president. Potential benefits include increased productivity, improved quality and product consistency, on-demand manufacturing, lower processing costs, reduced waste and cleanup and removal of dissolved gases in liquids.

Ultrasonic nozzle technology is another Aurizon Ultrasonic specialty. It is described as an efficient and effective means of improving the atomization of liquids or increasing the throughput of viscous liquids through orifices. Aurizon’s ultrasonic nozzles are “self-cleaning,” helping to minimize or eliminate clogging that can often occur with small orifices or viscous liquids.

For rotary processing systems, Aurizon Ultrasonics delivers a high-speed, non-contact means to achieve bonding of materials that contain thermoplastic components, precision cutting of a wide variety of materials, or simultaneous combinations of the two.

“Our state-of-the-art rotary technology maintains unmatched precision processing without contact, delivering high-speed bonding and/or diecutting while virtually eliminating wear and tear on the equipment,” Cool adds.

“By utilizing patented dual-mounted horn and anvil designs as well as a comprehensive systems approach, our technology delivers high amplitude radial expansion to create rapid compression of materials passing through an in-running nip,” Cool explains. “The cross-direction uniformity of this radial expansion assures a consistent effect on the materials across the width of the process.”

Cantilevered versions of this technology are also available, allowing a smaller manufacturing footprint and easier implementation for processing applications that involve large or bulky products.

Boyd Technologies
Boyd Technologies, South Lee, MA, USA, has been in the converting industry for over 32 years and is growing its core converting and contract manufacturing capabilities in technical markets. The company began in 1979 as a converter of technical papers and nonwovens, and today produces both component and finished products from technical papers, nonwovens, membranes, films, foils, extruded netting, and nanofiber materials.

Boyd built its converting and contract manufacturing capabilities in the consumer marketplace, producing finished products which include bandage and wound care products, oral care products and home cleaning products. Services include multilayer laminating, rotary diecutting, printing, and a variety of finished packaging. All of these products also require advanced quality and regulatory controls.

Another set of capabilities for Boyd Technologies, also developed out of the consumer space, is its project management skills which it calls “Technology Consulting.” Here, Boyd manages product launches through material specification, product specification, equipment design and installation and validation procedures. All of this is done during fast-to-market, high volume consumer product launches.

Today, the company is growing in medical device and power storage and delivery markets, which is largely due to the advanced capabilities it has developed over the last 30 years, which are increasingly in demand.“Through our experience in the consumer space, we’ve been able to continually develop our validation procedures and GMP levels, which allow us to deploy solutions that meet the needs of customers in the medical and electronics markets,” says Chip Schnackenberg, the company’s director of quality and IT.

Boyd Technologies has exciting plans for new growth in 2012, which include the installation of a cleanroom manufacturing space, a new high speed rotary diecutting and lamination line and several new product launches in its business development pipeline.

United Bonded Fabrics
United Bonded Fabrics (UBF) is a privately owned Australian company incorporated in 1963. It can trace part of its history back to the 1870s. UBF has grown to become Australia’s largest polyester fiber-based nonwoven products manufacturer, operating multiple sites nationwide with 15 carding and airlaid thermal bonding, vacuum fill and needlepunching lines. The company produces fabrics with weights ranging from 85gsm to 4000gsm.

UBF also operates three rag-tearing lines to produce recycled cotton fiber to complement its production of jute, polyester, wool and other natural fiber products. In addition to the benefit from its scale economies in production, UBF has actively invested in new product and process development and holds a number of patents and trademarks, and prides itself on being a leading innovator in the development of (clean) heat bonded products, particularly using regenerated, recycled and organic fibers.

UBF is also a leader in sustainable production with an active product stewardship program to complement its textile product-to-fiber recycling operations, and is the first Australian textile manufacturer to be awarded the“Gold Plus” Green Tag certification, which as part of its assessment includes a full lifecycle analysis of processes, inputs and products.

In 2011, UBF was awarded an exclusive license to use high performance fibers and fiber technology from AdvanSA (formerly DuPont SA) in Australia and NZ to further develop markets for technology based high performance products.

Cascades-IFC Disposables Inc.
Cascades-IFC is a manufacturer of disposable nonwoven wiping cloth products (finished goods) for all distribution markets. The company is diversified in the manufacturing, packaging and variable sizes/folds of nonwoven substrates. IFC has the manufacturing capability for a range of quarterfold, pop-up, interfold, 1/6 fold, 1/8 fold, jumbo perf rolls and flat products made from all major substrate offerings in the industry.

Cascades-IFC is vertically integrated with tissue/paper-based substrates; all being manufactured with recycled paper and chlorine free bleaching.

Emphasizing that the company is growing 6-7% per year, Laura Brooks, marketing director, says, “We are part of Cascades Inc., a publically traded company on the Canadian stock exchange (CAS) and our overall sales are reflected in their total sales accordingly.We are seeing growth improvement across many of our markets and expect this to continue.”

Cascades-IFC offers its Busboy color-coded food service wiping systems that make training much easier for the end user. “Our food service towels are designed and color coded to provide the most user friendly and economic products to meet the customer’s requirements.This system minimizes the training cycle and application costs for the end user,” Brooks says.

Cascades-IFC is actively looking at expansion. “We do continual investment planning/purchasing which enables us to broaden and enhance our product offerings into existing and new distribution channels.We look at any and all acquisition opportunities that may fit our strategic and business unit needs,” says Brooks.

Tufco Technologies, LLC
Tufco Technologies, based in Green Bay, WI, is a provider of turnkey contract manufacturing services. The facility is ISO 9001-2008 certified, and FDA and EPA approved. Capabilities include wide-web flexographic printing, adhesive laminations, wet and dry wipe manufacturing along with integrated packaging solutions.

Tufco’s Astraflex wide web flexo press
Tufco’s modern, high speed assets have the capability to produce wipes in flat packs, tubs, canisters and sachets.Tufco can also offer in-house formulation and blending.Addressing the drive for eco-friendly products, Tufco has been focusing on developing products that fill this void. John Michaud, vice president of sales and marketing, says, “There have been natural formulations and compostable substrates around for a while but the missing piece has been the packaging. We’re working on some recyclable films that are showing great promise.”

Tufco has two wide web flexographic printing presses that can print paper, films and nonwovens up to 62 inches wide with either water or solvent based inks.Tufco has won many awards for flexographic printing and has a reputation for being able to work with difficult substrates.According to Cindy Fisher, Tufco’s flexographic sales manager, “Customers bring us the print jobs that no one else can do.” In addition to printing, Tufco can produce adhesive laminations up to 120 inches in web width.

Tufco Technologies is a business to business outsource manufacturer. Customers include nationally recognized consumer products market leaders. “From concept through commercialization, Tufco works side by side with your team to support your initiatives.Our mission is to be the leading one-stop manufacturer for printing, laminating and converting services,” Michaud says.

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