As China’s economy continues to show impressive growth, and its citizens’ standards of living improve daily, the emerging materials industry of which nonwovens is a part of is poised for a positive future.
China’s nonwovens industry has been growing rapidly. Total production of nonwovens in 2012 reached 2.16 million tons. This volume accounts for 67% of the nonwoven production in Asia, and it is more than one quarter of global nonwovens production.
Promoting nonwovens growth in China is the Shanghai International Nonwovens Conference and Exhibition (SINCE), which has become one of the four major nonwovens exhibitions in the world.
The 15th edition of SINCE united nonwovens experts from all over the world. Running from Oct. 23-25, SINCE 2013 offered an ideal opportunity for companies across the global supply chain to present innovative solutions to the dynamic Chinese market.
Lenzing was on hand and presented innovative botanic fiber solutions. The company’s Tencel and Lenzing Viscose combine ecological responsibility with functionality. The increasing interest in sustainable fibers for nonwoven applications has paved the way for Lenzing to pursue a growth strategy with a strong focus on Asia.
Lenzing has been successfully established on the Asian market for many years. “We already attached great importance to this emerging up-and-coming region at a very early stage and have been manufacturing high quality fibers at PT South Pacific Viscose, our Indonesian site, for three decades. During this time we have continually expanded in order to meet the future demands placed upon the value chain,” says Wolfgang Plasser, vice president and general manager business unit nonwoven fibers.
The Indonesian subsidiary of Lenzing operates five production lines and is the largest viscose fiber plant in the world at the present time. The second production facility in Asia for Lenzing Viscose is located in Nanjing, China.
“We have been setting new quality standards in China since the plant first commenced operations in 2007. This site is also continuously expanding in order to fulfill the ongoing increase in demand on the Chinese market,” says Plasser.
Lenzing fibers are naturally absorbent and pure like the cellulose they are made from the company says. Tencel meets stringent demands due to the fact that the fiber cleans reliably and is particularly soft to sensitive skin. Lenzing fibers are ideally suited for demanding applications such as wipes, facial masks as well as hygiene and medical products. In addition, they optimize the performance of technical applications.
Tencel and Lenzing Viscose are based on renewable raw material wood and are completely biodegradable after use. “In the spirit of ensuring a future worth living for coming generations, sustainability is more than just a trend,” says Elisabeth Stanger, marketing director of the business unit nonwoven fibers. “Consumers are relying on high quality products which combine performance with ecological responsibility. We are supporting this development with the goal of strengthening the trustworthy brand image of Tencel and Lenzing Viscose along the value chain within the context of an intensive cooperation with our customers.”
Stanger says the growing population and the increasing economic situation will bring new consumers with needs in textile and nonwoven products. “Industry is deciding when it makes sense to invest and build new lines versus export from core markets,” she says. “Lenzing believes in an increasing need for cellulosic fibers, which is the driver for our investment strategy.”
In terms of major technological breakthroughs that may lie ahead, Stanger says there is a need for flushable products to meet the new guidelines. “In addition, new developments in the hygiene industry, namely, to combine multiple layers into one, will be the challenge of the future.”
Bonding solution company Bostik introduced its latest adhesive innovations— Securance Low Tack and ZeroCreep Avancé—for disposable hygiene applications to the Asia market.
Securance Low Tack addresses issues with perforated film top sheets and adhesive tack, delivering high-performing bond and enabling the use of in-demand perforated film top sheets without bleedthrough. In addition to strong bond performance and less add-on with low basis weight nonwoven substrates, Securance Low Tack delivers enhanced functionality that retains the three dimensional profile of perforated top sheets for improved rewet performance and increased comfort.
ZeroCreep Avancé represents a step forward in the evolution of elastic attachment technology delivering high levels of performance, processability, flexibility and cost in use value. ZeroCreep Avancé also features versatile high-stress bonding adhesive that helps to minimize downtime and maximize productivity.
Sophia Shen, Asia product line manager for Bostik’s global nonwovens business unit, presented on the role of adhesives in increasing the efficiency and improving the products of disposable hygiene manufacturers at the SINCE Conference.
At Bostik’s booth, Shen discussed the development of emerging markets, which she says are developing quickly. “As we see, there has been a lot of capacity put into operation over the past two years,” she says. “For example, the domestic Chinese market for baby diapers has shown healthy growth in recent years, but still lags behind the developed markets regarding average annual consumption per person. So in terms of the penetration rate, there will be plenty of room to grow. The biggest challenge will be with more and more capacity put into operation, how to enhance the competitiveness among the players with high quality and cost effective products.”
Shen says Bostik held an opening ceremony for Jiangsu Bostik Adhesive Co., which is Bostik’s largest manufacturing plant worldwide. The plant started up in late 2012 and manufactures a wide range of products including hot melt adhesives, polyester, polyurethane and sealants. The plant occupies an area of 70,000 square meters with an eventual annual capacity of products estimated at 80,000 tons.
H.B. Fuller introduced new portfolio additions to the Full-Care family of adhesives. Over thirty years of close collaboration with hygiene manufacturers has culminated in H.B. Fuller’s comprehensive Full-Care family of adhesives, which the company says are robust in terms of adhesive performance, supply flexibility and technical support. In addition, Full-Care adhesive solutions offer the functional benefit of potentially helping to lower in-use cost.
At SINCE H.B. Fuller’s technical experts presented, “Adhesives for Thinner Diaper Core Design,” which covered the role adhesives play in achieving core integrity, and how consideration of the adhesive solution in the early stages of the design can make a significant difference to the size, performance and competitiveness of the final product.
“We create new adhesives that don’t just hold thinner products together, but improve their performance overall,” says Weelim Shie, business director greater China, H.B. Fuller. “In nonwovens, that means more comfort and mobility for the end consumer. Not to mention more diapers on the shelf, lower transportation costs and less material use.”
Henkel exhibited its latest product line, the 5L, which is the latest generation of high performance hot melt solutions designed for the hygiene industry.
“Henkel’s 5L hot melt solutions offer low odor, light color, low operation temperature, low density and low charring, which means better cost in use, less maintenance cost, less down time, better performance and better appearance, all supported by Henkel’s technical support team,” says Y.K. Woon, business director, Asia Pacific, nonwovens.
In addition, Henkel organized visits to its new Dragon Plant during the exhibition. The Dragon Plant, which opened last month, is the world’s largest adhesives factory, featuring a world-class production system as well as Henkel’s latest technology and manufacturing capabilities. The new factory comprises 150,000 square meters of space and is now the central production site for industrial adhesives in China and the Asia-Pacific region. Customers being served by the new adhesives plant include enterprises in the automotive industry and various consumer goods sectors. Annual output is forecast to reach up to 428,000 metric tons of adhesives.
BASF, a manufacturer of superabsorbents for baby diapers and other hygiene applications, introduced its new innovative odor control superabsorbent polymer (SAP) at SINCE.
The new SAP is designed to improve the quality of life for people with incontinence. It delivers effective odor control performance against ammonia formation as well as some sulfur components, preventing the odor caused by urine left for an extended period of time. Urine odor can be an embarrassing side effect of incontinence. BASF’s new SAP can help avoid this side effect. In addition, its high absorption capacity helps to keep the skin dry.
SAP’s are excellent to use in a variety of applications concerning the elementary need in our life. Adult incontinence products are in growing demand and the second largest application for SAP’s, following baby diapers. SAP’s are also applied in feminine hygiene products.
BASF’s investment supports global market growth and its strategic local presence, underlining its commitment to customers of the hygiene industry in Asia Pacific. Together with superabsorbent polymer plant, now under construction and also expected to begin production in 2014 at BASF-YPC Company Ltd. in Nanjing, China, BASF is well-positioned to enhance its support to satisfy customer demand for high-quality superabsorbent polymer products in Asia Pacific, especially China.
Machinery firm Andritz presented its complete production lines for needlepunch, spunlace and wetlaid. With a wide range of products and services for the Asian market, Andritz Nonwoven provides full-lines and individual solutions for all nonwovens segments. According to the company, its systems are in high demand, particularly in the rapidly growing hygiene, filtration and automotive markets in China.
The Andritz eXcelle and aXcess series combine the advantages of higher production capacity and greater weight evenness of nonwovens. Andritz Nonwoven is currently expanding its production capacities at the Wuxi location in Jiangsu Province, China, where there is also a demonstration line including card, crosslapper and needling capacities.
The new neXline spunlace aXcess line has been developed specifically for the Chinese market. This newly configured spunlace line is equipped with only one Varioweb in-line card with three doffers in combination with the Jetlace Avantage hydroentanglement unit and the Perfodry Avantage dryer. The company says it enables manufacturers to produce state-of-the-art spunlace fabrics from 30 to 100 gsm with productivity of up to 8,500 t/a.
Andritz has also developed the neXline wetlace line, which integrates Andritz wetlaid and hydroentanglement technologies, for the production of flushable wipes from 100% natural and/or renewable fibers.
Oerlikon Neumag says there is an increasing demand for nonwoven materials, in particular from emerging nations, which results in great opportunities for manufacturers.
“Thinner, lighter, more efficient materials are demanded by the market. For this reason, the trend is obviously moving towards nonwovens,” says Ingo Mählmann, product manager for nonwovens at Oerlikon Neumag, with regard to the growing chances on the building sector.
Oerlikon Neumag is expanding their nonwovens product line and, apart from their stand-alone plants, they are now also offering their meltblown technology to be subsequently integrated into existing or new, outside vendor SXS plants.
“This enables a cost-efficient upgrading of new or existing spunbond plants and offers nonwoven producers access to markets with high quality demands,” says Ed McNally, sales director nonwovens at Oerlikon Neumag.
Autefa Solutions, together with the new company Autefa Solutions Wuxi, presented for the first time the Crosslapper Uniliner CL 88, a reliable and economical machine equipped with modern drive technology based on the successful crosslapper series Topliner.
The Crosslapper Uniliner CL 88 is the first crosslapper with a modern Autefa Solutions drive and profiling system made by Autefa Solutions Wuxi in China. The reliable and economical 4- carriage crosslapper is suitable for all kinds of fibers and webs. The Uniliner CL 88 is the central machine in the nonwoven line. With a short web path the crosslapper ensures a web laying without draft.
The patented integrated web storage increases the product uniformity and results in improved CV-values. Through the change of the carriage speeds with the profiling system the weight distribution of the laid web in transverse direction is improved. This results in an improvement of the regularity and a reduction of material accumulation on the web edge.
The Uniliner CL 88 has transport aprons with high transversal stability, optimum flatness and exact belt tracking, this result in a web delivery without draft and a clean laying pattern.
Elbit Vision Systems Ltd., a global provider of vision solutions for surface inspection and real-time quality monitoring, introduced its IQ-TEX4 color solution for nonwoven applications at SINCE 2013.
This marks the company’s newest introduction of a product in the nonwoven market. The exhibition provided Elbit Vision Systems with the opportunity to introduce its latest product and interact with the Asian markets. In the past few years, the company says it has increased its installed base worldwide in the nonwoven market.
“Elbit in the past few years has invested in expanding its product line to the nonwoven applications. Customer acceptance and market demand have led to a significant number of current customers purchasing and installing upgrades and giving the consumer a better quality product at reasonable costs,” says Elbit Vision Systems CEO Sam Cohen. “This exhibition provides our company with the platform to reach the Asian nonwoven market.”
SINCE 2013 Review
Exhibitors in Shanghai offer innovative solutions to the nonwovens industry.
By Tim Wright, editor
Published November 6, 2013