Trickle-down Innovation

By Tim Wright, editor | June 9, 2014

From raw materials and fibers to finished goods, innovation in the nonwovens industry has never been stronger and was on full display at INDEX 14 in Geneva in April. The 586 exhibitors on hand represented a 10% growth over the previous event in 2011. From innovation in automotive nonwovens, packaging and geotextiles to product presentations and other events, INDEX 14 delivered great value to the diverse group of attendees. In this issue we offer a review of some of the latest technology along the supply chain.

Fiber trends and innovation—from oil-based ones like polypropylene and polyester and natural ones line cotton or cellulose—is the topic in our annual look at the fiber market. Senior editor Karen McIntyre reports that nonwovens represent about 25% of total fiber shipments and that nonwoven production continues to grow at a rate that is higher than the growth rate of the two other major consumers of staple fiber. As the nonwovens market grows so will the amount of fibers used to make them.

Positive trends surround natural-based fibers like cotton because of their green profiles, which are attractive to the many companies focused on achieving sustainability goals, while at the same time wanting to offer products with better absorbency and strength. The article says marketing efforts made by Cotton Incorporated as well as the growers and marketers themselves, along with successful research efforts and partnerships, has bolstered cotton’s standing.

For one, earlier this year TJ Beall partnered with Huntsman Textile Effects to treat its True Cotton with Ultraphil CO, which is used in a variety of hydrophilic finishes for nonwoven materials where it offers distinct fluid management benefits, to develop a cotton-based topsheet material for baby diapers.

Lenzing’s Tencel represents great technological innovation in the man-made cellulose fiber industry. At INDEX, the Tencel skin promotion campaign received the award for “most original marketing campaign for a product made from, or incorporating nonwovens.” 

When such innovation is successful on the fiber front it trickles down and allows for a higher quality of finished goods to be produced. In the home wipes market, for example, softer and stronger nonwoven fabrics are hitting the retail shelves and making consumers believers that cleaning around the house no longer has to be the dirty chore set aside for rainy days. Today’s nonwoven-based home wipes are making the job easier and more efficient at the same time.

Precision Fabrics Group for one has developed an innovative cleaning towel for use around the entire house—the kitchen, bathroom and garage—for all types of cleaning chores. In the kitchen it can replace dishrags used for cleaning dirty pots and pans, and it can be used with spray cleaners on counter tops, appliances, cook tops and even floors. This towel is so absorbent that it can replace the cotton dish towels normally used for drying work surfaces, utensils and dishware.

imeco is another innovator of nonwoven products. It has introduced a new cleaning wipe into the market called Powerclozz, which is ideal to use for wiping or dish washing and it is made from a mixture of viscose and PLA. For more be sure to take a look at our report on the home wipes market.

Also in this issue we offer a review of recent trends in the Middle East and Africa region, a place that has witnessed a recent uptick in investment on the part of manufacturers like P&G, who are drawn to the area because disposable income is on the rise meaning consumers have more dollars to spend on hygiene items like diapers.

We hope you enjoy the issue!

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