Location: Wilmington, DE

Sales: $1.2 Billion

Description: Key Personnel
Keith McLoughlin, vice president and general manager; Mark Vergnano, global business director—Tyvek/Typar; Carl Lukach, global business director—Sontara/Cambrelle

Richmond, VA (Tyvek); Old Hickory, TN (Sontara); Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar); Asturias, Spain (Sontara); Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Sontara converting facility); Workington, U.K. (Cambrelle)

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9002 certified; Luxembourg facility also 9001 certified; DuPont’s Asturias, Spain facility is the company’s first nonwovens production facility to be certified with the 2000 version of the ISO 9001 quality standard, which is aimed at increasing customer satisfaction.

Flashspun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlaced (Sontara)

Brand Names
Tyvek, Sontara, Comformax, Typar (worldwide except North, Cen­tral and South America), Cambrelle

Major Markets
Medical, protective apparel, industrial, construction, absorbents, home furnishings, packaging and envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, footwear

DuPont Nonwovens, Wilmington, DE, has a lot to celebrate this year. Not only is DuPont celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2002, but the nonwovens division was able to achieve a 3% increase in sales last year despite a troublesome economic climate.

To combat the weakened global economy, DuPont has relied on these core strengths—diversification in market segments and applications, innovation and productivity.
“We are fortunate to be a part of a company with core values and ethics that have kept us strong for 200 years,” explained Keith McLoughlin, vice president/general manager for DuPont Nonwo­vens. “Economic conditions may not be perfect right now, but we have the strongest balance sheet we’ve had in 25 years.”
Fortunately for DuPont, it is not reliant on many of the markets for nonwovens being affected by economic factors. This has allowed the company to avoid some of the problems experienced by other nonwovens manufacturers. Still, it was not a completely easy year, according to Mr. McLoughlin.
“The global nonwovens industry is slowly recovering from a global manufacturing recession, and we are hoping for a gradual ramp up over the course of the next year,” he explained. “As nonwovens continue to displace other materials such as wovens and paper, we need to be smart as an industry, particularly in terms of innovation.”
In addition to focusing on innovation, DuPont has been expanding its international business to continue its growth levels. Cur­rently, the majority, 60%, of DuPont Nonwovens sales are conducted in the Americas, while 25% are achieved in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Asian sales represent the remaining 15% of the overall business.
One of Mr. McLoughlin’s key initiatives when he took over the post of VP/GM in March 2001 was a reorganization of the business from an asset-oriented structure into a market-focused business. DuPont Nonwovens now centers its operations around 13 key business segments, including construction, packaging and envelopes, protective apparel, medical fabrics, contamination control and critical cleaning.
Speaking of reorganization, the entire DuPont company was realigned into five market- and technology-focused growth platforms in February. Intended to enable faster execution and improved capabilities for all DuPont businesses, the five platforms include DuPont Electronic & Communication Techno­logies; Du­Pont Performance Materials; DuPont Coatings & Color Techno­logies; DuPont Safety & Protection and DuPont Agri­culture & Nutrition. The DuPont Nonwovens businesses as well as the Advanced Fiber Systems group, DuPont Chemical Solutions, the Safety Resources business and Solid Surfaces business, including the Corian brand, are positioned under the Safety & Protection platform, which is led by Ellen Kullman.
“They’ve taken what was previously 22 business units, which were based on products but not a lot of synergies, and organized them into platforms around a given market or around a given value the company can bring to the marketplace,” Mr. McLoughlin said. “They are meant to provide a critical marketplace for our customers.”
Already the new structure has opened up options that previously were not visible. More specifically for DuPont Nonwovens, the Safety & Protection platform is in sync with many main markets for Tyvek and Sontara. “The whole concept of safety and protection is right up our alley,” Mr. McLoughlin said. “It’s 90% of what we do—it’s the heart of our business.”

In addition to realigning its business, DuPont has plans to spin off its textiles and interiors unit, which includes such brands as Lycra and Stainmaster, into a separate company sometime in 2003. While the nonwovens division does have some alliances with the textiles and interiors unit, the split does not directly impact the day-to-day operations of the nonwovens division. It does, however, create the largest polymer fiber company in the world with $6.5 billion in annual sales and 20,000 employees.
Speaking of DuPont Lycra, the nonwovens division has ended its joint venture with the brand. Named Neotis Studio, the collaboration was intended to bring innovation into durable consumer markets such as clothing. While apparel created through Neotis Studio was reportedly well received at fashion shows in Europe, it was called off because the technology needed to penetrate a large portion of clothing applications was not fully in place. “With the current technology, the clothing developed with nonwovens targets a very small segment of the market,” Mr. McLoughlin explained. “The whole notion of nonwovens penetrating durable apparel won’t work until an unresolved piece of the technology puzzle is revealed.”
While Mr. McLoughlin would not specify what the missing link is, he did admit that DuPont scientists are close to finding a cost-effective way of developing this technology. This solution is just one of many that DuPont is working on to bring value and innovation to its customers.
“At the end of the day, we will be successful depending on how we bring relevant solutions to our customers’ needs,” Mr. McLoughlin predicted. “The ‘how’ for us is bringing innovation through technology, marketing, operations, products and services.”

A key focus for DuPont’s Tyvek business continues to be brand promotion. As both a roll good and a branded end use product, Tyvek flashspun nonwovens are well known in a number of key markets such as protective apparel and construction, but the brand’s reach extends far beyond these markets and DuPont executives want to make sure end users know it. “We’ve been getting more sophisticated in how we create awareness for the brand,” explained Mark Vergnano, global business director of Tyvek/Typar.
Beyond protective apparel and construction, Tyvek is also used in medical packaging, envelopes, consumer packaging and graphics, while Typar is used in carpet backing and the gardening markets. One key branding initiative for Tyvek is in the packaging and envelopes segment. DuPont is currently working out agreements with expedited delivery services including the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx to co-brand their packages and envelopes. In essence, the DuPont Tyvek name will soon appear on their packaging.
The presence of Tyvek in the envelope and packaging market has also benefited from an agreement between DuPont and Jilson & Roberts, Santa Ana, CA. Originally established in June 2001, the agreement called for Jilson & Roberts to supply decorative packaging, made with Tyvek, in more than 70 designs, to gift and stationery retailers nationwide. To date, this agreement is reportedly meeting expectations of boosting the presence of Tyvek in this market.
Of new interest for the nonwovens business unit is the garden products market. Much of the company’s sales in this area, which comprise products such as landscape fabric, deer netting and pond liners, are conducted in do-it-yourself stores such as Lowe’s under the DuPont Garden Products brand. “By collaborating with retailers, we are able to understand what the consumer wants. It allows us to learn a lot about how to promote at retail,” Mr. Vergnano said.
Despite this focus on new markets, more established areas for Tyvek are not being ignored. In the home construction market, Tyvek has benefited by a surge in U.S. housing starts, which are currently at an all-time high. DuPont is trying to take advantage of these boom times by being more creative in how it looks at applications. Traditionally used as a housewrap, Tyvek is now available in the form of a roof barrier and window and door flashing. “We’re trying to look at uses for Tyvek more broadly instead of just as housewrap,” Mr. Vergnano explained. “We see the exterior structure of a house as a huge envelope that Tyvek products can completely cover and protect.”
One of the results of this philosophy is Tyvek FlexWrap, which is used to wrap more difficult areas of the house such as doors and windows, according to Mr. Vergnano. “In the construction market, every year there are $5 billion in litigation costs and 80% of these are moisture-related,” he explained. “Half of this involves the doors and windows.”
DuPont has identified the need for better moisture management tools as well as other unmet requirements in the construction market by working directly with architects, builders and other construction personnel as a direct supplier of building materials.

“We bring innovation to builders and architects. To do this, you have to be there. You can’t guess what the need is from the research and development lab,” Mr. Vergnano explained.
Another area where DuPont Tyvek functions as both a roll goods producer and an end use manufacturer is protective apparel. In this segment, the company has more recently been focusing on improving the material’s performance options for varying grades of hazardous situations. Particularly after the events of September 11, both individuals and agencies alike have paid a great deal of attention to protective apparel.
In May, New York City firefighters and police officers attended the Winston Cup auto race in Dover, DE to present a Tyvek garment signed by the forces in appreciation of the role these protective Tyvek garments played in the search and recovery efforts at ground zero.
As with the construction market, the Tyvek organization has remained successful in the protective apparel market by working closely with the people and agencies that use these products daily. Because DuPont does not simply sell a roll good that will later be converted into a protective garment but instead converts the material in-house, it is able to accurately gauge the state of this market. “We make the full product so we are in direct contact with the end user,” Mr. Vergnano said. “We can fully understand what the needs of this market are and ensure we are developing the products that the marketplace needs.”
Looking more toward the bigger picture, Tyvek’s distinct mission is growth in all of its target markets. “Especially as we redefine the market spaces that we participate in, we will find new target market areas for Tyvek,” Mr. Vergnano said. “We will do this through a linked combination of innovation and marketing.”
To handle some of this growth, Tyvek is in the process of adding a new flash spinning line in its Luxembourg facility. While no capacity figures or time schedules were released, Mr. Vergnano did reveal that the new line would feature unique technology and its materials would target the global marketplace—not just Europe. “Our goal is to be unique and to serve a truly global market from all of our facilities,” he added.

While overcapacity continues to pose a problem in the spunlaced market, DuPont has continued to be successful by creating innovative, customer-driven products with its Sontara brand of spunlaced nonwovens. These products keep DuPont from relying on commodity-type markets. “Our new products tend to be tailored for specific applications,” explained Carl Lukach, global business director of Sontara/Cambrelle. “For instance, we have recently developed an impervious fabric for medical gowns that is doing very well.”
While medical applications continue to be the core business segment for Sontara, the business is divided into five segments—medical fabrics, critical cleaning, contamination control, consumer and home furnishings. “Medical is clearly a very core, important market—not just for the nonwovens division but for DuPont as a whole—and we continue to invest heavily to meet the needs of the medical community,” Mr. Lukach explained. “In parallel, we continue to increase our resourcing for fast growing industrial and consumer applications where the particular fabric characteristics of Sontara are the best choice for the end user.”
The explosive growth of the disposable wipes segment has meant big things for the role of nonwovens in consumer markets recently. While DuPont has not been overly active in this segment in the past, it now is enthusiastic about working with leading global consumer companies to develop differentiated fabrics, unique conversion techniques and packaging that lower its customer’s costs and increase the performance of the fabric at the end user level, according to Mr. Lukach. “We must enable our customer to differentiate their product offering with our knowledge of fabric composition, conversion technique or container design,” he said.
In the critical cleaning segment, DuPont introduced a static-control wipe into the automotive aftermarket that is used in the last step of car refinishing prior to painting. Made from Sontara fabric, premoistened with isopropyl alcohol and deionized water, this wipe reduces levels of paint defects in automobiles by eliminating residual static. In the aerospace industry, DuPont offers a production and maintenance wipe that replaces and outperforms cheesecloth in aerospace applications. “We are targeting specialized end uses,” Mr. Lukach explained. “We focus on delivering performance, value and convenience to the ultimate end user of the product.”
In the home furnishings market, Sontara continues to focus on new applications for nonwovens. While such applications tend to be small, some grow into long lasting value generators. One such area is window shades where Sontara has been used for years in certain window treatments. Additionally, the con­tamin­ation control segment is evolving into a broader market for DuPont, despite economic difficulties in the electronics industry. The company offers garments, wipes and other products for the global electronic cleanroom market and is especially well suited to provide high quality service and fabric throughout the Asia Pacific region.
Turning to the global picture, much of Sontara’s growth occurred in areas outside of the U.S. during the past several years. During the first quarter of 2001, Sontara inaugurated a new manufacturing facility in Asturias, Spain, and this facility has enabled DuPont to better target markets in Eastern and Western Europe and the Asia Pacific region while supporting its business in the Americas. In March, this facility became the company’s first nonwovens production facility to be certified with the 2000 version of the ISO 9001 quality standard, which is aimed at increasing customer satisfaction. The next step for the facility will reportedly be to meet the standards of the 1996 version of ISO 4001, which sets standards for environmental management. The DuPont Sontara site in Asturias Spain is a landmark site for DuPont environmental management and has won numerous awards in Europe as a leader in this field. This can be attributed to the particular spunlace process DuPont designed for Asturias. European customers in particular recognize and appreciate the outstanding environmental accomplishments of the DuPont Sontara site in Asturias, according to executives.
In the U.S, DuPont is currently expanding its Sontara production facility in Old Hickory, TN. The project is on track to be completed by the end of this year. While DuPont has not released capacity figures on the new investment or described the particular nonwovens process, executives did say that the new line features state-of-the-art proprietary technology that will provide new flexibility to the manufacture of nonwovens that will translate into increased value to customers.
In South America, a DuPont joint venture with synthetic leather manufacturer Brazilian Cipatex, named DuPont Cipatex, is slated to be commercial during the third quarter of 2002. DuPont reportedly chose the joint venture because of Brazil’s growing importance in the footwear industry as well as Cipatex’s dominance in the footwear and upholstery segments in South America. As part of the agreement, DuPont constructed a new production line.
A continued focus on expanding into new global markets, coupled with a commitment to innovation will add up to success for Sontara in the future. This will lead not only to the expansion of Sontara in its existing markets but to completely new areas for the material. “There are plenty of new applications opportunities out there. In the future, we will continue to aim our scientific capability at bringing uniqueness and differentiation to our customers so that they win in the market,” Mr. Lukach explained. “It’s our passion and our 200- year-old culture across all of the DuPont businesses especially Sontara.”
Location: Wilmington, DE

Sales: $1.2 billion

Description: Key Personnel
Mark Vergnano, vice president and general manager DuPont Nonwovens; Tom Schuler, global business director—Tyvek/Typar; Carl Lukach, global business director—Sontara

Richmond, VA (Tyvek); Old Hickory, TN (Sontara); Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar); Asturias, Spain (Sontara); Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Sontara converting facility); Workington, U.K. (Cambrelle)

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9002 certified; Luxembourg facility also 9001 certified

Flash spun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlaced (Sontara)

Brand Names
Tyvek, Sontara, ComforMax, Typar (worldwide except North, Central and South America), Cambrelle, Acturel, Softess

Major Markets
Medical, general and protective apparel, industrial, construction, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear

With a new leader and a new processing technology, DuPont Nonwovens, Wilmington, DE, has a lot to be proud of this year. Former head of the Tyvek/Typar business, Mark Vergnano took over the role of vice president/general manager in February. One month later, the division unveiled its new Advanced Composite Technology (ACT), which is being produced on a new line at DuPont’s Old Hickory, TN manufacturing facility. Reportedly under development for more than six years, ACT will initially target medical apparel applications but there are many other market opportunities in development.
The new technology, reportedly covered by more than 50 patents, allows for the combination of multiple polymers in a variety of structures. While initially DuPont Suprel nonwovens will target the medical gowns segment, applications for the material are limitless, according to company executives. “It is our heritage to come up with new applications to displace woven materials, paper or film and creating all-together new products,” explained Carl Lukach global business director of Sontara.

Looking at DuPont’s overall performance, total consolidated sales dropped slightly to $24 billion. Sales for the DuPont Safety & Protection platform, which include the nonwovens business, dropped 3% to $3.5 billion. While the company does not break out its nonwovens business’ sales, industry sources estimate them around $1.2 billion.
“We were happy with 2002 and the start of 2003,” Mr. Vergnano said. “If you look at DuPont as a corporation, we have a lot of which to be proud. We have a strong balance sheet, allowing us the cash for key investments. We also continue to drive our core values of safety, ethics and the environment.”
Despite this strength, executives recognize the difficult situation occurring in the nonwovens industry. These include overcapacity and increased raw material costs. To overcome these problems, DuPont relies on unique technology. “Much of today’s nonwovens technology is socialized,” Mr.Vergnano explained. “This is a large part of what’s causing such competitive issues within the industry.”
With a tradition of unique technology, DuPont has already contributed heavily to innovation in the nonwovens industry. DuPont was the first to commercialize “spunlace” hydroentangling technology more than 30 years ago with its DuPont Sontara branded products and pioneered “spunbond” technologies with its DuPont Typar branded products.  Later it invented flashspinning and is the only manufacturer using this unique nonwovens technology for its DuPont Tyvek branded products. “End users are the key link in the value chain. That is the place where you can truly define unmet needs and target innovation to meet those needs.  Our job is to define the unmet needs of the end user, develop unique solutions and then deliver those solutions through our strong network of value chain partners,” said Mr. Vergnano.
Looking at the company’s organization, DuPont was realigned into five market- and technology-focused growth platforms in February 2002. These five platforms include DuPont Electronic & Communication Technologies; DuPont Performance Materials; DuPont Coatings & Color Technologies; DuPont Safety & Protection and DuPont Agriculture & Nutrition. The nonwovens business, along with the Advanced Fiber Systems group, DuPont Chemical Solutions, the Safety Resources business and the Surfaces business including the Corian brand are grouped under the Safety & Protection platform. Since the formation of the new unit, DuPont Nonwovens has profited from internal synergies within its platform. Most recently this collaboration took the shape of an internal joint venture, named DuPont Personal Protection. Established in September 2002, this venture is focused on combining scientific innovation with material, garment and manufacturing expertise to create high performance protective apparel.
DuPont Nonwovens also underwent some reorganization this year with the appointment of Mr. Vergnano, who has worked at DuPont for 23 years, most recently as head of the Tyvek/Typar business. “It’s been a seamless transition. This business is not about any one person. We are still operating off of the same value-driven strategy with an end user market focus,” Mr. Vergnano explained.
Geographically, 50% of DuPont Nonwovens sales come from North American markets while Europe comprises 30%. The remaining 20% of sales are split among regions in the rest of the world. Recognizing the maturity of its major markets, DuPont has been examining strategies for increased global penetration. “We have been focusing on global market segments and analyzing product offerings to see if there’s a fit, depending on the nature of the market,” Mr. Vergnano explained. “For instance, in China we are trying to make products that are specific to the needs of the Chinese end user.”

Also under new leadership is the DuPont Tyvek/Typar business. Company veteran Thomas Schuler was appointed to the position of global business director in February after former director Mr. Vergnano was tapped to head DuPont Nonwovens. Mr. Schuler has worked for DuPont Nonwovens since 1994, holding positions both in the Tyvek and Sontara businesses.
According to Mr. Schuler, Tyvek, DuPont’s flashspun nonwoven product continues to enjoy strong growth in all of its end use markets, including personal protective apparel, construction, medical packaging, envelopes, packaging and graphics.
“We have really been strong in most of our segments,” Mr. Schuler explained. “A lot of this has been brought about by our focus on the end user and the brand promise.”
In construction, one of the fastest growing end use segments for Tyvek, the company has been working to increase the use of weather barriers (both housewrap and roof underlayments) globally. This is being achieved in two ways. For one, the company is touting the benefits of using a house wrap in areas where the practice is not yet widespread; for another, it is developing new products for specific applications such as DuPont FlexWrap for windows and a product to seal roofs. “Globally, our biggest competitor in the construction market is people who are not using anything,” Mr. Schuler explained. “Our big focus is to increase the penetration of the category in the market.”
For instance, education efforts are underway to teach builders how to use flashing systems to protect buildings from water damage. This includes Europe, Japan and South America where building codes and practices differ from the U.S. “We are looking at ways to provide solutions to fill builders’ needs that are unique to the construction industry,” Mr. Schuler explained.
Another core area for Tyvek that is seeing a great deal of action recently is personal protection, which has profited from a more focused approach to the global personal protection market. Recently DuPont Personal Protection has consolidated many DuPont products in the protective arena. These include DuPont Nomex for thermal hazards, Tyvek for dry particulate hazards, DuPont Tychem for liquid and gas chemical hazards, DuPont ProShield for general-purpose applications and DuPont Kevlar for cut-and-abrasion protection. Combining these products under one entity provides our customers with one source for all of their protective garment needs. “As we look to grow, it’s very important for us to form one area for customers to come to for all of their protective equipment-related needs,” Mr. Schuler explained. “It’s not just about nonwovens but about a full-scale solution.”
DuPont enlarged its protection portfolio in July through the acquisition of White Knight Engineered Products, a manufacturer of reusable and disposable textile products headquartered in Charlotte, NC. The purchase of the company’s nonwovens cleanroom apparel line is expected to bring the best possible protective garments and accessories to market using the talent and technology of both organizations. Products include a full line of cleanroom and controlled environment apparel including head gear, shoe covers, lab coats, frocks, coveralls and face masks. The assets of the acquisition are being managed by the DuPont Contamination Control segment of DuPont Nonwovens.
In recent years, a focus on brand building has been paramount to the success of DuPont across the board. For instance, Tyvek’s envelope division has completed an initiative whereby its customers, including the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Express and the French Postal Service, carry the DuPont Tyvek logo on their mailers, promoting the name around the world. Even though these agencies have been using Tyvek packaging for years, this initiative was started only recently as DuPont continues to harness the power of its brand names.
Also driving growth for Tyvek are events and market changes. DuPont Personal Protection business has been quick to respond to many world events in recent months. In fact, in April, DuPont announced that it has stepped up supply efforts for DuPont Tyvek protective disposable garments in China and Hong Kong to help healthcare responders to slow the spread of Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The Chinese government had requested one million protective Tyvek disposable garments for healthcare workers and other professionals. The structure of Tyvek flash spun, nonwoven fabric provides a strong barrier against a range of microscopic substances, including fine dust particles and fibers as well as non-hazardous, water-based liquids at low applied pressure.
From a manufacturing standpoint, Tyvek is produced at DuPont facilities in Richmond, VA, Luxembourg and Shenzhen, China. While the technology has not seen any major expansion since a new flash spinning line was added in Luxembourg last year, the company is constantly increasing the flexibility of its lines to create a broader performance range for its customers. “We are constantly challenging our ability to respond to changing market needs and demands,” Mr. Schuler explained.

The big news from the DuPont Sontara business is the launch of a manufacturing facility implementing proprietary process technology called Advanced Composite Technology (ACT). DuPont will initially target medical applications for its DuPont Medical Fabrics business, an area where DuPont first blazed a trail three decades ago with its traditional Sontara spunlace product.
The first commercial product developed with this new technology taps the strength of polyester and the texture of polyethylene for surgical gowns and patient drapes. ACT produces bicomponent fabric that not only meets high standards for protection in operating rooms but also has a smooth and silky texture, enabling freedom of movement and comfort for patients and healthcare professionals.
“This is a core market for our total business and we continue to drive innovation with new composite fabrics,” explained Mr. Lukach.  “The main benefits of our initial ACT medical fabric are its soft, silky texture when it touches the skin. The freedom of movement that it offers healthcare workers differentiates it from other fabrics.”  
Suprel was created using the input of operating room nurses who participated in comfort studies conducted at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. This new technology has allowed DuPont Medical Fabrics to make a product with a high level of protection and uncompromising comfort. It has less surface friction than competitive products and it transfers heat away from the body quickly. Made from continuous filament fibers, Suprel is expected to be available for commercial distribution in late 2003. In the meantime, DuPont is conducting in-hospital trial evaluations and expects Suprel to be used by U.S. hospitals later this year.
Accompanying Suprel in the DuPont Medical Fabrics portfolio are Acturel, a new high-performance impervious fabric, and an improved Sontara spunlace fabric now rebranded Softesse.
“DuPont has a 25-year tradition as a leading supplier of nonwoven-based medical supplies. It set the standard with Sontara and now we are extending our leadership with Suprel, Acturel and Softesse,” Mr. Lukach explained.
DuPont’s spunlaced products for medical applications continue to be one of the nonwovens business’ core interest areas. The Sontara business received a boost recently when Arizant Healthcare, Eden Prairie, MN, chose Softesse as the gown fabric for its new Bair Paws patient adjustable warming system. Reportedly, the world’s first single-use patient warming gown and warming unit in one convenient system helps keep patients comfortable before and after surgery. Company executives expect this product to not only increase patient comfort but also decrease the effort it takes healthcare workers to make patients comfortable while waiting for surgery.
DuPont Medical Fabrics business recently announced the appointment of Paul Dewingaerden, former secretary general of EDANA, as business manager of DuPont Medical Fabrics, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Mr. Dewingaerden brings more than 25 years of diverse marketing and business experience in the European medical fabrics and healthcare industries to this new post. He has worked at American Hospital Supply and Dexter Corporation. At DuPont, he will manage the medical fabrics business in Europe.
Looking beyond medical applications, DuPont Sontara continues its strong focus on fabric innovation for its industrial and consumer market customers. One advantage Son­tara has over competing material is that it is based on wood pulp and polyester, unlike most spunlace materials which are 100% synthetic. The combination of wood pulp and polyester provides strength, purity and higher absorption rates, which are features many end use manufacturers demand in spunlace nonwovens.
Additional markets for DuPont Sontara fabrics include consumer, contamination control and home furnishings, as well as critical cleaning applications for wipes products in aerospace, automotive, industrial, printing and food service markets.
Looking at the global business for Sontara, much of its growth has been achieved outside of the U.S. in recent years. This was largely the result of the installation of new manufacturing facilities in Asturias, Spain, Beijing, China and Cerquilo, Brazil. The Spanish facility has allowed DuPont to better target markets in eastern and western Europe, and the Beijing facility has enabled DuPont to better supply the growing demand in the Asia-Pacific region. Its South American business has been expanded through a joint venture with the leading Brazilian manufacturer of footwear components, Cipatex. Named DuPont-Cipatex, this venture started up a new spunlaced line in September 2002, which will mainly target footwear substrates and wipes applications. Company executives continue to place high value on the strength of their close working relationship with Cipatex, the leading supplier of footwear products to the rapidly growing Brazilian shoe industry. In late 2000, DuPont sold its Camtex needlepunch business in northern U.K. in a management buyout.  
Down the road, the focus will be on key business acquisition and expansion. Identifying end user needs will continue to be an important part of the DuPont Nonwovens growth strategy. “In the future, we will drive three core strategies to achieve future growth: focusing on brand building at the end user level; alignments with value chain partners and developing new products with unique technology,” Mr. Vergnano explained. “You are never going to see us mortgage our future. We will continue to make investments that we deem proper in order to grow. It’s a very consistent strategy.”"
Location: Wilmington, DE

Sales: $1.2 BILLION

Description: Key Personnel
Mark Vergnano, vice president and general manager DuPont Nonwovens; Tom Schuler, global business director—Tyvek/Typar; Carl Lukach, global business director—Sontara

Richmond, VA (Tyvek); Old Hickory, TN (Sontara); Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar); Asturias, Spain (Sontara); Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Sontara converting facility); Workington, U.K. (Cambrelle)

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9002 certified; Luxembourg facility also 9001 certified

Flash spun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlaced (Sontara, Softesse), bicomponent meltspun (Suprel)

Brand Names
Tyvek, Sontara, Softesse, Suprel, ComforMax, Typar (worldwide except North, Latin America), Cambrelle

Major Markets
Healthcare, general and protective apparel, industrial, construction, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear

With sales of approximately $1.2 billion, DuPont Nonwovens, Wilmington, DE, continues to garner success by focusing on brands, technology and added value. The company is targeting three major markets where it plans to grow through innovation and added value—health, construction and safety. Other areas of interest include cleaning and disinfecting and packaging. “We have found that these markets are not only looking for innovation, they are willing to reward innovation,” said Mark Vergnano, vice president and general manager of DuPont Nonwovens.
In construction, the biggest competitors for DuPont are builders that don’t use a weather membrane of any kind; while in health care and safety (worker protection), innovative web forming technology and barrier protection technology are poised to grow these businesses, helping DuPont expand its share.
By region, about half of DuPont Nonwovens’ sales are in North America; Europe represents 35% of sales, Latin America contributes 5% and Asia represents 10%. This breakdown has not changed significantly in recent years but executives expect Asia to emerge as a larger market for nonwovens as infrastructure and other improvements drive growth.
DuPont has been honing its strategy and its product offerings for developing economies. “You can’t take products for developed areas and expect to sell them in developing regions,” Mr. Vergnano explained. “Not only are there affordability issues, there are also market requirements driven by climate, custom and consumer preferences.”
Supporting this globalization strategy, are several manufacturing and marketing joint venture agreements between DuPont and foreign partners. In China, DuPont operates a Tyvek facility in Beijing. While in Brazil, DuPont operates a spunlace line with partner Cipatex that largely targets footwear markets. In Japan, DuPont and roll goods producer Asahi Kasei have forged a marketing joint venture that provides improved access to Japan for nonwoven products.
Beyond Asia and Latin America, Eastern Europe is also a prime area for growth. This area has always been a focus but in the past three or four years considerable growth has occurred. This is expected to accelerate as many of this region’s countries take advantage of their recent European Union member status.
“Our global business processes are working,” Mr. Vergnano said. “A big benefit for us is being part of a strong global company. We don’t have to enter a country as DuPont Nonwovens but can enter as part of DuPont. This has helped us target and enter developing countries that will be key to our growth in the future.”
New technology has always been a cornerstone of the DuPont business strategy, relying largely on its own technological capabilities. In the past few years, however, DuPont has expanded this strategy to include technology partnerships with innovative companies to speed the introduction of new technologies to the market. Executives would not be specific on this strategy.
Developed areas such as North America and Europe continue to offer strong growth prospects in all DuPont core markets. DuPont plans to support this continued growth with increasing reliance on its competencies in polymer science and engineering. This area’s first new major technology platform, called Advanced Composite Technology (ACT), was introduced in spring 2003. It combines multiple polymers and product layers to provide greater flexibility. This technology will initially target the healthcare segment under the brand name DuPont Suprel but the far-reaching flexibility of ACT will allow penetration of a wide range of markets.
Executives have indicated that ACT is only the first of several nonwovens technologies that will use polymer science and engineering to develop new markets for nonwovens. “During the next eight years, we will be introducing multiple new technologies that bring new flexibility, properties and functionality to nonwovens,” said Mr. Vergnano. “These will be unique products to meet new needs of the market.
Mr. Vergnano estimated that the next technology platform would be introduced within the next six months.
The effort to enhance sheet structure performance with polymer science and engineering, which has been headquartered at the DuPont Old Hickory, TN facility reaffirms the status of DuPont as a technology leader in nonwovens. Past innovations include Tyvek flash spinning technology, which more than three decades after its development, continues to be a one-of-its-kind technology in nonwovens, and Sontara spunlaced technology. These technologies continue to be improved and remain an important part of the DuPont nonwovens strategy. However, the importance of polymer science and engineering was firmly evident in the recent appointment of David Flitman, a former polymer scientist, to head the DuPont Sontara business, which also includes ACT, after former head Carl Lukach was named vice president of investor relations for the corporation.
On the corporate front, DuPont continues to take steps to ensure future profitability. In April, the company announced that it would cut its global workforce by 6%, in total 3500 positions, as part of a $900 million cost improvement plan first announced in December 2003. This plan mainly impacted jobs in North America and Western Europe; the measure’s impact on the nonwovens business was not clear.
This downsizing did not include the DuPont sale of Invista, the company’s textile unit which includes such brand names as Lycra and Stainmaster. DuPont sold this division for a reported $4.2 billion to a subsidiary of Koch Industries.  

One of the keys to the success of the Tyvek business has been the technological ability to balance seemingly conflicting properties to achieve unique performance in use. DuPont is constantly honing this flash spinning technology to fit the changing needs of the market as well as to meet the specific demands of different regions. “As the needs of your customers change, you have to change your product,” explained Tom Schuler, global business manager of Tyvek. DuPont offers several grades of Tyvek to allow it to uniquely balance the properties required for its core end use markets—protective apparel, construction, medical packaging, envelopes, packaging and graphics. “Flash spinning is not easy,” Mr. Schuler said. “It is a very difficult science and technology that takes many different disciplines to master.”
One of the fastest growing markets for DuPont Nonwovens, construction has profited from Tyvek functionality, particularly in the housewrap and roof underlayment markets. Here, the challenge for DuPont has been to educate users on the advantages of using such products and developing new end-use areas where nonwovens can provide value. Trends in this market vary significantly by region. For instance, in Europe, where there is little woodframe construction, most of the business falls in the roofing category and no one is using house wrap whereas in the U.S. housewrap is widely used and the challenge is to expand into window flashing and roofing accessories. Either way, DuPont is focusing on increasing the use of these products, not taking away share from its competition. “When you are growing through penetration rather than share gain, it allows you to be less sensitive to market fluctuations,” Mr. Schuler said.
In some cases, this has allowed DuPont to grow despite difficult economic conditions. Last year, the German construction market decreased 25% but DuPont grew there. This was also the case in Japan, where construction sales dropped 30% but DuPont business grew.
Protective apparel, another important market for Tyvek has benefited from the creation of DuPont Personal Protection, a division that has consolidated all of the DuPont products in the personal protective equipment arena. In addition to Tyvek nonwovens for dry particulate hazards, DuPont Personal Protection includes DuPont Nomex for thermal hazards, DuPont Tychem for liquid and gas chemical hazards, DuPont ProShield for general-purpose applications and DuPont Kevlar for cut-and-abrasion protection.  Bringing these products into one business gives DuPont customers one place to go for all of their needs. Growth in the personal protection realm is driven largely by worker safety, not large-scale catastrophe. “Negative events just reinforce our business,” Mr. Schuler said. “The market does, to some extent, rely on our ability to be ready for emergencies but it’s the everyday business that is important in terms of growth.”
Another protective area, cleanrooms has been targeted through the acquisition of White Knight Engineered Products in July 2003. The Charlotte, NC-based producer of reusable and disposable textile products enhances the DuPont protective garment business. Products include a full line of cleanroom and controlled environment apparel including headgear, shoe covers, lab coats, frocks, coveralls and face masks. The business is being controlled by the DuPont Contamination Control segment of DuPont Nonwovens.
In  envelopes and medical packaging, key efforts for the Tyvek business have focused on improved printability and convertibility. “We spend a lot of time downstream working with converters to make their jobs easier,” said Mr. Schuler.
Envelopes have benefited in recent years from emphasis on brand building. Customers including the U.S. Postal Service, Federal Express and the French Post Office now bear the Tyvek logo on their envelopes.
Down the road, Tyvek will grow in all of its end markets, which are all performing well in terms of sales and earnings, according to Mr. Schuler. “There is really not one market that is notable,” he said. “Many attractive areas are reaping returns.”

The big news in the DuPont Sontara business is the change in leadership. This summer, current business leader Mr. Lukach, moved to the corporate side of the business as vice president of investor relations. Mr. Flitman, formerly a part of DuPont  Engineering Polymers business has been named his replacement. The appointment of someone well schooled in polymer science reflects the degree of importance DuPont is placing on this type of technology for the future of nonwovens. The company’s Suprel nonwovens, which combine the softness of polypropylene with the strength of polyester to achieve enhanced barrier protection in surgical garments has already received tremendous feedback from operating room nurses. Of more than 5000 surveys, the vast majority of these professionals said that garments using Suprel are much more comfortable than the gowns they’re currently using.
In 2004, DuPont Medical Fabrics’ initial launch partner in Suprel is Medline. “This really plays to the core of what DuPont is all about,” Mr. Lukach said. “We are really opening up the box on what polymer science is all about and we are really playing with polymer chemistry to see what we can develop.”
DuPont is focusing Advanced Composite Technology on 25 functioning end use qualities that it can achieve through this process. This high functionality will allow DuPont to pursue a number of end use categories beyond healthcare in upcoming months.

A key benefit of ACT is its ability to add functionality  to fabrics increasing costs. Because it is the production process that adds the functionality, not the addition of raw materials or multiple layers, the flexibility comes from engineering know-how.
The flexibility benefits of ACT have been leveraged through the new DuPont design-your-own technology where customers choose a variety of parameters—thickness, strength, softness, durability, etc.—and a computer program recommends a possible fabric solution to meet these parameters.
Beyond Suprel, other medical fabrics offered by DuPont include Softesse and Acturel. Softesse, formerly branded Sontara, is the traditional spunlaced material made by DuPont; Acturel is made with film laminates and offers a high level of protection but less comfort. “What is used really depends on the healthcare worker’s preferences,” Mr. Lukach said. “Some prefer the traditional Softesse that they’ve used for decades; some are very interested in trying something new.”
Outside of the healthcare market, the DuPont spunlaced business continues under the Sontara brand name. Overall, demand for this material is healthy, growing 5-6% While a global overcapacity situation currently is threatening spunlace, unlike the majority of spunlaced output, which is 100% synthetic, DuPont combines wood pulp with polyester.”
This type of material is preferred by some wipe manufacturers for its strength, purity, absorptive properties and barrier characteristics. While DuPont continues to work on the consumer side of the wipes business, its innovation is highly valued by industrial markets including automotive, general manufacturing, printing and food service.
DuPont Nonwovens’ interest in footwear has benefited from a joint venture agreement with Brazilian footwear leader Cipatex. Operating a line under this joint venture, the business  focuses on coated substrates for footwear and other end-use market. It combines DuPont’s nonwovens expertise with Cipatex’s strong knowledge of the South American footwear business. “It’s really about our two businesses creating higher performing materials for end uses like footwear,” Mr. Lukach said.
Whether through joint ventures, new product development or market penetration, DuPont will continue to find success in nonwovens thanks to its three-tiered strategy—unique technology, a brand-oriented business plan and alignment with partners in the value chain. “In a branded business, it is all about living up to your brand promise. You are only as good as your products and offerings in the end-use markets,” Mr. Vergnano said. “We are invested and will continue to invest  in downstream markets; we have to make sure we adjust our technology and products accordingly to meet the needs of these markets.
Location: Wilmington, DE

Sales: $1.25 billion

Description: Key Personnel
Mark Vergnano, vice president and general manager DuPont Nonwovens; Tom Schuler, global business director—Tyvek/Typar; Nigel Budden, global business director—Sontara

Richmond, VA (Tyvek); Old Hickory, TN (Sontara, Suprel. Softesse); Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar); Asturias, Spain (Sontara); Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Sontara converting facility)

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9002 certified; Luxembourg facility also 9001 certified

Flash spun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlaced (Sontara)

Brand Names
Tyvek, Tychem, Sontara, Suprel, Softesse, ComfortMax, Typar (worldwide except North, Central and South America)

Major Markets
Construction, health care, protective apparel, industrial, filtration, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear

Sales increased about 6% (estimated) to reach approximately $1.25 billion in 2004 at DuPont Nonwovens, Wilmington, DE, thanks to significant gains in Eastern and Central Europe, Asia and Latin America, according to executives. Additionally, a strong performance in the construction market contributed to gains for the business.
“Our goal has been to drive our business toward double-digit top and bottom line growth and in 2005, to date, we’ve gotten a little closer to that,” said Mark Vergnano, vice president and general manager of DuPont Nonwovens. “We are at 7% growth for the year so far.”
Earnings growth has been more challenging than sales growth, due to escalating raw material costs. Because DuPont operates with a goal of equating price with value, it has been careful not to increase costs haphazardly. “We try to look at the value we bring to our end users and keep our price points in line with the value,” Mr. Vergnano said. “In some cases, this basic equation has gotten out of whack because of rising ingredient costs.”
That said, DuPont was able to keep price increases minimal until the second quarter of 2005. Instead, the company relied on increased efficiency wherever possible and improved management of raw material purchasing to keep costs in check. Still, remaining profitable was particularly challenging in certain tight margin areas such as medical fabrics and critical cleaning. DuPont exited some of the tighter commodity areas such as consumer wipes, where it did not see an opportunity to add value and be profitable.
“The consumer wipes market is in a similar situation as the hygiene market was 10 years ago,” Mr. Vergnano said. “A lot of companies are chasing high volumes with off-the-shelf technology. This doesn’t really leave a lot of room for value.”
Also facing significant competitive and cost-related challenges is the health care market, where DuPont remains a major player. As hospitals and buying groups, particularly in North America, try to reduce costs of worker and patient apparel, margins have been squeezed and raw material costs have not always been absorbed. “We continue to believe that we have a superior value proposition in the health care market. The key for us is to ensure that our message and value is understood by the health care providers and patients that will benefit from our advanced technology and science,” stated Mr. Vergnano.
Meanwhile, DuPont Nonwovens’ two other key growth areas—construction and personal protection—continue to provide stellar growth for the company, thanks largely to developing world economies as well as innovation in existing markets. That’s not to say, however, that new markets are not interesting to the company. A recent initiative will help DuPont enter new territories as well as a new market—filtration. Last year, the company acquired a new nonwovens technology from a small Korean technology firm. This new technology is designed to produce uniform fine fibers and adds to DuPont selective barrier technology. This technology will not only help DuPont expand offerings to existing markets but also enter the filtration segment, which is steadily increasing its use of nonwovens. “Filtration is an area we have looked at for some time,” Mr. Vergnano explained. “But, until now, we haven’t had the right technology to allow the right approach.”
After purchasing the technology, as well as a pilot line making the material last year, in May, the company went public with an announcement it would increase the venture to a full-blown market development facility from which it will explore global opportunities for the technology. Within the next 12 months, executives expect to also announce plans for a full-scale commercial production line centered on the technology. “This facility could be anywhere but clearly we would like to extend our footprint in Asia,” Mr. Vergnano said.
The Korean investment is the first nonwovens manufacturing facility in Asia wholly owned by DuPont, although it does operate a joint venture in China as well as converting assets in China and Japan. For now, the company is able to satisfy Asian demand in its existing technologies from facilities in North America and Europe but has been plowing other resources into Japan, China, India and Korea, the four Asian countries earmarked for future growth.
Beyond Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America are other hot spots for growth. In Eastern Europe, DuPont has been able to meet demand from its Western European bases, while in Latin America, the company’s joint venture with shoemaker Cipatex, called DuPont Cipatex, has allowed it to meet demand in footwear as well as other markets. As for Latin American markets outside of Brazil, DuPont is not currently active but is assessing them.
“Our focal point is Brazil,” Mr. Vergnano said. “Argentina has been a little rocky economically and the other countries in South America are not showing as much demand. Mexico is doing well and we are evaluating it for growth.”
From a technological standpoint, polymer science is expected to pave the way for DuPont to grow in its nonwovens business. The first product offering made with Advanced Composite Technology, Suprel, continues to fare well in the health care market where it combines the softness of polypropylene and the strength of polyester. The company continues to examine new areas for the material as well. Beyond the ACT technology, DuPont Nonwovens is relying on the polymer expertise of its parent company.
“We want to drive innovation with polymer knowledge owned by DuPont,” Mr. Vergnano explained. “This means adding new polymers to existing polyolefins to bring many more functionalities to the market.”
These functionalities could include strength or flame resistance and down the road could even allow DuPont to use bio-based polymers in its nonwoven substrates. “This type of technology will be a big driver for some of our future new products,” according to Mr. Vergnano.

The DuPont Tyvek business continues to perform well thanks to superior product performance as well as continued focus on educating the end user. One example is the construction market where the company has been educating architects and builders on the importance of using housewrap and other Tyvek products. These efforts have paid off in Central and Eastern Europe as well as in Asia where DuPont has increased its downstream presence in recent years. Also, the Tyvek business has outperformed the market in North America and Europe despite that market’s fluctuations.
 New product development has also been a key growth engine for Tyvek, with a focus on offering added functionalities to the substrate.
“Just this spring, we have added five new products to our Tyvek line that will allow us to enter new market segments or add new functionalities to markets where we already exist,” said Tom Schuler, global business manager of Tyvek. “This enables us to enter new markets and reinforce our competitive position in existing ones.”
One such product, introduced this spring is Tyvek Reflex. This new product has been metallized to add thermal performance while maintaining its water holdout and breathability.
These new products were developed from a constant effort to hone Tyvek flash spinning technologies to fit the changing needs of the market as well as to meet the specific demands of different regions. These efforts have allowed DuPont Tyvek, in addition to construction, to target such markets as protective apparel, medical packaging, envelopes, packaging and graphics.
While construction continues to be the largest market for Tyvek, protective apparel continues to gain in importance. This segment has benefited from the creation of DuPont Personal Protection, a business that brought all of the DuPont personal protective products under one umbrella and has allowed the company to provide the customers and end users with a wider range of protection from this single business. According to Mr. Schuler, this corporate-wide structure has expedited infrastructure investments and technology development. “By expanding the offering and our presence downstream, customers have gained access to a more complete offering and we’ve gained tremendous insight into their current and future needs,” he added.
In addition to Tyvek for dry particulate hazards, DuPont Personal Protection includes DuPont Nomex for thermal hazards, DuPont Tychem for liquid and gas chemical hazards, DuPont ProShield for general-purpose applications and DuPont Kevlar for cut-and-abrasion protection. Growth in this segment is driven largely by worker protection, not by large-scale catastrophes. “But, it is our job to be ready to respond to disaster,” Mr. Schuler said.
In addition to its traditional markets, Tyvek is also making headway in some new markets. Among these is the automotive textile market in Asia, which has shown considerably more interest in nonwovens than other regions. “You really have to tailor products to meet the needs of specific markets,” Mr. Schuler explained.
This has also been a challenge in existing markets. Take construction, where differing national construction codes have led DuPont to offer 40 different roofing products in Europe alone. “What we do is spend a lot of time understanding what our end user needs,” Mr. Schuler said. “We learned how important it is to bring the power of DuPont to market. If nonwovens can’t meet a need, we have great resources within the rest of the company to work with to find the right solution for that particular customer.”

The DuPont Sontara business continues to look for new roles for its new polymer technology, which was originally unveiled in spring 2003. Marketed initially under the Suprel brand name to the health care apparel market, products made with this technology combine multiple polymers to add functionality to the nonwoven. With Suprel, the polymers are polyproplyene, for softness, and polyester, for barrier protection, but virtually any two polymers can be combined in this process, called Advanced Composite Technology (ACT). “We are looking at the many segments that DuPont operates in to see how ACT would benefit them,” explained Nigel Budden, global business manager of Sontara. “These are not necessarily typical nonwovens uses. It is good for us, as well as for the industry, to broaden the use of nonwovens.”
Currently, Mr. Budden, who assumed his position this spring, could not comment on specific target areas for the polymer technology, but he would say that the mixing of polymers and technology will enable DuPont to meet a wide range of applications. “We are learning about unmet needs that this technology can satisfy with added or new functionality for a nonwoven material.”
For now, the technology’s chief role is in the health care market where surgical gowns and drapes have been launched in partnership with Medline Industries. While well respected and accepted, the growth of these new products face similar value-to-price barriers found in other nonwovens markets. The health care market is extremely cost conscious and while the material is valued by those who use it, the purchasers don’t always appreciate the value-added benefits of Suprel.
Still, as a huge market for DuPont, health care will always be considered a staple. In addition to Suprel, the company offers a traditional spunlace product, which was recently renamed Softesse from Sontara in the health care market, and a film-based material called Acturel. “The health care market will always be bullet proof when it comes to many economic drivers,” Mr. Budden explained. “Sometimes it just takes a little longer for new technology to be accepted. Once you really understand the needs of the market, however, you can tailor your products to meet them and DuPont is well prepared to do this.”
Beyond health care, the wipes market continues to be an important one for the Sontara spunlaced product. However, pricing issues and other economic factors led the company to exit the mass consumer side of the business. “We prefer to be in areas where we can add value to a product and the mass market was just not a place where we could do this,” Mr. Budden explained. “The company will continue to look at wipes areas where value-added features are appreciated. These could include industrial, some niche consumer and high-technology sectors.”
In addition to new markets, growth will come from new geographies. A partnership with Brazilian footwear maker Cipatex has begun to yield business in areas beyond footwear, and joint ventures in Japan and China continue to fare well. Additionally, in expectation of increased Asian growth, the company has increased its Asian sales and marketing group.
“It’s safe to say that there will be growth in Asia,” Mr. Budden said. “Just look at the number of people there. It’s just a matter of picking which economy will grow and when and being ready for it.”
As it conquers new markets, developing new ways to make nonwovens will allow DuPont to bring materials to new places, which will mean good things for the company as well as for the nonwovens industry as a whole. “It is our goal to develop products and technologies that you wouldn’t even know were a nonwoven,” Mr. Budden said. “This will help us ensure that as an industry we are sustainable.”
Location: Wilmington, DE

Sales: $1.35 billion

Description: Key Personnel
Matt Trerotola, vice president and general manager DuPont Nonwovens; Mahesh Mansukhani, global business director-Tyvek/Typar and Nigel Budden, global business director-Sontara

Richmond, VA (Tyvek); Old Hickory, TN (Sontara, Suprel, Softesse); Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar); Asturias, Spain (Sontara) and Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Sontara converting facility)

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9002 certified; Luxembourg facility also 9001 certified

Flash spun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlaced (Sontara), Advanced Composite Technology, Hybrid Membrane Technology

Brand Names
Tyvek, Tychem, Sontara, Suprel, Softesse, ComforMax, Typar (worldwide except North, Central and South America)

Major Markets
Construction, health care, protective apparel, industrial, filtration, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear

Under new leadership this year is DuPont Nonwovens. In October 2005, Matt Trerotola replaced Mark Vergnano as vice president and general manager of the division, which reported sales in the $1.35 billion range last year, a 6-7% increase.  Mr.

Trerotola has continued to focus on leveraging DuPont’s position as a value leader across all of its end use categories, which range from construction to medical gowns to protective apparel to, most recently, filtration.  “We consider ourselves a value leader so we are focused on delivering value and getting paid for that value,” he said. “This has been difficult as raw material and other logistical costs rose so rapidly. Margins have been squeezed and we have had to pass along these costs to our customers.  But, we continue to focus on bringing value to the market through new technology.”
Despite these challenges, DuPont Nonwovens has been able to remain strong. While its goal of double-digit top line growth was not met in 2005, due largely to a late-in-the-year slowdown, executives say the division is on track to achieve this goal in 2006.
One core strategy moving DuPont Nonwovens forward is the division’s continued focus on selective barrier technology. “When you think about our technology, we have many products that are successful because of their selective barrier solutions,” said Mr. Trerotola, referring to Tyvek housewrap and medical packaging products and Sontara medical gowns, to name a few. “We have had a strong position with these selective barrier solutions and now we are seeing the opportunity to add new markets and technologies.”
Among these markets are filtration and energy storage, two areas DuPont is targeting with its newest innovation in selective barriers. Hybrid Membrane Technology  (HMT) is a combination of submicron fibers and high surface area that delivers an optimal balance of flux-barrier performance. In the spring of 2006, DuPont started up a production line in Korea, on which to make the new material. HMT is allowing DuPont to expand its presence in filtration markets, presenting strong growth opportunities for nonwovens, because of its ability to uniformly trap submicron particles, such as bacteria,  while maintaining high flow rates,” said Sandra Van Wormer, president, Hybrid Membrane Venture. Additionally, energy storage applications will benefit from the fabric’s high uniformity. “The application possibilities are many,” Ms. Van Wor­mer said. “DuPont is working to bring HMT value to customers in a variety of areas that require a selective barrier.”
The Korean investment represents DuPont’s commitment to meeting global market needs. Elsewhere in Asia, DuPont operates a nonwovens joint venture in China as well as converting assets in China and Japan. For now DuPont can satisfy Asian demand with its existing technologies from facilities in North America and Europe but has been plowing other resources into Japan, China, India and Korea, the four Asian countries earmarked for future growth.
Beyond Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America are other hot spots for growth. DuPont largely serves Eastern Europe from its West European operations in Luxembourg and Spain, while in Latin America, its joint venture with footwear supplier Cipatex, initially designed to open up opportunities in the footwear arena, continues to expand.
“The bulk of our production is in North America and Europe,” Mr. Trerotola explained. “But, we are constantly looking at all of our segments from a global basis. Europe and the U.S. are our largest businesses, but we now have a substantial Asian business and a small but fast growing South American business.”

The DuPont Tyvek business, based on flashspun nonwovens technology, continues to perform well as evidenced by the division’s recent announcement it would increase production output at both of its major facilities—in Richmond, VA and Luxembourg. While Mahesh Mansukhani, global business director, Tyvek, would not elaborate on the scope of the Richmond expansion, which is set to come onstream within 18 months, he did reveal that the additional Luxembourg capacity would result in a 15-20% global Tyvek capacity increase by 2008. “It shows that we have a strong belief that we will continue to grow much in the same way we have been,” he said.
In recent years, Tyvek has grown a steady 6-7% annually, thanks to gains in construction, protective apparel and medical packaging as well as in smaller areas such as envelopes, graphics and other niche applications.
In the construction segment, DuPont Tyvek has countered slower market growth in Europe and Asia as well as recent slowdowns in the U.S. housing market with new product introductions such as Metallized Tyvek, which is incorporated into Tyvek AtticWrap and ThermaWrap to reflect heat, helping reduce heat build-up in the summer and heat loss in the winter. “Construction is a major contributor to the growth of Tyvek, but we have a nice pipeline across all of our segments,” Mr. Mansukhani explained. “A lot of our success has to do with our ability to introduce new products that give customers new opportunities and new reasons to use Tyvek.”
Meanwhile, protective apparel has benefited from synergies that exist between Tyvek and other DuPont brands, such as Nomex and Kevlar. DuPont Personal Protection, a division encompassing the protective product brands, has been able to offer a range of protective solutions. These offerings have expanded to garments that protect from multiple hazards. For example, Thermopro utilizes nonwovens knowledge along with Tychem and Nomex experience, is the first garment to meet NFPA standards for both flash fire and chemical protection.  
The Tyvek medical packaging business has benefited from the introduction of Asuron, which offers the same high microbial protection and physical characteristics as Tyvek 1073B while delivering substantial improvements such as wider heat-seal window, better printability and bar code readability, a more homogenous appearance and broader regional production capabilities.  The development of Asuron and other new products using Tyvek illustrates how dynamic this technology is, according to executives.
“The thing about Tyvek is that it provides a combination of attributes that allow it to bring a number of qualities for many applications,” Mr. Mansukhani said. “Competitors have tried and been able to do fantastic things with one attribute of this fabric, but not one has been able to achieve all of them in one substrate.”
In addition to the major markets for Tyvek, there are a number of smaller niche markets which DuPont officials were unwilling to reveal. “We don’t want to lose our competitive advantage. These smaller niche markets are our growth engine. These are the markets we want to turn into the next major category for us,” Mr. Mansukhani said.

The DuPont Sontara business unit generally falls into two segments, medical fabrics and diversified fabrics, which includes wipes and home furnishings, among others. In 2005, both segments achieved double-digit growth despite somewhat flat sales in industrial wipe categories.
The DuPont Medical Fabrics business includes several brands: Softesse spunlaced material, Suprel advanced composite fabric and Acturel films. The type of fabric largely depends on the type of medical procedure.
Suprel, launched in 2003, was DuPont’s first new polymer technology. Combining the softness of polyethylene with the barrier protection of polyester, Suprel meets two key needs of the medical community—comfort and protection. “We have been very excited about Suprel,” said Scott Gettelfinger, North American business manager. “This year, we are seeing significant adoption rates thanks to the value combination offered to nurses and surgeons who are looking for the best combination of comfort and protection.”
As the medical community becomes more cognizant of infection prevention protocol, so has its willingness to pay higher price levels for the right protection for personnel and patients alike. For its part, DuPont has been working with distribution partner Medline to educate medical purchasers about the value proposition of Suprel and Softesse. “The combination of protection and comfort allows nurses and surgeons to perform at a better level and provide better healthcare,” Mr. Gettelfinger explained.
Suprel tends to go into higher end medical garments such as Aurora surgical gowns, Orthomax drapes, Aurora Surgical drapes and DuPont Isolation gowns, which at the same time offer improved barrier protection and increased breathability for the medical market.
Meanwhile, DuPont’s Softesse, a spunlace offering for the medical market, continues to perform well as the medical communities of emerging regions increase their conversion from reusable gowns to single use, a trend brought on by infection control awareness. “We are seeing increases in inventories signaling the adoption of single-use gowns globally,” Mr. Gettelfinger said. “This is just the result of natural market evolution.”
Beyond medical, DuPont spunlaced nonwovens have enjoyed significant penetration in the wipes segment, particularly in areas where high absorbency and low linting of Sontara are valued. One major coup for the DuPont wipes business is its role in an automobile surface preparation system, which contains both wet and dry wipes to prepare an automotive surface prior to painting. “We are the only company that can combine our in-depth know-how of the automotive refinish paint process and the performance needed for associated wiping products, ultimately delivering a better paint job.”  
And, despite reports of commoditization in consumer wipes, DuPont executives commented that there are still opportunities where value can be appreciated in this segment. “The new spunlace lines coming onstream are targeting a broader consumer and hygiene market than we are, so they are not necessarily a direct a threat to us,” Mr. Gettelfinger said. “We choose to play in areas where our technology is appreciated and valued.”
Turning back to the company’s Advanced Composite Technology, three years after its launch into the medical market, this technology is expanding into new areas such as construction, landscape fabrics and protective apparel where it is valued for its flexibility.  
“Being able to bring new products to our existing customers by offering additional value to them is our ultimate goal, and we are achieving  this with our new technology,” Mr. Gettelfinger said.
In fact, DuPont is only at the tip of iceberg where this technology is concerned and the mixing of different polymers into one substrate will allow DuPont to target a number of markets currently not on the nonwovens radar.
“If you look at the history we have in technology from a polymer standpoint, it is limited,” Mr. Trerotola said. “We have instead offered value in coating or other techniques. But, with our new pipeline we are moving to technologies that have more polymer flexibility. This is very exciting for DuPont because we have a lot of polymers. It is really a joining of two strengths, and it has allowed us to think about transforming into a much broader area than what is considered a traditional nonwoven.”
Expanding into new realms will allow DuPont to both expand its offerings in markets it currently works in and beyond, Mr. Trerotola added. “We are leveraging the DuPont vision into markets we already know a lot about and we are looking at new market areas to target their unmet needs. We have three strategic priorities. We want to bring the power of DuPont to our customers; we want to explore synergies, not just with our customers but within our businesses, and we want to take advantages of similar value chains within our company.”
Location: Wilmington, DE

Sales: $1.35 billion

Description: Key Personnel
Matt Trerotola, vice president and general manager DuPont Nonwovens; Mahesh Mansukhani, global business director-Tyvek/Typar and Nigel Budden, global business director-Sontara, Sandy van Wormer, president, HMT Venture

Richmond, VA (Tyvek); Old Hickory, TN (Sontara, Suprel, Softesse); Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar); Asturias, Spain (Sontara) and Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Sontara converting facility)

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9002 certified; Luxembourg facility also 9001 certified

Flash spun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlaced (Sontara), Advanced Composite Technology, Hybrid Membrane Technology

Brand Names
Tyvek, Tychem, Sontara, Suprel, Softesse, ComforMax, Typar (worldwide except North, Central and South America)

Major Markets
Construction, health care, protective apparel, industrial, filtration, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear, automotive

A slowdown in the North American construction market kept DuPont’s growth in the 6-7% range in 2006, but company executives are optimistic that new products and other initiatives will enable the company to achieve its goal of double-digit growth in the near future. “North America has a number of markets that are a little slower than we had been used to historically,” said Matthew Trerotola, general manager of DuPont Nonwovens. “However, we still have a goal of stretching growth into the double-digit range. It’s unlikely we will make it in 2007, but we are continuing to drive for it.”
Despite constant raw material pressures, DuPont continues to achieve solid earnings growth, an admittedly difficult task for a company that prides itself on value and innovation. “We are still committed to innovation. We continue to invest significantly and are confident that we are the innovation and technological leader in the nonwovens industry and in selective barrier technology. We are working on opportunities where our customers and their customers see value.
“It’s always a challenge to strengthen our value proposition,” Mr. Trerotola added. “There have been a number of tough calls we have made in specific segments.”
As economic pressures have softened some of North America’s key markets, DuPont has enjoyed considerable growth in Western Europe as well as in a number of key developing markets such as South America, Eastern Europe and Asia. Other than a line centered on the proprietary DuPont Hybrid Membrane Technology that came onstream in Korea two years ago, DuPont to date has not made significant capital investment in emerging markets; instead the company has focused on beefing up sales and technical support infrastructures to accelerate growth.
“We are committed to and excited about growth in Asia and are definitely increasing our resources there to drive that growth,” Mr. Trerotola said. “We will continue to look over time—as we have the need for additional assets—for the best locations for them based on a whole set of factors. Surely Asia would be up for consideration.”
Currently DuPont operates a technical center in India and an automotive center in Japan. “We are being proactive about participating in those areas and having resources close to our customers with capabilities to expand our reach.”
Beyond geographical growth, a number of key markets will add to DuPont Nonwovens’ growth in coming years including construction, protective apparel, medical packaging and graphics. “We have seen significant growth across all of the key DuPont Tyvek segments, and we expect ongoing future growth if we focus on the right customers and opportunities.” Other new markets for DuPont include automotives, agriculture and electronics.
One offering showing great potential for DuPont is its new Hybrid Membrane Technology, acquired from a Korean company in 2005 and commercialized on a new line in Korea last year. The material bridges the gap between a membrane and a traditional nonwoven and plays right into the company’s strategy of focusing on selective barrier technology.
Executives expect the material to help DuPont target the filtration and energy storage markets. Already, the technology received an IDEA 2007 Achievement Award from INDA in April 2007 and has received significant interest throughout the industry.
“We are on track and making very positive progress,” Mr. Trerotola said. “We have already begun demonstrating the material’s core value proposition—the combination of submicron filtration with high flux. We are really excited about what HMT can do in terms of cleaner environments, better protection of processes and less energy consumption.”
Hybrid Membrane Technology also offers non-diminishing filtration efficiency, giving users the ability to achieve the performance they need without electrostatic charges.
Barrier technology has been an important part of DuPont Nonwovens since the beginning. Describing Tyvek flashspun nonwovens—which is marking its 40th anniversary this year—as the ultimate selective barrier, Mr. Trerotola said new investments in this technology revolve around enhancing the material’s functionality to provide added value for customers. For example, DuPont is finalizing new technology at its Luxembourg facility that will allow it to produce Tyvek with a high-tech metallization as well as apply other coatings to the Tyvek fiber structure.
In other investment news, DuPont has expanded and improved secondary processing capabilities for construction applications at its Richmond, VA plant.
While construction continues to be the largest market for Tyvek, DuPont officials are noting growth across its other core markets—medical packaging, protective apparel, envelopes and graphics—as well. “We have seen a rejuvenation of our envelopes and graphics markets by focusing on specific areas that help our customers maintain their competitive edge,” Mr. Trerotola said. “We continue to have strong growth in medical packaging and continue to help end users and regulators understand the benefits of using Tyvek.”
Tyvek is also benefiting from a corporate-wide commitment to the personal protection market through the DuPont Personal Protection (DPP) division, which includes all of the company’s assets targeting personal protection applications. The division maintains a database containing more than 2500 combinations of chemical hazards. “If a customer needs protection from a specific hazard, we can download information to help determine the best protective solution,” Mr. Trerotola explained.
Beyond the five traditional focus areas for Tyvek, DuPont Nonwovens has been making inroads into other areas where the company has had success, such as automotives, electronics and agriculture. “We have seen exciting opportunities in taking Tyvek into markets that have been strongholds for DuPont but not necessarily for Tyvek.”
Meanwhile, the DuPont spunlace business—Sontara—is split into two divisions, medical and performance fabrics. Last year was reportedly a strong growth year for medical fabrics as well as some of the key applications with diversified fabrics. “We have been reducing our emphasis on some of the more commoditized and lower value segments within diversified fabrics.”
For example, DuPont has limited its participation in the consumer wipes market, recognizing that there are many other spunlace manufacturers who are stronger in that area. “There are definitely niche areas within wipes or specialty wipes where we are a leader or positioned to be a leader, such as printing, car cleaning or aerospace,” Mr. Trerotola said. “It’s really about the quality of the wipes we create, which our customers value.”
In the medical arena, the DuPont spunlace product—Softesse—has been a leader in gowns and drapes for many years. “We and our customers have created the single-use gown and drape category, and through the years we have been a pioneer here along with our customers.”
While spunlace has seen its share of competition in the medical apparel market, it continues to be the leading choice for medical personnel. And, with many world regions still using reusables, growth opportunities continue for spunlaced nonwovens.
Beyond spunlace, DuPont offers a number of products that offer more barrier protection than Softesse, including its Suprel product, featuring the company’s Advanced Composite Tech­nology—a combination of polypropylene and polyethylene—as well as a film product, Acturel. However, DuPont has stayed away from the SMS market—which has seen significant penetration in medical applications—considering the technology to be largely commoditized. “Suprel is having success with customers who appreciate the higher value proposition, higher comfort than SMS and better protection.”

In other new product news, DuPont in April introduced DuPont Engineered Elastic Nonwovens, stretch fabrics designed to fit a range of industry needs. They have been produced on a large-scale pilot line since late 2006. Fabrics produced through this new technology can be high stretch or high stretch with varying degrees of elastic recovery power, depending on end user needs. The proprietary fabrics offer 100% stretch and 80% recovery; between 200% and 500% extensibility is possible with some recovery power.
Engineered Elastic Nonwovens fabrics are latex-free, use no elastomeric polymers and are based on spunlaced technology. Targeting both converters and end users, the soft and high stretch materials provide unique elastic functionality and deliver soft-stretch comfort and ease of use. Potential applications include ear-loop facemasks, soft-stretch hoods, knit-like stretchable gown sleeves and cuffs in protective and cleanroom apparel, hygiene side panels, wound dressing, elastic bandages and low-power wound care sleeves, elastic protective covers, elastic interlinings and elastic composites.
It is through technologies like HMT and Engineered Elastic Nonwovens that DuPont will continue its role as an innovation leader in the nonwovens industry, despite day-to-day challenges. “We have a vision of where we want to be, and that allows us to create new products and target new areas for growth,” Mr. Trerotola said.

Sales: $1.35 billion

Description: Key Personnel
Barry Granger, vice president and general manager, DuPont Nonwovens; James Pawloski, global business director, Tyvek; Nigel Budden, global business director, Sontara and Typar; Raffaella Cristanetti, global marketing and planning manager; Sandra Van Wormer, president, HMT Venture

Richmond, VA (Tyvek); Old Hickory, TN (Spunlace, Suprel, Softesse); Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar); Asturias, Spain (Spunlace); Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Spunlace-converting facility); Seoul, Korea (HMT facility)

ISO Status
All plants ISO 9002 certified; Luxembourg facility also 9001 certified

Flash spun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), Spunlace, Advanced Composite Technology, Hybrid Membrane Technology

Brand Names
Tyvek, Tychem, Sontara, Suprel, Softesse, ComforMax, Typar (worldwide except North, Central and South America)

Major Markets
Construction, health care, protective apparel, industrial, filtration, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear, automotive

Diversification will be the key to DuPont Nonwovens’ continued success going forward. The manufacturer of Tyvek flashspun and spunlaced nonwovens as well as nonwovens based on Hybrid Membrane Technology (HMT) and Advanced Composite Technology (ACT), DuPont Non­wovens reported flat sales in 2007 as gains in Asia-Pacific and other emerging markets recouped softness in U.S. housing sales, a key market for DuPont’s Tyvek materials. As DuPont has suffered from a soft housing market in the U.S., the company has been looking at how it can diversify its products, not only in terms of markets but also in geographies.
“One of the key messages for us as we go forward is the importance of our diversification strategy as we look across the types of products and asset lines but also in terms of the customers and industries and even geographies we serve,” explained global marketing and planning manager for DuPont Nonwovens, Raffaella Cristanetti.
In the past several years, DuPont, which has been involved in nonwovens since it introduced Tyvek in the 1960s, has focused on diversifying its technology base, first with the launch of Advanced Composite Technology, combining the benefits of polypropylene and polyester for the medical garment market, and later with Hybrid Membrane Technology, which was purchased from a Korean company in 2005. DuPont has expanded into a number of new areas with both these new technologies as well as its existing ones, according to vice president and general manager Barry Granger.
“It’s been three years since we purchased HMT and two years since we have been commercializing products using this technology,” said Mr. Granger, who took over at the helm of DuPont Nonwovens in October 2007. “We’ve seen several products being launched such as submicron filters for the oil fields, premium HVAC applications and in energy storage devices.”

In the filtration market, HMT offers non-diminishing filtration efficiency, giving users the ability to achieve the performance they need without electrostatic charges. Other benefits include lower pressure drop and improved efficiency as well as longer filter life. The addition of HMT to DuPont’s portfolio provides a unique and differentiated nanofiber media that adds new value in filtration applications. HMT joins Typar, Tyvek and Sontara in offering a range of solutions for the filtration industry.  
Beyond filtration, HMT has seen some interest in energy storage, rechargeable energy sources and in the high-end bedding and mattress area with product for severe allergy and asthma sufferers.
Currently, being made in Korea—DuPont Nonwovens’ first Asian production facility—HMT bridges the gap between a membrane and traditional nonwovens and reinforces DuPont’s commitment to selective barrier technology, an important part of DuPont Nonwovens since the beginning. Many of the applications for Tyvek—construction, medical packaging—take advantage of the material’s ability to create a barrier.
The focus on selective barrier technology, however, does not mean that DuPont is deselecting areas beyond this scope. Areas of growth in recent years have included critical cleaning and specialty wipes using its spunlaced nonwovens and graphics and envelopes, which use Tyvek materials.
One area that has become a lower priority for DuPont is elastic nonwovens. After launching Engineered Elastic Nonwovens in April 2007—which were billed as stretchable fabrics designed to fit a range of industry needs—DuPont has taken a step back on this segment more recently. “As we have evaluated markets and looked at where the best return on investment will be, elastic nonwovens is an area where we have decided it wise to take a step back,” said Ms. Cristanetti. “There are still some interesting applications for this material, but we are not continuing it at the same level.”
Meanwhile, DuPont’s long-standing nonwovens technologies continue to be a top priority for the business. Recently completed is an upgrade at DuPont’s Luxembourg facility which allows the company to produce Tyvek with a high-tech metallization as well as other coatings within the material’s fiber structure. In Richmond, DuPont has expanded and improved secondary processing capabilities for construction applications using Tyvek material.
While construction has been softer than it has historically, particularly in North America, it is just one of several application areas for Tyvek, and officials have noted growth across many other core markets including medical packaging, protective apparel, envelopes and graphics.
“There have really been a number of bright spots for Tyvek,” Mr. Granger said. “As we look at Tyvek, we have a more efficient and cost-effective production profile than some of the competitive products out there. We also are looking at how Tyvek can fully leverage its superior strength-to-weight ratio versus other products, which can have advantages in terms of specific applications as well as in costs or productivity—for example, installation of banners or transportation costs.”
Also benefiting Tyvek is DuPont’s corporate-wide commitment to the personal protection market through DuPont Personal Protection, a market-facing unit that brings together all of the company’s offerings for the personal protection market.
Additionally, eco-consciousness has benefited Tyvek as this technology is more reyclable than competing technologies. “We are positioning not only the functionality of our products but also the specifications,” Ms. Cristanetti said.
Eco-consciousness with a goal toward sustainability is important to DuPont as a company. On the polymer side, the company has created Sorona, which is sourced from a monomer created through the fermentation process. So far, this product’s usage in the nonwovens market has been limited, but interest is apparent. In 2007, DuPont received an IDEA Achievement Award for raw material innovation for Sorona.
According to Mr. Granger, all of the DuPont’s businesses are contributing to sustainability goals that DuPont announced in 2006. “We have certainly been working hard in areas such as reducing energy consumption, particularly at plant sites, and shrinking our environmental footprint and are making substantial progress,” he said. “For example, one goal was to hold total energy use flat with 1990 levels. The total consumption is down 7% overall.”
Spunlace is another established technology for DuPont. This business operates through two divisions: medical and performance fabrics. In the medical market, Softess, DuPont’s spunlace offering, has been a leader in gowns and drapes for many years and has only benefited from the addition of other DuPont offerings such as Suprel, using ACT, and Acturel, which is film-based.
The performance fabrics business largely centers around wiping products but DuPont has kept away, for the most part, from the consumer wipes market. It has had a number of successes in the critical cleaning segment, requiring wipes products with value-added benefits for markets such as automotive detailing and aerospace.
Looking at the business from a geographical standpoint, executives admit that the U.S. economic situation has posed a challenge for DuPont’s nonwovens business, particularly in the housing and construction market, however the region is not without its high points, including personal protection, medical packaging, graphics and critical cleaning. “We are seeing strong demand pull and increased interest in working with us either to use existing product lines or develop new products. Many of these markets are growing from a smaller base but they are definitely bright spots.”
At the same time, in Western Europe, where DuPont has a significant base business, growth has continued in the 2-3% range; moving eastward for Central and Eastern Europe and into Russia, there are even stronger growth prospects as DuPont leverages its position in other businesses there. In Asia-Pacific, DuPont continues to see good opportunities in China and India as well as in Japan where there has been increased interest in medical packaging products using Tyvek.
As it looks to developing regions for growth, DuPont could examine the possibility of expanding its manufacturing footprint in its nonwovens business. Today the company has plants in Richmond, VA and Luxembourg for Tyvek; Old Hickory, TN for Spunlace and Suprel; Asturias, Spain for Sontara; and Seoul, Korea for HMT. “Our first step is always looking at how we are utilizing our existing capital on the ground and continue to invest and release capacity with our existing units,” Mr. Granger said. “The next step will be to look at our blueprint to determine where we want to place the next investment. A lot of team members think that Asia-Pacific is the next place we should invest but we are going through a major process before we make any decisions. It’s a long-term decision.”
Like many nonwovens producers, DuPont has been battling rising raw material prices for much of this year. “We are driving productivity very hard even as we see a drop in earnings and existing margins,” Mr. Granger said. “This has meant balancing the amount we want to invest in growth with productivity.”
As a company diversified in both markets and geographies—not to mention its strong tradition as an innovator—DuPont certainly has what it takes to withstand present-day economic problems.
“The good news is there are many opportunities for us,” Mr. Granger said. “Even in times like these, it forces you to make even tougher choices. One of the things we have been working hard on improving is our product development timeline. With the combination of making choices around where we want to put our investments, we are still investing to grow and bring out new products to the industry.
“Nonwovens is a key growth area for our company,” Mr. Granger said. “It is one of five strategic global units within our Safety and Protection platform and it is one of our corporate objectives to double that platform’s growth by 2010. Our overall strategy is to accelerate top-line growth.”

Sales: $1.4 Billion

Description: Key Personnel
Thomas Powell, vice president and general manager of DuPont Protection Technologies; Nigel Budden, global market leader, DuPont Protection Technologies; Roger K. Siemionko, global technology leader, DuPont Protection Technologies

Richmond, VA (Tyvek), Old Hickory, TN (spunlace, Suprel, Softesse), Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar), Asturias, Spain (spunlace) Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Spunlace converting facility),
Seoul, Korea (HMT), Brazil J/V (Spunlace)

ISO Status
All plants are ISO 9002 certified, Luxembourg facility is also 9001 certified

Flashspun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlace, Advanced Composite Technology, Hybrid Membrane Technology

Brand Names
Tyvek, Tychem, Sontara, Suprel, Softesse, ComforMax, Typar

Major Markets
Construction, healthcare, protective apparel, industrial filtration, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear, automotive

DuPont Nonwovens has merged with its sister units Advanced Fiber Systems and DuPont Personal Protection to form a new business unit, DuPont Protection Technologies. Formed in July, the new organization groups together technologies and products that protect lives, the environment and critical processes worldwide. Thomas Powell, who had been serving as vice president and general manager of DuPont Advanced Fiber Systems, is leading the organization as vice president and general manager.

Barry Granger, former vice president and general manager of DuPont Nonwovens, has been named vice president and general manager of government marketing and affairs, responsible for accelerating business growth in the public sector with a focus on the U.S. economic stimulus package and other policy programs.

“We are tremendously excited about the opportunities created for our people and our customers by combining these businesses,” said Mr. Powell. “We believe we will be able to quickly simplify internal processes, increase the speed of decision-making and more fully leverage our large investments in research and development across market segments. These changes will lead to more rapid innovation and improve our responsiveness to customers.”

Mr. Powell emphasized that DuPont Protection Technologies will continue to operate its existing manufacturing and research facilities around the world and that there are no plans to close or combine any sites as a result of the restructuring. He also stressed that the business remains committed to the current business strategies and market segments.

“It’s really about growth and efficiency,” he added. “We have a lot of overlap between the businesses. For example, our Industrial Protection segment makes garments using Kevlar, Nomex and Tyvek. We looked at the missions of Nonwovens and Advanced Fiber Systems, and they were both focused on protecting the environment, protecting lives and protecting critical processes. Through the merger, we have leveraged the large investment in research and development, and there are a lot more synergies we can take advantage of by pulling them together.”

Initially, the synergies are strongest on the garment side, but DuPont believes that further technology synergies will quickly be obvious. While the center of gravity for the businesses is at the same facility—DuPont’s Richmond, VA site—they have historically operated independently of one another.

“We want to be leaner and faster in the eyes of our customers,” said Nigel Budden, global market leader of DuPont Protection Technologies. “This brings us together in a manner that enables customers to more easily recognize who we are. The new strategic business unit has a strong focus on regional execution to get a lot closer to the day to day ins and outs of dealing with our customers.”

No stranger to nonwovens, Mr. Budden was the global business director for DuPont’s Sontara business unit prior to the organizational change. He described 2008 as a growth year until the fourth quarter when the dynamics changed completely and the company saw a weakening across many of its businesses. These sales have yet to rebound, but executives are cautiously optimistic that they have reached a bottom.

With a huge presence in the construction market with its Tyvek flashspun nonwovens, DuPont reacted quickly to the global economic downturn, initiating two rounds of restructuring lay-offs— one in December 2008 and another in May 2009. DuPont has adjusted its capacity levels to meet global demand. On the spunlace side, this has meant the idling of a straight fiber spunlace line in Old Hickory, TN, which was targeted largely at the wipes market. In flashspun, output has been reduced, but so far no lines have been permanently closed. The goal, executives say, is to protect as many jobs as possible for when the market comes back.

Also prepping the company for the economy’s return to life is a continued focus on research and development, much of which revolves around protective barrier applications like Tyvek construction materials and medical packaging grades, Sontara and Suprel medical gowns and DuPont’s Hybrid Membrane Technology (HMT) and its role in filtration and energy storage applications.

“Flexible barrier protection is the sweet spot of our technology scope,” said Roger Siemionko, global technology leader for DuPont Protection Technologies. “We are able to offer a whole range from Tyvek to HMT to meet a number of needs. We are working very hard at extending the range of our barrier offerings by expanding the capabilities of those base technologies to give us different technologies.”

HMT, which was purchased from a South Korean company in 2005, bridges the gap between a nonwoven and a membrane and has seen significant attention in the gas turbine and liquid coalescing markets. More recently, attention has been paid in the lithium ion battery market, Dr. Siemionko added. HMT is being made in Korea and is being targeted globally.

Meanwhile, Tyvek, DuPont’s original nonwovens technology developed more than four decades ago, continues to be improved, making it not only more protective but also more breathable. This has opened up new opportunities for Tyvek in construction, despite weakness in that market, and in protective apparel.

On the new market front, use of Tyvek is growing in the agriculture field and is making inroads in the lighting market where its high reflectivity can increase lighting efficiency by 50%.

In April, DuPont introduced DuPont Tyvek Vivia, a coated material for wide-format printing. Tyvek Vivia is a recyclable solution that is excellent for printing graphics, resists creases for a more polished look and offers superior durability for indoor and outdoor banner and sign applications.

In other news, DuPont, together with Waste Management, has launched a national mail-in recycling program to capture banners, envelopes and other items printed on DuPont Tyvek. This provides a method for printers and other large volume users of printed products who are looking for a responsible and simple alternative to adding Tyvek to the nation’s landfills.

Meanwhile on the spunlace side, DuPont’s medical garment business, containing Softesse spunlaced materials, garments made with Advanced Composite Technology and Acturel film offerings, remained strong throughout 2008 thanks to strength in the medical business. While spunlaced nonwovens have been challenged by spunmelt in the medical arena, DuPont has been able to fight back with its ACT, which combines the strength of polyester with the softness of polyethylene in one garment. “ACT is a bicomponent material and as such it is definitely positioned at the high end of the garment industry in general, but the value proposition is its ability to offer high levels of protection and comfort,” said Mr. Budden.

Moving forward, executives expect DuPont’s nonwovens offerings to continue to benefit and expand from a continued stream of research and development efforts. “If you look at the newly created DuPont Protection Technologies, it is a high investment area for the company, meaning that moving forward, nonwovens won’t be starved for resources,” Mr. Powell said. “There is a lot of fundamental work going on related to DuPont nonwovens. We are definitely looking at routes to fine fiber technology— say, below one micron—in addition to what we are doing with HMT. This should give us access to markets outside of where we are today. “
DuPont: Key Personnel
Thomas Powell, president and general manager of DuPont Protection Technologies; Nigel Budden, global market leader, DuPont Protection Technologies; Roger Siemionko, global technology leader, DuPont Protection Technologies; Michael Sanders, global business manager, Energy Storage Solutions

Richmond, VA (Tyvek), Old Hickory, TN (spunlace, Suprel, Softesse), Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar), Asturias, Spain (spunlace) Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and spunlace converting facility), Seoul, Korea (HMT), Brazil joint venture (spunlace)

ISO Status
All plants are ISO 9002 certified, Luxembourg facility is also 9001 certified

Flashspun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlace, Advanced Composite Technology, Hybrid Membrane Technology

Brand Names
Tyvek, Tychem, Sontara, Suprel, Softesse, ComforMax, Typar (Europe only) 

Major Markets
Construction, healthcare, protective apparel, industrial filtration, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear, automotives

Describing 2009 as a very difficult year was DuPont Nonwovens, who reported that the troubles actually started as early as 2007 in the construction side of its business and then spread into other areas. In fact, the company’s nonwovens business was actually down to a lesser extent last year than many of its other businesses because here the troubles started earlier.

That said, conditions began to improve in the second half of 2009, and this has continued into 2010. Still, executives are hesitant to define conditions as recovered. “What we are seeing right now is a strong  business—pretty much strong demand across a lot of our businesses,” said Thomas Powell, president of DuPont Protection Technologies. “But a lot of this could be inventory restocking. Everyone is trying to find out what is underlying demand and what is inventory restocking.”

One year ago, DuPont’s nonwovens business joined forces with its sister units Advanced Fiber Systems and DuPont Personal Protection to form a new business unit, DuPont Protection Technologies. The new organization groups together technologies and products that protect lives, the environment and critical processes worldwide.

While these businesses were grouped together to foster growth, the restructuring was also part of a company-wide streamlining of DuPont’s business units from 25 to 13. This makes the company more able to respond quickly to customer trends. “We are trying to shift more responsibility into the four major regions—allowing them to make faster decisions, closer to customers and not have to come back to headquarters for every single decision.”

Additionally, DuPont hopes to capitalize on synergies within the three businesses. Initially, these center around costs, support and other infrastructure items, but eventually the company hopes to benefit from process technologies and product development efforts. “We want to see how we use the different technologies within the new unit to form some next-generation products,” Mr. Powell said. “In the longer term that is where we hope that we will be.”

An example of a technology that crosses between the different businesses is DuPont’s Nomex KD, a filtration medium that combines DuPont Nomex and Kevlar fibers in a unique nonwoven filter material that improves upon the capabilities of existing filter materials for high-temperature applications such as asphalt production and cement clinker coolers. DuPont executives admit it’s unfair for the formation of Protection Technologies to take credit for the innovation because its development started within the predecessor businesses long before the units were grouped together. But, filtration continues to be a key area of focus for DuPont, and it is believed the new organization will extend its nonwovens portfolio of technologies.

“By linking our marketing and technology experts closer together and giving more decision-making authority to our regional organizations, we believe we’ll get to the new products our customers are looking for faster,” Mr. Powell said.

Other opportunities that Mr. Powell envisions coming out of the new structure include expanding materials  into new markets such as electric vehicle power applications and the wind energy business and identifying opportunities to bring Tyvek protective garments to new industries.
Meanwhile, DuPont’s traditional nonwovens business, including Tyvek flashspun and Sontara spunlaced materials, continues to focus on recovery. According to Nigel Budden, global leader of DuPont Protection Technologies, Tyvek is coming out of the downturn in good shape, seeing strong demand across most of its key segments. DuPont has been offering new Tyvek products, thanks to new technology—installed in Europe—that allows DuPont to add metals and certain coatings onto Tyvek to improve properties. The initial market for these new products is construction, but DuPont is focused on rapidly expanding the technology into other applications.
Within protective apparel, the market was affected significantly by lower employment levels globally. While employment has still not started coming back, other factors—like the Avian flu and the Gulf oil clean-up—are offering growth in the segment.

Tyvek’s graphics business is also expanding rapidly with a number of new applications. “One of the big value propositions is a sustainability message—it’s recyclable, it’s easy to print on and it competes nicely with PVC, which is coming under a lot of pressure from the green movement,” Mr. Budden said. 

Meanwhile, DuPont’s Sontara spunlace business continues to recover after a drop-off in early 2009. In the high performance wipes segments, a number of niche areas were hit hard, causing DuPont to temporarily mothball one of its production lines in Old Hickory, TN. “We are watching closely as the different areas of our wipes business gain traction here. We want to make sure we don’t get our costs ahead of the market due to a misperception of what is fueling the value chain,” Mr. Powell said.

A large portion of what is fueling growth within wipes is the green story. “What is on our radar is biofriendliness. We are working quite a bit with our partners to figure out where this is going. When you have a product line like ours that is half wood pulp, half polyester, you are already halfway there. It’s a good opportunity for us to take a leadership position.”

Meanwhile, the medical side of DuPont’s spunlace business was not as hard hit by the economy. What has suffered however is the company’s Suprel business—based on Advanced Composite Technology that combines polyester and polypropylene in one manufacturing process—which has had trouble competing against lower priced options in the medical market. This had led DuPont to deemphasize its efforts with Suprel. “Suprel has struggled as customers have moved to lower price points to keep what share they could,” Mr. Powell explained. “We are going to focus our efforts  where we have a competitive technology and where we have areas of differentiation like the green story.”

One technology that remains important to DuPont is its Hybrid Membrane Technology.
“We continue to see a lot of potential for the HMT technology,” said Michael Sanders, global business manager, Energy Storage Solutions. “We are focusing our efforts on two core areas—filtration and energy storage—and we think it’s a good technology platform.” 

Building on its success in energy storage, last month DuPont unveiled plans to build a new facility in Chesterfield County, VA to make Energain battery separators. This nanofiber-based polymeric battery separator—which is currently being made in DuPont’s Seoul, South Korea and Wilmington, DE sites—can increase power 15-30%, increase battery life by up to 20% and improve battery separator safety by providing stability at high temperatures. With more battery power, drivers can travel farther on a single charge and accelerate more quickly and safely.

The initial use of these separators are in hybrid and electric vehicle batteries, but the technology is also targeted for batteries in renewable energy, grid applications, specialty consumer applications including laptops, cell phones and power tools. Other products made using DuPont's proprietary nanofiber technology will target a range of liquid filtration applications for biopharmaceutical, microelectronics and the bood and beverage industries.

“This launch and our investment in a new production facility are important steps in our strategy to expand DuPont’s role in energy storage,” Mr. Powell said. “What sets DuPont apart is our integrated science and proven results for better, safer and more sustainable performance.”
Calling Energain a breakthrough platform technology, Mr. Powell added that he expects to translate improvements we’ve seen in automotive battery applications to deliver equal or better battery performance in specialty consumer electronics, where reliable, faster and longer lasting battery power are essential. DuPont estimates that by 2015, the market for high performance lithium batteries alone will total more than $7 billion annually, primarily for electric vehicle applications and some photovoltaics and grid storage.

Energain is made using a proprietary spinning process that creates continuous filaments with diameters between 200 and 1000 nanometers. They can exhibit stability and low shrinkage in high temperatures and are highly saturable in electrolyte liquids.

Looking forward, barrier technology will continue to grow in importance at DuPont. “We are focused on protection, and protection requires selective barrier technologies, so we are concentrating on a lot of technologies that focus on selective barriers for a number of markets. When you combine barrier technology, with protection, it will really create a lot of opportunities in the future,” Mr. Powell said.

Another important area will be in developing markets including China, Latin America and Eastern Europe. In fact, these areas hav withstood the economic crisis far better than more developed regions, and executives expect it will be these areas moving forward where the bulk of growth will be seen.

“We focus on a lot of megatrends such as increasingrising standard of living in emerging economies, the need for improved energy efficiency and the need for protecting lives.  We believe these megatrends will definitely drive growth and opportunites in a number of our markets,” Mr. Powell said.
Wilmington, DE
2011 Nonwovens Sales: $1.35 billion

Key Personnel: Thomas Powell, president, DuPont Protection Technologies; Roger Siemionko, vice president and global technology leader, DuPont Protection Technologies; Mindy Telliard, global product manager, Sontara, DuPont Protection Technologies; Michael Sanders, global business manager, Energy Storage Solutions, DuPont Protection Technologies

Plants: Richmond, VA (Tyvek, Hybrid Membrane Technology, HMT); Old Hickory, TN (Sontara); Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar); Asturias, Spain (Sontara); Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Sontara converting facility); Brazil joint venture (Sontara)

ISO Status: All plants are ISO 9002 certified; Luxembourg facility is also ISO 9001 certified

Processes: Flash-spun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlace (Sontara, HMT)

Brands: Tyvek, Tychem, Energain, Sontara, Typar

Major Markets: Construction, healthcare, protective apparel, industrial filtration, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear, automotive

As it continues to leverage its technologies across a number of global markets, DuPont reports that overall sales in its nonwovens areas continue to be strong, despite uncertainty in the global economy.

“We are in a lot of very unique, niche applications, particularly with Tyvek,” says Tom Powell, president of DuPont Protection Technologies. “The combination of breathability and protection that Tyvek provides has given us advantages in many applications, such as protective apparel and in medical packaging.”

Tyvek, DuPont’s flashspun nonwovens technology, serves a number of core markets, including graphics, construction and envelopes, in addition to protective apparel and medical packaging. DuPont’s other nonwovens technologies include Sontara spunlace nonwovens, which target specialty wipes and medical apparel applications, and Energain, a nanofiber-based product targeted initially toward specialty battery and high-end filtration applications.

Most of DuPont’s nonwovens business falls under its DuPont Protection Technologies (DPT) business, which was formed three years ago by combining the nonwovens business (consisting of Tyvek and Sontara) with its sister units, including Kevlar and Nomex, on the aramid fibers side of the business. This division was formed to group technologies and products that protect people, the environment and critical processes worldwide. This marriage was part of a larger, company-wide streamlining that brought the number of DuPont business units from 25 to 14 and allows the company to respond to customer trends better while capitalizing on synergies that exist between the business units.

“We continue to look for places where we can leverage our technologies to bring new products while keeping costs down to be competitive,” Powell explains. This has helped protect DuPont against economic volatility and uncertainty as well as rising raw material costs.

An important market for Tyvek, construction, falls outside the scope of DPT but reports indicate demand continues to be strong despite difficulties in this market, which is tied heavily to housing starts. Other markets for the technology include envelopes, which have been challenged by a slowdown in snail mail, and other packaging applications, where Tyvek can offer great breathability and a good green story with its recyclability. In a nutshell, despite concerns in construction, Tyvek growth has been strong enough to convince DuPont to bring a production line in Luxembourg back on-stream. The line, which has been mothballed for several years, will help support the company’s existing garment and construction business, according to Powell.

“Tyvek is a unique technology,” he says. “There is no other producer of flashspun polyethylene. It delivers a unique combination of breathability and protection.”

The company is always looking for new applications, he adds. “We are currently working on a couple of things that could be big but are still in the early stages.” He went on to say that electronics have been a recent focus where the reflective properties of Tyvek provide a unique value in lighting applications.

Other advancements in Tyvek include adding metallization and other finishing techniques to provide enhanced protection without sacrificing breathability. One such product provides a silvery finish to enhance designs in banners, bags, tags and other decorative design applications.

Moving toward Sontara, DuPont’s spunlace business, this technology continues to be strong in medical garments, where it offers low cost, sophisticated products to keep workers safe and comfortable. Two years ago, DuPont chose to forego its Advanced Composite Technology (ACT), which it used to make Suprel garments for medical workers. However, Powell says this market remains important to the company. “It is a very competitive market space but it is still a solid application for us. We have some large-scale, high quality brands with nice competitive technologies.”

Additional markets for Sontara, which is a pulp-based spunlace technology, include high performance wipes products for car detailing, printing and aerospace applications and other areas where innovation is valued. Although they have done some business in consumer wipes markets over the years, DuPont presently does not focus on that business area.

DuPont’s latest nonwovens-based business, Energain brand, continues to ramp up at a small commercial facility in Chesterfield, VA. This technology is a variation of a former technology, purchased several years ago from a Korean firm and marketed as HMT (hybrid membrane technology).

According to Powell, the current Virginia line is a small commercial scale and sampling line that is able to show potential customers exactly what the nanofiber-based material can achieve. “We call the line a production pilot and we are doing what we intended, that is demonstrating the base technology, developing basic data for a full-scale commercial facility and producing innovative samples for customers.”

Energain will mainly target the battery separator market where it can provide increased power, improved battery life and also offer higher stability at increased temperatures. Beyond lithium-ion batteries, Energain has prospects in batteries in specialty consumer applications, including laptops, cellphones and power tools.

In other new market developments, filtration continues to be an area of interest for DuPont. The company has provided Nomex for many years into hot-gas filtration applications. About two years ago, the DuPont portfolio was expanded with Nomex KD, a medium that combines Nomex and Kevlar fibers in a unique nonwoven filter medium. The product is well suited for high temperature applications such as asphalt production and cement clinker coolers.

While the development of Nomex KD is a great example of how the combination of DuPont’s nonwovens and aramids businesses could combine to create innovative products, the medium was actually created before the formation of DPT. However, Powell describes filtration as a standout example of a market where DuPont’s staple of science-based products can provide innovation.

“We offer world-leading technology at competitive costs as well as technical and application development expertise close to customers in developing markets,” Powell says. “It seems to be working for us and we are confident it will continue to do so in the future.”

Wilmington, DE
2012 Nonwovens Sales: $1.35 billion(estimated) 

Key Personnel: Marc Doyle, president, DuPont Protection Technologies; Kevin Corby, global technology director, DuPont Protection Technologies; Diego Boeri, global Tyvek and Sontara business director, Du-Pont Protection Technologies 

Plants: Richmond, VA (Tyvek, Hybrid Membrane Technology, HMT); Old Hickory, TN (Sontara); Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar); Asturias, Spain (Sontara); Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Sontara converting facility); Brazil joint venture (Sontara) 

ISO Status: All plants are ISO 9002 certified; Luxembourg facility is also ISO 9001 certified

Processes: Flash-spun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlace (Sontara, HMT)

Brands: DuPont Tyvek, Tychem, Energain, Sontara, Typar.

Major Markets: Construction, healthcare, protective apparel, industrial filtration, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear, automotive.

DuPont, the maker of Tyvek and Sontara nonwovens remains bullish about its nonwovens business and the contribution it can have to the global industry. “Our focus is growing our core markets, finding new markets for our existing technology and also looking at new technologies that can expand our business,” says Tyvek and Sontara global business director, Diego Boeri.


The majority of DuPont’s nonwovens business falls within the business unit DuPont Protection Technologies, which was formed four years ago by combining the company’s nonwovens business with its sister units on the aramid fiber side. This business unit essentially contains most of DuPont’s technologies that protect people, the environment and critical processes worldwide. Within nonwovens, only construction falls outside of DuPont Protection Technologies and is managed by the Building Innovations business of DuPont. Within the protective market, key markets for Tyvek include protective apparel and medical packaging. New markets for the technology include optics, air cargo and consumer bags.

Within Tyvek, DuPont Protection Technologies is seeing two axes of growth. One is a strong focus on core markets including protective apparel and medical packaging; the other is the development of new business areas. In recent years, new business areas have included air cargo application, optics and, most recently, consumer bags.


The most successful of these three, air cargo, is the result of global mandates for controlled temperatures, between 15-25°C when shipping pharmaceutical products. To meet these mandates, DuPont has developed a new brand, Tyvek Air Cargo Covers, large hoods, available in regular Tyvek or metallized Tyvek varieties, which are placed over pallets of pharmaceutical products when they are most vulnerable, such as during temporary air transit control chain breaks like sitting on the tarmac, where they are subject to solar radiation or temperature extremes.


“The cover really guarantees that temperature remains controlled,” Boeri says, adding that the unique combination of properties offer high reflectance to shield the product from solar radiation, lower thermal conductivity which decreases the effects of temperature extremes and breathable barrier, which prevent trapped gas from damaging products. DuPont has already secured contracts for the covers with a few global pharmaceutical companies and is in the process of signing more deals both in pharmaceutical and in the food transport market.

Another of DuPont’s developing market areas is consumer bags, such as reusable shopping totes, and the company is currently conducting several customer trials in North America under the brand name Verdiva. With several cities across the U.S. already banning retailers from dispensing free plastic bags, the market for nonwoven shopping bags is expected to grow.
To help it succeed in new markets, DuPont is continuously investing in and improving upon Tyvek technology. The addition of metallization in some grades of Tyvek is one interesting development that has allowed the company to make inroads in existing areas like construction as well as new ones, air cargo. “This is not standard metallization,” Diego says. “The process allows us to apply an extremely thin coating of metal without destroying the properties of Tyvek. The big thing is it allows the breathability of Tyvek to remain mostly intact.”
Beyond metallization, improving the breathability and the flexibility of Tyvek are among DuPont’s main focus areas in offering news grades of the fl ashspun technology. These growth efforts toward new product development fueled DuPont’s decision last year to reinstate an idled production line in Luxembourg. This adds to our global capacity and gives the technology a more balanced footprint across the oceans, Boeri says.
Meanwhile, in medical packaging, another core Tyvek market, DuPont is proving its commitment to the medical packaging market through a $30 million investment known as the company’s Medical Packaging Transition Project. These efforts will not only modernize the technology for Tyvek fl ash spun nonwovens used for medical packaging, it will also allow DuPont to create a strong foundation for growth within the medical packaging market.
Through industry collaboration, DuPont is targeting the entire value chain within medical packaging, working with independent test labs, the U.S. FDA and other regulatory agencies internationally. DuPont is also working with several sterile packaging and medical device manufacturers around the globe in advance of the commercialization, which is scheduled for early 2015.
Earlier this summer, DuPont announced that transition protocol amendments have been made and accepted by the Center for Devices and Radiological Health at the FDA in the U.S. Additionally; Europe’s four largest regulatory bodies have received a copy of the amendments. In Japan, regulatory bodies are reviewing the data and in China testing criteria have been established.
From a technical standpoint, DuPont has completed developmental material assessments, has successfully produced and tested transition protocol materials, shipped materials to participating sterile packaging manufacturers for conversion and conducted a formal DuPont Product Stewardship review.
According to Boeri, a key milestone was making the transition protocol material available for purchase this summer, well in advance of full commercialization, which is estimated for early 2015. This will support MDM efforts to complete internal risk assessments prior to commercialization and enable them to qualify material for new device packaging, he says.
“We are really optimistic about the project. It’s not just an internal operation. It’s a massive activity where we are working with regulatory agencies and the whole value chain to minimize the impact for our customers,” he says.
DuPont’s other major nonwovens technology, Sontara, which is based on spunlace technology, continues to be used in wipes and medical fabrics for gowns and drapes where it offers low cost, sophisticated products. Describing this business as “stable,” Boeri says that the product plays in a more competitive arena than other DuPont technologies.
“There our focus is two things. The fi rst is maintaining a customer- centric product development program, the second is to continue to fi nd productivity improvements and focus on lean operation. We are always looking at ways to be more productive,” he says.
Beyond medical, Sontara’s other applications include high performance wipes for markets like car detailing, printing and aerospace, as well as other areas where innovation is valued. Energain, DuPont’s latest nonwovens-based technology, continues production on a pilot line in Chesterfi eld, VA. Marketed as a hybrid membrane technology (HMT), this technology primarily targets the energy storage battery separator and biopharma filtration markets.
“We have been working with customers to qualify products and I would say we are still in the middle of development,” says Boeri. “We have trials in energy storage and some sales in biopharma filtration. Timeline is something you always have to keep in mind when you are dealing with new technologies and markets.”
Still the introduction of new technologies as well as expanding in core markets continues to be a key part of DuPont’s growth strategy for these products. “We continue to invest in our nonwovens technology and applications to benefi t our customers,” says Boeri.

Wilmington, DE
2013 Nonwovens Sales: $1.4 billion

Key Personnel
Marc Doyle, president, DuPont Protection Technologies; Kevin Corby, global technology director, DuPont Protection Technologies; Diego Boeri, global Tyvek and Sontara business director, DuPont Protection Technologies

Richmond, VA (Tyvek, Hybrid Membrane Technology, HMT); Old Hickory, TN (Sontara); Luxembourg (Tyvek, Typar); Asturias, Spain (Sontara); Shenzhen, China (Tyvek and Sontara converting facility); Brazil joint venture (Sontara)

ISO Status
All plants are ISO 9002 certified; Luxembourg facility is also ISO9001 certified

Flashspun (Tyvek), spunbond (Typar), spunlace (Sontara, HMT)

DuPont Tyvek, Tychem, Energain, Sontara, Typar.

Major Markets
Construction, healthcare, protective apparel, industrial filtration, absorbents, home furnishings, envelopes, geotextiles, graphics, packaging, footwear, automotive

The big news from DuPont, the world’s second largest nonwovens producer, was the sale of its Sontara brand of spunlace fabrics to Jacob Holm, a Swiss nonwovens producer with plants in North Carolina, France and Germany. Sontara, a global nonwovens business that makes spunlace fabrics for use in variety of medical and wipes business, is made by DuPont at sites in Old Hickory, TN and Asturias, Spain, which will be transferred to Jacob Holm when the sale becomes final later this year. DuPont developed the technology about 40 years ago.

“We are grateful to the current and past employees of Sontara for their contribution to DuPont during the last 40 years and we are pleased to see the business well-positioned for success in the future as part of Jacob Holm, a world-class organization dedicated to the nonwovens industry,” says Marc Doyle, president, DuPont Protection Technologies.

According to DuPont’s annual report, Sontara represented about 5% of the company’s $3.8 billion Protection Technologies business. Following the sale, DuPont’s nonwovens business will include the significantly larger Tyvek business, which comprises its flashspun technology, and Hybrid Membrane Technology, a technology purchased about five years ago from a Korean firm that is targeted toward energy storage and filtration applications.

Representing about 11% of overall corporate sales, DuPont Protection Technologies was formed five years ago by combining the company’s nonwovens businesses with its sister units on the aramid fiber side. The business unit essentially contains most of DuPont’s technologies that combine the company’s technologies that protect people, the environment and critical processes worldwide.

According to the company, the division has followed through on its strategy of growing in developing markets, differentiating itself powerful brands and unique value propositions through market facing models, driving unique technologies and new application development and improving its competitive position by reducing costs.

Representing the bulk of its nonwovens sales, DuPont’s Tyvek flashspun technology continues to go into new end-use areas while growing in existing markets including construction, personal protection and medical packaging.

The most successful new market segment is air cargo, where DuPont’s Tyvek air cargo covers help transport companies meet global mandates for controlled temperatures, between 15-25°C, when shipping pharmaceutical and food products. These large hoods, available in regular Tyvek or metallized Tyvek varieties are placed over pallets of pharmaceutical or food products when they are most vulnerable, such as during temporary air transit control chain breaks, when pallets spend time sitting on tarmacs, exposing them to solar radiation or temperature extremes.

These covers feature a unique combination of properties including reflectivity to shield the product from solar radiation, low thermal conductivity to decrease the effects of temperature extremes and breathable barrier which prevents gases from being trapped and damaging products, according to DuPont

Consumer bags have also emerged as a new market are for Tyvek, where DuPont has been test marketing the totes in North America under the brand name Verdiva. Verdiva bags are strong, foldable and machine washable and available in a number of designs. According to experts, the market for reusable shopping bags is expected to grow as more major cities are banning the use of free disposable shopping bags.

Another new application area for Tyvek is in display and lighting applications where its reflective qualities lessen energy costs.

Meanwhile in construction, one of Tyvek’s largest markets, Tyvek Fluid Applied weather barrier systems provide water and fluid applied air barrier protection designed for the unique demands of heavy commercial construction projects. This system has fast become an integral part of thousands of sustainable buildings around the world offering the convenience of a fast, pressure-rolled or sprayed applications and providing seamless protection for the building envelope and meeting stringent codes and standard requirements for energy efficiency.

Other products in Tyvek’s construction business include Tyvek Silver, ThermaWrap and Firecure, which all offer membrane solutions for construction applications dealing with radiant heat loss, reducing active flame spread and air and water management.

Meanwhile, in medical packaging, another important business, DuPont is proving its commitment to the market through a $30 million investment known as the company’s Medical Packaging Tansition Project. These efforts will not only modernize the technology for Tyvek used in medical packaging, it will also allow the company to create a strong foundation for growth within the medical packaging market.

The project involves new line investments for its two main grades of Tyvek used in medical packaging. This will ensure greater continuity and flexibility of future products and the latest advancements in flash spinning technology.

As part of the project, DuPont has developed a systematic method for generating data to prove that the Tyvek produced on the new line is functionally equivalent to previous versions of Tyvek. This will help mitigate regulatory requalification and minimize costs to individual companies serving this market.

In March, DuPont issued a formal change notification letter for two grades of Tyvek for customers, giving them at least one year before beginning the full commercialization of the new Tyvek grades.

Prior to issuing the formal Change Notification, a significant amount of material testing had been completed and all results to date indicate that the Transition Protocol materials are functionally equivalent to current Tyvek, and extensive package testing is now in progress.

“All cells for the U.S. FDA Transition Protocol and the Phantom Protocol have been received at Nelson Laboratories and package testing is well under way,” says Bruce Yost, technical director, DuPont Medical and Pharmaceutical Protection. 

DuPont shared more information with its industry partners through a webinar in early May.

DuPont’s other main nonwovens technology, Hybrid Membrane Technology, a version of which was purchased from a Korean partner about five years ago, goes beyond the limits of today’s semi-porous or nonwoven membranes. Made by a proprietary new spinning process, DuPont HMT is a “membrane-like” sheet product composed of continuous sub-micron fibers with resultant sub-micron to low-micron pores and high surface area.  

According to the company, HMT provides a long-awaited option to fill the performance gaps between microporous membranes and traditional nonwovens. 

HMT is not an electrostatically treated material and depends completely on the mechanical structure of the media, thus concerns over filtration performance over the life of the filter are alleviated. 

DuPont continues to make HMT nonwovens, also known as Energain, in the energy storage market, on a pilot line in Chesterfield, VA, and so far the technology has mainly targeted the energy storage battery separator and biopharma filtration markets. However, another potential market is in apparel, where HMT is a dyeable, water resistant membrane with better breathability and textile properties than films, providing greater comfort for sports enthusiasts. As an allergen barrier, DuPont HMT provides the comfort of finely woven fabrics with the barrier performance of non-breathable films.