2017 Nonwovens Sales: $450 mllion
Ralf Berens, CEO
Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, China
Air through bonded, chemical bonded, needlepunched, hydroentangled, airlaid
Hygiene, automotives, building, living, filtration, healthcare, cleaning
Sales increased slightly at TWE Group, Emsdetten, Germany, thanks to strong sales in the automotives, hygiene and construction markets. The company operates plants in Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, the U.S., and China and has grown significantly in recent years due to acquisitions.
Most recently, the company purchased Vita Nonwovens, a company once owned by British Vita and a former sister company of Libeltex, a company acquired by TWE in 2012. The acquisition of Vita provided manufacturing operations in North Carolina, Texas and Indiana and gave TWE immediate access to the North American automotives market.
“Automotives is very strong globally and we are seeing really strong growth in the U.S., “ says CEO Ralf Berens. “The three sites are still focusing on automotives but we are also focusing on bedding. We are looking at the possibility of servicing our customers globally out of the three U.S., Europe and Asia. “
TWE has already added capacity in North America. Recent investments include a laminator, a new airlay line and a needlepunch line for the automotives market. Additionally, a new building for production and storage space is currently being added in Indiana. Berens says this site was chosen because of its proximity to customers in the automotives market.
In recent years, TWE has not only benefitted from growth in automotives, it has also seen a rise in the number of applications for its nonwoven material in the car. “We have been focusing on new areas on the exterior of the car, like the underbody as well as at interior applications. That is promoting growth.”
TWE’s largest business, hygiene, is largely served from its European production sites once owned by Libeltex. The company is currently adding a new air through bonding line featuring the latest technology, in Belgium, which should begin operation at the beginning of 2019.
“This new line can basically provide standard acquisition and distribution layer material as well as super low weight cover materials,” Berens says.
In recent years, TWE has benefitted from developments in absorbent core technology. Its Amphibia product is a three-layer material ideally with no pulp but high performing superabsorbent polymers creating a core fused to an ADL. Amphibia combines an ADL with the absorbing all-in-one core, allowing the diaper to be extremely thin while offering super performance in absorbency, rewetting and distribution of the liquid. It does not require additional adhesive, cutting or another layer.
Outside of the core, TWE also provides supersoft materials for the topsheet and backsheet of the diaper. Its Softcover product reportedly is setting new standards in the field of softness thanks to specialized fiber formulations.
Also helping to grow TWE’s sales is its Chinese operation which not only serves the Chinese market but also Malaysia and other southeast Asian countries. While automotives continues to be important in China, other markets like contrustion and iltration are too. Meanwhile, hygiene is not growing as quickly as technical markets but has a larger base.