This article explores how a next generation mechanical diaper closure system with a unique hook tape and loop combination offers a well balanced solution to diverse diaper industry needs.
- Fastening system mechanical hook tape: This diaper tape closure system includes a fastening tape, hook element, adhesive layer and, depending on the diaper machine technology, a release tape. Mechanical hook tape is designed to be applied on a loop-based landing zone, applied on the diaper’s front.
- Closure system: The landing zone, together with a mechanical hook tape, forms a closure system.
Diaper Market Trends Influence Closure Design
The diaper industry is on a growth trajectory to reach $52.2 billion in global sales by 2017, according to Transparency Market Research. To capture a share of this expanding market, diaper manufacturers are focusing on ways to differentiate themselves by offering higher levels of comfort and performance.
In its 2014 diaper industry trends article, management consultant firm Price Hanna highlighted some important connections that major diaper manufacturers want consumers to make between their babies’ well-being and product attributes such as softness and secure fit. A diaper should have similar qualities to cotton underwear—super soft, comfortable and breathable and will not irritate the baby’s skin.
This is one reason behind the market’s continuous search for softer materials. Soft nonwoven backsheet material that promotes comfort, for instance, has emerged as a successor to plastic backsheets. Breathable materials also are a priority as diaper brands seek to alleviate the skin clamminess and potential diaper rashes that can occur when a baby’s skin touches materials with little to no air permeability. These trends have led to increasing popularity of cloth-like and breathable backsheets, which has driven the industry to explore new requirements for the accompanying diaper closure systems.
Feature and Function Evolution of Diaper Closures
When comparing diaper closures, much of the discussion boils down to the interaction between landing zone materials and fastening tape types. The combination of these components influences everything from contamination resistance and hold performance to softness and closure cost.
In the value tier of the diaper industry or first generation of diaper closure systems, particularly in some emerging markets, local brands still use a conventional closure system consisting of a plastic adhesive based closure tape and film based landing zone. This approach is very economical, but adhesive based closures are vulnerable to contamination from baby oils and lotions. They also lack the cotton-like softness and breathability that are increasingly important to consumers.
In higher tier or next generation diapers, closure system developments are following the overall trend in the diaper industry toward the use of cloth-like material for increased soft touch and an aesthetically pleasing, upscale look. Mechanical closures, using hook and loop combinations, are used to create a high end look.
However, not all mechanical closure systems are created equally. In light of some recent closure system advances, there are obvious and subtle differences that meaningfully affect performance. For example, the traditional hook and loop closures that were first on the scene offer a strong hold. But, with their typically nylon construction, these lock loop systems offer little softness. They also lack breathability because of the filmic laminate layer that lends stability to their landing zone.
Closures made of nonwoven loop landing zone material, allowed diaper manufacturers to solve to the issues of breathability and softness. At the same time, these closure systems presented some performance and cost challenges. To compensate for the weaker holding interaction between the loop and hook tape, some manufacturers used wide hook tape components. Greater material volume requirements could drive up overall closure system costs while the high air permeability of the landing zone material could present processing complications.
The latest generation mechanical diaper closure system addresses demands for softness, breathability and strong hold performance.thanks to a specialized multilayer construction. This construction enables the material to be processed on high speed diaper manufacturing lines. It can be also repositioned and reclosed multiple times due to its high peel and shear performance.
Peel performance in first generation of nonwoven loop closure systems was lower than in lock loop closure systems. To meet consumer demands, diaper manufacturers are looking for similar high peel performance with lock loop closure systems along with the softness and breathability of nonwoven loop closure systems.n
Birgitta Van den Driessche (email@example.com) is the Asia Pacific marketing and R&D director, personal care, for Avery Dennison Performance Tapes. Christophe Geensen (firstname.lastname@example.org) is EMEA product manager, personal care, for Avery Dennison Performance Tapes.