According to Behnam Pourdeyhimi, director of the institute and a professor at NC State, the NWI has already invested about $10 million in the new facility—with more to come—and the impressive line is worth much beyond that.
At its centerpiece, the new line is a 1.0-meter Reicofil 4 bicomponent spunbond line with additional equipment including Hills Inc. bico or monofilament die packs, an Andritz thermo bonding calendar, Perfojet hydroentanglement units, a kiss roll, a through air dryer and a high speed A.Celli winder and slitter. The web path of the new line can be customized to meet specific requirements and the whole line is dedicated to research, development and incubation. NWI researchers will work with companies to make a customized product or to work with companies to bring an idea to fruition. It joins other NWI assets which include a meltblown line, testing equipment and filtration media development.
Interest in the new line is high and the grand opening ceremony attracted more than 300 members of the industry. These attendees ranged from former students to equipment suppliers to nonwovens producers to end users, and their scope shows just how well respected the NWI is in our industry. The graduate program in nonwovens at NC State is currently the only university program dedicated exclusively to nonwovens, graduating 50 “career ready” Ph.D.’s every year. As the nonwovens industry struggles to attract young members—INDA recently hired a career services associate to recruit college graduates into nonwovens—the importance of this program cannot be overestimated, especially considering it’s located in North Carolina where 40% of U.S. nonwovens production exists.
This new equipment is another step in the institute’s goal to become the global leader for research, education and service for nonwovens—a mission that was outlined by its advisory board in 2008, and it certainly won’t be the last investment we see there.