“At Techtextil and Texprocess, the technical-textile industry gave an impressive demonstration of its great innovativeness and preparedness to meet tomorrow’s challenges. This is where car makers meet fashion designers and medical engineers meet industrial specialists. Techtextil is unrivalled thanks to the broad spectrum of textile materials and technologies to be seen. Around 60% of trade visitors are managers and 57% play a decisive role in their company’s decisions when it comes to purchasing new materials,” says Detlef Braun, member of the executive board of show organizer Messe Frankfurt.
Around 20,800 Techtextil visitors came from outside Germany. The five leading visitor nations at Techtextil after Germany were Italy, France, Turkey, the U.K. and Belgium.
The nonwovens industry was well represented throughout the fair with makers of machinery, nonwovens manufacturers and suppliers of raw materials all showcasing their latest innovations in the show halls. Here is a look at what some of them brought to Frankfurt.
Lydall Exhibits at Techtextil
At Techtextil, Lydall was exhibiting with its newly acquired company, MGF Gutsche, a maker of needlepunch nonwovens. Lydall acquired the Germany-based Gutsche in December 2016 for $58 million. The transaction positions Lydall as a global leader in needlepunch nonwoven filtration solutions and strengthens the company’s position as a premier provider of engineered technical materials. The acquisition expands the company’s filtration and engineered materials product offerings into attractive adjacencies and diversifies the company’s geographic revenue base.
Gutsche is a leading producer of nonwoven needlepunch materials serving the industrial filtration and high performance nonwoven segments. The business consists of operations in Germany and China. The Gutsche businesses have been integrated into Lydall’s Technical Nonwovens segment. In addition to growing its presence in existing filtration markets, the addition of Gutsche has given Lydall a strong position in the fast growing waste-to-energy incineration market.
Norafin Showcases Flax Wallcoverings
At Techtextil, Norafin, a maker of spunlaced nonwovens for technical applications, showcased a new wall covering product made via flax processing. The UV resistance of flax fibers, their natural appearance and their positive sustainability profile, can create wall coverings that offer good and natural indoor climate control while offering insulation properties as well. Norafin has been introducing flax into its spunlace business for several years.
In late 2016, Norafin, which is based in Germany, announced it would build a manufacturing facility in Henderson County, NC. Norafin (Americas) Inc. will construct a 75,000 square foot building in Mills River, representing an $18 million investment which will lead to the creation of about 45 new jobs.
The establishment of a North American manufacturing facility will allow Norafin to better serve existing clients, penetrate new markets, and provide a solid platform for continued future growth. The company has maintained a sales presence in Asheville over the past decade.
Elmarco Shows Nanospinning Technology
Elmarco’s Nanospider NS 8S1600U is the base spinning unit for industrial production of nanofibers in its scalable electrospinning line. Combining up to four spinning units, NS Production Lines deliver high volume throughput for cost effective production. Optimized for non water soluble polymers, the NS 8S1600U is based on Elmarco’s proprietary needle-free electrospinning process.
Features of the technology include high throughput, up to 20,000 square meters of coated material annually, scalable production volumes, cost-effective production and readiness for plant integration.
Ahlstrom-Munksjö Shows Acoustic Ceiling Panels
At Techtextil, the newly merged Ahlstrom-Munksjö presented a range of textile-based solutions for applications ranging from construction to filtration to home products to food packaging. Among these products were the company’s unique range of nonwoven fleece for ceiling panels using wetlaid technology. Using the expertise developed in the implementation and choice of natural and synthetic fibers, Ahlstrom-Munksjö can create high performance solutions, engineered to meet its customers’ key requirements for acoustic ceilings—sound absorbency and fire reaction.
The fleece is simply cut and glued onto the back of panels without the need for any extra matting. The fleece then works with a perforated ceiling to reduce noise and provide acoustic comfort.
TAL’s Superabsorbent Fabrics on Display
In addition to promoting its core product, superabsorbent fibers (SAF), Technical Absorbents (TAL) also displayed a range of its super absorbent fabrics, which are already used in a wide range of applications, at Techtextil.
One of the main products on display were its new washable SAF nonwoven fabric technology. The material, when used as a core within protective outer materials, can be laundered and dried with minimal absorbency loss. Such a fabric has been developed as a solution for different industry sectors including hygiene and apparel. There are also many other potential applications for the fabric that are yet to be explored.
“Innovation is at the heart of everything we do as a company,” explains TAL commercial director Paul Rushton. “Events such as Techtextil not only allow us to promote the wide range of uses for SAF, but also discover new opportunities for its application within the industry of technical textiles.
“Our washable fabric is one of TAL’s latest product innovations. It is just one example of how we have taken our unique core SAF fiber and, through creative product development, realized a unique fabric which can be integrated into a number of different products that require moisture containment/management.”
JM Shows Off Range of Technical Products
Johns Manville (JM), a producer of a wide range of technical nonwovens for building and construction, filtration, energy storage and composites at 11 sites in Germany, the U.S. and China, presented many topics at Techtextil.
“Luxury vinyl tiles are as a modern flooring material in vogue. We have developed a couple of tailor-made glass fiber nonwovens for this application,” says Martin Kleinebrecht, portfolio management and marketing leader at Johns Manville. “Our products offer high dimensional stability at different thermal conditions and ensure a very good paste penetration thanks to their open structure.”
For the extremely dynamic field of composites, JM presents its special glass fiber nonwovens that are successfully used to enhance the performance of stiff and lightweight components.
Besides those glass fiber based products, JM displayed three topics for polyester (PET) nonwovens: Bico-polyester nonwovens that are used as filter media or as carriers for automotive cabin air filtration, a two-layered PET nonwoven for engine air intake, which combines an extraordinary dust-holding capacity with high stiffness; and as a third area needled PET nonwovens that are utilized both as highly resistant geotextiles as well as filtration products with excellent efficiency and burst-strength.
Beaulieu Expands Fiber Range
Beaulieu Fibres International, a leading European producer of polyolefin fibers, showed an expanded range of fiber innovations to address market demand in segments such as automotives, flooring and geotextiles.
Beaulieu Fibres International’s recent Supplier Excellence for Technological Innovation Award from Yanfeng Automotive Interiors is just one example of its commitment to developing innovative new products in close cooperation with customers to enable them to bring more environmentally-friendly, lighter and better performing products to market.
To support this, Techtextil visitors were able to learn more details about Beaulieu Fibres International’s investment in new fiber technology on an industrial scale in Belgium. The €15 million investment will be commissioned in November 2017 and is part of an ongoing program to extend fiber production to meet future challenges and customer needs.
Conwed Together with SWM
Conwed exhibited at Techtextil along with its new parent company Schweitzer-Mauduit International (SWM). SWM, which has historically focused on specialty paper manufacturing, purchased Conwed earlier this year as part of an effort to diversify its product line to include an expanded range of fiber- and resin-based offerings such as netting, fibers, yarn and advanced materials.
At Techtextil, SWM showcased its entire portfolio of extruded square, diamond flat, bicomponent, multilayer and elastomeric netting that provides reinforcements, containment, grip, protection and stretch capabilities in diverse product designs. Typical netting applications in the textiles and nonwovens industry include reinforcement of other substrates such as film, foil, paper, foam, bubble wrap, nonwoven and other types of fabrics. “Our netting configurations usually hide behind the scenes but provide essential performance to the final product,” says Ivan Soltero, senior strategic marketing manager at Conwed. “We specialize in customizing our netting designs to help our customers improve their composites in automotive, apparel, medical, hygiene, cleaning and building products.”
SWM also owns DelStar Technologies.
Cormatex Showcased Airlay Technology
Nonwovens machinery manufacturer Cormatex exhibited its new airlaying technology – Lap Formair – at Techtextil 2017. The system can manufacture nonwoven products using virgin fibers, post-industrial and post-consumer waste materials.
It is available in two versions: Lap Formair V creates vertical orientation of the fibers, providing excellent resiliency, thermal and acoustic insulation properties; while Lap Formair H creates a horizontal stratification of the fibers, thus improving mechanical properties - tensile strength, maintaining gentle fiber handling.
The process works to increase the number of products manufactured from waste materials, reducing waste disposed of in landfills, in-turn providing economical advantages in terms of energy consumption and production costs.
The nonwoven fabrics produced by Lap Formair can be applied to a variety of sectors, the company notes, including building construction, automotive, furniture, mattress production, clothing and footwear, leather goods, composites materials and geotextiles, thanks to their thermal and acoustic insulative properties and mechanical resistance.
Processed materials can include natural and synthetic fibers, as well as glass, carbon, basalt fibers, waste materials such as leather, garment and mattress waste, waste from tire recycling and recycled paper and cardboard.
An airlay pilot line is available at Cormatex premises for research and development projects with customers.
Trevira Exhibits with Indorama Ventures
Trevira GmbH, a specialist in functional fibers and yarns, presented products for a wide range of technologies and applications in the technical and functional textiles segment at Techtextil where it exhibited jointly with sister companies in the Indorama Ventures parent group. Amongst the latest developments in filaments are yarns made from biopolymers (PLA). Numerous applications focus on home textiles, project textiles (e.g. trade fair construction) and technical uses, but also functional apparel.
A new offering in biopolymer fibres is a PLA hollow fiber for the use in fillings. In response to customer demand in terms of product functions and material properties, the comprehensive product range for airlaid applications is being continuously enhanced. This also applies to special fibers for the carding sector and shortcut types for the paper industry; where the focus is on improving dispersion.
Kelheim Shows Functional Fibers
The Bavarian viscose speciality fibers manufacturer Kelheim Fibres offers a wide spectrum of the most varied functional fiber products, and manufactures an ideal raw material for a whole range of technical applications, from nonwovens applications to functional apparel, and from sportswear to filtration.
Commercial director Matthew North describes the unique characteristic of Kelheim Fibres as follows: “Our core strength is the exact matching of our fibers to our customer’s specific needs, to their final product or to their production process. This way we generate added value for the customer and that is the best foundation for a long-lasting and successful partnership.”
TWE Responds to Need for Environmentally Friendly Products
TWE Group develops, manufactures and sells high quality raw materials and advanced production technologies which result in extensive innovative nonwoven solutions for almost any application. At Techtextil, the company presented its nonwoven materials used for automotive applications, for the building sector like acoustic absorption or cover materials, and also filtration media applications.
The demand for environmentally friendly products in the building sector is growing; that’s why TWE Group offers solutions for effective thermal and acoustic insulation – thereby providing a basis for a healthy and ecological home. The professional insulation products from TWE Group with conventional insulation standards provide considerably more beneficial alternatives in terms of health than traditional insulation and cause less stress on the environment. This is already evident in the processing of TWE’s nonwoven material: It can be installed without the need for protective masks, gloves or glasses because it does not cause skin irritations and is safe for people with allergies.
TWE Group also presented its products for air and liquid filtration and automotives applications.
Full Range on Display at Sandler
At this year‘s Techtextil exhibition, Sandler AG invited visitors to a garden of nonwoven novelties at its booth: A veritable bouquet of high-tech materials for acoustic insulation in the home and the office, for transportation, and for filtration awaited the professional audience on an excursion to the home of innovative nonwovens.
“At home” is Sandler’s watchword because its nonwovens for various applications render the home more comfortable. fibercomfort insulation materials are applied in the roof and in walls, providing a pleasant temperature for rooms, and at the same time helping to conserve energy.
In partition walls, sound-insulating nonwovens create optimum conversational acoustics. These textile solutions also provide for a quieter everyday worklife in office partitions, additionally functioning as a design feature for individual room design. The product range offers the right acoustic nonwoven for every application: soft and voluminous or self-supporting and compact; with an open-pore surface of especially smoothed; white, black or a marble-like shade in color—these textiles can be adapted to customer requirements. They can also be finished with print or embossed motifs or laminated with different fabrics.