Nico Del Monaco, Owens Corning’s vice president, Non-Wovens and Glass Reinforcements Europe, says the company is seeing nonwovens-based construction markets growing in all regions, driven by the growth in residential and commercial buildings, as well as the conversion of these markets to composites. “Composites are reshaping construction markets, shifting the paradigm from using standard materials to high performing products and systems through glass reinforcements and specialty nonwovens. We expect this trend to continue,” he says.
Owens Corning is generating new solutions to support the future penetration of composites into new markets. “The increasing conversion of the buildings market from paper and felt to non-woven solutions is an example of this,” Del Monaco adds.
Freudenberg Performance Materials, which says it holds a 40% market share in the roofing industry, also sees the use of nonwovens in construction applications growing, with the market continuing to develop products that are capable of adding value for the end user. The company agrees that composites are improving construction markets. “A new generation of ‘composite technology’ is opening up new applications to improve protection of the building fabric as well as quality of life inside in the living area,” says Dr. Frank Heislitz, CEO, Freudenberg Performance Materials.
The strong development of ‘green’ building is providing further fuel for the construction materials market, he adds. “End users are increasingly asking for sustainable products and are demonstrating a clear preference for environmentally friendly alternatives and recycled materials.”
In this case, Freudenberg is up to the task. The company’s production process starts with the recycling of post-consumer PET bottles, its main raw material. These are selected, washed and reduced to flakes. The flakes are then transformed into fiber—staple technology—or used directly in the spinning process—spunbond technology—to manufacture recycled polyester nonwovens. “Recycling PET bottles means that we can replace virgin raw materials with recycled polyester of the same quality, enabling us to save natural resources,” Heislitz explains.
Thanks to nonwovens’ ability to combine good mechanical resistance with high elongation at break, polyester nonwovens are the most commonly used carriers. In the reinforced version Freudenberg produces using glass filaments, the combination of the flexibility of the polyester with the stability of glass allows excellent runnability of the nonwoven. “This is especially true at high temperatures and when used on high-speed bitumen lines, and gives the bituminous membrane outstanding dimensional stability and long-term durability,” he adds.
According to Heislitz, Freudenberg’s leadership position in the roofing market is underpinned by the company’s long-term orientation and strong customer relationships, which are built on the company’s deep commitment to understanding customers’ needs and expectations. Cutting-edge technology, flexibility and a broad portfolio of products make it possible to respond to the most demanding customer requirements. “Although invisible, once embedded in the bituminous membrane, our polyester carrier is essential for our customers to achieve the product performance they are aiming for,” he says.
For now, Freudenberg sees a generally positive forecast in the construction market and expects to see further growth over the medium term. In terms of specific growth areas, the company sees developing countries offering tremendous potential in nonwovens applications.
Owens Corning Expands
Owens Corning supplies glass-based products ranging from glass fibers to glass mat for residential roofing; to coated and uncoated specialty nonwovens for the residential and commercial markets. Its research delivers advanced technology for glass fiber, glass sizing and nonwoven mat composition.
According to Del Monaco, Owens Corning’s nonwoven glass fiber mats are typically produced by a wetlaid process on an inclined wire former, after which it is impregnated with a synthetic water-based binder. The impregnated web is dried and cured in a direct gas-heated belt dryer. After that is inspected, slit and wound in-line on cardboard cores in a turret winder.
Owens Corning uses its proprietary Advantex glass formulation which is corrosion-resistant and-boron-free. Typical binders include acrylic, urea formaldehyde and renewable organic binders.
“The increased trend toward urbanization, and greater demand for housing means that there is both a market and a need for composite solutions,” Del Monaco says. “People want improved indoor air quality, to conserve energy and greater sustainability more broadly. Our range of organic binders are replacing products that use formaldehyde binders.”
According to the company, composite products don’t just offer aesthetic advantages; the performance advantages are substantial, as specialty nonwoven solutions offer fire resistance, mold and mildew resistance, enhanced acoustics, impact resistance, corrosion resistance, and more.
“Owens Corning’s products often provide unique functionality,” Del Monaco says. “The replacement of paper facers on exterior sheathing gypsum boards with glass nonwovens is a prime example. Paper facers have problems with moisture and mildew and so Owens Corning partnered with a gypsum manufacturer to develop a specialty coated glass nonwoven that addressed these pain points, and improved the overall performance of the system. Further, our gypsum facer allows buildings to remain operational during construction work.”
Recently, Owens Corning has been in expansion mode. In April 2018, Owens Corning completed the acquisition of Guangde SKD Rock Wool Manufacture Co., Ltd., which produces mineral wool insulation for the building and technical insulation market. Mineral wool is the primary insulation material in China due to its fire containment properties.
“We see great opportunity to provide our customers in China with products in both the mid temperature building and high-temperature industrial-application markets. This acquisition furthers our strategy to expand Owens Corning’s technology portfolio across the three largest insulation markets in the world,” Insulation president Julian Francis said at the time of the acquisition.
The company now has seven insulation manufacturing facilities across China, and is able to provide customers in the region with a full temperature range of products including fiberglass, extruded polystyrene foam, cellular glass and mineral wool insulation for the construction market.
Other Owens Corning investments of note include its specialty glass nonwoven facility in Gastonia, NC, in 2016, and its acquisition of the Blythewood, SC, operation for glass-based coating solutions, in 2017.
Fibertex Focuses on Roofing
Fibertex Nonwovens works closely with some of the biggest industrial roofing manufacturers. It continuously expands its range of products, and part of this is to create solutions that make the installation on the job site as easy as possible. One of these innovations is a unique solution with a self-adhesive nonwoven dedicated to flat roof membranes. Fibertex’s nonwoven is laminated on the backside of waterproofing membranes for flat roofs, for industrial or commercial buildings. The nonwoven functions as a protection of the membrane, and serves as a barrier between the deck and the membrane. Additionally, the nonwoven gives tensile strength and elongation to the membrane.
For roofing underlays, Fibertex nonwovens are laminated with film. The goal is to manufacture breathable material located under the tiles. These products are nailed on the roofs. In this area, Fibertex nonwovens are beneficial because of their high tensile strength and high tear nail resistance.
Meanwhile, Fibertex’s nonwoven called Absorex is laminated on the backside of single metal sheet before the forming. Here, the Fibertex nonwoven product is used as an antidrop solution.
“Fibertex Nonwovens provides a perfect compromise between soft textile material with high tensile strength,” says Thomas Boudailliez, business manager, Building Flooring. ”Our nonwoven products combine the advantages to be light and strong material. That makes the perfect match with the new installation techniques.”
According to Fibertex, the construction market for roofing has been expanding in recent years and this is expected to continue. “The market is driven by increasing demand for easier and faster installation of roofing materials in Europe, as well as in the USA,” Boudailliez says.
DuPont Grows Tyvek Portfolio
DuPont’s Tyvek is essentially synonymous with building wrap—the category it invented over 30 years ago—and the company continuously develops new products and makes improvements to its existing product line.
In the roofing segment, the company recently developed DuPont Tyvek Protec roofing underlayments for the residential construction market. Launched in 2016, this product provides industry leading walkability, a quality that refers to the grip that the top provides when the installers are walking on it, as well as the right level of grip to the roof deck, according to Rupa Kibbe, business lead, Roofing Segment, DuPont Performance Building Solutions. “Another quality that differentiates the Tyvek Protec line-up is the lay-flat characteristic when it gets rolled out. This is critical to productivity and ensuring the underlayment is installed evenly over the roof deck,” Kibbe adds.
In other new product news, DuPont Tyvek DrainVent Rainscreen was launched late last year to provide advanced protection against moisture damage in exterior wall systems. The product is the DuPont Safety & Construction’s first roll good offering that creates a 6mm (0.25”) space for water drainage and air movement for drying behind cladding.
Tyvek DrainVent can be installed behind stucco, stone veneer, brick, wood, fiber cement and metal panel systems, and helps to prolong the life of exterior cladding by creating a gap that helps prevent rot, cracking and peeling problems. The product replaces the intervening layer required with stucco and stone, while the attached heavy-duty filter fabric prevents mortar and stucco infiltration.
Tyvek DrainVent is easy to cut and install, lays flat and rolls tight against corners, helping protect against poor installation and detailing errors. The heavy-duty filter fabric keeps mortar out, helps create a flat surface to allow the cladding to lay flat and has a high perm rating so it is very breathable. Thanks to its unique three-dimensional honeycomb-textured design and durability, it also provides uniform nonstructural support for the various claddings.
If they are well designed, nonwovens may enhance the attributes of a product, Kibbe says. “A product is not necessarily ideal, or well performing, because it is a nonwoven. DuPont has chosen to combine nonwoven technology with that of woven to provide an ideal combination of physical properties.”
According to Kibbe, new construction is growing at a slow pace, as macro-economic conditions such as mortgage rates and student loan debt continue to deter potential first-time home buyers. “However, the home remodeling market has grown 50% since 2010, and as homes continue to age – we will see increased growth in the re-roofing segment. DuPont is capturing this growth by creating customized innovative roofing solutions for home owners.”
Texel’s Needlepunch Finds Success in the Market
Texel Technical Materials has been involved in the building materials sector for nearly five years. It has played a role in different market segments including acoustics underfloor, roofing fleece, acoustical ceiling and wall applications. According to Alex Alexis, business unit manager at Texel, the company’s sales increase is directly linked with the demand for acoustical solutions and technologies to replace bituminous roofing technology.
“For the acoustics technology, needlepunch nonwoven has proven to be efficient,” Alexis says. “Previously, needlepunch technology was used discreetly behind floors and walls, but the tendency is to use the needlepunch technology for aesthetics and acoustical performance at the same time.”
For roofing, Texel’s needlepunch nonwoven is used as reinforcement technology for liquid applications, flash systems and under tile roofing technology, replacing some stitch bonded material and fiberglass nonwovens. “Needlepunch technology can provide good elongation properties at a good cost,” he adds.
In 2016, Texel was acquired by Lydall, a leader in specialty engineered products and materials, and is now part of the Lydall Technical Nonwovens division. Within this group Texel and Gutsche, a German needlepuncher Lydall also acquired that year, are combining their technical knowledge together. “This new synergy allows us to improve the technology transfer and market knowledge,” Alexis says.
Gutsche’s acoustical nonwoven known as Audiovel is getting more market share in Europe as well as in North America. Meanwhile, Texel’s new product line Feltkütur will be more present in North America. “This new synergy should provide a better global presence and should accelerate the development of new acoustical panel technology,” Alexis explains.
Texel’s Feltkütur is a line of acoustical panels made with a 100% PET blend. These acoustical panels are rigid and are used for ceiling and wall partition applications. For the roofing business, Texel developed a 100% PET fleece for liquid applications. This product has great absorption and capillarity properties. “Our production lines have been adapted to produce these fleeces,” he says.
Texel is enthusiastic about the role needlepunch nonwovens play in the construction market. “For the last three years, the building materials segment has generated growth at Texel,” Alexis says. “We expect to maintain this growth, due to the fact that needlepunch is gaining more market share in the roofing industry, but also we’re seeing North American governments investing more in infrastructure which will impact our industry within the next following years.”