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Keynote Address: Recycled and Renewable Resources for Construction, Insulation and Automotive Composites
Bengt Svennerstedt, BioFibre Technology Research Group, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
This presentation deals with renewable agro-based resources and will cover an overview of annual plant fibres and possible binders for the manufacturing of renewable composites. Within the overview there will be a short review of the market for agro-based fiber products. The presentation will also give a short review of the research going on in the Nordic countries and other parts of Europe within the biofibre technology field. There will be several examples shown of interesting biofibre composite products.

SAP Availability: The Future Global Capacity and Demand
J. Blake Kuster, Absorbent Technologies Inc.
After twenty years of steadily decreasing SAP prices, the tables have turned dramatically with cost rising fast. Just what conditions are causing the price increase for SAP and other material too? And how long can we expect these conditions to last? This presentation will try to provide some answers to those and other questions for conditions influencing the market.

The 7% Solution Revisited - Designing More Efficient Absorbent Systems
Mark Bolyen, Marketing Technology Service
In 2004 the price of superabsorbent powders rose by about 50%. The cost of fluff pulp also went up, although not at such an impressive rate. It is now very difficult to purchase extra SAP at any feasible price and the situation is not expected to improve much in the short term because of shortages of acrylic acid capacity worldwide.
What is a diaper designer supposed to do in this situation? The answer is to properly change the ratio of SAP to fluff and to adjust the pad densities to achieve similar results.

This paper gives some examples of what can be achieved and the influence of changes on spreading, rewet and diaper leakage performance which can be immediately employed by the industry.

What Designers of Wipes and Diapers Need to Know About Skin and Skin Care
Beth Hanson, Marketing Technology Service
Everyone who wears diapers - whether newborn or the elderly - puts their skin at risk of breakdown and secondary infections. Certain populations are at even higher risk - babies born prematurely and the institutionalized or immobilized elderly. The substrates and cleansing agents used in wipes can help or exacerbate the problem. This paper discusses normal skin function, skin pathology associated with the use of diapers, and approaches that diaper and wipes manufacturers can use to address skin condition issues across the age continuum.

A Low-Fiber Diet: How Advanced Fiber Technology Can Reduce Consumption
Jeff Dugan, Fiber Innovation Technology
A wide variety of advanced fiber technologies can be applied to the fraternal problems of reducing waste and reducing materials usage in nonwoven products. Among these technologies are biodegradable and bio-based polymers, microfibers, modified fiber cross-sections, and bicomponent technologies. The ability to combine these technologies adds to their effectiveness.

Softness in Air Laying
Victor Almeida, Tencel, Inc.
Hydroentangling for bonding nonwovens is a popular and proven method of generating extremely soft nonwovens with good strength, drape and feel. Also important to the softness component is the selection of fibers that are used. Tencel, a spun fiber derived from woodpulp, is extensively used in hydroentangling applications. Recent work suggests that the benefits of these fibers for softness can be employed in airlaid webs, either as part of a homogeneous blend or by the use of layering strategies in combination with other fibers. This paper discusses the possibilities.

Evolving Nonwoven Structures for Premoistened Wipes
Phillip Mango, Phillip Mango Consulting
Historically, the nonwoven substrate used in a premoistened wipe has evolved from simple monolithic structures to today's more complex composites. This paper will address the current and future structures being designed to meet more demanding performance needs and consumer desires.

Multilayered, multisurfaced,solid- as well as liquid-containing--today's wipe is being used for more difficult and specialized tasks. Additionally, new specialized and high performance raw materials have been designed to contribute specific desired properties to these structures, i.e. flushability, elasticity. An overview of the latest developments will be presented.

Spunbonding Technology: In Progress or on the Dead End Road
Ivo Edward Ruzek, Industrial Consulting
The last 15 years brought a boom for spunbonding technology. The access to the biggest of all nonwoven market segments, the hygiene industry, is providing the strong driving force for this development. Major achievements have been the in-line manufacturing of composite SMS fabrics and the use of multiple spinning beam machines resulting in very high line speeds. Improved uniformity allowed establishing a level of standard weights slightly below 17 gsm.

Is there the sun shining all over? No way. There are shadows on the opposite side of the state-of-the-art. Two product varieties - a simple polypropylene spunbonded as a permeable top sheet and a breathable barrier SMS composite - look the same at all manufacturers. With polypropylene resin prices rocketing, the raw material prices are absolutely dominating the manufacturing prices. Saturated market volumes and dependency on a few very big customers push down the profit margins. And the big customers expect prices to continuously drop down from year to year.

What is the vision on how to escape? Definitely it is not by smooth evolution of existing fabrics. What is wanted is a leap-frog, new approach employing sub-denier filaments allowing use of spunbonded fabrics providing the same function at a dramatically reduced weight of about 10 gsm.

Technologically the solution has to include the use of "regular" polypropylene resin and of substantially increased filament speeds in spinning, compensating for filament denier reduction and keeping the throughput of the manufacturing line and for productivity at about the same level as today. The melt distribution at the spinning head has to reach about the level of high-tech bicomponent spinning.

Hydroentangling as a bonding technique could offer new challenges for polyester spunbonded fabrics. The fast growing market for wipes today are based mostly on carded technology and could provide the necessary market volumes. Flash spinning of aqueous gels is another challenge. Prefabricated absorption cores with high portions of flash spun SAP as well as other water-soluble polymers, like polyvinyl alcohol and aliphatic polyesters as target polymers, are to be discussed as well.

Nanofibers - What's the Big Deal and Who Cares?
Gregory F. Ward, Nonwoven Technologies Inc.
Nanotechnology is the big "buzz word" in technical product development today, but for some reason, not in nonwovens. This paper deals with what nano fibers are and what they can do for the nonwovens industry. The benefits and problems with producing and handling nano-scale fibers are examined. The considerable potential for a whole spectrum of new fabrics and products is evaluated and discussed.

Part 1:  New Developments with Olefin Fibers and Nonwoven Fabric Technology
Edward J. Engle, Engle Consulting
This two-part presentation gives a review of fiber and fabric converting processes and materials including olefin polymers, additives and finishes with implications for the next generation product designs. Emphasis is on monocomponent fiber and nonwovens with softness, strength, elongation and liquid transport (or barrier) characteristics. The advances in polymer chemistry, additive systems and surface finishes have brought important improvements that will be discussed in the context of how they affect finished fabrics.

Part 2:  The Case for Low Denier Fibers
Edward J. Engle, Engle Consulting
Part 2 of this presentation continues the discussion of new developments in olefin based nonwovens and fibers. The case for lowering the denier of fibers, whether the fabric is made by spunbonding or by carding using cut fibers, can be convincingly made. There has been a slow but steady progress with lower denier fibers and fabrics coming into the market. Pressures caused by increasing raw materials pricing and the improvements in fabric softness and coverage are balanced against the potential loss of throughput and line productivity as fiber sizes are reduced. As interest in lower denier strategies has increased, new fiber shapes and finishes are also being developed to offer further improvements. Some of these will be reviewed and forecasts about what might happen in coming years will be offered.

Leaving Fiberglass Behind - Composites for Construction, Sound and Thermal Insulation Materials Made by Airlaid Techniques
Larry Pio, Marketing Technology Service
For many years, fiberglass batts in various thicknesses have been laminated with foils, scrims and other roll goods to make thermal insulation blankets. Acoustical application insulations, such as those used in cars, are traditionally made with glass fiber and thermosetting resins baked into 3-D shapes in platen presses. As interest in developing recyclable insulations accelerates, interest in reducing emissions related to the traditional thermosetting systems is also increasing. For many applications, it appears that unitized thermobonded composites of recyclable fibers, virgin materials, and also natural fiber materials will make feasible a whole new generation of 3-D materials. This paper shows some examples of various airlaid composites from natural, synthetic and recycled materials that might be suitable for future applications. 

Different Approaches to Low Denier Fibers

Robert H. Bell, Ason Neumag Corporation
A look at recent publications and patents shows that there is an increasing need in the nonwovens industry for lower denier fibers. This is true for carded fabrics as well as the spunbond industry. If we define low denier fibers as fibers below 1 den then there are different approaches possible which are proven production processes either in spunbond or staple fiber spinning. 

One approach is the production of low denier fibers (i.e. 0.8 den) directly in the spunbond or staple fiber process. Another approach is the meltblown process which produces very fine fibers down to 1 micrometer. In addition to these "simple" methods one can also use a bicomponent approach. This can be either by a splittable solution or by dissolving part of the filament. 

This presentation will give an overview on what is possible with the different approaches.

Possibilities for Phase Change Materials in Future Nonwoven Composites
Terri Blum Grady, Freudenberg Nonwovens
Phase change materials are promising additives useful for developing novel fabrics and products. The various applications and where there is an additional future include: performance apparel/street apparel/uniforms, accessories/footwear, bedding, home furnishings, automotive, medical, and veterinary/animal care. The importance of all of the materials working together includes subjects like breathability, insulation, etc. How phase change materials are best used depends on the application. The marketing of the phase change concept and making it work with the product is not magic and the consumer, as well as the manufacturers, need to understand what it can do and under what circumstances it can do it. This paper covers the possibilities and those issues.

Unitized Airlaid Synthetics for Tomorrow's Products
James P. Hanson, Marketing Technology Service
The airlaid forming process began as a way to make soft bulky paper towels from woodpulp, and today woodpulp remains the single most used fiber by the process. Although synthetic fibers have been used to bond the woodpulp and to provide tearing strength, mostly they have been minor components in the recipes of today's commercial products. That situation will probably change in the future.

Properly opened short and medium length fibers processed on airlaid machines using forming drums with very big slot openings produces surprisingly good results and very high machine throughputs. New grades, including high loft synthetic batts made by the airlaid process, are extremely promising for replacement of grades traditionally made with carding etc. Unitized structures with functional surfaces can be expected to compete successfully with laminates in many applications by employing thin veneers of more expensive fibers on their surfaces to match the properties of the laminates. Examples range from filters to consumer wipes.

This Program is Subject to Change

Last Modified: April 21, 2005


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