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Development of new spunlaced nonwovens.

In the nonwovens industry in Japan, spunlaced nonwovens show the highest growth rate at present. Spunlaced nonwovens are manufactured with polyester, polypropylene and rayon; major manufacturers include UniCharm, Kokko Paper, Mitsubishi Rayon, Japan Vilene, Kuraray, Futamura Chemical, Shinwa and Sanwa Paper, while Du Pont Japan imports and sells "Sontara."

In addition to the above conventional spunlaced nonwovens, the development of a new type of spunlaced nonwovens, using microfibers and cotton, has recently begun to grow (Table 1).

Microfiber nonwovens with fibers thinner than 0.3 denier have already been developed but, since 1970, produced only for use in the production of man-made leather. However, spunlaced nonwovens developed with cotton and microfibers can now be applied in a range of products, including wipes, filters and disposable apparel, as is the case with conventional nonwovens. Almost all the microfiber nonwovens listed in Table 1 are made by applying pressured water jets to a web formed by bicomponent fibers to peel and divide them into microfibers.

[TABULAR DATA 1 OMITTED]

In the case of Asahi Chemical's "Coldon" and "Fronte," on the other hand, microfibers of the order of 0.1 denier are first spun into threads and then made to form a web by means of papermaking. The web is then subjected to water jets.

Cotton nonwovens, which have not been in existence for a long time, began to be produced when Marusan Industrial started production of a spunlaced nonwoven fabric of 1 00% pure cotton in 1985. In July 1992, Nisshinbo Industrial entered into regular production of cotton spunlaced nonwovens. Unitika, which had previously entrusted the production of its cotton spunlaced nonwovens to Marusan Industrial, is expected to start production inhouse in April 1993. Cotton spunlaced nonwovens are made by applying water jets to a web formed by means of carding the absorbent cotton after it has been scoured and bleached.

Production of spunlaced nonwovens of microfibers and cotton still remain at a low level. Production costs of these nonwovens are high in comparison with other nonwovens because of the special fibers used and the spunlacing method. However, these new types of nonwovens are expected to be applied to various products in a range of uses, since they have excellent features unusual in conventional nonwovens.

Microfiber spunlaced nonwovens are widely applied in coated fabrics, filters and wipes, particularly in dry wipes. Microfibers have large surface areas per unit weight and those made from a bicomponent fiber have their cross-sections made heteromorphic. These features of microfibers are very suitable to wipes and filters and provide, when coated with a polymer, an excellent polymer permeability. Further, microfiber spunlaced nonwovens have begun to be widely used as basis cloths of synthetic leather due to their flexibility and softness.

Cotton spunlaced nonwovens have distinct features such as high water-absorption, conspicuous whiteness and a soft hand. Consequently, they are widely used in wipes, particularly wet wipes, gauze and feminine hygiene products. Since cotton is safely disposable without causing serious environmental contamination, use in disposable products is expected to increase. Cotton spunlaced nonwovens also attract attention from the medical field such as surgical gowns because of excellent moisture absorption and air permeability.
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Title Annotation:Japan leads in manufacturing of microfibers and cotton products
Author:Ohmura, Kin
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Words:524
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