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Electrostatic filters in Japan: a growing market for nonwovens.

a segment of the nonwovens industry with great potential in Japan, electrostatic filter materials rely primarily on melt blown technology; at least nine companies are involved in this high-tech segment

The market for electrostatic nonwovens (electrically charged nonwovens) as filter media has been experiencing rapid growth in Japan recently. Electrostatic filters are currently manufactured or processed by nine Japanese companies (Table 1). Included on this list, however, are Sumitomo 3M and San-M Package, which are not manufacturers of nonwovens roll goods, but end product converters. Sumitomo 3M imports electrostatic nonwovens in the form of roll goods from the U.S. and then manufactures a final electrostatic product, while San-M Package buys a nonelectrostatic melt blown nonwoven (Tapyrus) from Tonen Tapyrus, electrostatically charges it and then manufactures a final product such as electrostatic nonwoven masks.

[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]

About 70% of electrostatic nonwovens are based on melt blown nonwoven technology, with the remaining portion made of spunbonded, needlepunched or thermal bonded nonwovens. In all cases, the fiber used is polypropylene. Only Sumitomo 3M and Mitsui Petrochemical provide electrostatic nonwovens made of nonwoven fabric of split fibers prepared by splitting an electrostatically charged film.

Demand For Electrostatic Nonwovens

The Japanese demand for electrostatic nonwovens in 1991 is estimated to have been a little less than 10 million sq. meters. The major use for electrostatic nonwovens is found in masks and air filters for use in automobile compartment air cleaners, household air cleaners and building and household air conditioners. Each of these fields consumes one-two million sq. meters. Electrostatic nonwovens are also used - although at a much lower level - in HEPA/ULPA filters for clean rooms, HEPA filters for office automation instruments and filters foor vacuum cleaners, caps, working clothes and wipes.

The masks in which electrostatic nonwovens are used are for both medical and industrial use. Masks for medical use are mainly provided by San-M Package, while the major supplier of masks for industrial use is Sumitomo 3M. In the field of automobile compartment air cleaners. Toyobo has been developing electrostatic nonwovens for some time, with Japan Vilene following shortly after.

In the field of household air cleaners, Toyobo and Sumitomo 3M have large shares, followed by Mitsui Petrochemical and Japan Vilene. Today, almost all of Japanese-made household air cleaners use electrostatic nonwoven filters. In the field of household air conditioners, those that provide an air cleaning function are increasing in number and this trend is causing an increase in demand for electrostatic nonwovens. Mitsui Petrochemical has an overwhelming share in this field. Electrostatic nonwovens for use in building air conditioner air filters are also being developed by almost all of the manufacturers of electrostatic nonwovens, with Japan Vilene, also the leader in the market for nonwoven filters in building air conditioners, having the largest share in this field.

Toray is leading in the field of HEPA/ULPA filters for use in clean rooms and office automation instruments, where high-performance electrostatic nonwovens are required. Toyobo is working on developing electrostatic nonwovens equivalent to HEPA/ULPA.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Ohmura, Kin
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Apr 1, 1992
Words:503
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