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Highloft nonwovens by other names: the nonwovens industry has succeeded in bringing much of the highloft and fiberfill markets under its umbrella.

Highloft Nonwovens By Other Names On March 20,21, INDA will hold its annual highloft conference at the Omni Hotel in Durham, NC. During these two days, we will again attempt to bring more light to this giant of the nonwoven categories.

If you have read some of the articles in this magazine in the past year--including the article by Ellen Noonan on page 60 of this issue--attended INDA conferences or worked with the manufacturers of nonwovens, you are no doubt aware of the discussions regarding the term or category "highloft." During the past several years we have convinced a portion of the nonwovens industry that it would be beneficial to redefine this area.

For years the term highloft has been associated with polyester fiberfill that was typically carded/garnetted and bonded with resins. The manufacturers of these products have evolved and have made products that have not used all polyester and are not used for filling. They are continuing to look for new markets. Fiberfill is indeed a highloft but we would like to include numerous other products in this category. Today, I see the highloft nonwovens markets includes agriculture, cleaning, containing, esthetics, filling, filtration, geotextile, health care, home care, insulation and protection.

Bringing Manufacturers In

Numerous users and manufacturers of the above products have agreed with our segregating and organizing in this manner and have joined our ranks. They are assisting INDA in determining an appropriate definition of the processes and products that make up the largest portion of the nonwovens business (more than three billion pounds). We have made progress, although it has been slow. This is a complex portion of nonwovens and we want to get the participating producers and users to agree.

We began our efforts here to demonstrate how important these markets are and that there is much to be learned from an organized approach. I began with a general concept for a definition of highloft by saying highloft is a nonwoven that, by weight, is much more air than fiber, binder or additive.

Dr. Ed Vaughn, of Clemson University, presented a paper at the INDA Highloft Conference in 1989 offering further and more specifics with numerous examples of products as well as formulas and tests. This paper was reprinted in the Fall, 1989 issue of the INDA Journal of Nonwovens Research. It was well received and it began a dialogue of those in the industry as to how to work with it, restrict or alter it to make it acceptable by the majority.

Meanwhile the processes become more complex and the end use list grows. Products have been developed that now contain combinations of acrylic, polyester, pulp and superabsorbent fibers using several different processes such as air laying, carding and melt blowing. Some of these may require almost clean room manufacturing conditions or special binders.

These new highloft products are obviously complicated and cannot be produced on a typical fiberfill line. So we see the fiberfill manufacturer considering changing his manufacturing operations to produce such a product. We see his customer evaluating the possibility of setting up his own unique operation. We see other highloft producers such as air laid pulp manufacturers, spundbonded manufacturers or melt blown manufacturers studying the feasibility of adding the necessary equipment to produce these complex nonwovens.

A nonwoven process or a combination of nonwoven processes has the capability to produce highloft materials such an no other textile or fiber containing process. This portion of our industry should enjoy a good growth with existing products and has excellent opportunities in the future to meet the needs of many new products and markets.

The INDA Highloft Conference

The INDA highloft conference next month will again attepmt to further define and organize the manufacturers, suppliers, converters and users. It will demonstrate that today many products are crossing the fences that once separated raw materials equipment, processing technologies and, therefore, end products. Fiberfill is no longer all polyester that is garnetted and wet bonded. There are filling materials that will be discussed using natural fibers from cotton pulp and milkweed as well as other synthetics. There are also processes such as spunbonded and melt blown that are also making highloft products for filling and insulation.

We will hear that the "fiberfill producer" is now producing nonwovens for health care and filtration. Here they ma want a raw material to combine and/or laminate to it, such as foam or another nonwoven.
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Title Annotation:Holliday Talk
Author:Holliday, Tom
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Feb 1, 1990
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