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IDEA 2007 breaks records: nearly 400 exhibitors and 7000 visitors attend show in Miami Beach.

IDEA07 International Engineered Fabrics Conference and Exposition was held April 24-26. The trade show, held once every three years, attracted a record number of exhibiting companies and reported significant growth in international visitors. Sponsored by INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, IDEA07 attracted more than 400 companies/divisions as exhibitors, filling almost 400,000 gross square feet (37,000 square meters) of the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Exhibitors said that IDEA07 was a successful show during which they conducted a great deal of business. The level of excitement and energy on the show floor was palpable. The devaluation of the dollar made IDEA07 especially attractive for international companies to come and do business, according to organizers.

A combination of previous exhibitors requesting more exhibition space, 121 companies exhibiting at IDEA for the first time and a greater number of international companies contributed to the record number of exhibiting companies.

In addition, a total of almost 6000 people from all corners of the globe attended IDEA07.

IDEA07 was also the most international IDEA show in history. Approximately 44% of the 400 exhibitors were from outside the U.S., and 40% of attendees were from outside of the U.S. Four country pavilions--one each from Taiwan and Turkey and two from China--contributed to the increased foreign participation.

"With this increasing number of visitors from outside of the U.S., combined with the large contingent of international exhibitors, IDEA07 was a truly global event," pointed out INDA president Rory Holmes. "The world certainly came to IDEA07 and attendees and exhibitors alike were welcomed with open arms."

Mr. Holmes also pointed out that the 121 new exhibitors at IDEA07 were a reflection of the continued growth of this international market. "Much of the innovation in this market is coming from the smaller, aggressive suppliers from both the U.S. and overseas," he said. "All of this was on display at IDEA07. I have counted 16 separate new product launches on the show floor."

Here is a look at what some exhibitors were showing at IDEA07.

20-15 Solutions

20-15 Vision Solutions was using IDEA07 to introduce its new line of AutoStart Inspection Systems. The company's line of absorbent disposable systems is designed to inspect baby diapers, sanitary napkins, adult incontinence products, training pants and bed liners. A unique characteristic of these systems is the AutoStart capability featured in each product. The inspection tools are laid out in a manner that allows end users to move each tool dynamically to the correct location on their product with a short series of mouse strokes. Once the tool locations are saved, the dynamic tolerance attribute automatically sets the appropriate threshold levels for inspection. The system "learns" the components' position and appearance and begins rejecting defective product, collecting statistics and building reports immediately. The new line of AutoStart inspection systems allows the end user to install and start up the 20-15 Vision Solutions Systems with its own personnel and minimum down time. The system's flexibility ensures a perfect product is produced every time.

3M

3M has introduced a new hook fastener that performs well against lowloft nonwovens including backsheet materials. The hook is available in both single roll and precombined hook tab formats. The new products offer manufacturers more choices in terms of closure system performance, processing and customizing options.

3M was also featuring the new EBL Bright--a proven landing zone with better print clarity, shorter lead times and faster print pattern changeovers for the infant diaper market.

ADM

Archer Daniels Midland Company presented its line of bio-based superabsorbents and plastics during IDEA. ADM, which purchased Lysac Technologies last year, has a line of bio-based superabsorbents made from corn and wheat starches. They have application in baby diapers, adult incontinence products and feminine hygiene products as well as potential uses in industrial segments such as disposable medical products, food packaging, chemical spill control, oil drilling and agriculture.

ADM was also announcing a new joint venture with Metabolix whereby the two companies will commercialize plastic resins made from corn sugar, which are used to create plastics that are sustainable, biodegradable and renewable. A variety of products including coatings for packaging and paper cups, molded products (such as plastic cutlery, cosmetic cases) films and nonwovens can be made from these plastics.

Ahlstrom

One of the many innovations on display at Ahlstrom's IDEA07 booth were stretchable fabrics. This new generation of nonwoven fabrics are dimensionally stable when elongated and do not narrow in the cross direction when stretched. The fabrics are designed to be used independently or in combination with other components.

These cost-effective nonwovens replace traditional stretch fabrics. They remain stable and resilient after elongation, and they fully recover and do not distort after repeated use. They also retain their stretch properties when exposed to elevated temperatures, water and most solvents. Target markets include apparel, hygiene, personal care and other end uses.

ATEX

Atex presented the most recent products developed by its composites and special nonwovens division, together with the latest developments in its polypropylene spunbond products line. For the building industry, Atex introduced to the North American market Supravent, its highly breathable roof underlayment that is already successful in Europe. With an exceptionally high vapor permeability of 170 Perms, Supravent provides maximum protection and performance. Supravent is a water barrier synthetic underlayment that allows moisture passage, preventing the formation of mold, mildew and condensation.

Meanwhile, in hygiene, Atex presented AXAR TP a family of stretchable composite nonwovens for hygiene applications, which includes breathable and stretchable side panels, elastic bands, large side closing systems and stretchable hook carriers.

AXAR TP is a cloth-like stretchable and truly breathable nonwoven, a three-layer composite nonwoven produced using Atex's proprietary technology. No film is used in the product. AXAR TP is particularly intended for large size closing systems and side panel applications, but it is used also in small stretchable closing systems and can be produced in any color. Atex will also present its most recent line of polypropylene spunbond developed for direct hook applications: direct hook grip spunbonds for textile back sheets, landing zones and diaper belts.

Biax-Fiberfilm

Biax-Fiberfilm was running a 15.5-inch compact meltblown pilot line at IDEA. This line employs patented Biax technology allowing it to produce fibers from several different polymer chemistries suited for the barrier, filtration and sorbent industries.

Branson Ultrasonics

Branson Ultrasonics' ultrasonic rotary drum process effectively bonds and laminates wide webs of woven and nonwoven materials, eliminating chemical binders. This process can create unique fabrics in wide webs by passing multiple layers of material between a rotating patterned drum and an array of ultrasonic tools.

BHT-Bicma

Promoting new developments in the application of elastic materials in hygiene products was BHT-Bicma's key focus at IDEA. Machinery includes an applicator of elastic ears on baby and adult diapers, Bicma's special ultrathin inline airlaid fluff core forming technology as well as its Easypack trifolder and single-wrapper for elasticated light incontinence products.

Carolina Nonwovens

Exhibiting for the first time at IDEA07 was Carolina Nonwovens Corporation, Lincolnton, NC. The company was at the show promoting the launch of its first nonwovens line, which is currently being commissioned at a brand new 33,000 square foot facility. The state-of-the-art Laroche airlaid system, which was scheduled to come onstream in May, will supply thermal bonded nonwovens to a variety of consumer and industrial markets. Carolina Nonwovens' senior vice president John Gearhart said that the IDEA show was a perfect venue for the company to promote its products, which are designed to be lighter, stronger and less expensive than those currently being supplied to the market. "We are seeing a lot of interest in our capabilities here at the show," he said. "We are definitely satisfied.

Celanese

Celanese Corporation introduced a new polymer system at the IDEA07 tradeshow that responds to the need for truly flushable nonwoven products that completely disperse when disposed into water. The patent-pending polymer system, Nacrylic STP, adds value to chemically bonded wipes by supporting the wet strength requirements of products containing lotions and by triggering the wipe to fully disperse while in the presence of excess water. This all-new technology allows consumer product companies to market wipes as truly flushable products that disperse in virtually the same way as common toilet paper.

In other news, the company presented its latest generation of emulsion technologies designed to support significant improvements in the performance, form and functionality of nonwovens and paper specialty products. Emulsions based on vinyl acetate/ethylene (VAE) and other chemistries allow product differentiation for engineered fabrics manufacturers while satisfying consumer and industrial requirements in areas such as softness, strength and reduced environmental impact. Celanese also previewed and demonstrated a new dispersible polymer system that reduces the impact nonwoven products have on the environment and sewer and septic systems.

According to Claudia Berron, marketing manager for engineered fabrics at Celanese, one of the company's greatest strengths in supporting industry innovation is its ability to leverage a diverse set of polymer emulsions and polyvinyl alcohol chemistries to deliver market winning solutions. "We bring a remarkably broad range of technologies, including vinyl acetate/ethylene (VAE) emulsions, vinyl acrylic emulsions, vinyl acetate emulsions, acrylic polymers, functional polymers and polyvinyl alcohols, to developing functionality for engineered fabrics," she said. "Our emulsions act as the primary fiber binder in nonwovens and paper specialties and also create high-value functional properties such as abrasive or exfoliating texture in wipes, burst resistance in filters, and water repellency in wallpaper."

A. Celli Nonwovens

A. Celli Nonwovens' wingformer has been selected for two new airlaid projects from Dalian Riuguang Nonwoven Group and Main S.p.A., the company announced at IDEA. Dalian Ruigang Nonwovens, one of China's largest nonwovens producers has signed a contract for a new spunlace line designed to produce multilayered hygiene wipes incorporating airlaid pulp. Incorporating Wingformer, plus other winding and slitting equipment from A. Celli, will add to the quality of this line. Meanwhile, Italian airlaid producer Main S.p.A. will install one Wingformer forming head at its existing airlaid line. The Wingformer will be operational during the second quarter of 2007.

Cerex Advanced Fibers

Cerex Advanced Fibers, Cantonment, FL, was at IDEA07 exhibiting for the first time as an independent company. Following its spin-off as a division of Western Nonwovens, Cerex is now owned by management and an investor group led by Jon Vesely, a Chicago-based private equity investor.

At the show, Cerex was launching its portfolio of spunbond nylon fabrics based on its state-of-the-art SpectraMax fine denier products. The high filament count thermal bond fabric offers superior visual uniformity and a soft, more drapeable, textile-like fabric with higher filtration efficiency, strength and opacity. On hand at the show was a surfboard made with SpectraMax, an application that benefits from the fabric's fine denier size.

Cerex also unveiled its Secco fabric made from nylon 6,6. Based on the SpectraMax HP technology, the fabrics are naturally absorbent and breathable and target a range of footwear applications.

Ciba

Ciba Magnafloc APC is a soil management polymer for household, industrial and institutional wipes applications. This polymer enhances soil removal from surfaces, dramatically improves soil retention, helps maintain gloss on surfaces and is cost effective and compatible in a wide range of cleaning formulations.

Clopay Products

Two new product lines have been added by Clopay Plastic Products Company. Both Elastipro and MicroPro are expected to eventually represent a substantial percentage of Clopay's annual sales volumes. Elastipro includes an elastomeric composite produced from outer layers of nonwoven and an elastomeric-extruded core and offers edge-to-edge extension for maximum product uniformity, comfort and fit. Meanwhile, MicroPro has earned the position as the market leader in breathable building and construction technology. This microporous composite provides controlled ability to let air through without sacrificing moisture barrier protection.

Cognex

For the first time at IDEA07, Cognex was presenting customers with ways to achieve real time evaluation of nonwoven web formation. This enables operators to make process changes that impact quality before large amounts of off-spec materials are produced. In every nonwovens process, there are web quality properties that can vary from time to time. Cognex's SmartView Web Quality monitoring is a powerful tool for automatically measuring the web quality and formation characteristics of any nonwoven material. This revolutionary technology uses previously recorded sample images of different web quality levels to determine the quality of the material as it is being produced.

Dimatra

Dimatra, a Mexican maker of nonwovens converting machinery, is new to the industry but has 15 years of experience making machinery for wipes, slitters, rewinders and presses. The company was at IDEA07 for the first time to present this machinery.

Dow Chemical

The Dow Chemical Company highlighted its propylene-based and ethylene-based elastomers for hygiene and nonwoven applications at IDEA. The highlight of this was a presentation given by research specialist Andy Chang, exploring the similarities and differences in performance properties of propylene-and ethylene-based elastomers. The polyolefin elastomer products developed by Dow are ideally suited for health and hygiene applications.

Eastman

Eastman Chemical Company has launched new polymer products and a new brand for the nonwovens industry at IDEA07. These technologically advanced water dispersible copolyesters and high-performance polyesters are engineered to enable the manufacture of microfiber nonwovens using environmentally friendly processes, these new polymers are also suitable for applications in disposable/flushable nonwoven materials.

Eisner Engineering

Hanover, PA-based Elsner Engineering Works, Inc. was on hand at the IDEA show to promote the newest version of its ENR-Series automatic nonwoven wipes perforator rewinder. "We have seen a great response from visitors here at IDEA to this improved system," said Donald Rush, national sales manager.

The new system features a three-station rewind turret, inline slitting and a web width range of 12 to 42 inches. The machine offers a production rate of up to 15 logs per minute or 850 feet per minute. Also included is a rider roll to control rewind density and an Elsner precision rotary shear perforator with servo drive for infinite pitch length adjustments from six to 24 inches. Inline folding is also available.

Erhardt + Leimer

Several inspection systems were on display from Erhardt + Leimer at IDEA. The ELSIS Surface Inspection System is a complete turnkey line which will detect, quantify, identify and report a variety of surface defects in a multitude of web or sheet-fed materials while Elsmart Segmented roll guide offers the latest technology in web guiding for textiles and nonwovens.

ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil Chemical was at IDEA07 to present its product portfolio, technology and service capability. The company is demonstrating how customers can benefit from its innovative solutions for nonwoven applications including polymers for spunbond and meltblown processes. Vistamaxx specialty elastomers and premier polypropylenes including Achieve and ExxonMobil SFT315, will be featured in three product showcase presentations.

Vistamaxx specialty elastomers provide cost-effective solutions for incorporating stretch and recovery into nonwovens. Vistamaxx elastomers can run on conventional spunmelt processing equipment either alone or in combination with other polymers. Vistamaxx elastomers' stretch and recovery and other attributes offer product designers novel options for simplifying product assembly.

ExxonMobil SFT315 polypropylene gives nonwoven fabrics a cotton-like softness, excellent drapability and good abrasion resistance. ExxonMobil SFT315 polypropylene is ideal for use in disposable garments, diapers and adult incontinence products. Nonwovens made with ExxonMobil SFT315 polypropylene can be combined easily with other nonwovens or films.

Fameccanica

Italian machinery producer Fameccanica.Data SpA unveiled its Best Back Ears Sans Trim technology for cost effective diaper manufacturing. Designed to save converters money by efficiently using expensive raw materials, the new system cuts and places shaped back ears. With Best technology, asymmetric shaped elastic ears can be produced without trim, thus allowing for the manufacture of an added-value product with substantial cost savings and outstanding investment payback.

Also new from Fameccanica is its laser cutting technology offering flexibility and cost competitiveness. The new turnkey technology offers converters the ability to update their product line-up and realize even the most complex shapes to meet demanding customer needs. Instant and user-friendly shape and size changes can be made via a touch panel. The system is designed for cutting and shaping such articles as feminine hygiene napkins, panty shields, baby diapers, training pants and adult incontinence articles.

Fiberweb

In response to the growing concern about the long-term viability of raw materials made from petroleum, Fiberweb has introduced a line of nonwoven fabrics that contain at least 50% renewable materials. The Fiberweb EcoFabrics product line utilizes Ingeo fibers from NatureWorks PLA, which are derived from 100% annually renewable resources, such as corn, to offer customers an earth-friendly alternative to polypropylene nonwovens.

The product line includes carded thermal bond fabrics made from Ingeo fibers. These fabrics are ideal for coverstock and backsheet applications in the baby diaper, feminine care and adult incontinence markets. Also included are carded resin bond fabrics that have at least 50% Ingeo fiber content for acquisition/distribution layers for hygiene products; spunlace nonwoven fabrics made from a blend of renewable rayon and Ingeo fibers for wipes applications; and a unique bicomponent PP/PLA spunbond fabric with at least 50% NatureWorks PLA content. The coating of PP resin on each fiber ensures that the functional and converting properties of the fabric closely match PP spunbond fabrics. These fabrics are designed for a variety of applications from baby diaper topsheets to landscape fabrics.

Fleissner

Fleissner was at IDEA07 to present its entire range of machinery including a continuous nonwovens production line and through-air dryers. The AquaJet Spunlace Systems for the hydroentanglement of staple fiber webs, wetlaid or airlaid webs; AquaSpun Technology for Spunbond Spunlace and AquaPulp Technology for SPS and CPC products are just a few of the machinery products offered by Fleissner. Additionally, Fleissner can help customers improve MD/CD ratio in spunlace systems, develop two- and three-layer composites for the cost-efficient production of wipes and create new technologies from hydroembossed and apertured webs.

Foss Manufacturing

Hampton, NH-based Foss Manufacturing Company, a manufacturer of nonwoven fabrics and specialty synthetic fibers, showcased its Fosshield antimicrobial technology at IDEA07. Fosshield fiber technology safely and effectively inhibits the growth of destructive and odor-causing bacteria, mold, mildew and fungus. Antimicrobial protection is gaining in popularity, resulting in an increase of available product options. According to the company, Fosshield offers an unparalleled combination of benefits, positioning it as the premier choice. A high-performance bicomponent polyester fiber that includes a unique combination of inorganic antimicrobial additives in the outer layer, Fosshield targets those companies looking to enhance value and performance by providing permanent, natural and effective antimicrobial protection in textile products. The threat of germs and fungus poses increasing concern, and microbes such as bacteria, mold and mildew can quickly spread to cause odor, discoloration and deterioration on a range of surfaces if left unchecked. When woven-in, Fosshield enhances the value of any textile by combating the growth of these microbes, thereby extending product life and maintaining a hygienically clean surface. Fosshield is produced via a patented fiber technology. Unlike other antimicrobials that are applied via topical coatings, the additive in Fosshield is extruded as part of the fiber sheath during manufacture, providing the most effective exposure to damaging bacteria and fungi. Equally important, it will not wear or wash off.

GDM

A highlight of hygiene machinery manufacturer GDM's IDEA2007 booth was the Matrix or X3M programs for adult and baby diapers. This equipment can make products at the lowest possible cost offering a low waste rate and high efficiency. The company also shows its latest development for emerging markets such as its Chroma series for baby and adult diapers, as well as its Matrix lady series, which includes all the latest developments in terms of sanitary napkins: high density core in fluff or online printed material.

Golden Phoenix Fiberweb

Golden Phoenix Fiberweb has developed latex-free elastic nonwoven fabrics that were converted with a thermo-mechanical process without incorporating latex, rubber, PU or other elastomers. These latex-free elastic nonwoven fabrics can be stretched with gentle force to elongate 100% with a recovery greater than 70% and, in the case of lower elongations, which are more likely in typical nonwoven applications, it exceeds 90%. Many disposable products can be enhanced by these latex-free elastic nonwovens. This results from taking advantage of their high stretch, low tension and fast stress relaxation for improved fit and stressless comfort to the wearer.

Also on display from Golden Phoenix was Optiflex 60X1 series, a unique two-layer laminate with an elastic nonwoven. Using the innovative and patented technology from GPF, stretchability with gentle force reaches 200% elongation rate while the recovery rate is greater than 90%. The light and skin-friendly texture of 60X1 is made from 100% polypropylene.

Hills Machinery

Hills was at IDEA telling attendees it has made fibers averaging 250 namometers in size using a single polymer source and a special die. To achieve these fine fibers at reasonable production rates, the hole count must be at least 100 hpi, putting it in the size range that has historically been achieved only through multicomponent spinning or electrospinning technology.

Huhtamaki Forcheim

Huhtamaki Forcheim was showcasing its biodegradable and larger sized bags for baby diapers and adult incontinence products. These bags are intended to replace the use of cardboard in the soft packaged goods market. The line is made primarily from renewable and environmentally friendly materials.

Hyosung

Spandex supplier Hyosung's latest innovation is a product that can be processed in either over end take off or rolling take off applications. Personal hygiene customers who are just investing in over end take off equipment and still have rolling take off machinery will quickly realize the value of Hyosung's newest spandex offering for improved performance with reduced SKUs. For OTEO applications, this product allows for continuous spandex usage with uniform unwinding in a high speed process. With minor adjustments, the same creora products allow for continuous spandex usage with uniform unwinding in a high speed process.

Inotis

Nonwovens newcomer Inotis, a maker of spunlace nonwovens, brought its woodpulp/polyester products, which are being sold under the Licial brand name, to IDEA. Inotis began production in 2005 and is mainly targeting the medical and industrial wipes categories.

Invista

FreshFlex stretch nonwovens from Wichita, KS-based Invista made their debut at IDEA07. FreshFlex is a unique, single layer of material that utilizes Invista proprietary technology and provides superior breathability, cross-directional stretch/recovery, ease of movement and better fit to products in the personal hygiene industry. FreshFlex is a breakthrough in nonwovens, replacing both rigid and other stretch products with applications in hygiene, medical and other end uses. It can also be customized to a manufacturer's specific requirements. FreshFlex is built upon the same technology as Lycra elastane.

"FreshFlex represents an exciting innovation for Invista," commented Robert van de Kerkhof, vice president for Invista Stretch Performance Materials. "With its dual attributes of stretch and breathability, we believe it will revolutionize our customers' businesses, allowing them to develop new diaper designs and differentiate their product offering."

Isra Surface Vision

Isra Surface Vision, a Duluth, GA-based subsidiary of Isra Vision AG, was highlighting its high speed, nonwovens inspection system based on the Smash Web Processor at the IDEA show. The new Smash Advanced Inspection System is designed for 100% in-line inspection of nonwovens such as spunbond, spunlace, carded, adhesive bonded, needlepunch, meltblown, wetlaid and airlaid. The Smash System scans the nonwoven material faster than competitive systems resulting in better defect images with superior clarity. Fine detail from these high definition defect images is extracted for accurate, automatic classification. Minor defects can be segregated from critical defects. Accurate classification enables intelligent marking of specific defect types and the ability to determine the root cause of a defect for quick removal. Specific defect types can be mapped, trended, flagged or alarmed. Minor cross web uniformity deviations and fiber distribution differences can be trended and the process can be controlled within tighter limits, resulting in more consistent quality.

Kusters/Pill

Andritz Kusters, formerly Eduard Kusters Maschinenfabrik and now a part of the international Andritz Group, was presenting Pill wetlaid nonwoven technology at IDEA07. "The integration of Pill technology complements our successful product program in calender and wet finishing technology in a perfect way," said Andreas Lukas, head of Andritz Kusters Nonwovens. "The technological know-how of the Pill Company and synergies within the Andritz Group now open doors and offer our customers interesting comprehensive solutions for the production of wetlaid nonwovens."

The core of the Pill wetlaid nonwovens technology is the neXformer, a combination of headbox and inclined wire parts.

Andritz Kusters Nonwoven and its U.S. subsidiary Andritz Kusters Inc. will present its entire range of services under the motto, nonwoven excellence. This includes leading calendering technology as well as the latest developments in wet finishing of nonwovens.

Libeltex

Libeltex was exhibiting a new nonwoven, featuring the protection of film with the softness and comfort of nonwovens, to top sheet materials. This material, which originally focused only on acquisition and distribution layers, is being targeted to premium feminine hygiene products sold in warm weather climates, according to executives. Also new to Libeltex's product range are rayon-based medical materials for under-the-cast applications.

Mechadyne Machine

Mechadyne manufactures roll handling and packaging solutions for the nonwovens industry. Its product line includes semi-automatic axial and radial roll wrapping stations for low production requirements to automated handling and packaging systems that take rolls from the winder and move them to the warehouse as finished packages.

NDC

Using a new measurement system architecture, innovative non-nucleonic sensors and high-powered data processing software, NDC provides nonwoven processors TQCM (Total Quality Continuum Measurement)--an integrated set of tools that enhances the ease and sophistication of measuring nonwovens and provides unprecedented visibility into various aspects of production quality.

TQCM incorporates four new, tightly integrated products that together create the visualization tools needed to assure full compliance to customer requirements. These tools include a new system architecture (TDi), new high-performance non-nuclear measurement sensors based on Near Infrared and X-Ray technologies and a comprehensive process analysis tool that can be used to archive and monitor cause/effect relationships between process conditions, basis weight distribution and visual product inspection.

Neumag

Neumag was presenting a spunbond line capable of producing widths up to seven meters wide of polypropylene nonwovens for the hygiene market. This new technology can make spunbond production even more efficient and is a key part of Neuma's technology offerings, which also include melt-blown technology developed by J&M Labs/Nordson, airlaid lines from M&J Fibretech, Fehrer needle punching and carding technology and Autefa cross-lapping technology.

Nippon Nozzle

Nippon Nozzle introduced a new line of jetstrips for producing spunlaced nonwovens at IDEA. This line of jet-strips are made with proprietary Micro-Orifice processing technology and will result in jetstrips yielding higher entanglement efficiencies than in the past, according to the company.

Nordson

The Nonwovens Systems business of Nordson Corporation was showcasing non-contact and contact dispensing technologies with point-of-application equipment that provides pattern stability for consistent coverage, high bond strengths and low add-on rates.

Active displays featured clog-resistant Universal Signature spray nozzles for producing dense and uniformly random patterns with enhanced appearance and hand in continuous coating applications. For elastic attachment, Universal SureWrap nozzles will show how optimized adhesive placement improves creep resistance using less adhesive. The application of continuous, low add-on coatings will feature the fully configurable True-Coat slot applicator that delivers exceptional thermal performance and accuracy with fast format changes and easy web routing.

Productivity displays included control and detection systems, and bulk dispensing systems for centralized adhesive distribution. The comprehensive LogiComm system integrates pattern control and verification for on-line quality assurance. By verifying valve actuation and fatigue, the OptiStroke detection system reduces product waste and confirms hot melt adhesive dispensing performance.

Centralized adhesive distribution systems reduce tank-filling frequency and operation costs in high-volume dispensing operations. Manufacturers can choose from Nordson BM200 Series bulk melters; Nordson/Puffe inverted drum unloaders; EasyFil systems or Nordson pumping stations that interface with drums, National Starch EasyTank bulk delivery tanks, truckloads or rail cars of adhesive.

Products that enhance production capabilities will include the GP200 remote metering station for adding application points or reducing add-on variation, Universal Slice applicator for simultaneously producing several applications from a single applicator with precise metering accuracy, and Contour Coat applicator for applying individually shaped adhesive patterns. The booth will highlight multiple VersaBlue Series melters to showcase precision dispensing flexibility with a range of tank capacities and control options that simplify daily operations and maximize uptime, such as on single melter diaper lines.

PGI

PGI held a media briefing Wednesday, April 25, during IDEA07 to unveil its Spinlace materials, a new category of fabrics that deliver high performance at best-value pricing, representing the first in a new generation of nonwovens technologies that will be the cornerstone for future product developments.

To create Spinlace, PGI developed a highly efficient manufacturing process that incorporates continuous filament with hydroentanglement and eliminates the carding step. Spinlace also uses PGI's proprietary Apex technology to impart unique three-dimensional images directly into the fabric.

Mike Hale, PGI's vice president and general manager, U.S. and Europe, said that the new technology is the result of PGI's efforts to look at changing how nonwovens are made--not changing nonwovens. "We consider our current commercial initiatives to produce Spinlace materials as only the beginning of our efforts to develop a more efficient and dynamic method of incorporating continuous filament materials to achieve a variety of product attributes including softness, strength, elasticity, bulk and more."

The line is reportedly the first generation of technology that will serve as a platform for PGI's future growth in the nonwovens market. According to Mr. Hale, the first phase of the new material's expansion will be to target the North American wipes market. The next step will be geographical expansion within wipes followed by entry into new markets.

PGI has invested in the upgrade of a commercial line, as well as a pilot line for continuous research and development efforts to better serve its customers. The first Spinlace line will be located at PGI's Benson, NC plant and will begin commercial production during the second half of 2007.

In other news, PGI launched MediSoft Ultra, an advanced high-performance fabric for medical garments and other single-use apparel. New capabilities available at PGI's Suzhou, China as well as advances in its spunmelt manufacturing processes enable PGI to achieve the higher barrier protection, greater comfort and enhanced softness that the market is seeking.

Pliant Corporation

Under the Lifetime of Solutions banner, Pliant Corporation unveiled a number of trade names and products at IDEA 2007. All told, the company introduced nearly a half dozen film and packaging products, sharing a similar trait--enhancement of a user's life through increased discretion and comfort. For instance, Protect:U film and nonwoven laminates provide protection in personal hygiene products for people of all ages, from infants to seniors. Pliant has been offering these laminates for some time but has only recently branded them under one trade name to better communicate their capabilities to consumers. Another new trade name introduced at IDEA is Protect:OR, which encompasses Pliant's films for medical, dental and operating room supplies.

On the new product front, Pliant has added two new products to its FlexSure brand that bring comfort and discretion to adult incontinence and infant diapers as well as Touch of Silk, a new film developed for feminine hygiene packaging.

Reifenhauser

Development in meltblown nonwovens for filtration applications was a focus at Reicofil's booth. A new system features improvements in fiber spinning and stretching, leading to improved fabric qualities. The machine's parameters can be adjusted to suit individual needs by means of changing pore size, fabric loft or fiber diameter.

Rieter Textile Systems

Machinery specialist Rieter Textile Systems chose IDEA07 in Miami, FL as the venue for launching its most recent innovation in melt blown technology. The brand new system offers excellent basis weight distribution, very narrow fiber size distribution, extremely fine filaments, high specific throughput, independence to raw materials and excellent reproducibility. Other advantages to Rieter's Advanced Segmented Melt Distribution are forced, even distribution of melt, a well balanced and insensitive system and a wide operating window. The low maintenance system features top-loading spinnerets, easy and robust handling and stable production. The system's variable width capability is expected to benefit filter producers. Fabric samples were available at the show from the company's brand new pilot line, which came onstream last week.

Sonobond Ultrasonics

Sonobond Ultrasonics demonstrated four ultrasonic bonding machines at IDEA 2007, showing how ultrasonic technology offers fast, safe, durable and cost-effective assembly of nonwovens and technical textiles. Instead of adhesives or threads, Sonobond's ultrasonic units use vibrational energy to bond synthetic and nonwoven materials in seconds, speeding production time and creating strong, reliable, leak-proof seals. Sonobond's SeamMaster High Profile Ultrasonic Bonder is ideal for hand-guided applications with tight tolerances or curves. It works with easy-to-install pleated filter guides, as well as interchangeable and custom pattern rollers that slit, emboss and stitch. This unit can operate at speeds up to four times faster than conventional sewing machines and 10 times faster than adhesive methods, achieving up to 60 feet per minute.

Sonobond's SureWeld 20 Ultrasonic PlungeBonder is a rugged, versatile welding press, ideal for large, multiple-layer, or difficult-to-bond materials. The bonder works in seconds with just one pulse, significantly improving production efficiency while lowering costs. The unit can be used for a variety of filters, medical textiles and packaging applications. The SureCut Hand Cutter H35 cleanly cuts and seals the edges of synthetic films and fabrics in just one pass, eliminating fraying, unraveling and material buildup, or beading, along the cut edge. A loom-mounted version has quick-change cutting tools to accommodate various thicknesses of material and slit sizes for continuous cutting and sealing of ribbons, labels, trims, Velcro strips and other applications. For plastic and synthetic textile applications, involving small areas or tight access, the Hand Gun Welder HG35 is the ideal ultrasonic spot bonder. Easy to operate, the unit can be used for applications such as tack welding fabrics, attaching fabric to plastic panels, and assembling blister packs.

Suominen

New from Finnish roll goods producer Suominen is Biolace, a bio-based spunlace nonwoven fabric that is both biodegradable and compostable. The new product range will predominantly target both dry and wet wiping applications. "Biolace represents the first step toward a new single-use and disposability mentality," commented Henri Laitervo, sales director, at the Biolace product launch at the company's booth at IDEA. "Biolace combines raw materials from renewable resources with Suominen's unique energy saving production process--plus providing nonwovens able to biodegrade 100% in available municipal compost facilities."

Biolace products are produced solely from natural fibers produced from renewable sources such as viscose, cotton, pulp and PLA. "The first three of these are probably very familiar to all of us, but PLA is a newcomer," continued Mr. Laitervo. "PLA is produced from cornstarch using a fermentation process. This is followed by polymerization, which results in PLA granulate." Three different products have been planned for the Biolace family in three different versions.

Tredegar Films

At IDEA07, Tredegar showed its latest developments for topsheets and elastics. ComfortQuilt is a 3D, apertured nonwoven topsheet. This technology offers a cottony soft feel with faster strikethrough and reduced rewet. It is now available as a zoned perforated topsheet and can be used on baby diapers, femcare and adult incontinence products. The zoned material can help to avoid SAP leakage near the leg cuff area of a baby diaper.

ComfortAire is a high loft and flexible nonwoven laminate that combines the softness of a nonwoven with the fluid performance of a film, allowing consumers to enjoy protection with comfort. ComfortAire[TM] is now available in a new design.

Nonwovens Industry Staff Report
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Date:Jun 1, 2007
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