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Innovative air laid system developed by Webform.

An innovative new air laid technology marks the initial thrust of machinery manufacturer Webform Inc., Easton, PA, into the nonwovens industry The company recently introduced its "Webform" air laid system, which it describes as a "completely new and revolutionary technology." Webform opened a fiber testing center at its Easton headquarters on October 1; it is currently operating a fully integrated 30 inch research facility for material engineering and technology demonstration.

"This is a whole new technology," said Edward Schulman, president and chief executive officer. "The industry was based on a paper mentality, manufacturers designed systems based on what was known. Webform's system uses pressure rather than suction to pull the fiber through the device for a completely different teaching." The advantage to this, said Mr. Schulman, is that it adds flexibility to the process. The Webform system can improve control and accuracy, it is very precise in the cross direction and will allow random distribution of fibers. "The system will also lower costs and increase the range and type of fibers that can be used," Mr. Schulman said.

The system allows the use of virgin, synthetic and post-consumer fibers and there is a distinct environmental bent at the company. "We will be in virgin and specialty fiber markets," said Mr. Schulman, "but where there's the opportunity to use post-consumer fibers, we intend to do it." This concentration on post-consumer fibers will be far-reaching, even including newsprint and phone books. The printed materials are not deinked or pulped; the system simply reduces the feedstock and then manufactures absorbent materials for markets such as industrial and machinery wipes.

The patent-pending Webform system represents a leap forward in recycled fiber technology and usage. "Current technology can use 20-25% recycled fiber if it is repulped," said Jonathan Prescott, vice president. "We can use 100%. There is a need for this technology on the market," he said. "It's very exciting and it opens up cost effective alternatives to the industry. The cost is drastically reduced compared to virgin fibers." Webform is currently in the process of working with the state of Pennsylvania to form a public/private partnership that would use post-consumer fiber from the region for a Webform line to be set up in Easton.

In addition to the fiber testing line at its Easton facility, Webform is also looking at building a full scale production line, which the company hopes to have in place by the third quarter of next year. It will also be looking at licensing the technology to other manufacturers. According to Mr. Prescott, "There has been great interest in our production capability, both domestically and internationally," he said. "We see a cooperation with present manufacturers and converters while we target short and medium run conventional, specialty and niche market applications."

As part of its initial thrust into the nonwovens industry, Webform has also formed a strategic business alliance with Reliance Electric, Cleveland, OH. Under terms of the agreement, Reliance Electric will supply complete drive and process control systems to Webform for use on its production lines in domestic and international markets. The drive package will feature Reliance's "HR2000 V*S" drive controllers, which incorporate microprocessor-based process supervision.

The company received additional publicity last month when it was part of a four hour national telecast on PBS entitled "Turning Recyclables into New Products." The satellite broadcast was shown at over 150 locations in North America and was sponsored by the Air & Waste Management Association, Penn State University, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:textile machinery manufacturer
Author:Noonan, Ellen
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Nov 1, 1993
Words:589
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