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New technology, bleaching and processing putting cotton 'on a roll.' (10th Annual Show in Print of the International Nonwovens Industry)

A variety of new technologies, ranging from improved bleaching capabilities to better fiber finishes, are breaking ground for cotton in the roll goods market.

Already a major fiber for absorbent nonwoven end uses, cotton is gaining interest in wipes, diapers and feminine hygiene products as improved, higher quality cotton emerges from the lab and into production.

"Traditionally, roll goods manufacturers have been reluctant to incorporate cotton into their production because of questions about fiber quality and limitations of finishing," says Glenn Morton, Cotton Incorporated's director of product and process research.

"It's been an unfortunate situation because while manufacturers of personal hygiene products have taken full advantage and benefitted from consumer demand for cotton, manufacturers of nonwovens fabrics have stood on the sidelines while this trend has been building," he continued.

Cotton Comes Of Age In Roll Goods

Morton says enhancements all along the cotton production pipeline have helped create a new generation of fiber specifically for roll goods production.

These enhancements, spear-headed by Cotton Incorporated's nonwovens research department, are wide-ranging:

* The advent of High-Volume Instrument testing on 100% of the U.S. cotton crop can allow bleaching companies to select cotton purchases that are best suited to the needs of their customer's production needs.

* Advancements in bleaching equipment have resulted in cotton fiber that is virtually free of all natural contaminants, greatly enhancing the appearance of final products.

* The development of new finishes has provided for improved processability without the loss of cotton's natural electrostatic control and absorbency.

* Dramatic improvements in fiber opening for web production with a quality appearance are providing an additional bonus. The latest innovations in kier bleached fiber opening machinery have doubled production from 300 pounds/hour to 600 pounds/hour.

The Advantage Of Cotton To Consumers

Morton says that these advancements, coupled with cotton's natural inherent characteristics--absorbency, static-free properties, reusability, recyclability, durability and ability to be sterilized--make cotton a superior fiber for roll goods, especially as it applies to consumer marketing.

"Cotton has a well-established, strong consumer acceptance," says Morton. "In apparel and home fabric end uses cotton has a 54% share of the retail market, making it the single most popular fiber consumed. It outsells all other fibers combined.

Consumers of these products are also buying nonwoven products. The manufacturer who can tap into this preference stands to distance themselves from the competition."

Morton points out that there is one additional benefit of cotton use--the ability to feature the Seal of Cotton. "Use of the Seal can be licensed to nonwovens manufacturers who use cotton. Retail tests have shown that the appearance of the Seal on packaging actually increases the consumers' intention to buy the product.

Currently, 73% of American adults readily recognize the Seal and associate quality and value with the products it identifies. When you consider that the Seal is backed up by Cotton Incorporated's national network television advertising--that's a tremendous advantage for a nonwovens product fighting for attention on supermarket shelves."

Cotton Incorporated's Research Group, with a fully operational research pilot line and 21 years of experience in product improvement and development, is ready to work with you. For information, call Glenn Morton at (919) 782-6330.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Rodman Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:May 1, 1992
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