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Nonwoven scrims and nettings: these long lost relatives should be accepted into the nonwovens family; nonwovens come in all shapes, processes and sizes.

these long lost relatives should be accepted into the nonwovens family; nonwovens come in all shapes, processes and sizes

Too often we in the nonwovens industry neglect a part of our family when listing manufacturers, describing processes or totaling numbers for end uses. Some of those in this category are producers of highlofts, stitchbonds, tow, scrim and netting or web-like materials.

Scrim is a term that has been used for many textile products for years. It was typically a loosely woven or open structure of cotton or linen used in many applications from curtains, wipes, flags, banners to cheese wrap and bunting for wrapping babies. You may still find a few |ole timers in various industries referring to scrim products used as skirt lining for furniture as "baby bunting."

Nonwoven scrims are typically yarns laid on yarns in a particular arrangement and bonded in that pattern rather than woven or entangled to secure them into a fabric. Most nonwoven scrims have from three- 10 yarns or filaments per inch; however, they have been produced with more than 100 yarns per inch in the machine direction for specific limited applications.

The term scrim has become a description of weight and performance rather than a reference to the use of yarns to make an open fabric structure. Today many producers of nonwoven fabrics from wet laid and carded to spunbonded and melt blown refer to some of their fabrics as scrims. This definition obviously comes from its potential use or general appearance and the markets where it may be used rather than how it was produced or what raw materials it may contain.

However, we refer to the yarn or filament structures when stating that the U.S. is the largest producer of nonwoven scrims, consuming more than 125 million yards per year. The largest end use is the reinforcement and packaging industry. As an example, we have all hurt our hand when trying to open a box, package or large letter that appeared to have a kraft paper tape securing it. We found out that there were glass yarns on the back side of the tape and "ow," did not tear open as easily as we thought it would.

Some of the first patents regarding nonwoven scrim manufacturing machines and processes go back more than 35 years. Although many of us in the nonwovens industry do not notice, new concepts and designs have continued over the years and into the 1990's. Kimberly-Clark, Bay Mills, Milliken, Union Carbide and Chavanoz were some of the early driving forces in this field, some back to the 1960's. Other names many of us think of include C. Itoh, Fothergill, Luckenhaus, St. Regis and Kirson.

Today it is estimated that there are more than 200 manufacturing lines worldwide producing nonwoven scrims for a variety of applications. A significant amount of these are used in conjunction or as part of the structure of another nonwoven.

Kimberly-Clark was probably the best known in the world of nonwoven scrims for its broad product line of scrim reinforced materials (SRM). These materials were primarily a nonwoven scrim of fine denier nylon filament yarns that were laminated to one or more layers of tissue. Many of these became the "standard" in disposable markets with their attractive properties such as absorption with good strength, flame retardance, colors/prints and water repellency at a reasonable price.

Although spunbonds and other fabrics have taken considerable markets from the scrim/laminate products, millions of yards continue to be used in conjunction with other nonwovens as stabilizers, reinforcement and support materials. There continues to be ample opportunity for yarn type nonwoven scrims in many of these as well as new markets.

One of these opportunities will no doubt be accomplished when the fiber extruder or yarn manufacturer makes a unique structure that will have a system of orientation or placement of yarns and a bonding method that utilizes current technologies of polymers and computer capabilities in a continuous operation, not just the nuts and bolts approach.

Extruded Nettings

Extruded nettings have not been included by many as nonwovens since they supposedly do not use fiber as a basic raw material. However, they are more like a nonwoven or scrim material than wovens, films or whatever and they are in the non-woven marketplace. Sometimes they are in it as a friend, as with scrim that may be laminated to a nonwoven and sometimes alone as the competitor to another nonwoven.

Extruded nettings have also been around a long time, more than 25 years. They have also proven to be a viable approach to making a number of products and are often competing with scrims and other nonwovens for a given end use. An extruded netting can be made by extruding a polymeric or plastic into a mesh or netlike structure. A film can be grooved, slit, punctured, elongated or otherwise altered to form it into a scrim or netlike material. Some of these have fibrillated edges on the side of a very narrow and thin portion of the film. This can give the appearance and some properties of a yarn or fiber type material.

Some of the companies that pioneered these products include Smith & Nephew, Hercules, Nalle and Conwed. A multitude of product and process innovations has enabled nettings to find new markets each year since their introduction. Today there are geogrids, fencing, safety webs and many other products that have evolved from this manufacturing concept.

Extruded nettings are available in tubular configurations, flat or film-like material on rolls and flat rigid structures. This process allows the use of many different polymers including stretchable, recycled, multiple polymers in one netting and those with additives.

Both nonwoven scrims and nettings can offer the potential user a feasible answer to his product needs. They have many properties that are unique unto themselves and have the ability to give a synergism when combined with other materials. As the innovations and developments continue, so should the growth and profits of these processes.

Tom Holliday is a well known consultant to the nonwovens and textile industries whose column on a wide range of nonwovens-related topics appears every other month in NON-WOVENS INDUSTRY. Mr. Holliday operates his consultancy firm Thomas M. Holliday & Associates, from his office at 25 Edgewood Road, Yardley, PA 19067, 215-493-2501.
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Author:Holliday, Tom
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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