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Nonwovens in filtration: new products, new uses.

Filtration--no other segment in the nonwovens industry is as diverse. A $225 million market in the U.S. in 1991, according to John R. Starr Inc., the filtration segment of the nonwovens industry runs the gamut in markets, product specifications and capabilities.

From low end cartridge and baghouse filtration to sophisticated filter materials for the electronic and cleanroom industries, nonwovens have been able to replace wovens and other traditional filter media on the basis of their versatility and ability to be manufactured to exacting specifications. While price is a concern, the efficiency and performance of nonwoven fabrics tend to outweigh the cost factor.

Filtration as a market breaks down into air and liquid filtration uses. In air filtration, end uses include baghouse filters at factories, vacuum bag media, HVAC filters, support and drainage for microfiltration membrane pre-filters, high temperature insulation, cold or cryogenic filtration applications, needled felts for frame presses and dust bags and semi-conductor and drug filters.

Liquid filtration end uses include medical or blood filtration, gas and oil coolant filtration, recycling waste water filtration, masks for medical, industrial and respirator applications, reverse osmosis and ultra-filtration and pool and spa cartridge filtration.

Interestingly, among the top 30 roll goods companies in the nonwovens industry profiled in the September, 1992 issue of NONWOVENS INDUSTRY)--which comprise more than 90% of worldwide nonwovens sales-- 18 companies (or 60%) are involved in some respect in the filtration market.

Among the top 10 companies, eight are involved in various filtration markets. Of the North American companies in the Top 30 (there are 14), eight are involved in filtration, compared with eight European companies out of 12 and two Japanese companies out of five. No other single market can claim this high a percentage of companies in any one end use market among the Top 30.

The Top Ten Nonwoven Filter Products

In an industry as diverse as filtration, new product introductions and product improvements are a constant part of the growing process. Herein no particular order--NONWOVENS INDUSTRY has chosen 10 of the most interesting new nonwoven filtration products introduced in the U.S. in the past year to 18 months.

1. Number 18 among the top roll goods producers, Lydall, Manchester, CT, recently introduced a leukocyte, filter that represents a unique type of joint project between two company divisions.

The new product, which targets the medical filtration area, combines Lydall's Technical Papers Division's process with its Westex Division's technical knowledge and marketing channels. The filter removes white cells from the blood in transfusion applications. Leukocytes in transfused blood can cause serious complications and rejection of transfused blood is a problem for patients who need midtiple transfusions while undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplants or AIDS treatment.

Two or three different types of filters are incorporated into the leukocyte product; these are made at both Lydall divisions. The company also does the sealing and treating of filters before sending it to the customer for final fabrication. Lydall has received a patent on the product, but has experienced some delays in getting the complete product approved by the FDA. It is currently being sold in clinical trials and is expected to be available commercially by mid-year.

2. Another new product from Lydall is an extension of the "Lydair" high efficiency filtration line at the Technical Papers Division. The company has developed a high alpha filter that it reports is a step above anything currently available. It targets high end uses such as ultra clean rooms and has been available since the fourth quarter of 1992. Technical Papers has also developed its own system for eliminating "shot"-related pleating and encasing problems in its fiberglass products.

3. Just introduced on January 1 by 3M, St. Paul, MN, is a new pleat design for its liquid filter cartridges. The Series 300 and Series 700 high capacity liquid filter cartridges incorporate a new compound radial pleat to pack a greater amount of usable filter media into the same space as traditional pleated, molded and string wound cartridges.

The Series 300 cartridge has a three inch nominal diameter and contains up to 60% more filter media, while the Series 700 has a seven inch diameter and contains 100 sq. feet of usable filter media in a standard 28 inch length.

4. BWF America, Erlanger, KY, recently introduced a high efficiency filter felt line for finer particulate sizes. The MPS (Micro Pore Size) filter felts, for dust collection, use state of the art microfibers, scrims and needling techniques and are capable of separation levels down to 1 mg per cubic m. The line includes felts made from polypropylene, polyester, Nomex, Ryton, P-84 and Teflon. Target markets include precious metal filtration and toxic or hazardous dust filtration.

BWF is a relatively new company in the nonwovens industry; it was formed in 1989 by two U.S. principals and a German manufacturer BWF Textil to provide high performance filtration media to the industry.

5. New vacuum bags that destroy germs and bacteria and offer 99.7% filtration have been developed by Home Care Industries, Clifton NJ. The new "Micro-Clean" bags with "Bactrastat" chemical treatment combine an outer filter paper with a nonwoven inner liner of electrostatically-charged discontinuous polypropylene microfibers. This construction offers superior filtration, increased strength, improved cleanability and enhanced dust/dirt fill capacity.

Bactrastat is an antibacterial agent that allows the vacuum bags not only to capture and retain indoor irritants and pollutants as small as 0.1 microns but also to destroy most germs and bacteria. The bags were expected in retail stores in January. (For more information on Home Care, see Company Cameo, page 102).

6. New from the fourth largest roll goods manufacturer, Veratec, Walpole, MA, is "Confil EFP (Enhanced Filtration Products)," an improved version of its standard Confil filtration product, which is a polyester cellulose fabric used in metalworking and industrial areas. The new improved Confil formulation reduces media consumption and improves performance; it has better uniformity and wet strength for a longer life.

7. At roll goods producer Reemay, Old Hickory, TN, the ninth largest supplier of nonwoven roll goods, two new composite products, both under the tradename "Synergex," target the filtration market. The Synergex 6100 series (pictured here) is a family of products that are air bonded and laminated; major applications include filtration and electrical insulation. The Synergex 6200 line is a series of patterned continuous filament products that can be fashioned into lofty products or laminated.

8. Number 25 among the top roll goods producers, Stearns Technical Textiles, Cincinnati, OH, has introduced a new version of its dairy filters, currently in the process of being commercialized. The product, which has been through an extensive test market phase, incorporates both fiber and resin changes and is sold to the private label filter market.

9. New at Freudenberg Nonwovens, Chelmsford, MA, part of the world's largest roll goods producer Freudenberg Group, is its "MicronAir" passenger compartment air filters, just introduced to the U.S. automotive market last November. These filters, which exploded in popularity first in Europe, use layers of synthetic microfiber media to block air pollutants from reaching the interior of automobiles through the heating, air conditioning and fresh air sytems. Freudenberg currently has an initial agreement with one of the Big Three Detroit automakers to begin supplying MicronAir filters for one of their top lines starting with 1995 models.

10. Introduced last fall was a unique metallized fiber that is used in nonwoven filtration products. The "Texmet" metallized fiber was introduced in the U.S. by Texmet, New York, NY, which is part of the Italian Feruzzi-Montedison Group. The metal coated polyacrylonitrile fibers can be blended with other fibers for properties including antistatic, electrically conductive and electromagnetic shielding and can be used in wet and dry laid nonwoven processes. Filtration is a primary market for the fibers.
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Author:Noonan, Ellen
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Mar 1, 1993
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