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Nonwovens take a stand at Techtextil exhibition; the biennial European trade fair for technical textiles has come into its own as suppliers of nonwovens roll goods, fibers and equipment play a major role for the first time.

Nonwovens Take A Stand At Techtextil Exhibition

With significantly more exhibitors - especially in the nonwovens sector - the third Techtextil in Frankfurt, West Germany last month seems to have reached a level of acceptance within the technical textiles community that assures it a regular spot in the international meeting schedule.

A total of 440 exhibitors during the three day show included about 50 companies that supply nonwovens roll goods, fibers or equipment and machinery. The most significant indicator of the show's growing acceptance among the European nonwovens business was the participation of roll goods suppliers Fiberweb, Lohmann, Sodoca, Camtex, DHJ, DuPont, Fa-Ma Jersey, Helsa Werke, Helmut Sandler, Hoechst AG, Lantor, Libeltex, Nordlys, Polyfelt, Oy Scanwoven and Textilgruppe Hof; Europe's largest nonwovens supplier - Freudenberg - remained conspicuous by its absence, however.

A contingent of 15 U.S. companies, including Reemay, Tex-Tech and Veratec, also took part. Five roll goods producers from Japan - Asahi, Kanebo, Toray, Unitika and Toyobo - were also on hand.

This young trade fair for a young and fast-growing industry saw a nearly 50% increase in trade visitors over the last show, held in 1987. A total of 9700 trade visitors from 63 countries registered, almost half of them from outside Germany. More than 100 visitors came from the U.S., an increase of about 30% from the last Techtextil.

A key to the growth of Techtextil in its third attempt was the participation of the major European synthetic fiber producers for the first time. Akzo Fibres, Courtaulds, Danaklon, DuPont, Enichem, Faserwerk Bottrop, Hoechst, ICI Fibres, Lenzing, Moplefan, Rhodia and Sergel all took part. Cotton supplier Edward Hall was also on hand.

There was also significant participation by suppliers of equipment to the nonwovens industry, including Fehrer, Dilo, Groz-Beckert, Singer, Asselin, Autefa, Dornier, Durkopp, Eye-Tec, Fare, Noworoll, Ramisch Kleinewefers, Stork, Temafa and Thibeau. These suppliers, however, reported mixed results for the three days.

Composites and Nonwovens

Once again, it was the ability of nonwovens fabrics to be combined with other nonwoven, woven or plastic substrates that appeared to be the primary fabric story out of the bi-annual show. From DuPont's high performance fabrics made out of "Kevlar" and "Nomex" to the laminated "Cambrelle" nonwovens from Lamtex, the advantages of "added value" to basic roll goods were espoused by all the major and minor suppliers. Even the new capacity announcement by Fiberweb focused on its ability to add value through a range of bonding technologies.

The machinery suppliers, along with the fiber producers, used composites and added value as their Techtextil themes as well. New developments ranged from homofilament and heterofilament nylon to microfibers that help offer added thermal protection.

The News from the Show

There was no lack of new production methods or new products on display at Techtextil. Among the nonwovens related new product developments:

A Japanese supplier, Asahi Chemical, Osaka, had a range of new nonwoven fabric for technical applications. Among them were: "Flonte," a new wet laid and spunlanced nonwoven for artificial leather that is comprised of "superfine" polyester filaments; "Deogreen" deodorant acrylic fiber produced from Asahi's acrylic fiber containing metallic ions (applications include sanitary and incontinence products, filters and shoe goods); "Smash" multifunctional PET spunbond that is heat shrinkable and heat moldable; "Luxer" polyolefin filaments; and "Quick," a liner that includes a PET fiber that wicks perspiration away from the body side and quickly disperses it onto the shell side for rapid evaporation.

French producer Ets Duflot and Fils, Beauvois-en-Cambresis, focused on its new "Dufelt" type 2803 WSM fire barrier interliner. The fabric complies with the requirements of the Furniture and Furnishings (fire and safety) regulations of 1988.

"Thermo-man," a burn test mannequin that made its European debut at Techtextil, was used by DuPont, Geneva, Switzerland, to demonstrate the burn protection characteristics of its "Nomex" III fiber, a patented blend of 95% Nomex and 5% "Kevlar." The European operations of the U.S. fiber giant also highlighted its new Kevlar Hp, which it launched in April. Kevlar Hp has been designed for high performance sports and marine composites.

With the expanded supply of "Tyvek" now available through its Luxembourg plant, DuPont's nonwovens operation was spreading the word about even more applications for the world's most popular nonwoven fabric. Richard Oldham, of the Technical Marketing Dept. in the U.K., told Nonwovens Industry the start-up of the European facility has allowed the company to look for more value added variations, such as color coding, for the asbestos removal clothing segment and in promotional garments. He said about half of the Luxembourg output remains in Europe, with the remainder shipped to the Far East and U.S.

One of the few pieces of operating equipment at Techtextil drew a lot of curious observers to Durkopp System Technik, Bielefeld, West Germany. Its "Hydro-Cutter," an advanced water jet cutting system, is designed for complex, high speed cutting without tool wear.

Accurate measuring of the length of nonwovens is achieved by two new systems from Eye Tec, Konstantz, West Germany. Its "Video Speed Master" employs electronic image data processing that, according the company's J. Hohlweger, ensures repeatable, slip-free length measurement without marking. It is a new system that was just installed at a West German roll goods producer. Also introduced at Techtextil was the "Delta Master," a system specifically developed for nonwovens that is able to measure the thickness of rough surfaces.

HJR Fiberweb, Norkopping, Sweden was telling the technical textiles world about its new expansion plans and looking to deal with end users and their ideas. The company plans to devote much of the output from its 5.4 meter, 7000 ton annual capacity expansion to technical nonwovens, managing director Ulf Scharin told Nonwovens Industry. The spunbond line, to be running in mid-1990, will use both polyster and polypropylene and will include thermal bonding, needlepunching and resin bonding.

"We're using Techtextil as market research," Mr. Scharin said. "We want our potential customers to tell us what their needs are."

A U.S. roll goods supplier used Techtextil to begin a concerted industrial nonwovens move into Europe. Reemay, Old Hickory, TN, was spreading the word about its "Reemay" and "Tekton" (known as "Typar" in the U.S.) to a new target market, according to Ronald Smorada, who is heading its European efforts. Primary Tekton markets will remain geotextiles and house wrap, as well as landscape fabrics. Its Reemay spunbonded polyester is targeting interlinings and a number of other industrial applications.

Nonwovens based on mineral fibers were introduced at the show by Oy Scanwoven, Kankaanpaa, Finland. The dry laid material allows staple fibers of different lengths to be combined; the desired properties of the different fibers are engineered into the fabric. The weight range, Jean Le Bell, R&D manager said, are 120 to 1200 grams sq. meter with a maximum width of 2100 mm. They are being targeted at single ply roofing systems, PVC-surface materials, molded products for the automobile industry and for insulation purposes. The product, currently available only in Europe but planned for expansion into the U.S., was awarded the Finnish "Productive Idea 1988" award.

Japanese supplier Toray, Osaka, highlighted its new "Toraymicron," a microfiber electret nonwoven that retains permanent electric energy that allows it to remove everything from invisible micron dust to large dirt particles. Its precisely oriented electric polarization, with fibers as fine as two microns, generates electric energy both inside and outside the fabric. Applications include clean room and air conditioning filters, masks, precision instrument covers and wipers.

PHOTO : J. Hohlweger, of Eye Tec, discusses the company's Delta Master and Video Speed Master inspection systems with a Techtextil attendee.
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Author:Jacobsen, Michael
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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