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Survey of end product manufacturers.

nonwovens continue to be a part of an infinite number of end products; this month's feature examines four of these durable end uses

Interlinings. Roofing fabrics. Geotextiles. Automotive Thim. Within these four specific end use markets for nonwovens, hundreds of additional subsegments exist as well. Chest pieces, collars, lapels and waistbands in interlinings. Residential fiberglass roofing and spunbonded polyester reinforced commercial roofing substrates. Geotextile fabrics for under roads, as a reinforcement for dams and bridges, as landfill liners and in erosion control applications. Trunk liners, package trays, headliners and automotive carpet. So many uses for an industry barely in existence 50 years ago.

Last December in NONWOVENS INDUSTRY, consultant Tom Holliday attempted to list all the end use applications for nonwovens in his Holliday Talk column (December, 1992, page 10). His list filled four columns on two pages and we are reasonably sure that not every end use was mentioned. That alone indicates the depth and breadth of our industry, one that continues to grow and expand almost daily. For this reason, we divided this feature article into two separate articles (Part II on disposable manufacturers will be published next month); the overwhelming amount of information available about nonwovens made it impossible to cover all end use markets at once.

For the first part of our Top End Product Manufacturers survey this year, Durable Producers, we've chosen from this list of thousands to target four primary end use markets for nonwovens: interlinings, roofing fabrics, geotextiles and aiitomotive components. The survey covers the U.S. market in particular and includes our determination of who the top manufacturers are in each market.

Theroofing market in the U.S. can be divided into flat commercial roofing and slanted residential (shingle) roofing, both of which use nonwovens. On the residential side, the roofing material is comprised mostly of fiberglass products. In this survey, NONWOVENS INDUSTRY focuses on the flat commercial market, which includes built up roofing, single ply (rubber and plastic) and modified bitumen roofing.

In the U.S., the flat commercial roofing market is estimated at about three billion sq. feet annually, with modified bitumen the fastest growing segment. Industry estimates on modified bitumen's share vary from 24-33%, although all estimates place it as the fastest growing segment, in excess of 10% a year. Modified bitumen is gaining because of its product performance, installation characteristics, cost and durability; nonwoven polyester fabrics - which hold approximately 85% of the market - are used because of their durability and flexibility. Fiberglass is also used, although it makes up a small percentage of modified bitumen products.

Trends in the market include the resurgence of built up roofing, which does use a great deal of fiberglass. This is being used in some areas in conjunction with modified bitumen, creating hybrid systems that integrate built up roofing with a modified bitumen cap, providing thickness and high performance.

Industry sources pinpointed three major roofing manufacturers using nonwovens in modified bitumen roofing applications. These are GAF Building Materials, Wayne, NJ; U.S. Intec, Port Arthur, TX and Tamko, Joplin, MO. Other key manufacturers include Firestone Building Products, Carmel, IN; G.S. Roofing, Irving, TX and Suprema, Montreal, Canada. Suprema is in the process of building a U.S. plant and is expected to become a major player in the American market.

GAF Building Products Division. Described as a leader in the field, GAF, with headquarters in Wayne, NJ and 12 manufacturing locations throughout the U.S., is involved in both the flat commercial and fiberglass residential roofing. Although it is more heavily into the residential market, GAF has been involved in modified bitumen for about seven years.

U.S. Intec. Another primary manufacturer of modified bitumen products, U.S. Intec has headquarters in Port Arthur, TX and manufacturing in Port Arthur, North Branch, NJ and Stockton, CA. U.S. Intec produces both SBS (styrene butadiene styrene) and APP (atactic polypropylene) membranes; the company also manufactures BUR (built up roofing) products (for more information on U.S. Intec, see this month's Company Cameo, page 66).

Tamko. Headquartered in Joplin, MO, the company also manufactures both commercial and residential roofing. It became involved in modified bitumen products about 15 years ago when it brought Hoechst technology to the U.S. from Germany. Tamko combines "Kraton" with asphalt to make a rubberized asphalt, using the spunbonded polyester as a core for good extensibility. Tamko has manufacturing facilities in Joplin, Tuscaloosa, AL, Dallas, TX, Phillipsburg, KS and Frederick, MD.

Within the nonwovens industry, certain markets are difficult to define in terms of who the end product manufacturer is. Interlinings is one of these markets. The ultimate apparel manufacturer - Levi, Donna Karan or Calvin Klein - is the company that "puts it all together," combining interlinings, fabrics, elastic and buttons to make the final garment. Then there are roll goods manufacturers that also do some of their own converting, fusing, die cutting and slitting fabrics in preparation for the ultimate final product. These are the manufacturers on which NONWOVENS INDUSTRY concentrates in this article.

Nonwovens have come a long way in interlinings, although they still trail textile interlinings in market share. The market in North America is approximately 400 million sq. meters; this is divided into myriad subsegments, such as womenswear (the largest segment) - dresses, blouses, sportswear, shoes, hats, handbags and rainwear - and menswear, such as coatfronts of tailored clothing, tuxedos, waistbands and lapels, collars and pocket flaps. Nonwovens can be used in just about any interlining application; the choice between a nonwoven, woven or weft insert material is generally at the discretion of the apparel manufacturer.

Nonwoven interlinings gained acceptance in Europe prior to the U.S., although the markets are becoming more and more similar. The U.S. is beginning to accept ideas started in Europe and adopt European fashion and structural technology. Woven interlinings have traditionally offered structural stability and resiliency, especially in men's clothing; today lighter, softer garments are being developed, providing an advantage for nonwovens, which can provide soft hand yet maintain structure and resiliency.

A major trend in interlinings sees manufacturers moving towards more nonwovens each year, with customers also looking for higher quality products. Price is also becoming more of an issue - nonwovens are less costly than wovens - but the emphasis remains on product quality and performance. Other trends are towards lighter weight fabrics and more sophisticated systems that fuse at lower temperatures.

Companies are also beginning to compete on the basis of their coating techniques as well as their base webs. As facing fabrics change constantly, interlinings must be finished to adhere to each fabric. Interlining producers are spending a lot of time looking at facing fabrics trying to anticipate future trends.

Major players in the market are Freudenberg Nonwovens, Chelmsford, MA, which is acknowledged as the market leader, Hollingsworth & Vose, E. Walpole, MA, Crown Textile, Blue Bell, PA and Veratec, Walpole, MA. Other important players are Kufner, a European manufacturer with a U.S. plant in South Carolina; Hof Textiles, a division of Textilgruppe Hof that last year started up production in the U.S. in Lincolnton, NC and Precision Coated Products, Totowa, NJ, another newer player that is manufacturing quality product and making a name for itself in the industry.

Freudenberg Nonwovens. A U.S. division of the world's roll goods manufacturer Freudenberg Group, Weinheim, Germany, Freudenberg Nonwovens is based in Chelmsford, ba, and has manufacturing facilities in Chelmsford, Hopkinsville, KY and Durham, NC. The company also has wholly owned or dedicated Freudenberg converting operations throughout North America. Freudenberg is a major player in the shirt market, specifically in cuffs collars and neckbands. It is also concentrating on embroidery backings, which it considers an interlining fabric.

Hollingsworth & Vose. Vying for the number two position in the nonwoven interlinings market is H&V, which makes interlinings for all types of market segments. It has a dedicated interlinings plant in Floyd, VA and has recently completed a restructuring of its distribution network throughout the country. The new network is based on exclusive distribution arrangements within assigned geographical areas; independent, regionally focused specialists distribute the company's fusible interlining products.

Veratec. Another company that makes the short list of interlinings suppliers is Veratec, a diverse company owned by International Paper and headquartered in Walpole, MA. The company, whose main interests lie in disposable products such as baby diaper coverstock has nonetheless made a name for itself in the interlinings area as well. The company had increased growth in the apparel sector in the recent years and has restructured along divisional lines to include a separate Apparel business unit. In the interlinings market, Veratec uses its various technologies to supply all types of interlinings markets.

Crown Textile. A name synonymous with interlinings for a great many years is Crown Textile, which is involved in both woven and nonwoven products. While primarily a woven and weft-insert knit supplier, the company reports its nonwovens business is growing because of the growth of nonwovens in interlinings. Crown's manufacturing is in Talladega, AL.

New at Crown is a concentration on composite interlinings that combine a knit with a nonwoven process. At least one mass retailer is using the composite for a chest piece. Crown is also focusing on a no-roll waistband and a patented assembly process that provides ease of application and reduction in production costs.

Another market where defining the end product versus the roll good is virtually impossible is the geotextile market. Most nonwoven end products used are roll goods, or roll goods treated with some type of additive or chemical to add specific characteristics. Despite a tough year due to the economy, geotextiles have held steady in the market and most suppliers are optimistic about 1993.

Another area where wovens compete against nonwovens, in the geotextile market it appears that both technologies have settled into their respective niches and there is little overlap in terms of product specifications. Nonwovens make up approximately 2/3 of the geotextile market, which is estimated by industry sources to be about 350-400 million sq. yards.

A major issue in the geotextile industry at this time is overcapacity in the market. Additional capacity continues to come onstream, flooding the market with product at a time when demand is growing slowly.

One application that is growing in the geotextile-related field is the use of daily landfill covers, which have proven to work extremely well in place of dirt thrown on the landfill each night. Also, geotextiles are expected to continue to replace older construction fabrics in segments such as reinforcement for dams and like areas.

Major manufacturers in the field are Phillips and Amoco; other notables are Exxon Chemical, Houston, TX, which is the exclusive distributor of Reemay's "Typar" geotextile product and Polyfelt, Atlanta, GA, which tripled capacity last year with the addition of a second line.

Phillips Fibers. A huge manufacturer that makes exclusively needlepunched fabrics and has devoted an entire division - Engineered Fabrics - to its geotextile, paving and roofing fabrics, Phillips Fibers is headquartered in Greenville, SC and has manufacturing facilities in Seneca, SC. At Phillips, nonwovens make up a greater percentage of its geotextile sales, although the company is also involved in the manufacture of wovens. Phillips' strategy is to develop a good product and branch out into a family of products that complement the existing line. Examples include its primary geotextile fabric "Supac," which was extended to include "Supac ED (Edge Drain)" and "Supac DS (Drain System)" and its Petromat," "Petrotac" and "Pro-Guard" family of paving fabrics.

Amoco Fabrics and Fibers. Nonwovens also make up a larger percentage of sales at Amoco, which manufactures woven geotextiles as well. The company is based in Atlanta, GA and has plants in Hazlehurst and Nashville, GA and Roanoke, AL. While Amoco has been concentrating on several non-geotextile products - such as its "CLAF" and "RFX" fabrics - in the past few years, geotextiles still make up 50%, or $40 million, of total nonwovens sales at the company. Nonwovens through the years have appeared in myriad end uses in automobiles. These include the carpet backing that goes on the carpet - both tufted and needlepunched - in automobiles, the air and fuel filters under the hood and a quickly-expanding market, filtration systems for air intake in the passenger compartment. But the primary market for nonwovens in automotive applications continues to be automotive interior fabric, including trunk liners, package shelves and trays, seat cushions, door materials, headliners and carpeting.

In general the automotive market has gotten better now that the U.S. economy is on an upswing and producer transplants - resulting in more automobile manufacturing facilities opening in the U.s. - are increasing demand for nonwoven products.

The use of nonwovens, however, varies greatly within individual automotive applications. Penetration of nonwovens in load floors, for example, is at 100%, while nonwovens probably have less than 5% of headliner market share. Likewise, the automotive flooring market in the U.S. has proven particularly elusive to nonwovens suppliers, despite the fact that throughout Europe and Japan, nonwoven carpeting materials have gained a substantial part of the market.

In the U.S., major suppliers are Collins & Aikman, Abermarle, NC, Masland Industries, Carlisle, PA and Gates Formed Fibre Fabric, Auburn, ME. Troy Mills, Troy, NH, is also heavily involved in the automotive market; the company manufactures roll goods as well as interior trim and moldable products.

Collins & Aikman. Primarily a car pet manufacturer and one of the oldest textile manufacturers in the U.S., the company manufactures needlepunched flooring and trim as well as floor mats. C&A's Automotive Division, headquartered in Abermarle, NC, primarily supplies General Motors, although it has also done work with Toyota's U.S. operations. The company built a 100,000 sq. foot automotive trim facility in Salisbury, NC last year; the Automotive Division has a total of four plants, which also includes yarn spinning and tufting.

Masland Industries. Another carpet mill with a sideline in the automotive industry, Masland manufactures carpet and trim as well as backing and filler materials for the automotive market. The company is based in Carlisle, PA and has three U.S. and one Canadian plant. A major supplier to Ford Motor Company, Masland is also involved in two joint ventures, one with Hayashi Telempu of Japan and one with Consorcio Industrial Mexicano de Autopartes, a Mexican auto parts manufacturer.

Gates Formed Fibre Fabric. With headquarters in Aubum, ME and manufacturing in Auburn and Eastport, ME, Gates is a specialist in the truck liner segment of the automotive market. It had finished product sales of approximately $45 million in 1991 and makes all of its own roll goods as well.

Nonwoven Geotextiles A Proven Survivor

A recent study requested by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) and conducted by GeoServices Inc, a geotechnical engineering consultant, has proven the effectiveness of nonwoven geotextiles in general and "Typar" material in particular. The study excavated Typar samples varying in age up to 12 years and in soil conditions from coastal plains to marshy forests to rock quarries at seven non-paved sites throughout the U.S. GeoServices concluded that two particular Typar fabrics performed from "moderate" to "very high" in survivability ratings.

The tests - and other similar tests - have also helped prove the "survivability' of nonwovens versus wovens. In 1987, Phillips conducted a side-by-side test of products buried up to six years; nonwovens had no noticeable deterioration and at least 90% of original strength values; wovens did not fare nearly as well.
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Title Annotation:includes related article on nonwoven geotextiles; part 1: durable producers
Author:Noonan, Ellen
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Feb 1, 1993
Previous Article:Innovations in nonwovens.
Next Article:Spunbonding and melt blowing: an overview.

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