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The nonwovens industry in Brazil.

The last decade in Brazil was a rough one for the Brazilian nonwoven industry. The principal factors for poor industrial activity were the high inflation rate, the Brazilian foreign debt and internal political crisis. As a result, the nonwovens industry experienced many highs and lows as it battled these factors; various economic stabilization programs were instituted with no success.

With the new economic deregulation and import tax reduction, competition will be more severe in the next years between imports and domestic production. In some of the nonwoven markets, imported products are used because there is no domestic production.

However, the growth of nonwovens in Brazil will increase in the near future as new technologies (like melt blown, spunlaced and dry laid) and investments in new machinery will replace and augment existing technology and machines. The Brazilian nonwovens industry already exports some of its products such as polypropylene spunbondeds and sisal needlepunched fabrics, around the world.

Production Capacity of Nonwovens

The installed capacity in Brazil in 1991 was 95,000 tons. Actual production reached about 60% of capacity--57,000 tons--due to the economic factors mentioned above. Nonwovens production is shown in Figure 1, classified by production methods. The chart includes all types of raw materials, shoddy for example, and considers felts as nonwoven materials.

However, if Felts (numbers 3 and 4) are not considered, the installed production capacity of nonwovens becomes 69,350 tons. The production detail is shown in Figure 2, classified by production methods.

In the Brazilian market, obviously, some nonwoven technologies like spunlaced, melt blown and air laid (using short fibers) do not yet exist. Growth of spunbonded and spraybonded nonwovens is projected to be about 25% and thermal bonded about 50%.

The nonwoven disposables industry should increase due to strong growth in consumers' real disposable personal income. This will make baby diapers available to a broader section of the public than in the past, when disposable diapers were limited to the highest social classes by their high cost.

Fiber Consumption by Nonwovens

If the total installed capacity in Brazil from Figure 2 is considered, 14.5%, or 10,055 tons, are classified as filaments and 85.5%--59,295 tons--staple fiber.

In the field of filaments, polypropylene has the greatest share at approximately 70% of the total. This will increase in 1992 with the installation of a new line.

In staple fibers, polyester and rayon staple fibers are being chased by polypropylene in the field of thermal bonded nonwovens. In the needlepunched market, the principal fiber used is polypropylene, which contributes more than 50% to the market.

The principal suppliers of the raw materials are shown in Table 1, while Table 2 shows the classification of nonwovens by use and the leading manufacturers.
 Table 1
Raw Material Supplier
PP polymers Polibrasil, PPH
PP staple Fitesa,
 Polystar, Inylbra
PET staple Celbras, Rhodia
rayon staple Rhodia, Fibra

[Tabular Data Omitted]

The disposable industry is increasing now as light nonwovens are being used in coverstock for diapers and sanitary napkin products and in the medical/hospital field, which are the fastest growing segments.

The Future

In spite of the current economic recession, investments in the nonwovens area were main objectives in the last year, mainly in spunbonded and thermal technology. Other technologies that may appear in the future in the Brazilian market include melt blown, spunlaced and wet laid, with the most interest shown in the melt blown process, where there are known interested parties.

With the import tax reduction in the coming year, it will be important to overcome the competition. Manufacturers must keep up their efforts to continue product development with new lines of greater productivity and new fibers and resins. Manufacturers must also improve production processes by purchasing new equipment.

New products and openings in new markets will hopefully provide a production increase during the next years. Limited-use nonwovens have come to maturity in Brazil so research and development will have to be a major factor in finding new markets and creating new products.

Freddy Gustavo Rewald is head of a nonwovens consulting firm, Nao Tecidos Consulting, Sao Paulo, Brazil and founder and executive director of the Brazilian nonwovens association, Associacao Brasileira das Industrias de Nao Tecidos (ABINT).
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Title Annotation:Nonwovens in Latin America
Author:Rewald, Freddy Gustavo
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Previous Article:Needlepunching in Latin America.
Next Article:Microfibers in nonwoven production.

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