NONWOVENS INDUSTRY Special Section
by Karen McIntyre • Editor
China’s nonwovens industry continues to grow as foreign and local companies invest in new lines and technologies to serve the consumers’ ever-growing thirst for nonwo-ven-based products. As Western companies continue to cater to
the top-tier consumer goods companies, they are also finding
that local companies, once content with substandard products,
are willing to spend more for quality.
According to the survey statistics, in 2008, nonwovens production in China reached 1.3 million tons, the first time China
nonwovens per capita consumption, of 1 kg., exceeded the
global average, 0.92 kg. Of China’s total production, spunmelt
nonwovens reached 678,000 tons, including 648,500 tons of
spunbond nonwovens. Meltblown nonwovens production
reached 29,500 tons. The production of needled nonwovens in
the drylaid nonwovens category reached 325,000 tons; thermal
bonded nonwovens production reached 68,000 tons; chemical
bonded nonwovens production reached 89,000 tons and spunlaced nonwovens production reached 112,000 tons. Airlaid
nonwovens production reached 50,000 tons. Wetlaid nonwovens production reached 12,000 tons.
One of the world’s largest spunmelt manufacturers, Avgol, is also
one of China’s largest players. Israel-based Avgol has been present in China for about five years through a joint venture with
Hubei Gold Dragon Nonwovens Fabric. In 2008, Avgol upped its
ownership in the venture to 80%. At the same time, a second
spunmelt line was announced that would add 15,000 tons to the
joint venture. This line came onstream this spring and already
officials are talking about the possibility of a second line.
In January, Avgol reportedly secured a $105 million contract
to supply nonwovens to an unnamed customer in the Far East.
Another Western company, PGI, Charlotte, NC, significantly
boosted its presence in China in 2005 when it built a multibeam
Reifenhaeuser line in Suzhou dedicated to making spunmelt
nonwovens for the medical market. At the same time, PGI added
a finishing line capable of providing customers with treated
medical fabrics produced in a pristine environment that meets
the highest quality standards.
PGI also has an advanced chemical bonded line targeted at
the hygiene and medical markets in Nanhai, China.
In recent investment news, PGI last year said it would boost
its Suzhou output and also establish a research and development
center in China to help expand its role in this market.
Offering a local perspective, Dalian Ruiguang Nonwoven
Group was established in 1991. The company currently operates
in an area of 75,000 square meters and has 500 employees. The
company has owned four subsidiary companies, including
Dalian Ruihua Nonwoven Co., Ltd. (joint venture), Dalian
Ruiyuan Nonwoven Co., Ltd. (joint venture), Dalian Ruiguang
Protection Products Co., Ltd. and Dalian Ruiguang Color
Masterbatch Co., Ltd.
Who’s On Top?
Currently, the leaders in the Chinese nonwovens industry represent a mix of local manufacturers and multinational companies.
According to industry observers the quality gap is narrowing in
China as local producers improve their offerings, but, for the
most part, the large, international hygiene companies continue
to rely on sourcing from Western-based nonwovens companies
with operations in China.