Synthetic Offerings Grow
Synthetic, oil-based fibers have played major roles in the nonwovens industry for decades. Polypropylene is significantly used
in the hygiene market, where it’s the preferred choice in many
diapers, feminine hygiene and adult incontinence products. On
the other hand, polyester finds itself in many industrial areas
including automotive applications, construction and roofing
materials, as well as bedding, and it is finding its way into more
ES FiberVisions, a joint venture between FiberVisions (USA)—
a manufacturer of polyolefin staple fibers—and JNC (Japan), supplies synthetic bicomponent fibers to the nonwovens industry.
Recently, ES FiberVisions has developed next generation bicomponent staple fibers for topsheet and cover stock applications. New Soft Bico is based on polypropylene/polyethylene
bicomponents fibers containing new chemistries to provide built-in softness, durable hydrophilicity and wettability.
“Optimum fiber properties are achieved by combining the
physical properties of the fiber with our advanced finish technology. This gives outstanding liquid acquisition performance in the
nonwoven,” says Flemming Bynge, European sales and marketing manager, FiberVisions and ES FiberVisions.
At the same time, FiberVisions is offering new concepts addressing the segment of filtration applying new technology for
The Intercept brand for air filtration was recently expanded to
include its monocomponent polypropylene (PP) fibers for liquid
filtration. PP is ideal for liquid filtration applications because of
its broad chemical resistance, zero moisture regain and low specific gravity, according to the company. Intercept PP staple fibers
can be converted into carded liquid filtration substrates including
spun yarn, needlepunch, thermal bond and spunlace.
New filtration platforms from ES FiberVisions and FiberVisions
include G8 Finish Chemistry, eccentric core bico fibers and trilobal shaped PP fibers. G8 Finish Chemistry is designed to boost
mechanical filtration by increasing impaction and interception.
Potential benefits include basis weight reduction or entering a
higher value MERV or EN 779 category. Meanwhile, its bicomponent fibers with eccentric core placement provides increased
loft and void volume in the filter media. Finally, monocomponent
PP fibers with a trilobal cross section can be used to introduce
alternative fiber geometries in filter media. Fine denier trilobal
PP fibers increase total surface area for higher particle capture.
The increased void fraction also helps to minimize air resistance.
The high PP content helps improve electrostatic particle capture
in a charged media.
Another major player in the synthetics market is polyester fiber producer Trevira, which continues to support its customers by
developing tailor-made products.
According to Hartmann Huth, Trevira’s vice president of Business Unit Fibers, many markets in the nonwovens industry show
growth potential for fibers including filtration, hygiene and sus-tainable/green products.
The need for filtration materials is driven by improving infrastructures in emerging markets, while the global social developments and an increasing middle class in these countries result in
a growing demand for products like wet wipes and baby diapers.
On the sustainability side,
while most of raw materials
used for Trevira’s fibers are
made from oil derivatives,
Huth says the company’s
objective is to manufacture
its polyester products as
environmentally friendly as
possible in terms of conserv-
ing resources, saving energy,
etc. “With improved prod-
ucts we help our customers
optimize further processing
of our fibers in the value
chain,” he says. “However, one focus in our product development
is to expand our range of fibers made from biopolymers.”
Huth adds that the task for them as a manufacturer of the base
materials isn’t just to make just fibers but to make fiber products
that serve the requirements of the product throughout the entire
value chain up to its end use. “Composites with reduced weight
for use in modern lightweight electro cars might serve as an ex-
ample here. New materials aim at waste reduction, recyclability
and energy saving potential. We see a bunch of new composites
and multilayer materials where modern man-made fibers play a
vital role,” he says.
Meanwhile, DAK Americas, another producer of polyester
staple fibers, is innovating for the wipes market. “We are seeing
continued and consistent growth in the household and personal
care wipes market using both spunlace and spunmelt technol-
ogy,” says company vice president Mark Ruday. “This growth is
primarily related to consumer preference and ease of use.”
DAK has recently launched two new commercial products in
this market. The first is a different cross-section design, which al-
lows for improved cover at a lower basis weight in wipe applica-
tions. The other is an improved moisture management design for
spunlace wipes. Ruday says these products are being marketed as
consumer brands with DAK fiber as the special ingredient in the
consumer brand, rather than a fiber trade brand.
DAK Americas has also seen a significant increase in interested for special features for its fibers. These include anti-microbial,
moisture management, and other sustainable type fibers including recycled content. “Our customers are also requesting enhanced product performance criteria and basis weight reductions
which we can achieve through different cross-sections, deniers,
and other proprietary additives/finishes,” Ruday says.
Sustainability is Front and Center
Matthew North, commercial director of German viscose fiber
producer Kelheim Fibres, is seeing significant growth in demand
Trevira fibers can be found inside nonwovens used for water filters.