Fibers in Nonwovens
ing more fiber innovations to address market demands in automotive, flooring and geotextiles, and the company recently
announced a € 15 million investment that will bring new fiber
technology on an industrial scale in Belgium. The investment,
which will be commissioned in November of this year, is part of
an ongoing program to extend fiber production to meet future
challenges and customer needs.
BFI is expanding its Meraklon portfolio with the launch of new
polyester (PET) core bico fibers. These fibers will come on stream
with Meraklon’s new state-of-the-art, long line at the company’s
site in Terni, Italy. The € 30 million investment to extend production capacity is currently underway and is scheduled to commence operations this year.
Other expansions to the Meraklon range include the addition
of BFI’s Meralux fibers. First test results show that nonwovens
made with the new Meralux fiber combinations have a higher
loft/bulk. Meralux’s coverage is unique and provides nonwovens
with a very closed surface, without containing additives like TiO2.
With the higher loft and unique coverage, softness will be provided by the choice of raw materials. Further, Meralux allows basis
weight reductions without losing performance.
BFI will also add short cut fibers for hygiene applications to
its range this summer. These will be available in cut lengths of
3-24mm in polypropylene (PP) mono and bico.
Meanwhile, Lenzing, which produces cellulose-based fibers
such as Tencel, has embarked on an ambitious investment program. Last summer, the Austrian company announced it would
capitalize on growth of its specialty fibers and expand its capacity
by 35,000 tons by mid 2018. About € 70 million will be invested in
Heiligenkreuz, Austria, and € 30 million in Lenzing, Austria, taking place solely at existing Lenzing locations to facilitate a quick
completion. The company had also previously announced an expansion at its Grimsby, U.K. Plant.
In December, the group announced that it would build a state-of-the-art Tencel fiber plant with a production capacity of 90,000
tons per year at its site in Mobile, AL. The new facility will be the
largest Tencel fiber plant in the world, and the investment volume
will total $293 million. The new plant is scheduled to start in the
first quarter of 2019.
Lenzing currently has a worldwide production capacity of
222,000 tons per year of Tencel fibers.
“The market for wood-based cellulose fibers is growing approximately twice as fast as the market for textile and nonwovens fibers in general – including cotton and synthetic fibers,”
says Waltraud Kaserer, vice president Corporate Communications & Investor Relations. “Against this background we have
been noticing a rising demand for all Lenzing fibers. The new
plant in Mobile plus the already announced debottlenecking
projects at the other production sites for Tencel branded fibers
will increase the total production capacities of Tencel fibers by
more than 50% by 2019. The decision to build this plant in the
U.S. was supported by the good infrastructure at our Mobile site
and attractive energy costs.”n
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