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Nonwovens Technology

Acquisitions, alliances fuel growth for nonwovens machinery manufacturers.

ATME-I 2000 ReviewBy Richard G. Mansfield, Technical Editor Nonwovens Technology Acquisitions, alliances fuel growth for nonwovens machinery manufacturers.  Acquisitions, the formation of alliances and reorganizations of nonwovens machinery producers are trends that were well in evidence at ATME-I 2000 trends that are likely to continue. Examples of these trends include Rieters acquisition of ICBT Perfojet. Rieter has evolved from a company that once was heavily concentrated in spun-yarn-processing equipment to a key supplier of components and systems for man-made- fiber-manufacturing and nonwoven- processing units. The recent entry of the company into spunbonded systems will give it more clout as a supplier to the nonwovens industry.The acquisition by Autefa and Dilo of Spinnbau from Kleinewefers enables a company, such as Dilo, to more easily provide customers with compatible components for a whole nonwovens manufacturing system.A symposium presented during ATME-I, The German Nonwoven Machinery Industry Partner for a Challenging Market, illustrated how companies are creating alliances to aid their customers. Speakers at this symposium were from Dilo, American Truetzschler, Spinnbau, Autefa, Kleinewefers, Fleissner and SchottandMeissner.Another important joint development program is the work Fleissner and Hills Inc. have been doing to make microdenier spunlace fabrics using Fleissners AquaJet spunlacing system and Hills bicomponent fiber manufacturing skills.The Santex Group has reorganized in order to better service the highloft nonwovens business as well as providing machinery for the coating and laminating of nonwovens. Nonwovens LeadersAutefa Automation Group This German/Swiss company develops and manufactures components and logistics for textiles and other industries. Autefa manufactures crosslappers for making nonwovens and textile products. The functions of the crosslapper are to increase the surface weight of the web, improve the longitudinal/transverse strength, increase the web width and improve the web quality.Autefa Topliner crosslappers layering belts have low surface weight and friction, are chemically resistant and highly conductive, and reduce static electricity problems. 

Dilo System Group The Dilo System Group includes alliances with Spinnbau, producers of carding systems for nonwovens, and Siemens Mannheim in Europe and Siemens Westinghouse. The Siemens companies provide on-call service and logistics with 24-hour emergency response for electrical system repair and maintenance. As part of this alliance, Dilo and Siemens can provide training options for the needleloom lines electrical and power systems.Spinnbau sells a carding unit for producing thermal-bonded diaper coverstocks. The unit can make a 4-meter-wide web that runs at 370 meters per minute. In recent years, Dilo has supplied more than 70 needlepunch systems worldwide. Sales of the companys geotextile systems have grown significantly.At ATME-I 2000, Dilo exhibited a fully functional nonwovens line. Bale opening and fine opening were provided by Truetzschler. The fiber flocks were then conveyed to the Dilo booth, where a dosage-control system fed the Truetzschler Scanfeed FBK 539 unit, which then prepared the material via fleece-conveyor and air-lay Turbo-Unit for the Spinnbau Turbo-Card. The Turbo-Unit is the air-lay web-forming unit to be fed by either carded web, pre-needled fleece or a flock-feeding unit (Truetzschler FBK). The Turbo-Card system combines a classic roller card and an air-lay unit when a maximum quality of homogeneous blending and distribution of fiber in the fleece is required. In order to increase the evenness of the product, two such lines may be combined into a tandem line by sandwiching two fleeces with half the final weight of each on a collecting apron. The fleece is then consolidated in the Dilo Hyperpunch needling system. With elliptical needling kinematics, it offers extremely high throughput speeds of up to 150 meters per minute (m/min) at up to 3000 strokes per minute. Dilo states that there are minimal dimensional changes (low draft and shrinkage close to 0 percent). When elliptical needling kinematics are combined with a special selection of high-precision needles, interesting effects for the consolidation of fine-fleece hygienic wipes and pads can be expected in regard to strength, drape and entanglement.Fehrer AG, Nonwovens Machinery Division Fehrer exhibited a fully operative needle-punch machine type NL 21/SF-RV Superlooper in 2.4-meter working width. The machine is designed for the high-speed production of top-quality random velours on a brush conveyor. Through the use of carbon fiber reinforcement for those oscillating parts of the machine subject to extreme loads, it is now possible to achieve speeds of up to 3,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). The Superloopers performance is enhanced by GBB 75 needle distribution in both needle zones. Fehrer promoted to its customers the new mini-mill nonwovens trial center in Linz, Austria, which allows running a wide variety of realistic customer trials for many different applications of existing and potential customers. 
Fleissner GmbH Fleissner is a company that has been in business for more than 150 years as a supplier of machinery for the textile and related businesses. Its initial products were targeted for textile dyeing and finishing, but the companys product lines have broadened to include machinery for synthetic fiber, paper and nonwoven fabric production.Fleissners Through-Air Drying units have good acceptance by textile, nonwoven and paper manufacturers. Fabrics dried on these units with minimum tension have a soft hand and low pattern distortion. The introduction of the Fleissner AquaJet spunlacing system has enabled the company to broaden its participation in the nonwovens industry. The AquaJet system can produce fabrics with weights from 10 to 100 grams per square meter (g/m2) in widths up to 6,000 millimeters (mm) (240 inches) at pressures up to 600 bar (8,800 psi). More than 30 AquaJet systems have been installed throughout the world.In conjunction with Hills Inc. of Melbourne, Fla., Fleissner is developing spunlaced fabrics made with microdenier fibers (less than 0.3 denier). Hills has developed fiber-spinning techniques to produce bicomponent fibers that split during the spunlacing process to produce the microdenier fibers. The resulting fabrics have a good hand and can be used for synthetic leather, substrates, velvet-like fabrics, and for filtration and insulation applications. Spunlaced microdenier fabrics are used to make wiping cloths for use in cleanroom processing installations.The Fleissner AquaTex system produces Interspun® fabrics by the use of high-energy water impinging on the fabric. These fabrics have a softer hand, improved abrasion resistance and reduced seam slippage. In some cases, latex for stabilization can be eliminated.Kleinewefers (KTM) Kleinewefers (KTM) has been a producer of calenders for the textile industry for many years. Thermobonding calendering units for nonwoven fabric production now comprise an important segment of the companys business.KTMs Parotherm® calenders are designed to provide for processes like spunbonding and for thermobonding of staple fibers. The name Parotherm means the calender has a heatable roller with an integrated deflection compensation engineered for these applications. In a two-roll Parotherm system, pressure is applied externally and only one hydraulic system is required. KTM Parotherm rolls for making a polypropylene coverstock use typical roll-surface temperatures, 160ºC and 250ºC for polyester interlinings, with temperature tolerances plus or minus 1ºC. Speeds of up to 600 m/min can be attained.Lurgi Zimmer Lurgi Zimmer is among the premier plant engineering companies for synthetic fiber plants. The company has built production plants in 50 different countries and has built 390 polyamide plants; 160 polyester polycondensation plants; 147 high-speed spinning plants for POY, FDY and FOY filament yarns; and 50 staple-fiber plants.Among the companys most significant recent developments for fiber manufacturing are: PTT technology, jointly developed with Shell, for carpets and apparel; modified polymers for high-performance spinning processes, high-tenacity technical yarns; and high-performance spinning systems.Future research and development efforts include optimization of PET processes to reduce capital operating costs, improvement of processes for manufacturing PBT and PTT polyesters and use of renewable resources for cellulose processes.Neumag The Neumag three-end BCF (bicomponent fiber) MAC (Modulus Assembly Concept) plant provides a mill with the ability to start production of mono- or multicolored BCF yarns in just two weeks. The unit, which is shipped in six 40-foot containers, can be assembled in nine days and is fully functional in an additional five days.The Neumag BCF MAC unit can be supplied for polypropylene, polyamide or polyester production. The machine and related utilities are placed into a modular steel frame and assembled at Neumags facility prior to containerization and shipping. As well, Neumag can provide modular specialized staple-fiber lines capable of producing bicomponent fibers.N. SchlumbergerandCie In the nonwovens arena, N. SchlumbergerandCie has unveiled for the first time to the public the worlds widest card cylinder (as claimed by the company) with a width of 5 meters (197 inches). This cylinder usually would be integrated in the type CA11R35PPLL card. According to company officials, such a card is already running in the industry with production speeds of over 300 m/min. The CA11 card is adapted to the hygienic, clothing, medical and technical products markets.Reifenhauser Reifenhauser was the first company to successfully introduce a spunbonding system and has sold more systems throughout the world than any other company. The Reicofil® system can produce spunbonded polypropylene fabrics from 10 to 150 g/m2 in widths up to 5,200 mm. The Double Reicofil line incorporates a second extrusion and spunbonding line, and raises production rates while reducing energy consumption.The Reicofil Composite system incorporates meltblowing units with the spunbonding units in order to produce SM (spunbond/meltblown), SMS and SMMS composites. 
Rieter Perfojet Formerly known as ICBT Perfojet, this newest member of the Rieter group manufactures spun- and filament-yarn processing equipment. This machinery produces nonwovens for medical fabrics, personal and industrial wipes and synthetic leather.The Jetlace 2000 produces webs from 20 to 400 g/m2 at 300 m/min. The water-jet injectors can operate at a pressure as high as 1,000 bar. Rieter Perfojet and M and J Fibertech have developed a spunlaced/air-laid combination that produces wet wipes that are soft and have high uniformity and good absorption.In early 1998, Rieter Perfojet started the design of a new generation of spunbonded fabric-production systems under the trade name of Spunjet. The Spunjets advanced quenching system controls air in three vertical zones and allows each zone to be controlled independently. All external air filters and ductwork are integrated in line frames. Large volumes of air from the web former are accurately controlled and managed. Heat dissipated within the system is collected and used for heating, and is replaced by fresh air. Fiber drawing is achieved by using a specially designed slot device. The Spunjet system can be erected within three weeks, and production can be started in another three weeks.Santex Group (Santex Nonwovens) Santex Nonwovens was formed in 1999 in order to concentrate the efforts of the Santex Group on nonwovens. In the United States, American Santex Inc. is the organization selling and servicing nonwoven products.The Santex Wavemaker is a vertical lapping unit that operates according to the rotation principle. The vertical position of the fibers in the cross direction provides three-dimensional stability. The resulting products are finding use as replacements for polyurethane foam in selected seating and bedding applications. The units can handle card webs of up to 3,500 mm in width and infeed speeds of up to 150 m/min.The Santex Santatherm unit is a thermal-fusion oven for nonwovens. Flowthrough and overflow techniques allow the use of the same oven for air- permeable and impermeable materials. Each section of the unit allows control of air-nozzle height adjustment, temperature and air regulation. Applications for the Santatherm unit include thermal fusion with power or fiber, impregnation drying and heat- setting. The Santext Santabond II is a smoothing and cooling calender that can be run under pressure or with a gap.The Santex Highspeed I thermobonding line can run at speeds of up to 250 m/min, while the Highspeed II can achieve speeds of up to 350 m/min.Spinnbau Spinnbau, formerly known as Krupp-Spinnbau, was part of the Kleinewefers group between 1981 and 1996. When Autefa and Dilo acquired Spinnbau, the technical capabilities of former company Hergeth-Hollingsworth were incorporated into Spinnbau.The Spinnbau carding program comprises universal cards with single and double doffer, random cards with random and condenser rolls, specialty tandem cards and air-lay cards. Spinnbau specializes in cards with working widths of up to 4 meters and wider for direct feeding of thermobonding and spunlacing lines. Spinnbau recommends two-roll take-off systems, effective at high running speeds.Spinnbau cards are equipped with suction and filter systems that eliminate much of the cleaning. The top roller compartment is continuously vacuumed. Vacuumed fiber is automatically fed back into the process, and dust is collected in a central filter station.A modern Spinnbau card is PC-controlled and menu-driven. The card is integrated into a complete line with a crosslapper and needleloom. Editor's Note: this is the final report in ATI's three-installment series about the ATME-I show, held this past October in Greenville, S.C.

February 2001