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Nonwovens Technology For The Auto Industry

New technologies, strong sales prompt a positive outlook for Fehrer.

TW Special Report

A ustria-based Textilmaschinenfabrik Dr. Ernst Fehrer AG's nonwovens technology for the automotive industry covers a full range of applications. Automotive trunk linings consisting of flat and random velour have long been a standard product. Fehrer's Pitch Velour technology allows the creation of ribs with a small rib distance, thus opening the way to new products such as side linings for front seats and door linings. Fehrer's latest development in this field is Rhombic Velour technology, which offers innovative automotive textile designs, including diagonal ribs and rhombic designs, as well as originality and a quick return on investment.

Automotive headliners are among the most demanding needled products. The main requirements are lighter weights, cost reductions through fiber savings, abrasion resistance, economical production and an absence of needle marks. As a rule, the products are available in the 200-grams-per-meter weight range; and strict surface quality needs result in needling densities of 600 punches per square centimeter. Erko-Fehrer technology - a result of cooperation entered into early last year between Germany-based Erko and Fehrer in the area of complete production lines for high-end nonwovens products - answers all these demands and facilitates production at 15 to 20 meters per minute in lines designed to fulfill specific speed requests. Automotive insulation products are of growing significance, due to more stringent vehicle acoustic design requirements. Fehrer's V21/R-K12 high-loft aerodynamic web-forming technology provides multiple advantages for this product family. Such advantages include simple line design, high production rates, the use of pure recycled fibers and blends, customized resilience and compression resistance, and an ability to produce double-layered webs for new acoustic insulation products. Moreover, Fehrer's web-forming technology also allows the processing of blends of natural fibers such as flax, hemp, jute and kenaf, as well as glass fibers in combination with polypropylene, for structural parts such as door panels and trunk shelves, among others.

Fehrer AG offers Pitch Velour Technology for the creation of automotive interior side linings for front seats and door linings.

Sales Around The Globe

The Middle East remains an extremely strong market region for Fehrer. A recent order came from Iran for a complete Erko-Fehrer production line, which included a Fehrer Carpet Star®, for the carpet industry. Another long-term Fehrer customer selected Rhombic Velour technology with its new design possibilities in order to enhance existing random velour capacity. The interest among Central and Eastern European companies in Fehrer technology is considerable, as evidenced by the recent sale of a V21/R K12 high-loft aerodynamic web-forming line to a customer that produces thermobonded, polyester waddings for furniture manufacturers. High-loft waddings have extremely high compression resistance and resilience due to vertical fiber adjustment. In the United States, the trend towards investment in more productive and innovative technology has continued. For example, Fehrer reports one of the largest US carpet manufacturers purchased a Carpet Star because it offers speeds of up to 23 meters per minute for rib production, the ability to create highly innovative and brand-new patterns, and unsurpassed hobnail production capacity. These advantages enable the manufacturer to open up new market opportunities and redefine the US structured carpet market.

A Chinese manufacturer of man-made leather decided to extend its value-added chain by adding nonwovens production capacity to its in-house capabilities. Following a lengthy selection process, the company decided to purchase an Erko-Fehrer solution with a fiber opener, card and cross-lapper from Erko and a complete needling line including H1 technology from Fehrer. The new line sets a fresh benchmark in the Chinese man-made leather industry and is further evidence of the success of the Erko-Fehrer strategic cooperation.

Fehrer recently sold a V21/R K12 high-loft aerodynamic web-forming line to a customer that produces thermobonded, polyester waddings for furniture producers.

DREF® Sales Success

An existing DREF® 2 friction-spinning machine customer that is active mainly in the area of technical yarns for the non-asbestos sector recently purchased a DREF 3000. The decision to buy the machine, which is tailor-made to the customers needs, was taken after in-house testing and trials at Fehrer's headquarters. Apart from its high level of performance, the machine also was selected because of its flexibility in the fiber and yarn types it can handle, and applicable end-product sectors. An Austrian wool spinner moving into the technical yarn sector has purchased a DREF 2000. After receiving several inquiries for hybrid yarns, the company quickly decided to opt for a DREF machine. These hybrid yarns will be utilized for heatproof and cutproof woven and knitted fabrics, asbestos substitutes and reinforced plastics, among other end-products. In Germany, a DREF 2 customer active in the recycling of waste into very coarse yarns in various ranges has added a new DREF 2000 to its production capacity. This machine also will cover some technical applications such as the production of filter cartridge yarns.

Technology That Drives The Future

Last year, the Carpet Star received an Innovation Award from Textile World , which honored products that are driven by the technology of the future.

For Fehrer, the award for the Carpet Star, which features unique patterning possibilities, recognizes the company's inherent ability to manufacture fast and reliable machinery that is on the technological cutting edge. Moreover, as a company quite literally founded on invention more than 50 years ago, Fehrer is pleased to receive confirmation that it remains on top in an industry that is increasingly dependent upon innovation and change.

January 2005