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INDEX 08: Nonwovens Microcosm

EDANA's triennial exhibition in Geneva will attract 13,000 visitors to see the offerings of the global nonwovens supply chain.

Textile World Special Report

I n the course of the last few decades, the nonwovens sector of the textile industry has grown significantly in importance, offering an increasingly diverse range of products and applications to an ever-expanding marketplace. According to estimates compiled by EDANA, the Brussels-based International Association Serving The Nonwovens and Related Industries, and the Cary, N.C.-based Association of the Nonwovens Industry (INDA), worldwide sales of nonwovens increased from $9 billion in 1994 to $15.9 billion in 2004, and are projected to total $22.4 billion by 2009. Volume-wise, these sales represented a doubling from 2.16 million metric tons in 1994 to 4.43 million metric tons in 2004, with a further projected increase to 6.32 million metric tons in 2009.


The various segments of this growing global industry will return to Geneva April 15-18 to participate in the 2008 edition of INDEX, a triennial exhibition sponsored by EDANA, organized by Geneva-based Orgexpo and held at Geneva Palexpo, where it has taken place since 1984. Billed by EDANA as the World’s Leading Nonwovens Exhibition, INDEX 08 is expected to draw more than 13,000 professional visitors from around the world — including company executives, research and development experts, scientists, designers, engineers, buyers, marketers, specifiers and production specialists — to see the latest nonwovens technologies, application areas and services presented by more than 500 exhibitors from more than 100 countries, in an exhibition space that measures 50,000 square meters (m2) including more than 20,000 m2 of exhibitor booth space.

Exhibitors represent every aspect of the nonwovens industry — from raw materials, machinery and equipment suppliers to converters and brand owners, in addition to auxilliary and testing equipment manufacturers, environmental protection, trade associations, publishers and other related areas. Key industry sectors to be highlighted include automotive, cleaning and hygiene, composites, construction, filtration, home furnishing, medical and packaging.

“INDEX has become a flagship event for the nonwovens industry, and the number of exhibitors and visitors expected this year is further testimony to that,” said Pierre Wiertz, general manager, EDANA. Reflecting the growth and diversification of the nonwovens industry itself, the exhibition has grown with each new edition, from presenting a mere 87 exhibitors at its inaugural 1973 show in Basel, Switzerland, to offering the products and services of 465 exhibitors, along with related activities, to more than 12,000 visitors at INDEX 05.

INDEX 08 sponsor EDANA will be on hand to assist exhibition attendees and exhibitors, and distribute information about the nonwovens and related industries .

Special Events

In addition to the exhibition, INDEX 08 will include several special events and activities. On Monday, April 14, the day before the exhibition opens, members of the global superabsorbent producers sector will gather for their inaugural Global Superabsorbents Summit.

On Wednesday, April 16, members of EDANA, INDA and the Asia Nonwoven Fabrics Association (ANFA) will convene for the fourth Global Nonwovens Summit, organized as a forum to promote and set a unified global agenda for the industry, and enable collaboration and information-sharing among the associations and their members. The  focus of the 2008 summit will be raw materials, energy and ideas for noncommercial joint efforts. 

Another invitational event will be the annual meeting and visit of the European Operating Room and Nurses Association (EORNA) on Thursday, April 17, which will provide opportunities for medical nonwovens exhibitors to hear and discuss needs of the medical community as they apply to nonwoven products.

Exhibitor product presentations will be given April 15-17 in the Exhibitor Presentation Forum in Stand 1066, a specially built auditorium on the exhibition floor. Three sessions will be dedicated to general product categories, and three others will focus on automotive applications, filtration and nanotechnology.

An apparel exhibition titled “Nonwovens in Action” will feature high-performance nonwoven fabrics that address social responsibility and sustainability as they relate to the supply chain, manufacturing and fabric consumption. The free-standing, interactive show, organized in collaboration with the England-based University of Leeds School of Design, will be on view for the duration of INDEX.

Research consortiums working within the sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technology will present their work in INDEX 08’s Innovation Pavilion. Project presentations will include:
• ACTECO — Eco-efficient activation for hyperfunctional surfaces, which aims to develop cost-efficient, ecologically sound plasma processes that can provide innovative properties for durable hyperfunctional surfaces;
•  INTELTEX, a project dedicated to developing a breakthrough methodology to produce intelligent textiles that feature thermal self-regulated textile surfaces, chemical and toxic substance detection, and continuous measurement of mechanical stresses on the textile structure; and
• STELLA — Stretchable Electronics for Large Area applications: a new technology for smart textiles, a platform technology that enables technologies for interconnection, packaging and assembly for stretchable, comfortable, wearable electronics for applications such as intelligent textiles and apparel, and personal fitness and health monitoring.

The INDEX 08 Award sculpture, designed by Olivier Strebelle, will be given to six winning entries to recognize innovation and excellence in nonwovens developments.

INDEX 08 Awards

The INDEX Awards are presented during a special ceremony at each exhibition to recognize and reward innovation and excellence in nonwovens developments.  This year, the awards will be given in six areas: nonwoven roll goods; finished products made from, or incorporating nonwovens; marketing achievement for the most original marketing campaign for a product made from, or incorporating nonwovens; raw materials or components — innovation in a raw material, such as a fiber or binder, having particular relevance to the nonwovens industry; machinery — innovation in machinery having particular relevance to the nonwovens industry; and humanitarian contribution — a new award for a solution or product utilizing nonwovens that has made a significant humanitarian or environmental impact.

Entries will be judged by a jury comprised of former company marketing and research and development professionals, media representatives, academics and European policy makers. Winners will receive a diploma and a bronze sculpture designed by Olivier Strebelle, a noted Belgian sculptor whose works are found in major cities worldwide, and who will design a sculpture series for the new Olympic Museum and Park in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics in that city.

Innovation, Diversification Are
Keys To Growth In The Nonwovens Industry

In preparing this preview of INDEX 08, Textile World spoke with EDANA General Manager Pierre Wiertz to get his perspective on the state of the global nonwovens industry and how its growth is reflected at INDEX.

“The entire nonwovens industry has grown, with a broader range of end-uses covered,” Wiertz said. “It used to be more hygiene, medical and disposable applications. Now, especially in the last INDEX, it has shown very good growth in automotive and industrial applications — and filtration is also very important.”

While some manufacturers tend to go to more specialized shows for civil engineering and building applications, Wiertz said, “Automotive and filtration showed the highest growth between INDEX 02 and INDEX 05 — up to 20 percent in terms of visitors interested specifically in nonwovens for durable applications.”

Wiertz noted that filtration has a very broad range of applications, including food and liquids, heating and air conditioning, automotive, surgical, face masks and other uses related to air and water quality.

Looking into the future, Wiertz remarked: “The industry has no choice but to innovate and diversify into new applications. Traditional applications such as hygiene and medical are soon going to reach maturity, if not decline. Factors include the demographics associated with a high degree of penetration of those products in industrialized countries — with single-use absorbent products such as baby diapers and feminine hygiene products reaching up to 90-percent market penetration, plus stagnating or decreasing birth rates and populations. The one area of growth is in adult incontinence products for the aging population, and that does not entirely compensate for the stagnation and possible decline of the other two markets.”

Wiertz also mentioned the continuing diversification of personal care products. “There are all kinds of wipes for convenience, and there are healthcare products like cold and warm packs for pain relief, for example. Nonwovens play a key role in all of those,” he said.

Globally, Wiertz said developing and emerging countries offer good growth opportunities. “ There is still a huge gap between the industrialized and emerging countries,” he said. India consumes 100 grams per capita, and China’s per capita consumption stands at 0.73 kilogram (kg); while Europe, Japan and North America consume 2.67, 2.8 and 3.78 kg per capita, respectively. Developing countries’ market share totaled 29 percent in 1994 and is projected to grow to 42 percent in 2009.

And what about the environmental impact of disposables production and use? “We’ve demonstrated this has decreased dramatically over the last 15 years or so, thanks to innovation by reducing weight and volume, packaging and the raw materials used,” Wiertz said. Statistics related to the impact of European production and use are found in EDANA’s 2007-2008 Sustainability Report on Absorbent Hygiene Products.

INDEX 08 Exhibitors:
A Sampling Of Offerings

Brückner Plant Technologies, Germany, will offer its range of nonwovens technologies, including the Power-Therm DT dryer, which offers energy savings and improved productivity in the thermal and chemical treatment of nonwovens.

Switzerland-based Ciba will present new vis-breaking technology that enables economical production of high-quality meltblown nonwovens made with spunbond polypropylene; as well as enhanced effects for nonwovens including Ciba®
Irgasurf® HL 560 hydrophilicity additive, Flamestab® NOR™ 116 halogen-free flame retardant for polyolefins, Chimassorb® 2020 light and thermal stabilizer; and Cromophtal® and Irgalite® colorants.

DiloGroup, Germany, will have representatives on hand to discuss possibilities for a range of nonwovens applications that can be produced using the machinery of its subsidiaries DiloTemafa, DiloSpinnbau and DiloMachines.

Polyolefin staple fiber supplier FiberVisions, Denmark, and its ES FiberVisions bicomponent fiber-producing joint venture with Japan-based Chisso Corp. will showcase cost-effective solutions using their fiber technologies to address trends such as eco-friendly processing, lightweight fabrics and added functionalities.

Fleissner GmbH, Germany, will show its SteamJet line, newly developed in collaboration with the Germany-based Saxon Textile Research Institute, for bonding of nonwovens using overheated steam jets; in addition to various versions of its AquaJet spunlace technology, and Fleissner bonding and finishing lines. The company also will highlight its cooperation with Germany-based Erko-Trützschler to provide complete nonwovens production systems.

Martin Automatic Inc., Rockford, Ill., willl present its patent-pending MDR (magnetic driven roller) system for handling light webs at reduced tension levels and increased operating speeds.

France-based Rieter Perfojet will offer video presentations on its Jetlace® Essentiel spunlace technology, Perfobond™ spunbond system, its new meltblown system and Spunjet® technology. The company also will provide shuttle bus service between the Palexpo and its technical center in Montbonnot, France, to provide an opportunity for visitors to participate in trials using Rieter nonwovens technologies.

March/April 2008