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Nonwovens / Technical Textiles

Versatile Nonwovens For Fashionable Fabrics

Evolon® microfilament nonwovens are showing up as fashionable apparel outer fabrics.

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

F or decades, nonwovens used in apparel were only used as fusible interlinings, reinforcements for shirt collars and cuffs, or front interfacings for suits. They were considered disposable and rigid, and had other negative attributes. This has changed drastically in recent years. With the development of microfibers - and, eventually, Evolon®, a spunlaced, bicomponent nonwoven developed by France-based Freudenberg Evolon S.a.r.l., part of Germany-based Freudenberg Nonwovens' Spunlaid Division - nonwovens have gained respect in apparel products.

In the early 1970s, the first fusible interlinings came on the market. Labels like Vilene or Staflex® and DHJ were the pioneers for these new products. In spite of brand names like Staflex, the products were inflexible and rigid. The rigid dot or powder coating was a polyethylene, similar to sticky plastic.

Over the years, interlinings improved considerably, in parallel with the quality of the nonwovens and the chemistry of the coatings. The products have become softer and more lightweight, and today, fusible interlinings are an integrated part of all quality womens- and menswear.

However, there was no chance for nonwovens to become outer fabrics. That application was strictly reserved for wovens and knits. This changed with the invention of Evolon.

Evolon® microfilament nonwoven fabrics can be printed for various applications including fashion apparel.

The Fabric

Evolon is a spunlaced web consisting of continuous filaments. It is made from polyester and polyamide polymers extruded as alternating segments in a single filament. The filaments are drawn at a high speed and laid on a conveyor belt, and split lengthwise into single microfilament segments using high-pressure water jets that simultaneously tightly entangle and consolidate the filaments.

Evolon is an award-winning, clean technology, and Freudenberg Evolon is ISO 14001-certified. The water used to split and entangle the filaments is recycled internally, in a closed-loop process. Evolon complies with REACH, the European Community regulation on chemicals and their safe use. It is polyvinyl-chloride-free and has been granted Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 Class 1 certification, which guarantees there are no harmful substances for contact with an infant's skin.

Evolon provides ultraviolet protection, wind resistance and thermal insulation; can be converted using standard textile processes; can be ultrasonically cut and welded; and is washable, breathable and quick-drying. It is very strong and isotropic. It also features superior mechanical characteristics and will not lose its shape or uniformity, even after heavy use. At the same time, it has a soft hand, is drapable and is lighter-weight than traditional nonwoven materials.

Apparel Applications

Evolon is probably one of the first high-tech nonwovens to be used as an apparel outer fabric, and can be used for leisurewear, activewear and workwear. The microfilament fabric combines very good textile and mechanical properties - similar to traditional microfiber fabrics, but also very durable.

Activewear fabrics must help regulate the body's temperature and surface moisture levels. Evolon is permeable to water vapor such as perspiration, providing increased comfort for the wearer. The extremely fine microfilaments create millions of micro-channels to provide breathability and superior moisture management: Perspiration is absorbed and wicked away from the body, and the fabric dries very quickly.

Now, Evolon is entering the high-fashion market. The product has been showcased in a shop window at Galleries Lafayette in Nice, France. It was even shown on the cover of Vogue Italia. The pictured garments are made of 100-percent printed Evolon. The success is said to be great, and the nonwoven apparel story goes on.

September/October 2009