Textile Technology section
Infinited Fiber Co.: investment to advance innovative fiber solutions technology
The textile startup Infinited Fiber Company Oy (IFC), Espoo/Finland, has received its largest single investment from global resource-based manufacturer RGE (Royal Golden Eagle) Pte. Ltd., Singapore, to advance innovative fiber solutions technology.
RGE joins a group of investors including the apparel retailer Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M), Stockholm/Sweden, the energy supplier Fortum, Espoo, and venture capital and private equity company Virala Oy AB, Helsinki/Finland, to help IFC scale up its technology that turns textile waste and other pulp-based materials into new textile fibers. A strategic cooperation agreement was also signed between RGE and IFC to commercialize the startup’s technology.
Since early 2018, IFC has been operating a 50 ton/year pilot plant in Espoo that produces Infinited Fiber for testing purposes with global brand owners and their manufacturers. Recently, the company leased production facilities in Valkeakoski/Finland, for a new pre-commercial 500 ton/year plant and customer training center that will start up in early 2020.
IFC has raised €8 million of funds in 2019, including €1.96 million recently awarded by the European Innovation Council (EIC).
Toray: supply agreement for tape technology with BASF
The producer and supplier of advanced composite materials Toray Advanced Composites, Morgan Hill, CA/USA, a subsidiary of Toray Industries Inc., Osaka/Japan, and the chemical company BASF SE, Ludwigshafen/Germany, signed a manufacturing and supply agreement focused on the production of continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFRT) tapes for the automotive and industrial markets.
Toray Advanced Composites will produce high quality and affordable CFRT tapes using Ultramid engineering thermoplastics developed and produced by BASF. The fiber manufacturer will reinforce BASF’s Ultramid PA6 resins with either glass fiber or with carbon fiber. The supply agreement enhances manufacturing capacity providing wider commercial availability of CFRT materials, which will enable the adoption of advanced materials for lightweight, structural components in a wide range of industrial markets. With these CFRT materials, automotive manufacturers can design and rapidly produce optimized components at a lower cost, while using the latest fabrication methods such as automated stamp forming and overmolding.
SGL Carbon: sales increased in the first half-year 2019
The carbon fiber producer SGL Carbon SE, Wiesbaden/Germany, increased sales by approx. 6 % to € 562 million driven by organic growth in the market segments Digitization, Energy, and Chemicals. Adjusted for a positive one-time effect of around € 4 million in the prior year, Group recurring EBIT reached nearly € 38 million, approximately € 2 million below prior year’s first half. Recurring EBIT in the business unit Composites – Fibers & Materials (CFM) decreased significantly in earnings, while sales in the business unit CFM remained as expected at € 219.4 million, close to the prior year level (currency adjusted: -3 %). EBIT was with € 2.8 million (HJ1/2018: € 17.3 million) substantially below the prior year level.
While the market segment Wind Energy recorded strong growth compared to the very weak prior year, the market segment Industrial Applications posted lower sales due to the weakening global economy. The market segment Aerospace also remained below the prior year level due to different timings of project billings. Sales in the market segments Automotive and Textile Fibers remained close to the prior year level.
(Fig.: Sigratex carbon fiber non-crimp fabric, SGL Group)
Edana/INDA: remarkable growth and global success of nonwovens
The Association of the Nonwovens Fabrics Industry (INDA), Cary, NC/USA, and the international association serving the nonwovens and related industries, Edana, Brussels/Belgium, have published a new report that forecasts strong market demand for nonwovens materials through the next 5 years, according to the Worldwide Outlook for the Nonwovens Industry, 2018-2023.
The report includes detailed regional information and forecasts on production, technology and investment requirements for North America, Greater Europe, Asia and the South America region. The report further features regional views of economic growth, population, product by end use, and trade flows. Among the highlights of the report:
• In the historical period (2008–2018) production increased 5.7%, led by growth in spunbond/spunmelt and drylaid hydroentanglement.
• China leads the growth in production, adding an additional 3.3 million tons from the end of 2008 through to 2018, representing a 10.8% annual growth rate.
• Across the nonwovens end use segments, transportation and wipes production expanded at the fastest rates, while absorbent hygiene applications recorded the highest incremental volume, with 1.3 million tons.
For further information: www.inda.org
Oerlikon Manmade Fibers: sales growth +18.5% in Q2/2019
In the 2nd quarter (Q2) of 2019, the technology group Oerlikon Management AG, Pfäffikon/Switzerland, saw order intake decrease year-on-year by 0.7% to CHF 672 million, while sales went up by 5.3% to CHF 700 million. The Manmade Fibers Segment maintained its good performance, increasing orders by 5.7% to CHF 298 million and sales by 18.5% to CHF 321 million in Q2/2019. EBIT stood at CHF 51 million (Q2/201: CHF 26 million). Although sales increased by 11.7% in the 1st half (H1) of 2019, order intake for H1/2019, however, fell by 9.5% year-on-year to CHF593 million (H1/2018: CHF655 million).
Sales increased significantly in Europe (>140%), albeit from a low base, while China saw a healthy 26% growth. A decline in sales was registered in North America (-15%) and in India (-85%) compared to Q2/ 2018.
Global nonwovens market to reach $64.8 billion by 2024
In 2019 hundreds of nonwoven products are in use globally. Such diversity leads to equally diverse supply chains, competitive environments, drivers, trends and regulatory issues.
The latest market report from Smithers Pira, Leatherhead/UK, ‘The Future of Global Nonwoven Markets to 2024’ forecasts the global consumption of nonwovens to grow from a projected $46.8 billion in 2019 at an annual rate of 6.7% during 2019-2024 to reach $64.8 billion in 2024. This reflects confidence that relatively short-term issues like the China–US trade war, Brexit uncertainty, and other global issues affecting economic growth will be resolved (or at least accounted for) and nonwovens will grow at increased rates, especially after 2021.
With shifts in end-use demands increasing across the 5 years to 2024, the report identifies a number of key drivers and trends for the global nonwovens industry today: sustainability, regulatory issues, costs (energy/water/raw materials), user requirements and retail trends (private label versus brands).
The report identifies and quantifies the fastest growing market segments, regions and countries, the markets and regions that are driving growth, and those that are experiencing problems. The nonwovens processes that contribute to the global market are defined and their products and capabilities are studied. Sales from 2014-2024 are disclosed and projected by process. Key raw materials used in producing global nonwovens are identified, and their role within the market is defined and quantified, from 2014 through to 2024.
Teijin Frontier: easy-care silk-like polyester fabric
The fiber-product converting company Teijin Frontier Co., Ltd., Tokyo/Japan, has developed a polyester fabric that looks and feels like fine silk. The company envisions various applications for its silk-like material, such as blouses and outers from thin to medium thicknesses.
While high-function materials made with synthetic fibers are recently established as a fashion trend in the market, demand has also been growing for natural-texture materials made with natural fibers. Materials in which delicate fiber fluff is expressed, or fibrillated, on the surface of the fabric for smooth textures, similar to silk or cupro, are becoming popular, but these materials have problems with color fastness in wet condition, yarn strength, color migration, fading due to fluff release and shape loss by washing.
Teijin Frontier has developed interesting processing technologies to produce a new stable, easy-care polyester fabric that boasts the soft texture and fine appearance of silk produced by wild silkworms. This new material’s specially fabricated surface is soft and glossy, holds bright coloring, and resists color migration, shrinkage and shape loss by using polyester fibers with very good color fastness and fiber strength.
Lenzing: expansion of pulp production at the Lenzing site
The producer of cellulosic fibers, Lenzing AG, Lenzing/Austria, has concluded its expansion and modernization drive at the pulp plant at the Lenzing site. The company invested €60 million for this purpose, increasing production capacities for dissolving pulp extracted from beech wood from 300,000 to 320,000 tons/year.
The successful expansion brings the company closer to achieving the strategic objective of increasing self-supply of pulp to a level of 75%, thus making it even more resistant to price fluctuations in sourcing pulp. At present, Lenzing’s own pulp plants in Lenzing and Paskov/Czech Republic cover 60% of the group’s pulp requirements. The Lenzing site primarily makes use of beech wood which is not suitable for producing furniture, whereas it mainly relies on spruce wood in the Czech Republic. The remaining dissolving wood pulp is sourced from a variety of hardwoods and softwoods from international partners.
Covestro: new elastic textile fibers based on CO2
The specialty chemicals producer Covestro AG, Leverkusen/Germany, and the Institute of Textile Technology at RWTH Aachen University, Aachen/Germany, are developing a production process for elastic textile fibers based on CO2 and aim to make the innovative fibers ready for the market. They can be used for stockings and medical textiles, for example, and might replace conventional elastic fibers based on crude oil.
The elastic fibers are made with a chemical component that consists in part of CO2 instead of oil. The CO2-based thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) fibers are produced using a technique called melt spinning, in which the TPU is melted, pressed into very fine threads and finally processed into a yarn of endless fibers. Unlike dry spinning, which is used to produce conventional elastic synthetic fibers such as elastane, melt spinning eliminates the need for environmentally harmful solvents. A new chemical method enables carbon dioxide to be incorporated in the base material, which also has a better CO2 footprint than traditional elastic fibers.