Textile Technology section
NWI: N95 face mask without meltblown filter
A new bicomponent spunbond material that can serve as an effective N95 face mask filter – without the need for a meltblown filtration layer – has been developed by the Nonwovens Institute (NWI), Raleigh, NC/USA, with partners including ExxonMobil Chemical Co., Houston, TX/USA and NatureWorks LLC, Minnetonka, MN/USA. The development was in response to the immediate and pressing need for meltblown nonwovens earlier in 2020.
N95 efficiency can be achieved with just 2 layers of the new spunbond fabric and it also requires no electrostatic charging, which has been another bottleneck in the production of face masks this year, and because the materials are strong – unlike classical meltblown materials – they can also be cut and sewn by traditional techniques.
In terms of productivity, spunbonding is also much faster than meltblowing. On the latest state-of-the-art Reicofil 5 lines from Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG, Troisdorf/Germany, for example, throughput for spunbond fabrics is now up to 270 kg/m of beam width, compared to 70 kg/m width for meltblown.
The material can also be based on bi-components of Ingeo PLA biopolymer by NatureWorks. The company has been an active partner in the development, donating high amounts of its Ingeo PLA, which improves the productivity of the spunbond process by at least 30%. Another partner, ExxonMobil, has donated polypropylene and Vistamaxx resins.
This innovation has already received the 2020 RISE conference Innovation Award from the Association of the Nonwovens Fabrics Industry, INDA, Cary, NC/USA.
ExxonMobil: high-loft and soft nonwovens for premium hygiene products
Nonwovens with lofty thickness, well-cushioned cotton-like softness, and a silk-like smooth touch are in great demand for hygiene products. The petrochemical company ExxonMobil Chemical Co., Houston, TX/USA, has introduced a new and innovative solution to produce these kinds of nonwovens. Also offering low lint and uniformity, the solution provides a tailored balance of properties for nonwovens used in premium diapers, pant-type diapers, feminine care and adult incontinence products.
A blend of ExxonMobil PP3155E5, ExxonMobil PP3684HL and Vistamaxx 7050BF performance polymer, the solution is easily processed using bi-component (BiCo) spunbond technology from machinery and components manufacturer Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG, Troisdorf/Germany.
Offering the thickness required for cushiony softness, the fabric is as resilient as it is lofty, while delivering good drapability, uniformity for consistent products and low lint for surface stability. Formulation variations allow nonwovens to be produced with a different feel to meet the needs of the application, from a cottony touch to a silky touch.
Spunbound fabrics can be manufactured that are up to 15% thicker for outstanding protection compared to other BiCo spunbond high-loft solutions. Plus, 80% of the thickness is maintained after being placed under load for an extended period.
Fitesa: investment in 4 new projects with Reicofil expands capacity
The global manufacturer of nonwovens Fitesa Corp., Porto Alegre/Brazil, signed 4 new projects with the machinery and components manufacturer Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG, Troisdorf/Germany.
The package includes state-of-the-art equipment that will significantly increase capacity to serve the healthcare and hygiene markets, making nonwovens for medical gowns, drapes, surgical and N95 facemasks, diapers and sanitary products.
The exact locations of these projects will be disclosed in due time. The intent is to strengthen Fitesa’s global footprint without focus on any one region.
Reifenhäuser: search for industrial converters continues
The machinery and components manufacturer Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG, Troisdorf/Germany, has found customers in Germany for the nonwovens currently produced in the R & D center and urgently needed for the production of face masks. The material is also supplied to public or charitable initiatives that manually produce face masks for medical practices, hospitals and care services. Within the last 2 weeks, many initiatives have been founded that sew masks by hand. From the many inquiries Reifenhäuser has selected those initiatives that work efficiently and deliver masks quickly and reliably first to where they are most urgently needed.
For the company, however, the delivery to manually operating converters remains only a partial success. As overwhelming as the great commitment is - the quantities produced in this way are only a drop in the ocean in view of the overall demand for medical protective clothing. If also the population is to be supplied with masks nationwide, the demand would rise into the billions. To actually solve the problem, Germany and Europe therefore need their own industrial production sites with closed European supply chains and decisive political action.
Reifenhäuser: meltblown test lines converted for up to 1 million face masks daily
The machinery and components manufacturer Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG, Troisdorf/Germany, has temporarily converted 2 of its test plants due to the corona pandemic. The lines installed in the nonwovens technology center, which are otherwise exclusively used for research and development as well as customer trials, have been producing meltblown material for the production of face masks for one week. This is the company’s response to the current emergency in the supply of medical protective material.
Until further notice, the meltblown lines will be operated in 4-shift operation 24/7. The daily output is sufficient for up to 1 million face masks. Trial operations will be almost completely suspended during this period.
The meltblown material from the nonwovens technology center is already sold out for the next 5 weeks. As no German or European producer for further processing could be found so far, the nonwovens fabric is going to a Vietnamese manufacturer of face masks. However, Reifenhäuser continues to look for opportunities to strengthen the local supply during this crisis. The company is in close contact with associations, authorities and other companies.
Reifenhäuser: Focus on a domestic production of medical supplies
In times of the corona virus costumers need to be more independent of Chinese producers. The machinery and components manufacturer Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH & Co. KG, Troisdorf/Germany, supports countries and other investors to implement a domestic medical supply production. The company is therefore shortening the delivery time to only 3.5 months for meltblown lines to produce the crucial middle material layer for face masks.
A first contract with the new delivery time has already been concluded. The 1.6 m wide Reicofil meltblown line is scheduled to start operation in August 2020. With an annual output of 550 tons, the plant will produce H99 filter material for up to 1.8 million face masks a day.
Reifenhäuser Reicofil also supplies technology for the production of other medical protection clothing, such as surgical gowns. These products are made of a combination of spunbond and meltblown material. The corresponding Reicofil composite lines are expected to be delivered within 10-11 months.