Textile Technology section
Südwolle: merino base-layer clothing for medical personnel
In hospitals where Covid-19 patients are treated, medical staff must wear protective clothing. Under this protective clothing, the skin sweats easily, is in discomfort, itches, and possible skin irritation and rashes can develop. For this reason, the manufacturer of worsted products Südwolle Group, Nuremberg/Germany, supports the medical staff in hospitals in Romania and China with high-performance base-layer clothing worn underneath protective clothing.
Conventional base-layer garments, which were primarily made of synthetic fibers, showed poor performance in moisture management and thermal regulation in these compromised conditions. Südwolle Group produced base-layer clothing that were initially intended for sports, outdoor or technical end-uses at their spinning mill Silvania Worsted Spinning (SWS) in Simleu Slivaniei/Romania.
They also joined forces with the producer of cellulosic fibers, Lenzing AG, Lenzing/Austria, and the Rainbow Company to produce base-layer garments from merino-lyocell blends to supply the medical team at the hospitals in Wuhan/China.
With their good thermo- and moisture-regulating properties, merino wool and Tencel lyocell are convenient natural fibers to be worn under such protective clothing to offer exceptional comfort.
HeiQ: Swiss Technology Award 2020 for Viroblock
The leading technology prize in Switzerland, Swiss Technology Award, announced the 2020 prizes, and among all the notable finalist innovations of the year, the supplier of finishing technology, HeiQ Materials AG, Zurich/Switzerland, was bestowed the highest honor as 1st prize winner for its breakthrough antiviral textile technology HeiQ Viroblock. This is the most notable recognition for the company’s innovative spirit and technologies as well as its contribution to stemming the spread of the global pandemic.
Developed in record time and launched after the Swiss authorities announced the lockdown in March 2020, HeiQ Viroblock has had a major impact on the global textile industry and is being unprecedently adopted by mills around the world. HeiQ Viroblock is a very efficient and effective antiviral/antimicrobial technology and has been applied by more than 150 brands worldwide to over 1 billion products from face masks, apparels to home textiles, mattresses and curtains to date.
It is among the first textile technologies in the world to be proven effective against Covid-19. HeiQ Viroblock consists of a combination of HeiQ’s patent-pending vesicle and silver technologies. The 2 mechanisms of attack result in an over 99.9% destruction of viruses in 5 minutes.
AMAC/FibreCoat: electro-magnetic shielding applications
With the new product Alucoat, the company FibreCoat GmbH, Aachen/Germany, has launched an aluminum-coated glass or basalt fiber which is suitable as electro-magnetic shielding material in automotive applications such as radar, antennas or for autonomous driving as well as for mobile phones and applications in buildings. Due to its extraordinary thermal conductivity and better heat transfer compared to traditional composite material, it can be used for the manufacturing of automotive battery trays or industrial applications such as fine particulate air filters.
As of November 1, 2020, FibreCoat, the start-up and spin-off of the Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University (ITA), Aachen/Germany, is part of a cooperation with AMAC GmbH (Advanced Materials and Consultancy), Aachen.
Alucoat is available as of January 1, 2021, as a yarn, fabric or nonwoven material with a wide range of possible titers and areal weights. The material will offer an electrical conductivity of 100 Ωm and a working temperature of at least 400 °C. Furthermore, it can be used for the shielding of low to high frequencies with an effectiveness of 80-120 dB.
FibreCoat also develops metal-coated fibers like bi-component multi-filament yarns with basalt core and aluminum coating which can be used for EMI-shielding and heat sinks in battery casings, electric diverters in filters, reinforcement of cast aluminum parts or as conductive yarns in smart textiles.
FibreCoat has already won several international awards: the recent and famous „Falling walls venture“ award for advanced materials in Berlin/Germany for the most-promising science start-ups from across the world for the production of their innovative thermoplastic coated glass fibers.
BBE: reutilization of PET waste to textile filament and fiber products
Sustainable handling of natural resources is a global task, and the recyclability of polyester (PET) products made by the man-made fiber industry is attributed special significance. For numerous textile applications, parameters such as viscosity and homogeneity are crucial and must be subject to virtually no fluctuations.
The VacuFil recycling process from BB Engineering GmbH, Remscheid/Germany, enables the manufacture of very homogeneous, viscosity stable rPET melt and ensures a precisely definable and reproducible raw material for downstream processes. Macro and microscopic melt homogeneity is achieved by means of homogenization drying, controlled plasticizing, gentle filtration and controlled vacuum degassing.
The company’s VarioFil R spinning systems have been used for converting PET re-granulates and PET flakes into POY/DTY for both textile and carpet applications. Spin dyed products made from PET recycled granulates are also being produced using VarioFil systems.
With their modular structure and a performance spectrum of between 300 kg/h and maximum 3,000 kg/h, VacuFil systems open up various possibilities for processing polyester waste bottle flakes, agglomerated spinning waste or a mixture of both can be processed into high quality PET granulate or fed directly into downstream processes. With an optional 3 DD mixer, producers can not only add additives to the melt, they can also easily change rPET ratios in the main melt from between 5% and 50% stream in order to comply with legal standards.
Genomatica/Aquafil: partnership to produce bio-polyamide
Providing a more sustainable polyamide value chain, made from plants instead of crude oil, biotechnology company Genomatica Inc., San Diego, CA/USA, and fiber manufacturer Aquafil SpA., Arco/Italy, are expanding their longstanding partnership. The 2 companies teamed up in January 2020 to produce the 1st ton of 100% renewable polyamide 6 (PA6) ever at pilot scale.
Relying on their expertise in scaling up renewably-sourced chemicals, Genomatica and Aquafil are moving directly to a larger-than-typical demonstration scale to support initial commercial applications by committed brand partners. The first production runs are slated to create 50 tons of bio-PA for pre-commercial use by Genomatica’s brand partners, with the demonstration plant to continue supporting product needs until commercial scale plants are in operation.
Aquafil will build and operate the downstream operations of this large-scale demonstration plant at its facility in Slovenia, where it will convert Genomatica’s bio-based precursor to commercial-quality bio-PA 6 yarns, films and engineered plastics. The produced material will be used to develop renewably-sourced products, replacing traditional PA that generates upwards of 60 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Under this agreement, initial volumes of bio-PA ingredients will be available in the latter half of 2021.
Fitesa: capacity expansion in Brazil and other regions
More information about new equipment and debottlenecking/upgrade projects that will increase the company’s capacity by 55,000 tons/year has been announced by Fitesa, Porto Alegre/Brazil.
Latin America will lead the capacity expansion with a new multi-beam Reicofil 5 line to be installed in Cosmópolis/Brazil. Construction is in an advanced stage and the line will arrive in July 2021. In Gravataí/Brazil, one upgraded and redesigned meltblown line has already begun to produce N95 meltblown grades and help the fight against Covid-19. In addition, one additional state-of-the-art Reicofil meltblown equipment is being assembled to start before the end of 2020. The total investment in the region will increase production capacity by 30,000 tons/year and triple the company’s pure meltblown supply availability.
Stand-alone meltblown capacity is also being added in other regions, with new machine start-ups coming on stream in November 2020 at the plant in Trezzano Rosa/Italy, by December 2020 in Peine/Germany and in January 2021 in Simpsonville, SC/USA.
Furthermore, Fitesa is adding projects to increase production volumes, modernize the assets, and enhance the flexibility. As a result, in Q2 and Q3/2021 another 20,000 tons/year of spunmelt capacity will become available to continue serving the healthcare and hygiene markets.
Existing projects include the acquisition of Freudenberg Hygiene Brazil, Fiber Dynamics and Tredegar Personal Care, as well as the start-up of a new Reicofil 5 in November 2020 in Thailand, which all together adds an additional 130,000 tons/year to the company’s portfolio.
OETI: new product marking for masks
With “Inspected quality for mouth-nose-masks” the Institute for Ecology, Technology and Innovation GmbH (OETI), Vienna/Austria, has started offering a reliable product labeling which also supports companies with their product development for masks.
With the label full-face masks are tested for functionality and harmful substances. The label is based on the specifications of the Workshop Agreement CWA 17553. The agreement is a guideline for minimum requirements as well as testing and application methods of “community masks”. It was issued in June 2020 by the independent European Committee for Standardization (CEN), Brussels/Belgium.
Thus OETI provides business customers and consumers with a reliable label which is based on the security of an independent workshop agreement drawn up by an external body.
OETI’s experience in testing community masks has shown that for the 2 most important product properties, filtration efficiency and breathability, only 10% of the masks tested meet all requirements.
Therefore OETI tests every single development phase to ensure that the final product meets the requirements.
Lenzing: new blockchain-enabled traceability platform
Since 2019, the producer of cellulosic fibers, Lenzing AG, Lenzing/Austria, has been using the blockchain technology powered by the start-up company TextileGenesis, Hong Kong/China, to ensure the traceability of textiles from fiber to production and distribution.
After several successful pilot projects, the digital platform for blockchain-enabled supply chain traceability, TextileGenesis, was launched on November 5, 2020 for the lyocell fiber Tencel and viscose fiber Lenzing Ecovero. The platform provides customers and consumers with an overview across the entire textile supply chain.
A follow-up of a 12-month pilot program and field trials with 4 leading sustainable brands and supply chain players from 10 countries in 3 regions, the global roll-out of Lenzing’s traceability platform will be conducted in phases.
One of the core components of the platform powered by TextileGenesis is integration with the Lenzing E-Branding fabric certification system, which allows brands and retailers not only to access the full supply chain traceability for Tencel and Lenzing Ecovero branded fibers but also to view the results of forensic (physical) verification of fabric samples via the digitally signed Lenzing E-Branding fabric certificates.
Through using the innovative Fibercoin technology of the TextileGenesis platform, Lenzing and other brand partners are now able to issue digital tokens (blockchain assets) in direct proportion to the physical shipments of fibers. These digital tokens provide a unique “fingerprint” and authentication mechanism, preventing adulteration, providing a more secure, trustworthy, digital chain-of-custody across the entire textile supply chain.
Oerlikon Manmade Fibers: Q3 results show positive market outlook
In the 3rd quarter (Q3) of 2020 the Manmade Fibers Segment of technology group Oerlikon Management AG, Pfäffikon/Switzerland, delivered another quarter of strong and stable results. Sales increased by 18.1% year-on-year to CHF 313 million. Order intake was sustained at a high level of CHF 261 million.
The Q3 EBIT was CHF 40 million (Q3/2019: CHF 22 million) or 12.9% of sales (Q3/2019: 8.4%).
Looking back over the first 9 months, Jan.-Sept. 2020, the picture is quite different. Order intake was CHF 770 million, a decrease of 11% compared to the same period 2019 (CHF 870 million). Sales for Jan.-Sept. 2020 were CHF 765 million, down 8.8% (2019: CHF 839 million).
These strong orders and sales figures of Q3 are driven by the notable recovery in the filament equipment business in China and the continued pick-up in demand for meltblown nonwoven solutions used in face mask production. The Manmade Fibers Segment is on track to fulfil its planned 2020 deliveries.