Textile Technology section
Teijin Frontier: next-generation heat insulating structure
A new heat insulating structure which combines sweat absorption and quick drying for innerwear and heat insulation for brushed-finish intermediate wear, or middler, worn between the inner and outer layers to retain heat has been introduced by the fiber-product converting company Teijin Frontier Co., Ltd., Tokyo/Japan. Applications of the new structure will include outdoor, sports, casual and uniform applications, as it offers a new type of bulky plush structure that does not brush. It is a double raschel knitted fabric cut in half with high precision. Its middle nodes are made with Octa, Teijin Frontier’s highly modified hollow-core fiber with 8 projecting fins aligned in a radial pattern. It also uses a distinct dyeing technology to maximize Octa’s crimping function and stabilize its high-quality plush structure. Very good comfort is enhanced with heat insulation (lightweight bulkiness and warmth) and yarn tips on the skin side that evenly absorb sweat and dry quickly.
Epson: Robustelli and For.Tex to merge
Seiko Epson Corp., Tokyo/Japan, has announced that group companies Fratelli Robustelli Srl, Villa Guardia/Italy, and For.Tex Srl, Fino Mornasco/Italy, will merge. The 2 companies are core Epson subsidiaries in the direct-to-fabric (DTF) textile printing sector. Robustelli develops and manufactures textile printers while For.Tex engages primarily in textile ink sales and support. Epson sees textile printing as one of the most promising growth areas for its printing solutions business. Growth will be fueled by a shift from traditional plate-based analog printing to digital printing solutions. Epson sees substantial opportunity to leverage its inkjet technology to expand its business and is thus strengthening its textile printing product lineup and operations. The merger is scheduled for completion by the end of 2020.
Fraunhofer IAP: efficient way of recycling cotton clothes
The technical hurdles to recycling clothing made of cotton have been too high in the past, but now a team of researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP, Potsdam-Golm/Germany, together with re:newcell, Stockholm/Sweden, have cleared that obstacle. They are the first to produce a viscose filament yarn made of recycled cotton and have found a way to turn cotton clothes into new high-quality garments rather than lowly cleaning rags. Old clothes often end up as inferior products such as cleaning cloths rather than new garments. This is because they are often made of blends rather than a single type of fabric. To date, it has been impossible to separate these intertwined fibers. Researchers were able to extract the foreign fibers from the pulp by setting the right parameters for both the dissolving and spinning processes, for example, with effective filtration stages. This yielded a filament yarn, a continuous strand of fiber several km long consisting of 100% cellulose, the quality of which is comparable to that of wood-based regenerated cellulosic fiber. Compatible with the standard industrial process for making viscose rayon, the new fibers spun from this cotton pulp are suitable for mass manufacturing. The pulp is first activated with lye and then chemically derivatized. This yields a very pure alkaline viscose solution. Spinnerets riddled with several thousand 55 μm diameter holes then spin this solution in an acidic bath. The thousands of liquid jets emerging from the polymeric solution enable the derivatized cellulose to regenerate and continuously precipitate in the spinning bath to form a filament. The next step is to steadily reverse the chemical derivatization, and then wash and dry the filament for it to be wound onto a spool. Made of pure cellulose, this filament is eco-friendly. Rather than adding to the mountains of microplastics that pollute the oceans, it readily decomposes. This is a huge advantage over petroleum-based polyester fibers, which still predominate on the global market with a share of some 60%.
Oerlikon: Manmade Fibers Segment on track despite pandemic
The Manmade Fibers Segment of Oerlikon Management AG, Pfäffikon/Switzerland, delivered a resilient performance despite the corona virus pandemic, driven by the recovery of the filament equipment business in China and a diversified portfolio in products such as nonwovens, staple fibers, polycondensation and smart factory solutions.
In the 2nd quarter (Q2) of 2020, a significant increase in order intake was recorded, attributed to a quick recovery in demand in China and the rest of Asia and the increasing demand for the nonwoven meltblown systems used in face mask production. For the half-year H1/2020, the man-made fibers business booked more than CHF 500 million in order intake and is on track to fulfill its delivery schedules for 2020.
Sales declined by 22.8% in Q2/2020, mainly due to the extraordinarily high sales volume in Q2/2019. At constant exchange rates, sales declined by 17.7% to CHF 264 million. Sales in China were stable in Q2/2020 year-over-year, affirming the recovery in China from the shutdowns in Q1/2020. EBIT was CHF 30 million or 12.1% of sales (Q2/2019: CHF 51 million; 15.7%).
The nonwovens market is anticipated to continue developing positively, as many countries strive to become more strategically autonomous for items deemed critical.
Mahlo: 75th anniversary
The manufacturer of measuring, control and automation systems Mahlo GmbH & Co. KG, Saal a.d. Donau/Germany, celebrated its 75th anniversary on August 5, 2020.
Founded in 1945 by Dr. Heinz Mahlo the company focused early on the development of measuring and control systems for the textile industry. At the end of the 1950s he applied for a patent for the 1st automatic weft straightener.
Mahlo weft straighteners and systems for process control for textile finishing can be found in all important markets. In the mid-1990s, the Qualiscan QMS quality control system was introduced to the market.
Mahlo is still family-owned today, and the cooperation between owner, management and staff plays a major role in its success. The company has branches in the USA, Italy, Belgium, Spain and China and cooperates with service stations and sales partners in more than 100 countries.
Photo: Company owners Ralph & Aura Greenwood-Mahlo at the desk of company founder Dr. Heinz Mahlo
Andritz: line for the production of respiratory masks
Following successful launch of the D-Tech line for production of surgical/medical masks in April 2020, the international technology group Andritz AG, Graz/Austria, is now presenting its new D-Tech face mask line for respiratory masks, such as duckbill and flat fold respirators.
The new respiratory mask line can be customized to laminate different layers of fabric. It comprises unwinding and guiding units for nonwovens, automatic splicing of all raw materials, cutting and positioning devices for the metal nose bar, an edge welding and cutting unit, a 90° rotation process, positioning and welding of the ear loop elastics, as well as quality control using the D-Tech Vision System. Other options are also available. Machine dimensions can be customized according to customers’ plant requirements.
The fully automated production line includes complete ultrasonic technology, a facility to include printing systems, and an interface to the automatic packaging machine. Products can be packaged in bags by an automatic flow pack machine or packed in cardboard boxes by an automatic cartoner. Producers already operating an Andritz D-Tech surgical mask line can upgrade it to produce respiratory masks with a special kit.
Lenzing: new guidance for FY 2020 as Covid-19 impacts sales
As a result of the global Covid-19 crisis, the producer of cellulosic fibers, Lenzing AG, Lenzing/Austria, suspended its guidance for 2020. Whilst it remains difficult to give a precise outlook for 2020, Lenzing assumes from today’s perspective that the revenue generation and operating performance of the remaining 2 quarters will exceed those of the 2nd quarter (Q2).
In the first half (H1) of 2020, the company faced a historically difficult market environment with increased pressure on prices and volumes resulting from the corona crisis. Sales declined by 25.6% from €1.09 billion to €810.2 million in the H1/2020. In addition to price effects, the company also felt the decline in demand for textile fibers in all regions. The slightly higher demand for fibers in the medical and hygiene segments could not offset the losses.
EBITDA fell by 46.6% to €96.7 million in H1/2020. The EBITDA margin decreased from 16.6% to 11.9%. Net profit for the period amounted to €1.5 million (H1/2019: €78.8 million).
The 76th Annual General Meeting of Lenzing AG resolved on June 18, 2020, not to distribute a dividend for the 2019 financial year.
Oerlikon: electro-charging unit rounds off filter nonwovens systems
Spunbond and meltblown materials can be electrostatically charged to improve their filter performance. The ecuTEC+ electro-charging unit from the Nonwoven BU of the Manmade Fibers segment of Oerlikon Management AG, Pfäffikon/Switzerland, is part of the delivery scope of all meltblown systems currently sold for the manufacture of protective mask nonwovens.
The patented solution is characterized by its high flexibility: ecuTEC+ stands out above all as a result of its diverse applications, which can be electro-charged. Nonwovens manufacturers can freely choose between numerous variation options and set the optimal charging method and intensity for their specific filter applications. Additionally, EPA and HEPA-class filter media can also be manufactured using the ecuTEC+.
This meltblown technology, with which among other things nonwovens for respiratory masks can also be manufactured, is recognized as being a technically very efficient method for producing highly-separating filter media made from man-made fibers. The capacities for respiratory masks available in Europe to date are predominantly manufactured on Oerlikon Nonwoven systems.
Dralon: comprehensive restructuring
Acrylic fiber producer Dralon GmbH, Dormagen/Germany, has already had to reduce its production severely in the 2nd quarter 2020. In addition to the effects of the corona pandemic, the company is also burdened by the continuing high price pressure in a shrinking global market. In order to make the company competitive again, Dralon has decided to comprehensively restructure the company as part of a protective shielding process.
The protective shielding procedure can only be initiated if the company is not yet insolvent at the time of application. The management of the company remains fully capable of acting in the proceedings. Production and delivery to customers will continue without restrictions.
Dralon is using the debtor-in-possession management for the restructuring with the aim of continuing the company. In doing so, the company management remains in office and carries out the reorganization itself.
The affiliated business of the fiber manufacturer Dolan GmbH, Kelheim/Germany, is not part of the restructuring process, as the business there is less affected and remains profitable in 2020.
Itema: acquisition of PTMT
The provider of advanced weaving solutions, Itema SpA, Colzate/Italy, has finalized the agreement for the acquisition of PTMT srl (formerly Panter), Grandino/Italy.
The acquisition by the company’s subsidiary Itematech srl, allows Itema to expand its product portfolio by adding PTMT technology, with the aim of consolidating improving their position in the field of technical fabrics.
With the launch of Itematech, the new division dedicated to technical textiles, in the first quarter of 2019, the company offers a complete technological portfolio for high-tech fabrics.