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Nonwoven fabrics are broadly defined as sheet or web structures bonded together by entangling fiber or filaments (and by perforating films) mechanically, thermally, or chemically. They are flat, porous sheets that are made directly from separate fibers or from molten plastic or plastic film. They are not made by weaving or knitting and do not require converting the fibers to yarn. Sunshine Nonwovens! Video How is Nonwoven Fabric used? Beyond simple definitions, these engineered fabrics open up a world of innovative possibilities for all types of industries. Nonwovens may be a limited-life, single-use fabric or a very durable fabric. Nonwoven fabrics provide specific functions such as absorbency, liquid repellency, resilience, stretch, softness, strength, flame retardancy, washability, cushioning, filtering, bacterial barriers and sterility. These properties are often combined to create fabrics suited for specific jobs while achieving a good balance between product use-life and cost. They can mimic the appearance, texture and strength of a woven fabric, and can be as bulky as the thickest paddings. Following are just a few of the properties that can be attained using nonwoven fabrics:
Absorbency Bacterial barrier Cushioning Filtering Flame retardancy Liquid repellency Resilience Softness Sterility Strength Stretch Washability
Today, innovations in nonwoven fabrics are growing as rapidly as the demand for them, with almost unlimited possibilities for a wide variety of industries, including:
Agricultural coverings Agricultural seed strips Apparel linings Automotive headliners Automotive upholstery
Textile course | Nonwoven 1
innovative and completely flexible industry has evolved. it has been met by the technology and ingenuity of raw materials and equipment suppliers. plastic and leather industries and a separate. paper. Carpeting Civil engineering fabrics Civil engineering geotextiles Disposable diapers Envelopes Filters House wraps Household & personal wipes Hygiene products Insulation Labels Laundry aids Roofing Sterile medical-use products Tags Upholstery Wall coverings How to produce Nonwovens Nonwovens emerged from the textile. As the demand for nonwovens has steadily increased. A precise definition of nonwovens is that adopted by the International Standards Organisation – ISO 9092:1988 and by the European Committee for Normalisation (CEN) – EN 29092. The production of nonwovens can be described as taking place in three stages. and in some cases all three stages can take place at the same time. Textile course | Nonwoven 2 . although modern technology allows an overlapping of the stages. This diversity is enhanced by the ability to engineer nonwovens to have specific properties and to perform specific tasks. The three stages are: Web Formation Web Bonding Finishing Treatments The opportunity to combine different raw materials and different techniques accounts for the diversity of the industry and its products. and nonwoven producers and converters.
and nonwovens are usually referred to by one of these methods: Drylaid Spunlaid Wetlaid Other techniques Drylaid There are two methods of dry laying: carding air laying Carding is a mechanical process which starts with the opening of bales of fibres which are blended and conveyed to the next stage by air transport. low elongation and low tear strength in the machine direction and the reverse in the cross direction. Typical parallel-laid carded webs result in good tensile strength. Four basic methods are used to form a web. or they can be random-laid. The precise configuration of cards will depend on the fabric weight and fibre orientation required. Relative speeds and web composition can be varied to produce a wide range of properties. Textile course | Nonwoven 3 . where most of the fibres are laid in the direction of the web travel. which is a rotating drum or series of drums covered in fine wires or teeth. The web can be parallel-laid.Web Formation Nonwoven manufacture starts by the arrangement of fibres in a sheet or web. The fibres can be staple fibres packed in bales. or filaments extruded from molten polymer granules. They are then combed into a web by a carding machine.
but this cannot be regarded as the principal method of bonding.In airlaying. Some remaining temperature can cause filaments to adhere to one another. airlaid webs have a lower density. where they form a randomly oriented web. which can be very short. Airlaid webs offer great versatility in terms of the fibres and fibre blends that can be used. a greater softness and an absence of laminar structure. are fed into an air stream and from there to a moving belt or perforated drum. The continuous filaments are cooled and deposited on to a conveyor to form a uniform web. but raw material flexibility is more restricted. The spunlaid process (sometimes known as spunbonded) has the advantage of giving nonwovens greater strength. Spunlaid In this process polymer granules are melted and molten polymer is extruded through spinnerets. Compared with carded webs. Textile course | Nonwoven 4 . the fibres.
Textile course | Nonwoven 5 . solidifies it and breaks it up into a fibrous web. web structure and bonding usually occur at the same time and in the same place. usually to provide extra properties or bonding capabilities. The solvent evaporates. leaving a cloud of fibres. The spunlaid/meltblown process is an example. Other variants of in situ web forming techniques include different methods of fibrillation and the use of complex rotating dies. by pressing between rollers. The web is further dewatered. This scatters the melt. Processes are emerging where two or more web forming techniques are used in tandem. where one or more meltblown webs and spunlaid webs are combined.Co-extrusion of second components is used in several spunlaid processes. The strength of the random oriented web is rather similar in all directions in the plane of the fabric. Flash spun webs are made by dissolving a polymer in a suitable solvent and then spraying it into a vessel held at reduced pressure. mineral. Impregnation with binders is often included in a later stage of the process. low viscosity polymers are extruded into a high velocity airstream on leaving the spinneret. synthetic and man-made fibres of varying lengths can be used. in which the fibre production. In meltblown web formation. and dried. Other techniques This includes a group of specialized technologies. Wetlaid web-forming allows a wide range of fibre orientations ranging from near random to near parallel. or flashes off. A wide range of natural. Wetlaid A dilute slurry of water and fibres is deposited on a moving wire screen and drained to form a web. consolidated. which are collected and bonded.
a vital step in the production of nonwovens. Print bonding is used when specific patterns are required and where it is necessary to have the majority of fibres free of binder for functional reasons. The web must therefore be consolidated in some way. There are many ways of applying the binder. It can be applied uniformly by impregnating. other than spunlaid. Water based binder systems are the most widely used but powdered adhesives. Three groups of materials are commonly used as binders-acrylate polymers and copolymers. Textile course | Nonwoven 6 . foam and in some cases organic solvent solutions are also found. This is effected by bonding. coating or spraying or intermittently. have little strength in their unbonded form. styrenebutadiene copolymers and vinyl acetate ethylene copolymers.Web Bonding Webs. as in print bonding. The choice of method is at least as important to ultimate functional properties as the type of fibre in the web. There are three basic types of bonding: Chemical Thermal Mechanical Chemical bonding (adhesion bonding) Chemical bonding mainly refers to the application of a liquid based bonding agent to the web.
In some cases the web fibre itself can be used.Thermal bonding (cohesion bonding) This method uses the thermoplastic properties of certain synthetic fibres to form bonds under controlled heating. Textile course | Nonwoven 7 . Drum and blanket systems apply pressure and heat to make products of average bulk. There are several thermal bonding systems in use: Calendering uses heat and high pressure applied through rollers to weld the fibre webs together at speed. Sonic bonding takes place when the molecules of the fibres held under a patterned roller are excited by high frequency energy which produces internal heating and softening of the fibres. This takes place in a carefully controlled hot air stream. Through-air thermal bonding makes bulkier products by the overall bonding of a web containing low melting fibres. but more often a low melt fibre or bicomponent fibre is introduced at the web formation stage to perform the binding function later in the process.
and can be combined with other materials to form complex laminates. flocked or dyed. Webs of different characteristics can be needled together to produce a gradation of properties difficult to achieve by other means. Textile course | Nonwoven 8 . or various mechanical processes can be applied to the nonwoven after binding. water repellent. Specially designed needles are pushed and pulled through the web to entangle the fibres. They can also. for example. flame retardant. Hydroentanglement is sometimes known as spunlacing. printed. absorbent and so on – the list is a very long one. Finishing Treatments There is an opportunity to meet the needs of the customer even more precisely by modifying or adding to existing properties. Hydroentanglement is mainly applied to carded or wetlaid webs and uses fine. high pressure jets of water to cause the fibres to interlace. be coated. breathable. but system design also plays a part. antistatic. A variety of different chemical substances can be employed before or after binding. porous. Nonwovens can be made conductive.Mechanical bonding (friction bonding) In mechanical bonding the strengthening of the web is achieved by inter-fibre friction as a result of the physical entanglement of the fibres. There are two types of mechanical bonding: needlepunching hydro-entanglement Needlepunching can be used on most fibre types. as the arrangement of jets can give a wide variety of aesthetically pleasing effects. The water jet pressure used has a direct bearing on the strength of the web.
Converting The nonwoven fabric is now complete and in a roll. sewing or heat sealing. In this way. folding. the quality. cutting. properties and size of the converted nonwoven products can be further tailored to the precise needs of the customer. Textile course | Nonwoven 9 . Converters can take it a stage nearer its final form by slitting. and the tasks to be performed in an impressively broad range of end-uses.