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1. Introduction FibersarethebasicelementofNonwovens.ManufacturersofNonwovensproductscanmakeuseofalmostanykindoffibers. Theseincludetraditionaltextilefibers,aswellasrecentlydevelopedhitechfibers.Theselectionofrawfibers,toconsiderable degree, determines the properties of the final nonwoven products. The selection of fibers also depend on customer requirement,cost, processability,changes ofpropertiesbecauseofwebformationandconsolidation.Thefiberscanbeinthe form offilament, staple fiber or even yarn. The following table shows the significant fibers used in the Nonwovens industry all overtheworld. Table1FibersusedinNonwovenindustry
TRADITIONALTEXTILEFIBERS HITECHFIBERS PET Aramid(Nomex/Kevlar) Polyolefin(PP/PE) ConductiveNylon Nylon Cotton Rayon Bicomponent(sidebyside, sheathcore, segmented pie and seaisland) Melamine(heat&flameresistant) Superabsorbent Hollowfibers Spandexfibers(polyether) FusiblecoPETfiber PA6support/matrixfiber Glassmicrofiber Chlorofiber Antibacterialfiber Stainlesssteel Rubberthread PTFE Nanofibers

Lyocell Modacrylic

Although there are several natural fibers available for nonwovens, wood pulp which is far shorter in length than the conventionaltextilefibersistheonlynaturalfiberusedinverylargeamountsbecauseofitshighwaterabsorbency,bulkand low cost. Cotton has excellent inherent properties for nonwovens fabrication. Viscose rayon has been widely used in the nonwovens industry in the area of disposables and sanitary products. Rayon fibers can be easily made into webs and readily bonded into nonwovens fabrics. All these cellulosics such as cotton, rayon and acetate are absorbent, act as carriers for microbialagents,andgivestrengthcombinedwithbiodegradability[1].Amongthesyntheticfiberpolypropylene(PP)iswidely used. PP is inexpensive and has very good rheological characteristics to form fine fibers. PP fibers are hydrophobic, voluminous, and thermoplastic in nature. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is used where strength and mechanical properties are of prime importance. Nylon fibers are used for their excellent recovery (resiliency) properties. Bicomponent fibers with different polymers in the core and sheath are widely used in thermally bonded nonwovens [2]. Recent developments in bi

component fiber structure include segmented pie, islands in sea structures.Fiber requirements for nonwovens depend on the product being produced and the fabrication process being used. Since each process leads to a different range of fabric properties,allavailablefiberscannotbeusedequallywellinallnonwovenprocesses. With nonwovens products successfully moving into more technical enduses, the fiber requirements have also become more exacting with regard to the fiber properties. The cooperation between fiber supplier and fabric producers is now seen as importantcriteriaforadditionaladvancementstocomeaboutinthenonwovensfield. Although a large number of fibers are available, commercially important nonwoven fabrics have been limited to relatively few types,thedominantfibersincludepolyolefins,polyester,andrayon.Thesethreefibertypesmadeupasubstantialpartofthe overall nonwovens markets for fibers. The increasing importance of olefinbased fibers is well illustrated by data from major nonwovensproducing regions that show increasing shipments of PP and PE at the expense of some natural fibers, rayon and polyester [3]. Much of this shift in fiber consumption can be attributed to the growing use of olefinbased nonwovens in absorbentproductsaroundtheworld. Rayon was a major fiber used in the nonwovens industry until 1985 [4]. Over the past decade, production of rayon has decreased considerably in theUSandWestern Europebecause of the increasing cost of the fiber. Since cost of PP and PET dropped compared to that of rayon, and yet they provide superior strength there was big drop in 1989, after which the shipment of rayon staple kept declining slowly. Nonwovens made of rayon are mainly found in medical/surgical/sanitary products and wipes. The cleanliness and absorptive properties made rayon popular in these fields. Similarly, cotton is the preferred fiber in tampon and incontinence products. Its consumption is stable at 4045 million pounds. Nylon, which is more expensivethanmostotherfibers,isusedinalesserextent.Theother"specialfibers"listedintable1hasonlyalimitedmarket share,probablynomorethan15percentofthewholeNonwovensmarket. 2. US CONSUMPTION The North American nonwovens industry is the largest in the world and accounts for just under a third of the worldwide sales of roll goods around $2.8 billion in 1997, according to estimates from the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (INDA). This is up by 17% from its 1992 value. Table 2 from the Fiber Economics Bureau shows that the increase in shipments ofstaplefiberfornonwovenswasledbyolefinfibers,dominatedbypolypropylene,whichfurthercementeditsdominationof shipments in 1998. Polyester staple fiber shipments were also up slightly from 1997 to 1998. Rayon shipments increased slightly in 1998, but their share of overall fiber consumption continued to be the same. The figures for rayon may have been affectedbyariseinrayonpriceswhilepolyesterandolefinpricesgenerallyfellin1998,buthistoricalfiguresshowalongterm pattern of decline in rayon consumption. In 1989, rayon staple shipments for nonwovens were almost 100 million lb, almost doubletheir1998level[5].

YEAR 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 RAYON 98(17) 72(13) 70(12) 70(12) 70(11) 64(10) 60(10) 57(9) 58(9) 60(9) 64(8) POLYESTER 272(48) 240(44) 237(41) 244(43) 263(43) 280(45) 280(46) 285(45) 285(43) 292(42) 276(35) OLEFIN 195(35) 233(43) 272(47) 259(45) 276(46) 280(45) 267(44) 295(46) 314(48) 339(49) 434(57) TOTAL 565 545 579 573 609 624 607 637 657 691 774

Source: US Fiber Economics Bureau

Fig.1:USproducersshipmentsstapletononwovens Olefinstaple,becamethedominantfiberinthenonwovensbusinessin1996.Inthelatestfiguresolefinhad49%ofsaleswhile polyesters share of the business dropped to 57%. The balance of 9% each year represented the estimated rayon staple sales. Looking back over the 10year period covered by Table 3, the increase in olefin market share at the expense of polyester and rayon has been striking. Ten years ago, olefins participation in the business was a mere 35% compared with 65% for the two competitivefibers.Sincethen,asnotedabove,olefinhasrisentoover49%withpolyesterandrayondroppingto51%.

InWesternEurope,thethreemajorfibersaccountedfornearly70%ofstaplefiberconsumptionbythenonwovensindustryin 1997.TotalWesternEuropeannonwovensproductionincreased11%in1997toreachalmost760,000tonesalmostdoubling the 6% growth in 1996 according to annual figures published by the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (EDANA). Output of the 15 European Union countries plusNorwayandSwitzerlandis forecast to top 800,000 tones in 1998, and could reach as much as 820,000 tones. Turnover of the nonwovens industry inWestern Europewas estimated by EDANA to be 3 billion ECU in 1997. Although overall use of polypropylene in nonwovens increased over 10% from 1996 to 1997, the fastest rising market has been in spunmelt applications, where PP accounts for 61% of polymer granule consumption. PP staple fiber consumption inEuropeincreased less than 1% in 1997, and it accounted for only around 41% of staple fiber used

in drylaid nonwovens. By comparison, polyester staple consumption increased almost 5% and rayon by 8% for drylaid nonwovens in 1997, respectively. The use of natural fibers other than wood pulp hardly grew in 1997, and cotton in particular isnotawidelyusedfiberintheregion. Major global producers account for more than 75% of all roll goods production. USowned firms, such as Dupont, PGI, KimberlyClark,JohnsManville,Ahlstrom,Lydoce,FossandSyntheticIndustries,andtheEuropeangiantssuchasFreudenberg, BBAGroup,BPAmoco,FibretexandPegas,stillleadingtheglobalmarket.[6] Table3:EUfiber/polymershipmentsfornonwovens(1000tones)

1996 PP polymer PP staple Polyester polymer Polyester staple Wood pulp Rayon Bi-component Polyamide Other man-made Natural fibers Other materials Total 181.2 153.7 64.8 68.1 80.0 59.0 33.2 13.5 33.5 13.1 6.5 706.6

1997 215.4 154.5 77.9 72.8 75.3 67.3 29.1 12.5 54.7 13.4 8.6 781.6

Source: EDANA

Fig. 2: EU fiber shipments for nonwovens (1000 tones) Source: EDANA

Table 4: Nonwoven Production in thousand tones in West Europe [6].

YEAR 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 PRODUCTION IN 1000 TONES 646 684 759 836 910 1026 1070 1116

Fig. 3: World Production in 2002[6]

Table 5 World Production of Nonwovens in thousand tones in 2002

COUNTRY W.Europe U.S China Japan Other ANFA Members countries Other PRODUCTION IN THOUSAND TONES 1208 1074 478 296 245 620

Fig. 4: World production of nonwovens in 2002 (1000 tones) 4.PRESENTANDFUTUREFIBERREQUIREMENTS TheNonwoventextileindustryhasmadedramatictechnicalandcommercialprogressinrecentyears.Worldwideconsumption of nonwovens by 2007 is likely to reach 4.0 million tons. Production of Nonwovens is still concentrated in theUSA(41% of world total) West Europe (30%) andJapan(8%) andChinaproduces 3.5%. By 2007,Chinawill produce 7% of the worlds total.Worldconsumptionoffibersinnonwovenproductionis63%polypropylene,23%polyester,8%viscoserayon,2%acrylic, 1.5% polyamide and 3% other high performance fibers.Future advancements will be in bicomponent fibers, micro fibers (split bicomponent fibers or meltblown non wovens), nano fibers, biodegradable fibers, superabsorbent fibers and high performance fibers. Also there will be more technological innovations such as 1) new, more efficient and economical processing technologies, 2) direct polymer to roll goods, 3) use of new types of composite nonwovens and laminates, and 4) newfinishingtechniquesandnoveladditives.[8]
REFERENCES 1. WilliamC.Smith,"NonwovensContinuetoMoveAhead",TextileWorld,Nov.5962(1999).
2. VasanthNarayanan,etal.,NonwovenTextiles,EncyclopediaofChemicalProcessingandDesign,Vol.57,pp.166183,1996. 3. RichardW.Mason,"DecadesLater,PolyesterForgesNewImage",TextileWorld,5660(1999). 4. RichardG.Mansfield,"TheStructureoftheU.S.FibersBusiness",ATAPPIPressanthologyofPublishedpapers,pp15,19851999. 5. DavidHarrison,"ShipmentsofFiberstoNonwovensReportedfor1998",NonwovensIndustry,5253(June1999). 6. DavidHarrison,"ShipmentsofFiberstoNonwovensReportedfor1998",NonwovensIndustry,5253(June1999). 7. RichardG.Mansfield,"TheStructureoftheU.S.FibersBusiness",ATAPPIPressanthologyofPublishedpapers,pp15,19851999. 8. DavidRigbyAssociates,MarketforTechnicalFibers:SOMEWINNERSANDLOSERS. 9. 10.