Simply put, nonwovens have opened doors of opportunity for everyday convenience that would have been the stuff of dreams or wild imagination not too long ago.
Nonwoven fabric is a fabric-like material made from staple fibre (short) and long fibres (continuous long), bonded together by chemical, mechanical, heat or solvent treatment. The term is used in the textile manufacturing industry to denote fabrics, such as felt, which are neither woven nor knitted.
Non-woven fabrics contain no interwoven strands but do have an organized internal structure. These fabrics are made by placing fibers together, then using heat, chemicals, or pressure to combine them into a cohesive fabric-like material. They are essentially the result of the relationship between one single fiber and another.
Typically, a certain percentage of recycled fabrics and oil-based materials are used in nonwoven fabrics. The percentage of recycled fabrics varies based upon the strength of material needed for the specific use.
In addition, some nonwoven fabrics can be recycled after use, given the proper treatment and facilities. For this reason, some consider non-woven a more ecological fabric for certain applications, especially in fields and industries where disposable or single use products are important, such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes and luxury accommodations.
Nonwoven fabrics are engineered fabrics that may be single-use, have a limited life, or be very durable. Nonwoven fabrics provide specific functions such as absorbency, liquid repellence, resilience, stretch, softness, strength, flame retardancy, washability, cushioning, thermal insulation, acoustic insulation, filtration, use as a bacterial barrier 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. In combination with other materials they provide a spectrum of products with diverse properties, and are used alone or as components of apparel, home furnishings, health care, engineering, industrial and consumer goods.
Non-woven materials are used in numerous applications, including:
There are different non-woven fabric mainly defined by the method that the fibers are
Air-laid nonwovens can also be called the dustless paper or dry paper nonwovens. It uses the air-laid technology to open the wood pulp fiberboard into a single fiber state, then uses the airflow method to make the fiber agglomerate on the net curtain, and then consolidates the fiber web into cloth.
Air-laid paper is a textile-like material categorized as a nonwoven fabric made from wood pulp. Unlike the normal papermaking process, air-laid paper does not use water as the carrying medium for the fiber. Fibers are carried and formed to the structure of paper by air.
Spunlaid, also called spunbond, nonwovens are made in one continuous process. Fibers are spun and then directly dispersed into a web by deflectors or can be directed with air streams. This technique leads to faster belt speeds, and cheaper costs. Several variants of this concept are available, such as the REICOFIL machinery. PP spunbonds run faster and at lower temperatures than PET spunbonds, mostly due to the difference in melting points
Spunbond has been combined with melt-blown nonwovens, conforming them into a layered product called SMS (spun-melt-spun). Melt-blown nonwovens have extremely fine fiber diameters but are not strong fabrics. SMS fabrics, made completely from PP are water-repellent and fine enough to serve as disposable fabrics. Melt-blown is often used as filter media, being able to capture very fine particles. Spunlaid is bonded by either resin or thermally. Regarding the bonding of Spunlaid, Rieter has launched a new generation of nonwovens called Spunjet. In fact, Spunjet is the bonding of the Spunlaid filaments thanks to the hydroentanglement.
Melt-blown nonwoven fabric is manufactured by extruding melted polymer fiber through a linear die containing several hundred small holes to form long thin fibers which are stretched and cooled by passing hot air as they fall from the linear die, then the resultant web is blown onto a collector screen forming fined-filtered, self-bond nonwovens. Usually, this type of nonwoven fabric is added to spunbond in order to form SM or SMS webs
Staple nonwovens are made in 4 steps. Fibers are first spun, cut to a few centimeters length, and put into bales. The staple fibers are then blended, “opened” in a multistep process, dispersed on a conveyor belt, and spread in a uniform web by a wetlaid, airlaid, or carding/crosslapping process. Wetlaid operations typically use 0.25 to 0.75 in (0.64 to 1.91 cm) long fibers, but sometimes longer if the fiber is stiff or thick. Airlaid processing generally uses 0.5 to 4.0 in (1.3 to 10.2 cm) fibers. Carding operations typically use ~1.5″ (3.8 cm) long fibers. Rayon used to be a common fiber in nonwovens, now greatly replaced by polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene. Fiberglass is wetlaid into mats for use in roofing and shingles. Synthetic fiber blends are wetlaid along with cellulose for single-use fabrics. Staple nonwovens are bonded either thermally or by using resin. Bonding can be throughout the web by resin saturation or overall thermal bonding or in a distinct pattern via resin printing or thermal spot bonding. Conforming with staple fibers usually refers to a combination with melt blowing, often used in high-end textile insulations.
Both staple and spunlaid nonwovens would have no mechanical resistance in and of themselves, without the bonding step. Several methods can be used:
Nonwovens can also start with films and fibrillate, serrate or vacuum-form them with patterned holes. Fiberglass nonwovens are of two basic types. Wet laid mat or “glass tissue” use wet-chopped, heavy denier fibers in the 6 to 20 micrometre diameter range. Flame attenuated mats or “batts” use discontinuous fine denier fibers in the 0.1 to 6 range. The latter is similar, though run at much higher temperatures, to melt-blown thermoplastic nonwovens. Wet laid mat is almost always wet resin bonded with a curtain coater, while batts are usually spray bonded with wet or dry resin. An unusual process produces polyethylene fibrils in a Freon-like fluid, forming them into a paper-like product and then calendering them to create Tyvek.
Besides, Filler Masterbatch PP base also is used in nonwoven fabric production to reduce the cost. Color masterbatch sometimes is mixed in this process to make end product more colorful.