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Techtextil Focus | November 2019

We offer 3 mature technologies for sustainable products: Wolpers

India managed to adopt spunbonding technology very fast in the beginning of the decade, and Truetzschler Nonwovens is confident that it will be a likewise development for spunlaced nonwovens.

The companies of Truetzschler Nonwovens & Man-Made Fibers are members of the well-known German Truetzschler group. Truetzschler Nonwovens is a leading supplier of machinery and know-how for the production of fibre-based, especially carded, nonwovens. It is leader in supplying complete production lines as well as single components for fibre opening and blending, web forming and bonding as well as drying, finishing and winding. The company has decades of experience in machinery development and manufacturing and thus turned into an expert in processing a broad range of both natural and man-made fibres. Truetzschler solutions for spunlacing, thermo- and chemical bonding processes are used worldwide for making wipes, hygiene products, cotton pads, coating substrates, filter materials and various other technical end-products.

Marc Wolpers, Sales Director, Truetzschler Nonwovens & Man-Made Fibers GmbH, started his career in 1995 as Sales Engineer at Temafa Maschinenfabrik GmbH, which belongs to Dilo group. Since early 2005, Wolpers has been working for the Truetzschler Group. He started as Sales Engineer responsible for nonwoven machinery at the headquarters in Mönchengladbach, and after the acquisition of Erko GmbH and Fleissner GmbH 2006, he became the Sales Director for the Truetzschler Nonwovens division, with its worldwide presence. Marc Wolpers speaks on the global and domestic scenario of nonwovens and the role of sustainability.

Please give us brief information on the overall nonwovens market globally and how is it shaping up.

Since more than a decade global nonwovens production showed an annual average growth rate of just more than 6 per cent and thus is one of the fastest growing textile segments. The reason for nonwovens’ historical success and good prospects – almost 5 per cent growth per year - for the next five years are twofold: first of all, more and more people earn enough money to go for single-use products such as diapers and wipes. On the other hand, technological developments and new fibre materials again and again open up doors to new durable and disposable products.

But in nonwovens production and consumption, growth is linked to GDP development. People buy less textiles when personal income decreases. A world recession will most certainly dampen growth.

Can you give your assessment of the present Indian nonwovens market and do you see it growing in the coming years?

India is a promising country for nonwovens. Since the last decade the production of roll goods grew from roughly 150000 tons in 2008 to more than 450000 tonnes in 2018. The dominating types are needle-punched and spunbond fabrics. Spunlaced and thermobonded nonwovens are low but with a population size similar to China there is a huge potential for both technologies. More and more Indians will be able to afford disposable products, and the first major players already had invested in spunlacing lines - but it will take time to develop the domestic market.

To what extent does sustainability play a role in the development of spunlace and wetlaid nonwovens?

Everywhere governments and consumers start talking about the negative impacts of plastic products. Especially single-use items – such as plastic bags, straws, caps etc. – are under close scrutiny. And many nonwovens products, disposable diapers for instance, include a high amount of plastic fibres such as polyester, polypropylene and polyethylene.

Truetzschler Nonwovens thinks it is time to talk about sustainable nonwovens wherever possible. Sustainable dry and wet wipes for instance. Wipes can be made from natural, viscose or wood pulp fibres – so they will biodegrade after use and come from renewable resources. Truetzschler offers three mature and cost-efficient core technologies – carding/spunlacing, carding / airlaid / spunlacing and wet-laying / spunlacing for producing sustainable top-class products.

Is the nonwovens market gradually shifting to natural fibres?

Last year, some 15 million tonnes of nonwovens were produced worldwide and demand will grow further. The biggest share is taken by synthetic fibres while natural fibres including wood pulp account for less than 10 per cent. The small amount of cotton and other natural fibres can be explained by the price gap – usually synthetic fibres cost less than cotton, hemp or jute – and by fibre properties. Many durable nonwoven end products – for example geo- or automotive textiles – have a long service life and should not decay over time. So synthetic fibres are the best choice for these end uses. But we see the need to use more natural, biodegradable fibre materials for disposable products such as wipes.

In the backdrop of the Indian government’s efforts to support technical textiles and nonwovens, which of the nonwovens products according to you hold promise?

We see growth in almost every durable and disposable application. The industry will more and more rely on home-made nonwovens for building houses, automobiles and other industrial products. The Indian middle class increases in size and demand for nonwoven products will grow likewise. Absorbent hygiene products such as baby diapers and femcare are promising segments as are single-use baby, personal care and household wipes.

What are the new developments in technology at Truetzschler nonwovens and how can the Indian market get benefitted by it?

Our main field of business, complete lines and components for staple fibre-based nonwovens has a great advantage for newcomers because all are mature technologies. Truetzschler Nonwovens equipped producers all over the world with machinery for making high-quality nonwovens to be used as wipes and cosmetic pads, hygiene and medical products, filtration media and various technical applications.

One of our latest top sellers are reliable and cost-effective production processes for carded- spunlaced nonwovens made from cotton, other natural and various cellulosic fibres. In cooperation with German company Voith, Truetzschler Nonwovens is able to supply a wet-laying and spunlacing line based on proven concepts and already running at a handful of customer sites.

What is your take on the Indian hygiene market and do you see it growing due to some growth drivers?

When consumers earn enough money, one of the first nonwovens products to benefit are disposable baby diapers. They simply save a lot of time and parents enjoy a good night’s sleep. This was the pattern in North America, in Europe and lately in China and South-East Asia. We think this situation will repeat in India.

For the hygiene sector, Trutzschler offers flexible through-air and chemical bonding lines for the top sheet and ADL layers in diapers. Both materials, the highly functional ADL as well as the through-air bonded, super soft top sheet target quality-conscious customers in India and abroad.

Which are the factors according to you which are restricting the investments in nonwovens capacity building in India?

Making good nonwovens is not only about buying good machinery. Proven machines help, but success comes with efficient processes, a knowledgeable staff and a reliable network of customers and suppliers. Since a line consists of several machines in line, chances are that they go out of synch repeatedly. Then people are needed to alter machine settings fast to regain quality and quantity again. A medium capacity spunlacing line running 24x7 with a working width of 3.60 m produces more than 12,000 tonnes of nonwovens per year. So a bunch of constantly buying roll-good customers is essential. India is a newcomer to carded- and wet-laid spunlacing. This might be a hindrance for investments because of the reasons stated above. India managed to adopt spunbonding technology very fast in the beginning of the decade, and so we are confident that it will be a likewise development for spunlaced nonwovens.

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