Non-Wovens Explained

Non-Wovens


Non-Woven Fabric is a fabric-like material made from staple fiber (short) and long fibers (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. Some non-woven materials lack sufficient strength unless densified or reinforced by a backing. In recent years, non-wovens have become an alternative to polyurethane foam.

 

Applications


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 or tufted porous sheets that are made directly from separate fibers, molten plastic or plastic film. They are not made by weaving or knitting and do not require converting the fibers to yarn. Typically, a certain percentage of recycled fabrics and oil-based materials are used in nonwoven fabrics.

The percentage of recycled fabrics vary 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 nonwovens 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:

Medical

  • isolation gowns
  • surgical gowns
  • surgical drapes and covers
  • surgical masks
  • surgical scrub suits
  • caps
  • medical packaging: porosity allows gas sterilization
  • gloves
  • shoe covers
  • bath wipes
  • wound dressings
  • drug delivery
  • plasters

 

Filters

  • gasoline, oil and air – including HEPA filtration
  • water, coffee, tea bags
  • pharmaceutical industry
  • mineral processing
  • liquid cartridge and bag filters
  • vacuum bags
  • allergen membranes or laminates with non woven layers

 

Geotextiles

  • soil stabilizers and roadway underlayment
  • foundation stabilizers
  • erosion control
  • canals construction
  • drainage systems
  • geomembrane protection
  • frost protection
  • pond and canal water barriers
  • sand infiltration barrier for drainage tile
  • landfill liners

 

Other

  • diaperstock, feminine hygiene, and other absorbent materials
  • carpet backing, primary and secondary
  • composites
    • marine sail laminates
    • tablecover laminates
    • chopped strand mat
  • backing/stabilizer for machine embroidery
  • packaging where porosity is needed
  • Shopping bags
  • insulation (fiberglass batting)
  • acoustic insulation for appliances, automotive components, and wall-paneling
  • pillows, cushions, mattress cores, and upholstery padding
  • batting in quilts or comforters
  • consumer and medical face masks
  • mailing envelopes
  • tarps, tenting and transportation (lumber, steel) wrapping
  • disposable clothing (foot coverings, coveralls)
  • weather resistant house wrap
  • cleanroom wipes
  • potting material for plants

 

They are more robust in handling as compared to their woven counterparts, and therefore were often preferred in large-scale erosion protection projects such as those at Amrumbank West; Narrow Neck, Queensland; Kliffende house on Sylt island, and the Eider Barrage. In the last case, only 10 bags out of 48,000 were damaged despite a high installation rate of 700 bags per day.