Lenzing - Lenzing has announced the start up of a new €26 million technology platform which, with a focus on sustainable nonwoven products, could open up new market opportunities across the industry.
Following several years of research and development, the launch of the Lenzing Web Technology, platform has culminated with a commissioning phase for a one-metre wide pilot facility located at their headquarters in Lenzing, Austria.
Currently, Lenzing notes, most nonwoven products are made with synthetic fibres such as polyester or polypropylene, which take hundreds of years to decompose.
With Lenzing Web Technology, absorbent nonwoven fabrics with botanic origin will be manufactured using an environmentally responsible production process. The nonwoven fabrics produced in 15gsm to 80gsm basis weights with a wide range of surface textures and drapability properties will also be certified biodegradable, clean and safe, the company says.
Essentially, the technology involves a nonwoven web formation process that starts with botanic wood pulp and produces a nonwoven fabric made of 100 per cent continuous Lyocell filament. This web can be integrated with standard non-thermal based nonwoven bonding technologies, such as hydroentangling and needlepunching. In addition, the patented technology uses a self-bonding mechanism where filaments bond into a fabric during the laydown process. This self-bonding mechanism enables a product range with a much wider variety of surface textures, drapability and dimensional stability than other nonwoven technologies utilizing 100 per cent cellulosic fibers.
“While the nonwoven segment currently represents 30 per cent of our core business, we are committed to driving stronger growth through more active involvement in innovations across the value chain," said Stefan Doboczky, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Management Board of the Lenzing Group.
"Lenzing Web Technology is a key milestone that embodies our focus on specialty products under our corporate strategy sCore TEN. We will continue to lead the innovation of sustainable specialty products and empower industry partners and customers with more sustainable offerings to drive business success.”
It is hoped that the new program will serve as a platform technology for a wide range of future products for the nonwoven industry.
“The Lenzing Web Technology is a perfect example of Lenzing’s strategic growth and its commitment to developing new break through innovations, by providing more sustainable products to consumers," said Robert van de Kerkhof, Chief Commercial Officer of Lenzing AG. "We will continue our quest to address consumers’ changing awareness about single-use products, and proactively take part in our customers’ journey to success through technology innovation and sustainable cellulosic products.”
It is also hoped that the flexibility of the technology and the possible integration with other nonwoven and textile technologies will enable the development of a wide range of composite structures for highly engineered end use applications.
As Wolfgang Plasser, vice president of Global Business Management Nonwovens at Lenzing notes, given the nonwoven fabric market size is expected to reach close to US$35 billion in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.5 per cent per year over that period, it is crucial to support eco-responsible development of the nonwoven industry by using sustainable raw materials. "Consumers have become more aware of the negative impact of plastics in waterways and marine ecosystems," Plasser said. "It is therefore incumbent upon the disposable products industry to step up and address such concerns. We envision that our new Lenzing Web Technology will enable the value chain to create more innovative applications out of natural, biodegradable cellulose materials."