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Downgauging for nonwovens

Downgauging for nonwovens

Сase studies

“The hygiene market is highly cost-driven and increasingly environmentally conscious. This is why downgauging is becoming more important in product development,” says Christine Noack, Assistant Manager for R&D Projects at Reifenhäuser Reicofil GmbH. Downgauging means reducing the amount of raw materials used while maintaining the quality of a nonwoven. As a result, the weight per unit area decreases. A development that is progressing in many applications. Downgauging is made possible by developments on the raw material side - or by technological progress. One example of this is Reifenhäuser Reicofil's Bico technology, which combines two components in one filament, thereby enabling new product properties.

“With our Reicofil 5 Bico line, we have reduced the basis weight from 15 gsm to 12 gsm compared to mono-structure nonwovens,” reports Noack. Despite using less material, the product quality remains the same. After all, the nonwoven is just as tensile as before at 15 grams per square meter. This is an advantage for manufacturers of hygiene products such as diapers or incontinence products. Their products become thinner and lighter, but lose none of their barrier and strength.

Fine filament diameter, best spinning stability

This downgauging is ensured by a special filament structure with the finest filament diameter and the best spinning stability: in contrast to systems that produce nonwovens with a mono-structure, Bico technology combines two components. For example, Bico systems process PP in the core and PE in the sheath for core-sheath structures. However, Bico systems can also be used to produce spunbonded nonwovens based solely on PP, which in turn improves the recyclability of the material. “We have optimized temperature control and material usage in such a way that a strong PP core is surrounded by a PP sheath that is easy to bond,” explains Noack. This not only increases the tensile strength, but also saves plastic.

 The use of a Reicofil 5 bico line therefore has many advantages for nonwovens manufacturers:

  • Less use of raw materials: Up to 20 percent less raw material is required to produce one square meter of nonwoven fabric, which is less than ever before. Despite Bico technology, the manufacturer only needs PP as a component, without having to resort to PE or additives. Any rejects can easily be fed back into the process through recycling. The system can be operated with less loss and therefore more productively.
  • Lower production costs: The main cost driver in the production of spunbonded nonwovens is the use of materials. The reduced use of raw materials therefore also significantly reduces costs. The high energy efficiency of Reicofil 5 technology also has a positive effect on production costs.
  • Better CO2 footprint: Thanks to the lower use of raw materials and the high energy efficiency in the manufacturing process, RF5 Bico technology reduces the product carbon footprint by almost 30 percent compared to standard nonwovens. In addition, the reduced amount of petroleum-based raw materials appeals to sustainability-conscious consumers. By using bio-based PP, manufacturers can even achieve a neutral product carbon footprint.

Alternative 1: Reduced basis weight.The Reicofil 5-Bico technology reduces the basis weight of the nonwoven produced by 20 percent while maintaining the same performance.

Alternative 2: Faster production process. By increasing the strength of the fibers, the production speed of the system can be increased by up to 20 percent as a further option.

Manufacturers of nonwovens therefore significantly increase the performance of the material with Reicofil 5-Bico. The desired functions are retained despite the lower basis weight. “And that is the most important message for brand owners,” says Noack. “With the nonwovens produced with Reifocil 5-Bico, they get a top product that is just as efficient per square meter as before with less material.” The main reason for this is the switch from mono to Bico technology, which can often be retrofitted to existing Reifenhäuser Reicofil spunbond lines. Noack concludes: “The product or production optimization achieved enables our customers to remain successful in the market and expand their portfolio.”


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