Tuesday, August 5, 2008

[ Technical Textiles - Fiber World 4 cont'd ]

Green's Growing Importance.
Tracey Campbell, manager, market development, at Chapel Hill, N.C.-based American Fibers and Yarns Co. (AF&Y), reports progress with the company's Innova® polypropylene fiber. The fiber's primary markets are in athletic and outdoor apparel, mattress ticking, blankets, residential upholstery, and indoor and outdoor upholstery - particularly where inherent performance, low environmental footprint and a recycling program resonate. The fiber has a McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certification. Architect William McDonough and Dr. Michael Braungart founded MBDC, Charlottesville, Va., in 1995 to promote and shape what they call the "Next Industrial Revolution" through the introduction of a new design paradigm called C2C Design and the implementation of eco-effective design principles. AF&Y's certification followed an assessment for all raw components that make up its polypropylene yarns, and the evaluation included a comprehensive analysis of resin, pigment and additive concentrate formulations, as well as all finish ingredients. Greensboro, N.C.-based Unifi Inc. also is focused on green. According to Roger Berrier, executive vice president, Repreve® polyester was introduced at the Outdoor Retailer (OR) Summer Market 2006 and has been in production for almost two years. Unifi will be launching Repreve nylon this August at the OR Summer Market. Repreve nylon, like Repreve polyester, is a first-quality yarn made from 100-percent recycled materials. Repreve nylon fabrics will be available through partnerships with Greensboro-based International Textile Group Inc. and Cleveland, Tenn.-based United Knitting during the OR Show (See " Textile World News," this issue). "The primary benefit of developing eco-friendly products like Repreve is to the environment," Berrier said. "The production of 100-percent recycled Repreve yarns reduces energy consumption and conserves petroleum resources by offsetting the need to produce virgin polyester and nylon yarns. From crude oil refining to yarn texturing, a significant amount of energy is used during the production process. On average, every pound of Repreve manufactured conserves the equivalent of a half gallon of gasoline. This year alone, Repreve is estimated to conserve the equivalent of 6 million gallons of gasoline." Susan McGreal, global sales and marketing manager of Duluth, Ga.-based FiberVisions Inc., reports CoolVisions® dyeable polypropylene staple fiber is currently manufactured in Covington, Ga., with future plans to make the product at the FiberVisions Suzhou, China, plant. She adds there are no concerns about production capacity. McGreal pointed out that CoolVisions is dyeable, unlike most polypropylene. "Any customer desiring all-in-one fiber/fabric performance would benefit from CoolVisions dyeable polypropylene," she said. "CoolVisions offers manufacturers lean production, faster cycle times and better margins. A wider range of colors including seasonal fashion colors are now available without having to purchase the large minimums required for specialty colors in solution-dyed product. Dyeable greige goods will facilitate significant improvement in production times and speed to market. The cost associated with inventory for low-volume, slow-moving and obsolete solution-dyed colors is eliminated." Premiere Fibers, Ansonville, N.C., manufactures nylon 6 and nylon 6,6 solution-dyed partially oriented and fully drawn yarns. President John Amirtharaj spoke of the company's advantage in green processing compared to non-solution-dyed products. "Melt pigmented yarns do not create any effluent," Amirtharaj said. "Additional chemicals such as carriers, leveling agents and wetting agents can be totally avoided. Fastness with reference to lightfastness and washfastness can be better. Premiere Fibers also offers amazing color capabilities. We customize our fibers through a unique solution-dyeing process. With Premiere Fibers, the color is literally part of the fiber - it is not added after the fact. This process ensures the color is stronger and lasts much longer." Amirtharaj also said antimicrobial benefits can be added during the process. He listed target customers including performance apparel, performance hosiery, industrial and the military. "We are doing what we can do to make sure our products and processes operate using low energy and are not harmful to the environment," Amirtharaj said. "We continue to work on being environmental stewards, and our commitment to that end will remain." Bristol, Va.-based Universal Fibers Inc. has expanded its post-consumer recycled nylon 6,6 fiber color palette to include 27 new colors. Universal first produced nylon 6,6 from recycled carpet last year - the first company in the industry to do so. "We started with just black in post-consumer, then within a few months, we were able to offer six core colors," said Bill Goodman, vice president of sales and marketing. "Now we are able to offer 27 solution-dyed colors for post-consumer fiber. It's very exciting." The company stated that it has made technological advances that offer lot-to-lot consistency. Jeremy Ford, vice president, business development, Brownsville, Texas-based JBM Fibers Inc., reports JBM's ValueFiber Series of polyester/cotton shoddy fiber products is being used in multiple industrial applications including automotive, acoustical, filtration, padding, furniture and other applications primarily by nonwovens manufacturers with applications that can be supported by shoddy fiber products. "Key sourcing access to raw materials because of our close proximity to cut-and-sew operations in Mexico allows JBM to operate under a lower cost structure and thus allows us to pass along savings to our customers," Ford said. "In addition, state-of-the-art upgrades to our production facilities, including metal detection, dust extraction and inventory management systems, give us a superior efficiency and quality control." According to the company, current production capacity is more than 4 million pounds per month. Technical And Flexible. Sumter, SC-based EMS-Chemie (North America) Inc. has been producing polyamide (PA) and PA bonding fibers for more than 30 years. End-uses include paper machine clothing, filtration and battery separators. Vice President/Business Leader Sid Outlaw told Textile World that EMS Fibers include Grilon® TM 5040, a high-viscosity PA fiber; Grilon BA 140, a bicomponent PA fiber with a PA 6 core and a low melt sheath that melts at 140°C; Grilon BA 115, a bicomponent PA fiber with a PA 6 core and a low melt sheath that melts at 115°C; Grilon KA 140, a monocomponent PA fiber with a melting point of 140°C; and Grilon TM 5100, a PA 6 flat fiber. According to Outlaw, fibers are tailored to fit the specific application, and special production runs are possible. High-Strength Polyester Fort Mill, S.C.-based Kuraray America Inc.'s Vectran® high-tenacity aromatic polyester has targeted industrial applications in which Vectran can offer solutions through its unique properties. The fiber is marketed around the world in 50 segments. The company targets customers that consider a fiber's longevity and durability in the cost-performance analysis. With the expansion of its fiber manufacturing facility in Japan, Kuraray increased capacity for Vectran by 40 percent to 1,000 metric tons per year. The company also plans to add capacity in Fort Mill. Primary markets include ropes, cables/umbilicals, industrial fabrics and cut protection. "Vectran fiber is ideally suited to technical applications requiring high strength, high modulus and dimensional stability," said Dr. Forrest E. Sloan, manager, international marketing. "Vectran fiber's key benefits are negligible moisture uptake, extremely low creep, high abrasion and cutting resistance, and flex fatigue resistance. "Aramids are nylon-based and, as such, have a high equilibrium moisture content. Vectran fiber is polyester-based and shows little to no moisture uptake. Vectran is up to 20 percent stronger than aramids and offers 10 to 100 times better flex fatigue resistance," Sloan said. Vectran HT now is offered in solution-dyed colors, such as blue, green and orange. Robert Grueneberg, global marketing director, sewing thread, Richmond, Va.-based Performance Fibers, explained that his company's high-tenacity multifilament polyester yarn is used for core yarns and continuous filament yarns used in high-quality sewing thread, embroidery yarn and other specialty applications. Other competitive offerings include standard yarns, core yarns, filament yarns and other polymer-based yarns, such as PA. "Performance Fibers brings a long history of expertise in manufacturing sewing thread yarns that dates back more than 25 years from the former Invista Resins & Fibers GmbH's Germany-based polyester yarn business that it acquired in 2006," Grueneberg said. "The yarns are produced in Europe and the United States to meet global demand. Performance Fibers offers a wide range of low-shrink products in all deniers. Other benefits include its good dyeability and abrasion resistance as well as high strength and tenacity." Recent developments include a new spun-dyed yarn for sewing thread that is high-strength, colorfast and fade-resistant. Cost Challenges Today's fibers and yarns offer a vast variety of design options for creating innovative products - but challenges still remain. Rising energy and petrochemical costs are shocking the entire supply chain. One bright spot is that neither performance fibers nor the products created from them are commodities, and maybe there is more room to absorb and even pass through some of the cost hikes. In textiles, it may just be one of the few areas where performance, price and value can endure the current drastic changes in the marketplace and provide opportunities for success.

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