Aquapak’s innovative technology creates polyvinyl alcohol which can be thermally processed. Because of our success with technologies such as blown film and extrusion coating, Aquapak is now expanding the use of Hydropol into melt spun staple fibres and spunmelt filaments for the production of nonwovens.
But what are nonwovens?
Nonwovens are defined as follows: “A nonwoven is an engineered fibrous assembly, primarily planar, which has been given a designed level of structural integrity by physical and/ or chemical means, excluding weaving, knitting or paper making.”
The yarn spinning stage is not required and fibre bonding, by various methods, replaces knitting and weaving. Nonwoven production involves the following steps: 1) web formation, and 2) web bonding.
Nonwovens are engineered to provide a diverse range specific functions, and because of this they are used in a wide range of industrial, engineering, consumer and healthcare goods. They are used in every aspect of daily life, typical applications include:
At laboratory scale, Hydropol fibres have been successfully manufactured via melt spinning; resin pellet is fed into an extruder and melted via heat. The polymer melt is pumped through a spinneret, which is a metal die block that contains multiple holes. The extruded polymer is quenched and solidified into filaments.
The filaments have been crimped and cut to various lengths in order to investigate web formation and bonding compatibility. Nonwoven webs have been produced using carding, airlaid and wetlaid processes. These webs have also been bonded using thermal bonding (through-air and calender), chemical bonding, hydroentanglement and needlepunching.
Historically, spunmelt nonwovens based on polyvinyl alcohol have been unfeasible, until now. Hydropol technology has enabled the production of meltblown and spunbond nonwovens. These technologies produce nonwovens directly from polymer pellets. The extruded filaments are deposited on a conveyor belt to form a uniform web. Both meltblown and spunbond fabrics have been manufactured at laboratory scale. This creates unique opportunities for the efficient production of durable nonwovens with unrivalled end of life options.
As a result, we are now in the process of optimising Hydropol formulations and fibre specifications for a wide range of single use and durable nonwoven applications, whilst also investigating synergistic effects with biopolymer and cellulosic materials. Examples include flushable wet wipes and protective medical apparel.
We welcome enquiries from companies and organisations who are interested in partnering this development. Please contact us for more details.