Index 17 Judged a Success by Visitors and Exhibitors

Index 17 award winners

By Geoff Fisher, European Editor

One of the biggest ever global nonwovens exhibitions took place in April in Geneva, Switzerland, with visitors and exhibitors alike declaring it an all-round success.

“With worldwide representation from across the nonwovens and related industries, displaying a diverse range of products and services, Index once again delivered on its promise to serve as a ‘global meeting point’ for the industry,” the organizers stated.

A total of 12,758 visitors were recorded at Index 17, an increase of more than 2% on the 2014 edition. The event featured 666 exhibitors, up 13%, from 41 countries on nearly 24,000 m2 of stand space.

With the growth of the Middle East as a nonwovens production center, particularly with the current low price of oil, there was clear evidence of an increase in participation from this region, as well as inevitably from China.

The triennial trade show included a wide variety of presentations, demonstrations and tutorials, with afternoon seminars on transportation, medical and geotextile nonwovens highlighting sectors other than disposables, which has tended to dominate the exhibition; these proved to be a popular new feature, with several editions offering standing room only.

“With more exhibitors and visitors than ever, Index truly stands as the flagship exhibition of the nonwovens industry and a vital business development tool for industry players of all sizes,” commented Martin Rapp of Glatfelter, and chairman of EDANA.

Innovative solutions

Pierre Wiertz, general manager of EDANA, added: “Our industry has evolved to a great extent. Nonwovens and related materials are increasingly used in the automotive, filtration and construction sectors for example, illustrating how the sector offers innovative solutions for a wide range of purposes.

“This evolution was also reflected in the makeup of the visitors to this year’s show, with a wider range than ever before. The products and services they saw throughout the exhibition provide a snapshot of how our industry is developing.

“Looking ahead to Index 20, we are reminded of how both resilient and innovative the nonwovens industry really is.”

According to the event organizers, exhibitors were satisfied with the quality of the visitors at the show, and visitors were pleased with the range of exhibitors on offer, covering the entire chain from machinery and raw materials producers to converters and providers of added-value treatments and processes.

Parallel event

The annual Filtrex conference and tabletop exhibition was held alongside Index, but by all accounts this proved to be a disappointing decision, and EDANA may have to rethink any future attempt to host parallel events.

The first ever Filtrex Innovation Award was won by Freudenberg Filtration Technologies for its new MicronAir Blue automotive cabin air filter.

This is an efficient four-layer particle filter that features a patented two-layered filter media focusing on PM 10 and PM 2.5 particles, as well as a combi-filter that protects against harmful gases and an anti-allergen filter layer.

Index awards

On the opening day of the trade show, EDANA announced the winners of the Index 17 Award, highlighting the creativity and innovation demonstrated by all parts of the nonwovens supply chain.

The winners for each category were:

  • Nonwoven roll goods: Berry Plastics – Nuvisoft
  • Finished or composite products made from, or incorporating, nonwovens: Glatfelter – Dreamweaver Gold 20 microns
  • Raw materials or components (e.g. fiber, binder, polymer, tape) of special relevance to the nonwovens industry and related converted products: Magic – Spongel
  • Innovation in machinery of special relevance to the nonwovens industry: GDM – Rear Wing Zero Waste
  • Sustainable product: Hassan Group – self-sufficient relief tents
  • Sustainable process or management practice: Suominen – Blind Hiring recruitment process

Wiertz commented: “The winners and nominees are testament not only to the commitment to innovation in our industry, but also to the ability of creative developers in the whole nonwovens supply chain to meet the challenges of our times, from resource management to energy storage, relief help and social responsibility.”

The winners were presented with a specially commissioned bronze sculpture and a diploma at the awards ceremony.

Fabio Zampollo, chief executive officer of Teknoweb Materials (left), and Rainer Straub, head of nonwovens business, Oerlikon Neumag, announcing an agreement in principle on establishing a new jointly-owned company.

Fiber platform

European polyolefin fiber supplier Beaulieu Fibres International (BFI) unveiled a new fiber platform for hygiene products at Index 17.

Meralux fibers have been added to the company’s Meraklon product portfolio, with the first test results indicating that nonwovens made with these new fiber combinations have a higher loft/bulk.

BFI also announced it will be producing short-cut fibers for hygiene applications from mid-2017. These will be available in cut lengths of 3-24 mm in polypropylene monofilament and bicomponent versions.

German polyester fiber producer Trevira presented a new offering in Ingeo biopolymer fibers in which a siliconized polylactic acid (PLA) hollow fiber can be used as fillings for bedding.

For both the polyester and PLA programs, the company has also developed modified fibers for the hygiene sector (e.g. for wet wipes) with a particularly soft handle.

Kelheim Fibres of Germany showed its new Electra fiber, which can be used in a wide range of applications for the dissipation of static charges. The company is currently testing the possible use of this fiber in connection with sensitive electronic components.

Meanwhile, Austria’s Lenzing highlighted its Botanical Skin Care concept, demonstrating the functionality of Tencel-branded lyocell fibers in a range of nonwoven applications.

Meltblown fiber resins

The Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics business of Dow Chemical presented its new Aspun MB meltblown fiber resins at Index. These are designed to address the challenges of increasing softness and comfort while maintaining strength, durability and processing efficiency in fabrics such as bicomponent spunbond-meltblown-spunbond (SMS) nonwovens.

This new range of polyethylene resins produced using Dow’s Insite technology can be used for nonwovens in infant diapers, adult incontinence products, medical drapes and garments, and filtration products.

In nonwoven packaging applications, Dow’s new Pouchug sensory packaging technology enables the replacement of the external layer of a laminate with a soft, cloth-like nonwoven substrate.

Dow also announced the addition of a new Hills fiber line at the Pack Studios facility in Freeport, Texas, USA.

Strategic partnership

During Index, the Manmade Fibers segment of the Switzerland-based Oerlikon Group announced that it was entering into a strategic partnership with Italian company Teknoweb Materials aimed at extending the nonwovens production systems business into the disposable nonwovens market, which is said to be growing at 4-5% annually.

The two companies have come to an agreement in principle on establishing a new jointly-owned company.

In Geneva, Oerlikon Neumag and Teknoweb Materials jointly presented a wide range of technologies for the efficient manufacture of nonwovens.

Oerlikon Neumag also premiered its new concept for electrostatically charging meltblown nonwovens. The in-line charging unit differs from other concepts currently available on the market as a result of its high level of flexibility when charging the most diverse nonwoven products, particularly in the case of nonwovens with lower basis weights and tenacities, such as filter media.

At Index, Reifenhäuser Reicofil of Germany launched the new RF5 generation for the production of spunbond, meltblown and composite nonwovens, which is said to pave the way for intelligent machines and intelligent production.

HyperTex installation

Dilo premiered the HyperTex installation for the production of reinforced multilayer needlefelts, featuring the Turbotex scrim fabric machine from Ontec Automation.

The installation produces a reinforcing scrim, which is fed between two needlefelts and then needled together by a Hyperpunch needleloom into a multilayer nonwoven sandwich construction.

The mesh apertures of this scrim can be varied up to 20 x 20 mm, while the production speed can be as high as 40 m/min.

The HyperTex installation in a working width of 2.5 m is now ready for trials in Dilo’s Textile Research Centre in Eberbach, Germany.

The technology shown in Geneva was well received by producers of filtration media, roofing material and geotextiles, revealed Dilo Group general manager Johann Philipp Dilo.

Washable material

UK-based Technical Absorbents (TAL) displayed several new products at Index, including a washable nonwoven fabric technology. When used as a core within protective outer materials, the new material can be laundered and dried with minimal absorbency loss.

The company has also added a range of lower basis weight fabrics to its portfolio, which have been developed with external converters. Ranging from 20-80 g/m2, the new fabrics represent an option for those customers searching for cost-effective thinner fabrics that still offer high levels of absorbency, said TAL.

Hydro-active laminates

Freudenberg Performance Materials of Germany exhibited innovative solutions for a variety of applications. These included laminates of hydro-active nonwovens and hydrophilic polyurethane foams, as well as high-performance nonwovens for hygiene products and cosmetic applications.

For advanced wound care, laminates of hydrophilic polyurethane foams with hydro-active nonwovens are said to absorb wound exudates significantly faster and have a considerably higher retention capacity than foam wound dressings.

The UK-based Nonwovens Innovation and Research Institute (NIRI) exhibited Surfaceskins –antibacterial alcohol-gel push pads for doors, which are said to combat cross-contamination and boost infection control.

Each time a Surfaceskins pad is pushed when a door is opened, the pad self-disinfects, releasing a small quantity of antibacterial solution via the micro-valved topsheet.

Wipes market

Germany’s Sandler presented several innovations for the wipes market at Index. Sawatex Classy Silk features excellent cleaning efficiency and a silky touch, while Sawatex Lace-O-Paque offers softness and high bulk for baby care applications.

Suominen launched Genesis Pro All Purpose, a new nonwoven substrate for general-purpose professional wiping using the company’s recent investments in wetlaid production technology.

The Finland-based company claims this is the strongest professional wipes material on the market, both wet and dry, having “the highest thickness, unbeatable absorption capacity and also the fastest absorption”.

Jacob Holm launched SoftFlush Fast, its latest brand of dispersible substrate material for the flushable wipes market. The material, which is made using proprietary technology on the company’s latest US-based line in Candler, North Carolina, offers the same dispersibility as premium toilet paper and the strength of a wet wipe.

Martin Rapp, chairman of EDANA (left), and Claude Membrez, general director of Palexpo, announcing that Index 20 will again be held in Geneva.

Geneva again in 2020

After a six-month-long process, EDANA has signed an agreement for the organization of Index 20 in Geneva with Palexpo, which was the winner among three shortlisted exhibition organizers out of the five originally invited to submit a proposal.

The three finalists were proposing to host the 13th edition of the event in six different European cities.

According to Pieter Meijer, McAirlaid’s sales director and chairman of EDANA’s Exhibition Advisory Board, the proposals were subjected to a wide range of evaluation criteria. “We trust the new Palexpo team to ensure continuity, innovation and competence,” he said.

Index 20 will take place in Geneva from March 31 to April 3, 2020.