Movers & Shakers – April 2021: Asahi Kasei opens new European R&D Center

Asahi Kasei Europe R&D Center
In March 2021, the Asahi Kasei Europe R&D Center relocated from Dormagen to the new location. Photo courtesy of Asahi Kasei.

In the dynamic and global textile fiber industry with its various manufacturing processes and end-uses, news and information is breaking on a daily basis. International Fiber Journal is tracking stories relevant to our industry from manmade to natural to bio-based fibers, innovations in nonwoven, woven, braided and technical textiles, technologies for additives, bonding, coatings and polymers, and applications from apparel to hygiene to transportation, and more. Here we will post news stories relevant to textile fibers and their downstream applications on an ongoing basis. Please check back for regular updates. If you have news that you feel should be added to this summary report, please email it to Matt Migliore at

Most recent update: April 19, 2021

VDMA launches ‘Textile Machinery Newsroom’ portal

VDMA’s “Textile Machinery Newsroom” is now online, providing technical and marketing information for textile and nonwovens manufacturers. The portal includes supplier news, a sourcing service and the VDMA’s Webtalks  webinars section.

Companies can now participate and book technology Webtalks webinars either alone, in pairs or in a three-part format. The next two webtalks, “Design for Recycling” and “Digitalization in Textile Finishing,” are scheduled for April 21 and April 28, respectively.

“Design for Recycling” will feature three different experts covering various topics:

  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Schlichter, ITA Augsburg: Design for Recycling – using artificial intelligence for sustainable lightweight solutions, 
  • Jochen Schmidt, KARL MAYER Technische Textilien: Sustainable products produced on KARL MAYER machines, and Martin Würtele, KraussMaffei Technologies: Sustainable composite technologies made by Krauss Maffei Technologies.

The speakers and topics featured in “Digitalization in Textile Finishing” include:

  • Ralf Stange, Thies: Digitalization in textile finishing – integration of energy and maintenance management
  • Axel Pieper, Brückner: Digitalization, energy and maintenance management for dry finishing machines
  • Jürgen Jerzembeck, Setex: Manufacturing Management System view on integrated energy and maintenance management in textile finishing.

Registration: Design for Recycling and Digitalization in Textile Finishing


Kelheim Fibres joins ZDHC “Roadmap to Zero” program

Bavarian viscose speciality fiber manufacturer Kelheim Fibres has joined the ZDHC program “Roadmap to Zero.” The nonprofit organization ZHDC, with more than 160 contributors worldwide, has set itself the goal of completely eliminating harmful substances from the textile value chain.

The ZDHC guidelines provide producers of Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers (MMCF) with uniform criteria for measuring indicators such as wastewater, air emissions and other process-related parameters. The measured data is independently monitored and published.

Kelheim Fibres, the world’s first EMAS (Environmental Management and Audit Scheme)-validated viscose fiber producer, sees its ZDHC contributorship as another building block on the road to more sustainable fiber production.

“We want to develop our industry with our know-how towards a greener future. Sustainability is an integral part of our corporate philosophy and strategy. We fully support ZDHC’s vision of a widespread implementation of sustainably chemistry, driving innovations and best practices in textile, apparel and footwear industries to protect consumers workers and the environment,” said Craig Barker, CEO at Kelheim Fibres. “ZDHC provides us with access to a range of best practices in chemical management and gives us the opportunity to network and learn from each other with like-minded industry partners. ZDHC’s collaborative approach will accelerate the shift to a more responsible industry and we want to contribute to that.”


Asahi Kasei opens new European R&D Center

Asahi Kasei, with its sister company Asahi Kasei Microdevices Europe GmbH, has relocated the Asahi Kasei Europe R&D Center to its new location at the “C-View Offices” at Düsseldorf Harbor, Germany. from its prior location in Dormagen, Germany. The building features open office and meeting space, a showroom featuring a display of materials and solutions ranging from sustainable microfiber materials for interior seat and headliner coverings to foam products and separators for battery applications, and laboratory space for various materials,  such as engineering plastics, synthetic rubber, as well as for battery and coating materials. 

In March 2021, the Asahi Kasei Europe R&D Center relocated from Dormagen to the new location.

“This relocation marks the next important  milestone of Asahi Kasei’s expansion on the European market,” said Hideki Tsutsumi, Managing Director at Asahi Kasei Europe. “Europe is at the forefront of an evolution in the automotive industry that is said to happen once in a century. In addition, it is the forerunner in environmental topics. Uniting sales, marketing, R&D and technical service activities at one  single location will enable us to quickly address the changing demands by customers and to enhance  joint projects with local partners.”


Freudenberg launches an Eco-calculator to help customers improve environmental footprint

Freudenberg Performance Materials launched its Eco-calculator to help customers assess and choose Evolon textile solutions for bedding and bath towels based on their entire life cycle, from raw material through the laundering phases to product end-of-life. The tool evaluates eight environmental criteria, including the carbon footprint, water impact, and eco-toxicity, to provide information on how customers can save energy and water during subsequent care steps for the relevant textile.

Freudenberg’s Eco-calculator will help customers assess and choose Evolon textile solutions for bedding and bath towels.

The Eco-calculator relies on data provided and validated by independent external experts, who conducted a Life Cycle Assessment focusing on textile applications such as bed linen, bath towels and workwear used in hotels and hospitals. The Eco-calculator also takes account of data from washing tests to evaluate the durability and the consumption levels of water, energy and detergent required by the different fabrics. The testing program simulated industrial wash cycles to assess 12 different textile articles. Each type of product was evaluated in terms of the water, energy and detergent consumption required for its care as well as its appearance and mechanical properties over washings.

“Our Evolon experts help our customers determine the scenarios they wish to evaluate, for example by varying the weight of the materials, the types of finish, the number of washing cycles, or the country of use. Based on this data, the Freudenberg experts provide an economic and environmental evaluation using the Eco-calculator,” said Jean-François Kerhault, Business Segment Manager Evolon at Freudenberg Performance Materials. “This information can help our customers to evaluate the environmental footprint of their own finished products. They can include the data in their own product eco-design approach, or meet new market requirements about information on the carbon footprint.”


PFNonwovens to add new line, capability in Czech Republic

PFNonwovens, a global producer of nonwoven fabrics with operations in Europe, the United States and Africa, is investing in a new technology designed to boost nonwoven product performance at its site in Znojmo, Czech Republic. This new technology allows PFN to make proprietary premium, apertured and 3D embossed fabrics to expand and diversify its product portfolio for the medical and hygiene markets. Installation and commissioning of the new line is scheduled for Q2 2021.

PFN’s Chief Technology and Product Development Officer, Tonny de Beer, commented that “We are very excited to combine this technology to add even more value to our premium and ultra-premium softness solutions and to enhance our bio-sourced nonwoven portfolio. We will be able to offer new patterned topsheets with higher absorption, beautifully textured backsheets with improved breathability, and we will launch several new compelling product applications for our hygiene and medical markets.”

“PFN remains focused on delivering precisely tailored solutions to meet specific customer needs.  This investment provides our customers an easy and visually distinct way to differentiate their products from their competition, while providing better value to the end-consumers”, said Shane Vincent, PFN’s Chief Commercial Officer & Global Head of Business Development.


Lenzing expands E-branding service to include VEOCEL brand

Lenzing is introducing its E-branding service for certification and licensing to the VEOCEL brand to elevate supply chain transparency for nonwoven fibers. The Lenzing E-Branding Service provides the VEOCEL brand a platform designed to showcase the use of sustainable, high-quality and ethically sourced materials.

The Lenzing E-Branding Service unifies registration, application and approval in an online system designed to eliminate the use of paper, and reduce response times, with the aim to enhance efficiency by digitizing workflow. As a digital hub for VEOCEL brand partners, the platform includes features to apply for new licenses, monitor  application status, and manage existing licenses. Simultaneously, the platform will act as a support portal,  showcasing the latest branding guidelines and support for VEOCEL brand certified products.

“We are excited to expand our industry-leading Lenzing E-Branding Service to VEOCEL brand customers and  partners. The expansion showcases Lenzing’s unwavering commitment to sustainability for nonwoven  applications, accelerates the digitalization of the industry and sets new standards for driving greater  transparency,” said Jürgen Eizinger, vice president of Global Nonwovens Business, Lenzing AG.


Teijin to mass produce nanofiber filament made from recycled polyester

Teijin Frontier Co. announced its technology to mass produce a new version of its Nanofront ultra-fine polyester.  It has developed new polymer-control and spinning techniques for Nanofront to be made from recycled polyester materials and expects it to replace its conventional Nanofront made from petroleum-derived raw materials in a wide range of fields, including sportswear, functional clothing, industrial uniforms, and more.

Sample sock made with Nanofront recycled-polyester nanofiber

The key was the company’ “sea-island” composite-fiber processing technology, which distributes two types of polymers into the fiber’s “sea” and “island” parts, then dissolves and removes the “sea” part using an alkaline, etc., treatment, and finally extracts only the “island” part as raw yarn. The new technology will enable Teijin Frontier to produce all of its polyester fiber products with recycled raw materials. The company is forecasting sales of recycled-polyester Nanofront to reach JPY 300 million in fiscal 2021 and JPY 800 million in fiscal 2025.


NXTNano to add three nanofiber lines; expanding production capacity to meet strong demand expected through 2023

NXTNano, LLC, has begun to install three additional HYPR-Spun Nanofiber production lines, with the first of the lines expected to be operational in June, and all three within the 2021 calendar year. The new lines will take NXTNano’s total line count to six, supporting the production of high-volume nanofiber manufacturing up to a maximum roll width of 2.15 meters.

“2020 was an incredible year for NXTNano,” said Andrew McDowell, NXTNano, LLC’s Director of Sales. “We saw rapid adoption of the technology into a number of new markets, and more importantly we have a social obligation to continue serving our mask, respirator, and indoor air purification customers who have taken up the fight against COVID. In existing markets we expected COVID to produce a pronounced slowdown, but that never materialized.  As a result of the growth and new projects moving to commercial sales, the time has arrived for us to add capacity”

The number of markets commercially consuming nanofiber has continued to exhibit strong growth, with forecasts for CAGR above 36% though 2023.

“I’ve spent nearly my entire career in nonwovens and filtration, over 30 years now, and the last nine months have been unique to anything I’ve seen before,” said Alan Smithies, NxtNano’s vice president of technology. “The growth has not been without challenges, but I firmly believe we as a company have stepped forward and embraced them. Our head count is now over 80 people, more than two and a halftimes what it was in 2019, and we are putting out full truck loads of material every day.”


Freudenberg reports gradual recovery amid pandemic

The Freudenberg Group reported sales of $10.1 billion globally for its 2020 financial year, a decrease from the previous year’s $10.6 billion. The company reported a profit from operations of $768.4 million compared to $940.5 million the year before. At $1.31 billion, cash flow was above the comparable figure of $1.1 billion for 2019. Freudenberg continued to invest, spending $511.9 million, 5 percent of sales (5.1 percent in 2019), on research and development. At the same time, investments in tangible assets totaled $329.3 million globally. The international rating agency Moody’s Deutschland GmbH, Frankfurt am Main, confirmed its credit rating of Freudenberg at A3, with a stable outlook, as in the previous year.

“For Freudenberg, the past 12 months have been extraordinarily demanding and challenging,” said Dr. Mohsen Sohi, CEO of the Freudenberg Group, commenting on the results of the last financial year. “So far we have managed the crisis comparatively well.”

Freudenberg’s Business Groups producing for the automotive, textile and mechanical engineering sectors faced a challenging economic environment in the beginning of the year, while Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions (FHCS) reported sales of more than $1 billion for the first time. Freudenberg Filtration Technologies (FFT) also benefited from new product and service solutions such as special system checks for COVID-19 and hygiene audits. Demand at Freudenberg Medical (FM) also grew.

In May 2020, Freudenberg acquired 100 percent of the shares in Low & Bonar PLC, London, United Kingdom, now Low & Bonar Limited, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Low & Bonar is a global manufacturer of technical textiles. The company will be integrated in the Freudenberg Performance Materials Business Group. Klüber Lubrication München SE &Co. KG (part of Freudenberg Chemical Specialities), Munich, Germany, acquired Traxit International GmbH, Schwelm, Germany, in January 2020. This company is a producer of wire drawing lubricants and has supplied a full range of lubricants for all applications to the wire drawing industry for about 140 years.

The sustainability of products and processes has been part of Freudenberg’s corporate responsibility for many years. In 2016, Freudenberg developed a company-wide sustainability strategy. In the “Sustainability Drives Climate Action” project, Freudenberg is developing a position with respect to the challenges and opportunities of climate change. Freudenberg intends to reduce CO2 emissions by 25 percent by 2025. The opportunities and costs of climate neutrality for Freudenberg are to be identified in 2021. The company plans to have its energy balance improved by purchasing green electric power and is committed to offsetting CO2 emissions.


Dornbirn GFC announces virtual format for 60th Anniversary edition

The Dornbirn Global Fiber Congress, celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2021, announced that this edition of the event will be presented virtually due to ongoing travel concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event will feature an interactive platform to bring participants a “live feeling“ during the congress, according to event organizers.

This virtual edition of Dornbirn GFC will feature presentations from top experts from industry and research presenting the latest scientific results. Organizers said 90 lecture slots have already been allocated. Lectures will take place in parallel in two lecture halls. Panel discussions, breakout sessions and virtual meeting lounges will provide opportunities for networking and information exchange. A virtual exhibition area with 25 exhibitors will also be offered:

Featured conference tracks include:

  • Fiber innovations
  • Sustainability and Circular Economy
  • Nonwovens and technical textiles
  • Surface modifications and additives

In related news, the first edition of Dornbirn GFC-Asia was presented March 23-24, 2021, in Daegu, Korea. More than 200 participants took part in the online event in Korea, with 32  presentations offered.


The LYCRA Company announces leadership changes

The LYCRA Company announced the appointment of Yafu Qiu, chairman of The LYCRA Company, and Julien Born, chief commercial officer of The LYCRA Company, as co-chief executive officers following the retirement of David Trerotola. The co-CEO structure is intended to better implement The LYCRA Company’s new strategic development plan for the next five years and will bring greater operational focus and tap into each leader’s experience and skills in the areas most beneficial to the company to solidify its industry-leading position and drive its long-term success.

Trerotola served as the company’s chief executive officer since 2019, following the Ruyi Group’s acquisition of the business. He began his career in 1994 with DuPont and retires after 20 years of service to The LYCRA Company and its predecessor companies.

Julien Born, currently the company’s chief commercial officer, will serve as co-CEO and lead the overall operations of the company and implement its ambitious growth vision. Born joined the business in 2007 and, since 2018, led the company’s apparel business, where he managed the global commercial organization, helped strengthen R&D and innovation capabilities, and oversaw manufacturing assets. Born has also spent significant time in Asia, where he led that region over an eight-year period, with assignments in Shanghai and Hong Kong.  Born has had a diverse 24-year career spent in the U.S., Europe and Asia, as both an executive in large multinational companies and as a business owner of a full-service corporate licensing agency. A native of Switzerland,  Born holds a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business and a Swiss baccalaureate degree.

Qiu, in addition to continuing as chairman of The LYCRA Company, will focus his co-CEO role on the company’s relationships with key stakeholders, board governance matters, strategic planning, and capital structure adjustments, including the strategy and timing of an initial public offering.


FET supplies advanced melt-spinning technology to Center for Textile, Indonesia

Fibre Extrusion Technology Limited of Leeds, England has installed a new FET-100 Series Laboratory Melt Spinning System for continuous filament yarn applications at the Center for Textile, Indonesia. The FET-100 system will play a vital role in driving technological innovation in the Indonesian textile industry. With this installation, the nation’s fiber manufacturers now have access to advanced melt-spinning facilities for developing and testing novel fibers for global applications. This laboratory melt spinning system is multi-polymer capable and can produce both mono and bi-component formats.

A ceremony commemorating the event was presented on March 18, bringing together industrial leaders and Ministry of Industry figures with Mr. Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, the Minister of Industry, launching the ceremony. FET representatives and the innovation agency BSP were also in attendance.

FET-100 Series Laboratory Melt Spinning System
FET-100 Series Laboratory Melt Spinning System for continuous filament yarn applications at the Center for Textile, Indonesia. Photo courtesy of FET

The Center for Textile, Balai Besar Tekstils of Bandung, has the task of carrying out research, development, cooperation, testing, certification and competency development of the textile sector, under the control of the Ministry of Industry (Kementerian Perindustrian). The Ministry has a stated objective that Indonesia becomes a “Resilient Industrial Country” based on innovation and technology.

This event was also streamed online for textile businesses to view in light of COVID protocols and was covered on local television. The Indonesia Textile Association and the Indonesia Synthetic Fiber Manufacturer Association were also involved in promoting the ceremony.


The LYCRA Company’s COOLMAX EcoMade fiber made from 100% textile waste

The LYCRA Company launched its COOLMAX EcoMade fiber made from 100% textile waste. A depolymerization and refining process converts textile waste scraps from garment manufacturers into fibers with properties comparable to virgin polyester.

“We are pleased to announce this new product as textile waste represents a substantial sustainability challenge, as the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is sent to landfills or incinerated every second,” said Julien Born, chief commercial officer, The LYCRA Company. “This offering exemplifies the approach we have to develop products and technologies that support a more sustainable future for our vast global customer base.”


Clariant adds R&D facilities, brings new technology developments to China

Clariant’s Additives business announced the addition of new R&D facilities and joint application technology developments at the One Clariant Campus (OCC) in China.

The new Additives R&D Center will be integrated in the Clariant Innovation Center China in Shanghai. It aims to bring faster lead times and more speed in development efforts for various application sectors, including E&E, 5G, automotive, packaging, fibers & films, adhesives, coatings and inks. Supplementing Clariant’s additives’ production facilities in China, the R&D Center will offer customers opportunities for joint development and application testing, at every step of the value chain. From polymerization to compounding and conversion, all the way to performance testing.

Clariant Additives R&D Center
Clariant’s new Additives R&D Center aims to enable agile collaboration with customers at every step of the value chain. Photo courtesy of Clariant

“Demand for high-end additives is growing strongly in China,” Francois Bleger, Head of Clariant Additives business. “As local manufacturers develop more sophisticated processes, technologies and products to align with market needs and China’s environmental goals, sustainable additives can be key to boosting progress effectively and efficiently. Our new Additives R&D Center creates the exciting opportunity to be more agile in our additive development and foster China-relevant innovation together, from the start of the creative process. In a nutshell, innovation for customers, with customers, at the heart of the main markets.”

At Chinaplas 2021, Clariant will also introduce several new additives to the region from its EcoCircle initiative to support manufacturers in achieving these goals.

Clariant’s new additives for China provide renewable feedstock alternatives to fossil-based solutions. Photo courtesy of Clariant.

EcoCircle supports the transition from a one-way plastics value chain to a circular plastics economy by going beyond a simple product focus, looking at the entire value chain, and identifying the most sustainable and viable solutions. This includes the development of sustainable solutions for mechanical recycling and the use of certified renewable raw materials to produce high-performance additives. Qualifying products carry a designator based on their mass-balance or real renewable carbon content to help manufacturers identify products with key advantages. Among others, this includes Terra for products with a high renewable content, minimum 50% Renewable Carbon Index (RCI) based on mass balance certification or real renewable content; and VITA for products from natural origin with at least 98% RCI real renewable content.

New for the Chinese market is the Exolit OP Terra range, renewable-based halogen-free flame retardants. A like-for-like drop in alternative to Clariant’s fossil based Exolit OP products, they achieve UL 94 V-0 rating with stable flame retardancy even after multiple recycling processes. Application areas include electronic and electrical

equipment, and automotive components.

Licocare RBW VITA will also be presented to customers in China for the first time. Clariant’s fully sustainable, practically 100% renewable, non-food competing bio-additives solutions offer multiple processing and end-product enhancements to biopolymers, such as Polylactic Acid (PLA). And in doing so, Licocare RBW VITA opens up opportunities for brands to consider biopolyme

rs as a viable, low carbon footprint alternative to fossil-based plastics. Clariant also introduces Licocare RBW 330 VITA, a new renewable-based solution that nucleates polyamides, reducing the cooling time and shrink/warp, yielding faster cycles, and leading to better molding costs.


Trinseo, BASF jointly announce business collaboration on circular feedstock

Trinseo and BASF announced the intention to expand their businesses with the production of styrene based on circular feedstock. The enhanced collaboration between Trinseo and BASF aims to increase efforts by both companies in the development and management of styrene featuring an improved environmental profile.

Trinseo has recently been procuring first supplies of the synthetical chemical styrene based on circular feedstock from BASF for use in its Solution-Styrene Butadiene Rubber (S-SBR) and polystyrene (PS) products. S-SBR is commonly used by tire manufacturers while PS products are used in applications such as food packaging and appliances.

“By creating synergy across the value chain, the Trinseo-BASF collaboration is an  important move towards helping our customers reach their sustainability goals as  well as the development of a truly circular economy,” said Nicolas Joly, Vice  President, Plastics & Feedstocks of Trinseo. “The initiative is also in line with  Trinseo’s 2030 Sustainability Goals announced earlier this year.” 

“CO2 emission reduction and a circular economy are BASF’s paramount targets.  Using circular feedstocks instead of virgin fossil resources contributes directly or  indirectly to an improved CO2 footprint of subsequent products,” says Klaus Ries,  Vice President for BASF’s Styrenics Business Europe. “While our customer Trinseo  procures biomass balanced (BMB) styrene for their downstream business already,  styrene Ccycled will be available in the near future”.

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