What are nonwovens?

Nonwovens are unique, high-tech, engineered fabrics made from fibres and which are used across a wide range of applications and products. Nonwovens are innovative, versatile and indispensable. Modern life would be quite literally impossible without them.

In combination with other materials or used alone, nonwovens are used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products with diverse properties, including absorbent hygiene products, apparel, home furnishings, healthcare and surgical fabrics, construction, filtration, engineering, and wipes to name but a few.

They may be a limited life, single-use fabric or a very durable fabric. Nonwovens have specific characteristics that allow them to deliver high-performance across a wide range of applications. Specific functions include: absorbency, liquid repellency, resilience, stretch, softness, strength, flame retardancy, washability, cushioning, filtering, bacterial barrier and sterility.

These properties are often combined to create fabrics suited for specific jobs, while achieving a good balance between product use-life and cost. They can mimic the appearance, texture and strength of a woven fabric and can be as bulky as the thickest paddings. In combination with other materials they provide a spectrum of products with diverse properties.

Official ISO and CEN definition of nonwovens

Nonwovens are defined by ISO standard 9092 and CEN EN 29092. These two documents, identical in their content, are the only internationally acknowledged definition of Nonwovens. As industry, trade and technology have evolved since their publication in 1988, these standards are being updated by ISO experts to better reflect what the present understanding of Nonwovens is. The following text has recently been proposed to the International Standardization Organization by EDANA and INDA

“A nonwoven is a sheet of fibres, continuous filaments, or chopped yarns of any nature or origin, that have been formed into a web by any means, and bonded together by any means, with the exception of weaving or knitting.
Felts obtained by wet milling are not nonwovens.

Wetlaid webs are nonwovens provided they contain a minimum of 50% of man-made fibres or other fibres of non vegetable origin with a length to diameter ratio equals or superior to 300, or a minimum of 30% of man-made fibres with a length to diameter ratio equals or superior to 600, and a maximum apparent density of 0.40 g/cm³.

Composite structures are considered nonwovens provided their mass is constituted of at least 50% of nonwoven as per to the above definitions, or if the nonwoven component plays a prevalent role.”

Features

The versatility of nonwovens means that they can provide innovative, cost-effective and sometimes unexpected answers to innumerable business challenges.

Innovative products and solutions can be created; problems can be solved; and needs met by incorporating appropriate properties. These properties are often combined to create fabrics suited for specific jobs, while achieving a good balance between product use-life and cost.

Specific properties can be achieved by selecting raw materials and methods or by applying finishing treatments to nonwovens, such as printing, embossing, moulding, laminating etc.

Properties include

  • Abrasion resistant
  • Absorbent
  • Antistatic
  • Biodegradable
  • Breathable
  • Colour fast
  • Conductive
  • Crease resistant
  • Dense
  • Drapeable
  • Dry cleanable
  • Durable
  • Dust free
  • Dyeable
  • Elastic
  • Filtration
  • Flame resistant
  • Foldable
  • Glueable
  • Heat sealable
  • Impermeable
  • Ironable
  • Kind to skin
  • Light
  • Lint free
  • Liquid repellent
  • Long-lasting
  • Mouldable
  • Non-conductive
  • Non-fading
  • Permeable
  • Porous
  • Printable
  • Protective (bacterial barrier)
  • Resilient
  • Rot and mildew resistant
  • Sewable
  • Smooth
  • Soft
  • Stable
  • Sterilisable
  • Stiff
  • Stretchable
  • Strong
  • Tear resistant
  • Washable
  • Weatherproof
  • Weldable
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