FET in 3-way collaboration project in Indonesia

FET has installed a new FET-100 Series Laboratory Melt Spinning System for continuous filament yarn applications at the Center for Textile, Indonesia. A major ceremony on 18 March commemorated the event, 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.

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” – strong, competitive and based on innovation and technology.

The FET-100 system will play a vital role in driving technological innovation in the Indonesian textile industry. The nation’s fibre manufacturers now have access to advanced melt spinning facilities for developing and testing their own novel fibres for global applications. This laboratory melt spinning system is multi-polymer capable and can produce both mono and bi-component formats.

This event was streamed online for textile businesses to view during Covid-restricted times and was covered on local television. The Indonesia Textile Association and the Indonesia Synthetic Fiber Manufacturer Association were also involved in promoting the ceremony.

FET hits £25 million sales in medical device sector

FET has a long tradition and world-leading reputation in the biomedical sector. The company exceeded £25 million in sales in the sector when its 40th melt spinning system was installed recently at a leading suture manufacturer in China.

FET has built strong relationships with several multinational companies, designing and supplying a wide range of equipment, ancillaries and turnkey solutions for strongly regulated biomedical applications. As the market leader in melt spinning systems, FET has been the default supplier to the medical sector, collaborating with clients over extended periods of time, often providing multiple systems to key clients. Our high level of knowledge and experience in the industry enables customers to successfully produce high quality medical grade textile materials from both synthetic resorbable and non-absorbable polymers used in the manufacture of sutures and other medical devices.

An in-depth knowledge about process conditions is essential and technical collaboration with synthetic absorbable polymer suppliers has given FET unrivalled insight into the specific requirements of medical device suppliers. FET can melt spin numerous material formats from resorbable polymers, such as multifilament and monofilament, non-woven structures, bi-component filaments and hollow filaments.

FET’s in-house Process Development Laboratory is at the disposal of customers for all aspects of testing and evaluation. Over the last 15 years, this facility has been extensively utilised by biomedical customers from 22 countries, frequently involving multiple installations and add-ons. With a further eight melt spinning systems already in the order book for 2021, the future looks bright for FET and its customers in the biomedical sector.

FET steps up its contribution to sustainability

FET has further strengthened its reputation as a leading technological company in the field of sustainable textiles and processes. Our range of laboratory and pilot melt spinning extrusion lines is ideally suited for both process and end product development of sustainable materials. With over 50 such pilot and laboratory extrusion lines already out and operating successfully in the field, FET currently has orders for 8 further systems and is currently engaged at the development stage with numerous other clients all seeking innovative solutions for sustainable projects.

The term Sustainability can be interpreted in various ways, ranging from partial recyclability through to ensuring that every stage and process minimises environmental impact. The growing trend towards global sustainability has been embraced by textile and yarn manufacturers and FET is at the forefront of innovation to help make this objective possible. Polymers made from renewable resources are a viable alternative to fossil fuels, either bio-based (produced from biomass feedstocks such as starch and cellulose) or recycled polymers which repurpose existing materials.

We have considerable experience in sustainable fibre development across a broad spectrum of industries, such as:

• Medical – resorbables, PPE, face masks, gowns and bandages
• Textiles – flooring, bedding, clothing, footwear and sportswear
• Manufacturing – 3D printing, automotive, composites and filtration
• Consumables – coffee filters, tea bags
• Agriculture – tying twines, strimmer lines

The company has successfully processed almost 30 different polymer types in multifilament, monofilament and non-woven formats. The in-house Process Development Laboratory enables vital client testing and evaluation throughout the experimental and development phases of every project. FET continues to widen its scope in this field, collaborating with companies worldwide seeking to promote greater sustainability through innovative manufacturing processes.

Further FET collaboration with Senbis

Senbis Polymer Innovations is a leading Dutch technological company, dividing its activities between R&D services and the production of sustainable polymeric products. The company is investing 5.5 million euros over the next three years in a testing facility for the development of sustainable plastics at different scales ranging from laboratory to production. This will facilitate the acceleration and upscaling of future developments relating to sustainable plastics.

FET’s contribution to the project is to provide pilot extrusion lines with unique capabilities to produce both technical yarns as well as textile fibres. A Senbis spokesperson commented: “It is a welcome addition to our current facilities that focus on technical yarns. The new line now enables us to develop textile fibres from e.g. recycled polymers or biopolymers.”

FET will provide two extrusion lines in separate phases in 2020-21. Firstly a Monofilament line, including water baths, drawing frames, ovens, dimension sensor, monofilament winders and dedicated control panel. This will be followed by a Multifilament line, including the extruder set-up and the multifilament drawing and winding frame with control panel.

The new extruders and spinning machines will furthermore enable Senbis to manufacture bicomponent yarns. Another area of potential is the development of filaments and powders for 3D printing. “Our spinoff Innofil3D was acquired by BASF and is flourishing. We aim to continue to facilitate this growth by providing support from our R&D facilities”.

This investment confirms Senbis’s commitment to sustainability despite the uncertainty generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The spokesperson continued “We are convinced that the sustainability trend, which only just started in the plastics sector, will only grow stronger in the coming years.”

Continued success for FET in melt spinning systems for biomedical materials

FET has cemented its position as a world-leading supplier of melt spinning systems for biomedical applications with a further 5 systems scheduled for delivery in 2020.

FET has a long tradition in the biomedical sector, designing and supplying a range of melt spinning systems for the production of precursor materials in medical device applications. FET has a world leading reputation for melt spinning medial grade polymers in both synthetic resorbable and non-absorbable polymers.

Managing Director Richard Slack commented. “This expertise has provided strong commercial successes for FET. In 2019 the Company delivered 4 melt spinning systems for multifilament and monofilament applications and also one turn-key synthetic resorbable suture plant. Due for delivery in 2020 are a further 4 orders, including a multi-functional system that can produce both multifilament and monofilament pre-cursor fibres. The market for this equipment is truly global with customers based in China, SE Asia, Europe and North America”.

The in-house Process Development Laboratory has enabled the optimisation of its biomedical melt spinning technology, while ongoing collaboration with biomaterial polymer suppliers has further enhanced the Company’s position.

Worldwide demand for melt spinning systems has of course skyrocketed in recent months as this process is widely used for non-woven fibre production for medical grade masks and the FET Laboratory has been running at capacity to accommodate associated client tests and trials.

FET non-woven melt spinning technology suitable for medical face mask applications

FET has received unprecedented enquiries for its Non-Woven Melt Spinning System since the onset of the Coronavirus crisis. Massive worldwide demand for medical grade masks has stretched manufacturing capacity which relies heavily on the specialist melt-blown process for non-wovens.

FET’s Melt Spinning system is a tried and tested pilot and laboratory scale format for non-woven production. Trials are currently being concluded and samples produced of polypropylene melt blown non-woven materials suitable for applications in FFP2 and FFP3 medical masks.

Although the FET system is primarily designed for R & D and pilot scale applications, trials are proving it to be suitable for low volume production of the face mask central filter materials. This system is ideal for continued development of non-woven materials for this application and offers a bespoke solution for small scale production. Indeed, some existing FET customers have already switched their FET Melt Blown Spinning Systems to producing non-woven materials for such

Manufacturing giants and niche suppliers alike across the globe are adapting their efforts to provide materials and products to combat the pandemic. FET has received numerous enquiries for its Non-Woven Melt Spinning System and is currently engaged with companies based in Germany, Italy, UK and elsewhere, running trials, preparing samples and defining specifications.

FET’s in-house Process Development Laboratory is an ideal and flexible R&D facility and is currently running at full capacity to meet unprecedented demand for specialist non-woven materials as a result of the crisis.

FET celebrates 20 year milestone

                                

FET UK is proud to announce its 20th anniversary, having been founded in April 1998. During this time, FET has developed from its early days of engineering and systems manufacture, evolving into one of the world’s leading experts in extrusion technology and research.

 Managing Director, Richard Slack explains: “We are delighted to reach this milestone in our company’s history and do so in greater health than we have ever experienced. Last year our revenues increased by 29%, a reward for extensive investment in our Process Development Laboratory and all the hard work of our dedicated staff. We focus in particular on the requirements of our customers – they expect us to provide yarn and fibre engineering knowhow and extrusion equipment which will allow them to consistently produce fibres of the highest quality, capable of meeting required regulatory standards.”

 Just prior to Easter, we held a staff event at a local hotel to celebrate our 20th anniversary. A slide presentation included a potted history of the business and its deeper roots as a family concern spreading back to the 19th century when Slack’s Mill manufactured brushes using horsehair before moving on to synthetics and extrusion. Suitably educated, our employees then enjoyed a drink and buffet before setting off for their Easter holidays!

 We have now modernised the company logo and refreshed the website and all other means of communication we enjoy with our customers. We are looking to the future by ramping up our Apprenticeship Scheme and continuing an ambitious investment policy in new equipment and proven technology.

 

FET active in the sustainability sector

FET has long been at the cutting edge in new applications and process development for fibre extrusion. The growing trend towards global sustainability has been embraced by textile and yarn manufacturers and FET is at the forefront of innovation to help make this objective possible.

The FET range of laboratory and pilot Melt Spinning extrusion lines is ideally suited for both process and end product development of sustainable materials. Installation of such equipment enables customers to undertake process development in-house. All systems are designed to be material efficient, can be bespoke designed and offer both flexibility and a high level of processing capability. They are supplied as self-contained units for ease of installation in a laboratory or small scale process evaluation environment.

In addition to the supply of equipment, the FET Process Development Laboratory is a vital component, enabling access to equipment for customers to test and trial sustainable raw materials and processes. During 2019, a high proportion of FET’s laboratory development time related to the sustainability sector, with many successful outcomes in long term projects.

Some of these projects involved clients testing and developing sustainable ways of manufacturing yarns which were previously non-sustainable. In other cases, FET worked with polymer developers and inventors who wished to further evaluate the technology and take it to the next level in manufacturing capability.

 

FET secures Innovate UK funding for hollow fibre research

FET has successfully applied for grant funding for research into ground-breaking research in the field of hollow filament technology.

Client feedback from recent projects has indicated that there is a growing market need for new and better hollow filament forms, produced from a range of technical polymer formulations, for use in specialist areas such as filtration.

Customers are seeking small scale / pilot equipment for manufacturing high performance, hollow filaments for use in filter membranes and cartridge systems within the medical, healthcare, chemical and other technical sectors. In particular, they are looking for bespoke solutions enabling them to satisfy demanding niche markets where the capability of present processing equipment falls below the required levels of performance.

To address these concerns, FET has obtained grant funding from Innovate UK, a part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. The purpose is to carry out targeted industrial research into this technological field and create the data and know how to address this need within an 18-month time frame. FET will then be in a position to offer appropriate solutions in the form of custom-built process equipment. We will keep you informed on progress.

Orders boost for FET at Techtextil and ITMA 2019

FET has recorded its most successful ever number of customer enquiries in a short period totalling over 100, having exhibited at Techtextil Frankfurt and ITMA Barcelona in May and June. Total enquiries are up by over 40% in comparison with the previous two exhibitions and orders are expected to break previous records. These enquiries came in from over 20 different countries. The bespoke exhibition stand was newly designed and received a favourable response from customers old and new. The extended FET stand used at ITMA premiered the new Laboratory scale FET-200 wet spinning system, which is particularly suitable for the early stages of formulation and process development. Techtextil has always been a perfect fit for FET’s presence and aspirations in the high-end technical textile market. As the leading international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens, Techtextil attracts international blue-chip companies at the cutting edge of technology, seeking innovative solutions to technical challenges. ITMA is the world’s largest international textile and garment technology exhibition and is an excellent medium for showcasing FET’s leading position in melt spinning technology.

FET-100 Series hits $20 million sales

Since its launch in 2015, FET has taken 50 orders for the FET-100 Series, with a value of more than $20 million.

This pilot and laboratory scale melt spinning system can be specified to be multi-functional, allowing for easy and fast conversion between material formats. It configures to all combinations of multifilament, monofilament and melt spinning of nonwoven structures, as required.

Managing Director Richard Slack commented. “The FET-100 has exceeded all our expectations in terms of the sheer range of applications and markets it has reached. Systems have been shipped to 22 different countries spanning five continents for customers in all types of sectors, such as research & development, sports manufacturers, industrial, medical devices and educational establishments”.

The FET-100 has been particularly successful in the biomedical and composite sectors since its upgrade to meet the requirements in these demanding fields. This equipment is highly suitable for the development and small volume production of exotic and difficult-to-process biomedical materials, such as resorbable polymers used in medical devices. These include the engineering polymers such as PPSU, PEI, PEEK and PC. FET systems are also suitable for processing sustainable polymer types (S-Polyamides, PLA, PHA, S-PET etc.).

For composite applications, this equipment facilitates the development and small volume production of pre-cursor synthetic textile materials used in the manufacture of high performance composites. These include so-called “engineering polymers” such as PPSU, PEI, PEEK and PC Polycarbonates. FET systems are also suitable for processing sustainable polymer types (S-Polyamides, PLA, PHA, S-Pet etc), ideal for the production of bio-degradable composite materials.

The FET-100 Series is complemented by the company’s in-house Process Development Laboratory which allows client trials, proof of concept testing, collaborative research, sampling and prototyping.

FET launch new Laboratory scale Wet Spinning system

Two years ago, Fibre Extrusion Technology Limited of Leeds, England introduced the FET-200 Series, a new pilot and small scale production line for wet spinning technology. At ITMA Barcelona 2019, FET launched its new Laboratory scale version, which is particularly suitable for the early stages of formulation and process development.

The FET-200 LAB can be used for a wide variety of different fibre types, ranging from systems based on corrosive aqueous salt solutions such as alginate fibres through to acidic systems like engineered silk and also systems using flammable, toxic solvents such as UHMWPE.

Each type of wet spun fibre requires a unique processing route: first to produce and meter the dope solution, then to coagulate the filaments and finally to dry and draw the yarn to develop its tensile properties. FET has the expertise to design and manufacture systems to meet these challenges and can configure a complete processing line or specific elements as required.

Apart from the configuration, the equipment is scaled to the output required and the specific type of fibre to be produced.

FET at the Nonwovens Conference in Cannes

One of the main annual events on the calendar, the 4th International Conference on Nonwovens for High-performance Applications, took place in Cannes, France on 10-11 October 2018. This conference is a unique symposium designed to inform delegates and the industry in general about latest technical developments and opportunities offered from technical nonwovens for high-performance applications.

FET underlined its growing profile in the industry when R&D Manager Mark Smith gave a keynote presentation to delegates. The R&D team at FET conducts processing trials and investigations to assist clients in their development of new polymers and fibrous products and have a very active programme of in-house research projects to extend processing capabilities.

With this background and expertise, Mark was selected to present a technical paper entitled “Melt Spun Nonwovens from Engineering Resins.” This presentation examined such questions as:

  • How can high melt viscosity polymers with high melting temperatures be successfully melt spun to form nonwoven webs?
  • What sorts of polymers can be processed using the methods and equipment developed?
  • What are the unique properties and characteristics of the resulting fabrics?
  • What new opportunities do such nonwovens offer?

Mark’s presentation was well received at the Conference and some excellent ideas and feedback were enjoyed by all the delegates.

FET to grow apprentice scheme

FET has long been committed to training and excellence in the industry. Our apprentice Jacob Thompson  is now well into his second year with us, training in electrical engineering, but at the same time gaining valuable all-round experience and understanding of all related FET technical processes.

Jacob is on day release undertaking his NVQ at college. FET is working in conjunction with training company Kirkdale Industrial Training Services Ltd (KITS) which provides facilities, assistance and supervision for engineering apprentices in their work and general education. This has proved highly successful for Jacob and all parties involved and FET looks forward to developing its apprentice scheme in the near future.

 

FET at Techtextil China

FET enjoyed a successful attendance at September’s Cinte Techtextil China exhibition in Shanghai. Sharing an extended stand with its agent and partner Chemtax Industrial Co which provides an invaluable service in supporting and enabling FET to effectively reach China and its immediate area both geographically and culturally. FET secured new fibre extrusion systems as well as upgrades for existing clients with a combined potential value of more than $2 million.

Cinte Techtextil China is Asia’s leading biennial trade fair for technical textile and nonwoven products. With the rapid growth in the China market, the demand for high quality technical textile is enormous and the previous show in 2016 saw a record-breaking 480 exhibitors from 26 countries. It is therefore an ideal medium for FET to showcase its range of products and ability to find technical solutions for manufacturers of high value textile materials.

The exhibition was well attended and FET was able to make invaluable face-to-face contact with customers old and new. Once again the focal point of the stand was the FET-100 Series multi-functional laboratory and pilot melt spinning system.

FET will next be attending Techtextil Frankfurt and ITMA Barcelona with its own bespoke exhibition stand in May and June 2019 respectively.

FET installs melt spinning system at UMass

FET has installed the FET-100 Series multifunctional laboratory melt spinning system into one of the world’s most renowned research facilities, The University of Massachusetts. UMass is a five-campus public university system, recognized as a model of excellence for public universities.

Managing Director, Richard Slack explains: “This reflects the collaborative policy FET holds with its clients – in this case UMass Lowell and its Plastics Engineering Department, an internationally recognized leader in plastics engineering education.”

The installation was configured with a bi-component FET-100 Extrusion Module, which is capable of processing a wide range of polymers, coupled to a FET-101 Multifilament drawing and winding system capable of processing a range of multifilament yarns. This will bring to UMass Lowell the capability to fabricate shaped fibres which will provide a step change in functionality compared to traditional fibres and fabrics. The total market for traditional engineered textiles is forecast to reach $84 billion in 2020 and new engineered textiles developed at UMass Lowell could address over 10% of the available market. Researchers at UMass Lowell, including Stephen Johnston and Javier Vera-Sorroche, are exploring properties such as high temperature, high strength, flame retardance, high conductivity, and super omniphobicity.

The inherent flexibility and versatility of the system will allow future adaptations, such as FET-102 Nonwoven or FET-103 Monofilament, depending on future research requirements. This system design appeals to many end-users, not only allowing for upgrade in process capability but also for staged investment.

FET-100 Series goes from strength to strength!

Since its launch in 2015, the FET-100 Series has exceeded all our expectations. In 2016 alone, we have taken orders for 8 systems in varying configurations with an order value of over $3 million. These have been, or will be, delivered to customers as far afield as USA, Western Europe, South East Asia, New Zealand, Turkey and Hungary. A primary benefit of FET-100 systems is that they can be specified to be multi-functional, allowing easy and fast conversion between material formats. These systems configure to all combinations of multifilament, monofilament and melt spinning of nonwoven structures for medical device, composites and many other applicati

New MP Andrea Jenkyns visits FET

Under the UK parliamentary system, it is a fairly rare event for small businesses to receive a visit from our politicians, so it was a pleasure to welcome Andrea Jenkyns, the new local MP for Morley and Outwood, who successfully beat Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in the last general election.

As a former retailer and manager, Andrea understands the challenges faced by local businesses and likes to keep her finger on the pulse of industry by visiting and speaking with business owners and managers.

Andrea said: “It is fascinating to hear about the evolution of a company which went from making brush bristles to developing machinery capable of manufacturing materials used in surgical operations.

“Fibre Extrusion Technology is a real local success story and it was a pleasure to visit.”

FET wins Innovate UK grant for melt spinning R&D project

FET has won a £100,000 grant from Innovate UK, the executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. This 12 month programme came about following a number of requests from FET customers operating in the specialist filtration and advanced composites sectors.

These companies manufacture high value textile materials and require equipment to convert “difficult to process” polymers into fibres and yarns for use in technically demanding industrial and medical applications. The programme of Industrial Research to be undertaken by FET will seek to break through the technological barrier and achieve step-change improvements in the ability of melt blown processes to deal with advanced polymers which have high melt viscosity.

The developed data and know-how will allow FET to demonstrate its capability to achieve performance leaps to users. This in turn will help clients to differentiate their product ranges utilising enhanced FET technology and custom-built equipment.

WELCOME to our new website!

It may only be a couple of years since we last updated our website, but things have changed considerably in the world of extrusion technology – for us and for our customers.

Our website is fully mobile friendly and so can be viewed easily on tablets, phones and other mobile devices. With customers in over 30 countries – and rising – we want to make it as easy as possible to find us and hopefully make contact.

We are always pleased to speak to companies with fibre extrusion requirements, no matter how challenging. We look forward to hearing from you!

Richard Slack
Managing Director