News archive

2022

FET wet spinning system selected for major fibre research programme

FET has installed a FET-200LAB wet spinning system at the University of Manchester which will play a major part in advanced materials research to support sustainable growth and development.

This research programme will be conducted by The Henry Royce Institute, which operates as a hub model at The University of Manchester with spokes at other leading research universities in the UK.

The Henry Royce Institute identifies challenges and stimulates innovation in advanced UK materials research, delivering positive economic and societal impact. In particular, this materials research initiative is focused on supporting and promoting all forms of sustainable growth and development.

These challenges range from biomedical devices through to plastics sustainability and energy-efficient devices; hence supporting key national targets such as the UK’s zero-carbon 2050 target.

“We are delighted to be associated with such a prestigious research organisation as the Henry Royce Institute” said FET Managing Director, Richard Slack. “This flagship research programme into future materials reflects FET’s wide experience and commitment to enabling client development of textile fibres made from renewable resources”.

In particular, the FET-200LAB will be utilised in trials for a family of fibres made from wood pulp, a sustainable resource rather than the usual fossil fuels. Bio-based polymers are produced from biomass feedstocks such as cellulose and are commonly used in the manufacture of high end apparel. The key to cellulose and other materials like lyocell and viscose is that they can be recycled, treated and fed back into the wet spinning system for repeat manufacture.

 



RHEON LABS successfully completes collaboration trials with FET

RHEON LABS has now completed an extensive 6 month trial with FET, backed by a £173,000 grant from Innovate UK for feasibility studies. RHEON LABS has further developed its RHEON™ technology, a reactive polymer that dynamically stiffens when subjected to force. The technology can control energy of any amplitude or frequency, from small vibrations to forces at ballistic-speeds and therefore has a wide range of applications.

This Innovate UK Smart Grant-backed project aims to develop a hyper viscoelastic fibre from RHEON™ which displays high strain-rate sensitive properties. Creating a fibre with unique strain-rate sensitive properties will be a world first. It will enable the creation of a ‘breakthrough-generation’ of stretch textiles that can actively absorb, dampen and control energy during movement, rather than simply acting as a spring.

For close-fitting activewear and sports bras, the ability to actively control muscle mass or soft tissue movement during exercise will be a game-changing advancement. It will allow brands to engineer garments that relax during everyday use but actively stiffen during exercise for improved support and performance.

The Innovate UK grant was awarded under the category of Hyper-Viscoelastic Fibre Extrusion for Textile Manufacture. FET enabled the customer trials at its bespoke Fibre Development Centre using its in-house FET-103 Monofilament meltspinning facilities, in harness with RHEON and FET technical operatives. The next phase will be to upscale the trials of preferred materials on RHEON’s own new FET-103 meltspinning line, with FET’s continued support and expertise on hand.

Creating a fibre with unique strain-rate sensitive characteristics could be as radical a change in the market as the initial introduction of stretch fibre with the launch of Lycra™. The textiles would have a multitude of beneficial properties and would provide significantly less compression in the garment than conventional materials, substantially improving user comfort, support and performance.

RHEON LABS is a fast-growing materials technology company based in Battersea, London, and was recently named as one of the top UK tech startups of 2021.



Further successes for FET at Techtextil

FET enjoyed another successful Techtextil in Frankfurt, with high quality enquiries from technical companies and organisations worldwide, but in particular Europe.

Techtextil has always been an excellent 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.

The company’s principle theme at Techtextil was Sustainability, since FET systems are ideally suited for both process and end-product development of sustainable materials. Our innovative stand was designed using as many sustainable components as possible and met with much approval from visitors.

The other main area of focus was FET’s new Fibre Development Centre, which is due to be unveiled in a few weeks’ time.



FET gearing up for Techtextil 2022

With just 3 months to go before Techtextil Frankfurt, FET is looking forward to exhibiting at this prestigious trade show once again. Techtextil attracts international blue-chip companies at the cutting edge of technology, seeking innovative solutions to technical challenges, so this event represents an ideal opportunity to demonstrate how FET can help achieve their goals.

FET is an acknowledged world leader in laboratory and pilot meltspinning equipment for a vast range of applications, such as precursor materials used in high value technical textiles, sportswear, medical devices and specialised novel fibres from exotic and difficult to process polymers.

However, FET will also showcase at Techtextil its more recent laboratory scale spunbond system, which enables client development of nonwoven fabrics in a number of formats and polymers. FET already has a number of spunbond systems in the field, including composite systems which utilise both spunbond and meltspun functions.

A major theme to be highlighted on the FET stand is Sustainability. The FET range of laboratory and pilot extrusion lines is ideally suited for both process and end product development of sustainable materials.

FET has successfully processed almost 30 different polymer types in multifilament, monofilament and non-woven formats, collaborating with specialist companies worldwide to promote greater sustainability through innovative manufacturing processes.

See FET at Techtextil Frankfurt – Hall 12.0, Stand A68



2021

FET hails INDEX20 impact

FET is celebrating a successful INDEX20 nonwovens exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, which closed on 22 October. Although the company has a long history in supplying meltspinning equipment for the nonwovens sector, this represents its first venture at a dedicated nonwovens show.

FET’s Managing Director, Richard Slack explains. “Techtextil and ITMA have previously been our main exhibitions of choice, but INDEX20 was an ideal vehicle for FET to launch our new laboratory scale spunbond system, which enables client development of nonwoven fabrics in a number of formats and polymers.”

FET already has spunbond systems in the field, including composite systems which utilise both spunbond and meltspun functions. The growth in global nonwovens technology, partly driven by demand for pandemic-related materials, is forecast to continue.

“We were delighted with the response at INDEX”, continued Richard Slack. “There was considerable interest shown in the new spunbond system and its potential for lab scale innovation. It’s clear that the industry is seeking new alternatives to synthetics at the moment, and our technology is able to assist with the testing and assessment of many of the new feedstocks being pioneered in this extremely inventive sector, where everyone is suddenly talking and cooperating with everyone else, regardless of whether they are generally competitors. We recorded in excess of 20 serious enquiries from totally new contacts and sectors, including blue chip companies in the hygiene, medical and packaging industries.”

“There were initial concerns about projected attendance figures, especially from China and USA companies, but we experienced good footfall from key decision makers, especially those from Europe. It was encouraging to at last experience the opportunity for face-to-face contact with old and new customers on a large scale and we are now starting to reap the benefits with enquiries continuing to flow in”.



Unique FET Spunbond Technology showcased at INDEX20

FET will introduce its new lab-scale Spunbond system at the INDEX20 nonwovens exhibition, stand 1163, taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, from October 19-22.

Complementing the company’s successful meltblown technology, the new spunbond range provides unprecedented opportunities for the scaled development of new nonwoven fabrics based on a wide range of fibres and polymers, including bicomponents.

The market availability of this new technology is particularly timely, given the industry’s current preoccupation with the development of new substrates based on biopolymers, sustainable resins or recycled fibres. FET has already supplied one of these new spunbond lines to University of Leeds in the UK, and a second, in combination with a meltblown line, to the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.

MD Richard Slack comments “We look forward to discussing the possibilities of this versatile new system with interested parties at INDEX20 in Geneva,”. “It is capable of processing pure polymer with no requirement for processing aids or additives, to obtain a wide range of structural and mechanical properties, and there are numerous options for the post-processing of the webs.”



New premises update

We are delighted to report that we are well on course to meet the completion schedule for our new premises early next year. The old unit – which was becoming a bit of an eyesore if the truth be told – previously used for storage has now been demolished and the foundations installed on site.

The photograph, taken in August, shows good progress with site preparation and clearance. Construction is now underway and everything is at last beginning to take shape. We are looking forward to a speedy completion to take FET to the next level in our development. The new administration block will certainly help us to maximise efficiency and productivity, whilst the bespoke R&D department and Visitor Centre will be of enormous benefit to our customers in their testing and product development applications.

We will keep you updated regarding site progress over the next few months.



Further gains for FET in the Biomedical sector

FET has now delivered nine meltspinning systems to clients in the biomedical sector since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a similar number currently on order for 2021/22. This confirms FET’s position as an acknowledged world leader in meltspinning equipment for the production of precursor materials used in medical devices and the default supplier for absorbable suture production systems, with orders virtually doubling year on year.

Managing Director Richard Slack emphasised the long term planning and execution that has contributed to success in this industry. “FET has a long tradition in the highly regulated biomedical sector and we believe our experience is unrivalled. We have built a world leading reputation for melt spinning medical grade polymers in both synthetic resorbable and non-absorbable polymers and FET is now reaping the rewards of this initiative”.

Recent installations include a multi-functional system that can produce both multifilament and monofilament pre-cursor fibres, but nonwoven systems have been particularly prominent, driven by the burgeoning demand for FFP3 masks, gowns and other medical products required during the pandemic. These have been sold to medical device manufacturing companies across the globe, including the Far East, USA and Europe. Research organisations have also invested in FET systems for biomedical applications, the most recent being the University of Leeds in a laboratory scale Spunbond system.

The FET in-house Process Development Laboratory and ongoing collaboration with biomaterial polymer suppliers has helped to optimise the biomedical melt spinning technology.



New FET melt spinning system upgrade for NIRI

FET has installed a new melt spinning system to upgrade research facilities at NIRI, the Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute Ltd UK, the global leader in nonwoven engineering and product development.

FET’s Managing Director, Richard Slack commented. “We are absolutely delighted to secure this order with such a prestigious research organisation as NIRI, a reflection of much hard work and a sign that FET is moving in the right direction in a fast-changing world of textile development. In particular, NIRI had a requirement to invest in the most flexible and adaptable melt spinning technology available and FET was able to satisfy this priority”.

The installation comprises a FET-102 Series Laboratory Melt Blown Spinning System and FET-103 Monofilament Melt Spinning System. This advanced equipment enhances NIRI’s extensive pilot facilities and state-of-the-art analytical laboratory for fast tracking innovation. In particular, the FET meltblown system will be utilised for R&D, pilot projects, sampling and prototyping, proof of concept testing and for designing cost-effective, sustainable and innovative products.

NIRI helps global manufacturing companies to identify new opportunities for meltblown nonwovens, develop their next generation of products and accelerate their commercialisation activities. NIRI’s new upgraded laboratory and pilot system from FET can process a wide range of polymer types, including chemically recycled polymers, bio-polymers and many difficult-to-process materials.



FET installs new Spunbond system at University of Leeds

FET has completed the installation and commissioning of a new FET Laboratory Spunbond system for the University of Leeds.

This FET spunbond system is now an integral part of the research facilities of the CCTMIH (Clothworkers’ Centre for Textile Materials Innovation for Healthcare), led by Prof. Stephen Russell based in the School of Design, University of Leeds, who commented “The new spunbond system is perfectly suited to our academic research work, and is already proving itself to be extremely versatile and intuitive to use”.

This spunbond system complements existing research lab facilities at the university, which covers all areas of fibre and fabric processing, physical testing and characterisation. It forms part of a wider investment in facilities to support fundamental, academic research on ‘future manufacturing’ for medical devices, where the focus is on studying small-scale processing of unconventional polymers and additive mixes to form spunbond fabrics with multifunctional properties.

Key to this research is developing the underlying process-structure-performance relationships, based on the measured data, to provide detailed understanding of how final fabric performance can be controlled during processing.

As a rule, many exciting materials developed in academic research struggle to progress beyond the bench, because of compatibility issues with key manufacturing processes such as spunbond. By leveraging mono, core-sheath and island-in-the-sea bicomponent technology, the Leeds University team is working with polymer and biomaterial research scientists, engineers and clinicians to explore the incorporation of unusual materials in spunbond fabrics, potentially widening applications.



FET new premises to enable expansion drive

FET has now commenced construction of a new purpose-built Research & Development Centre to enable continued growth. This innovative two-storey development will be situated on the adjacent site, providing state-of-the-art facilities, including a Visitor Centre and enhanced Process Development Laboratory (PDL) for client testing and product development.

Clients frequently spend several days on site participating in development trials and technical sales meetings, so the Visitor Centre is designed to make their stay more efficient and comfortable. Sales, administration and design departments will also be housed in the new building.

The addition of the Visitor Centre will free up a considerable amount of space for production and other facilities in the existing premises. This major refurbishment phase for the existing premises is scheduled for completion at the end of 2021. As a result, FET’s manufacturing capacity will increase by more than 50% to cope with customer demand.

Substantial year-on-year growth has driven this initiative and FET’s current order book in excess of £10million has provided the opportunity for equipping the company infrastructure for the future. Sustainability has been at the forefront of FET’s growth, supporting customers in their development of sustainable textiles and this principle is reflected in the choice of building materials and products for the Visitor Centre wherever possible.

It is expected that the new Visitor Centre will be opened in the first quarter of 2022.



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.



2020

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.”



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.



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 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.

 



2019

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.




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