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.
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 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 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 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 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 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.