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 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.