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.
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 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.