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.
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.
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.