Written by: Helena Engqvist
The development of nonwoven materials is one of the greatest innovations in the textile industry. Who would have thought that such materials could meet the needs for millions of consumers and professionals with innovative products and applications for the most basic every-day situations in personal care, hygiene and health-care?
As the world is a changing place, so is the development of nonwovens. The nonwoven technologies today are excellent enablers for creative market developers and innovators to discover new technical solutions and nonwoven materials to serve as the basic carrier and construction provider in millions of products. So, let's take a look at a few of these segments.
Absorbent hygiene products increase quality of life
Personal care and hygiene is of utmost importance when increasing the quality of life for women, men and children everywhere. And different kinds of nonwovens are used in numerous products, such as absorbent hygiene products where nonwovens are in direct contact with the body as a top-sheet for baby diapers, feminine care and adult incontinence products. They provide quick liquid penetration and at the same time a dry surface. The requirements are very high, not only in technical performance, but also giving products a soft, comfortable touch, without compromising safety for sensitive skin. Nonwovens can also be found in the sub-layers, like the absorbent distribution layers, the wrapping of the absorbent core, and finally laminated to the back-sheet to give the final products a textile feeling. New products may also incorporate additives for odour prevention and surface improvements. The difference lies in the sophistication between purpose, design and complexity of products.
Feminine care products help women in all parts of the world to manage their daily activities and challenges without having to worry about their period. These products make it possible for girls to go to school and women to work every day and not have to stay home during the period. Sanitary pads - or napkins - have undergone a revolution from thick and uncomfortable reusable products to become easy-to-use disposable ultra-thin and non-visible, while panty-liners have become a daily-use alternative for women everywhere.
Baby diapers, the biggest category in hygiene products, are expanding design and distribution to meet habits and use for babies and mothers in different cultures. This requires technical adaptations to consumer needs on a local basis. Although fluff pulp combined with SAP (super absorbent polymers) are used in most baby diapers, the more recent developments with an absorbent core with no fluff pulp is increasing in the market. The thinner products reduce shelf space, bring down transportation cost and add to efforts on sustainability and environmental friendliness.