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Mark Paterson
Mark Paterson
R&D Manager
TT: Which are the core areas that you work in technical textiles? What is the growth potential?

The core product that we manufacture is Super Absorbent Fibres (SAF), which absorbs up to 200 times its own weight in pure water. This is used in a wide variety of nonwoven, needle-felt, airlaid and laminated roll-goods products. Technical Absorbents has its own nonwoven capability, and sells SAF-containing fabrics to many customers. The core markets we work in are food packaging, medical, filtration, apparel, agro-products and yarns or cables. We are targeting significant global growth in the medical and filtration market sectors, both of which are high-value market sectors and offer massive growth opportunities. We are always looking for new areas to exploit with our speciality products.

TT: What are the trends in your segment and what new can be expected from this field?

The main trends in our markets are to deliver products with added functionality and to deliver value for money. For example, a big opportunity for us is to develop lower basis-weight SAF- containing material that can better compete in the higher volume markets, such as hygiene disposable goods. Additionally, we are looking at new and exciting technologies that improve product performance in existing markets or open up new market sectors to SAF products. It is difficult to talk about such programmes for reasons of commercial sensitivity. However, an example of a new product we recently launched is an SAF-containing yarn-net-laminate used for living roofs on top of buildings. This product helps to prevent flooding by rapidly absorbing rain water and preventing it running off into the sewers, whilst at the same time providing a water reservoir for the growing plants to prosper.

TT: Out of all the applications for nonwovens, healthcare applications are growing at a fast pace. What are the probable factors that are contributing towards this development?

Nonwovens provide healthcare products that are hygienic, cost effective, versatile and deliver a high level of performance over more traditional materials. This is contributing to their increased use. Wound care products containing SAF offer improved product performance as they are able to absorb high amounts of wound exudate over prolonged use saving both money and aiding healing.

TT: Which are your biggest markets and where does Asia feature in your growth strategy? Which are the countries looking for more technical textiles?

The biggest market for us is food packaging in Europe. However, we have a global presence across a broad spectrum of products ranging from medical wound products in North America to evaporative cooling apparel in China. Asia features very high in our growth strategy plans. Our parent company is China National Chemical Corporation, and this gives us strong leverage for expansion in the Asian market. We are actively looking to expand our presence in the cable, medical and filtration sectors in Asia. We have active enquires for new technical textiles from across the globe. The US, Europe, India, Japan, Australia and China are particularly active.

TT: How has your business grown in the last two years? What is your target growth for the next two years?

In the last two years, we delivered a strong annual growth, in excess of 15 per cent, and we are operating at full capacity. Going forward, we are looking for faster growth and have aggressive plans to deliver this. We are looking to increase our capacity by about 20 per cent in 2015 to further fuel growth in both SAF and roll-goods fabric materials containing SAF.

TT: What newer applications of SAF will contribute significantly in future?

We are actively working on a number of new and exciting products in new market sectors or technologies. However, for confidential reasons, we are not able to share specific examples at this time.

TT: Can you describe a bit about the use of Evanesce in the technical textiles industry?

Evanesce is a water soluble fibre that dissolves in both saline and pure water with little temperature dependence. It is a non-irritant and stable up to about 200oC. With appropriate environmental conditions and the correct machine set-up, it is possible to process Evanesce fibres into nonwoven or yarn materials. It is used in a number of specialist applications requiring nonwovens or yarns that dissolve in contact with water.

TT: What percentage of profits do you earmark for R&D annually?

We invest a significant amount in R&D as we recognise the importance of investing in our future and delivering products that exceed customer's expectations. As a guide, we spend about 10 per cent of our profits annually on R&D to improve existing products and develop new product technologies.

TT: How do you rate the markets in Europe, US, Asia-Pacific and other emerging economies for the medical and hygiene industry?

The medical market is healthy and well-established in these highly developed markets as the products are affordable. For emerging economies, the medical markets are smaller and less robust due to the affordability of the products. The use of SAF in products for the hygiene markets is limited to niche applications for both developed and emerging economies. This is driven by affordability and the existing industry equipment legacy.

Published on: 22/07/2015

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of technicaltextile.net.


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