All About Fabrics: Everything you need to know about non-woven textiles
- by Go-Uniq
Nonwoven fabrics are a durable choice for anyone looking to make diapers, medical gear or even bags and clothing. These fabrics are usually made using synthetic fibres that are chemically, thermally or mechanically treated. As a part of our All About Fabrics series, we delve into the nuances of this fabric, its uses, types and market dynamics.
What are non-woven textiles?
The kind of fabrics that you find in diapers, surgical gowns or even filtration materials are often non-woven fabrics. These are made by bonding figures using a mechanical, thermal or chemical process. These fabrics eliminate processes like spinning or weaving, making their manufacturing process more efficient and cost-effective.
There are numerous uses and features of non-woven fabrics. Since these are mostly synthetic textiles, certain characteristics like water resistant or flame resistant can be modified depending on the application.
Types of non-woven textiles
Nonwoven fabrics are divided into disposable and durable types based on their application requirements. The fibres used in production are mainly polypropylene (PP) and polyester (PET), but other materials such as nylon (PA), viscose fibre, acrylic fibre, polyethene fibre (HDPE), and chlorine fibre (PVC) can also be used.
Here are some of the common types of non-woven fabrics:
- Spunlace nonwoven fabric: A high-pressure fine water stream is sprayed onto one or more layers of fibre to entangle them. It creates webs that are later reinforced for durability.
- Heat-sealing nonwoven fabric: A fibrous or powdery hot melt bonding material is used to heat and consolidate a cloth.
- Pulp air-laid nonwoven fabric: These fabrics use air-laid technology to open wood pulp fiberboard into a single fibre state and reinforce fibre webs into cloth.
- Wet nonwoven fabric: Different fibres are mixed and made into a fibre web in a wet state.
- Spunbond nonwoven fabric: Polymers are extruded and stretched to form a continuous filament that is then laid to create a net. A thermal, chemical or mechanical binding helps reinforce the fibre.
- Needle punched nonwoven fabric: These are dry-laid nonwoven fabrics that use the effect of needles to reinforce the fabric web.
- Stitched nonwoven fabric: Dry-laid nonwoven fabrics that use a warp knitted loop structure to create the fabrics.
Characteristics of non-woven fabrics
Non-woven fabrics are machine made, making it easy to alter their properties. Different materials can be used to improve its durability, strength and make it water-resistant. Here are some of the common characteristics that non-woven fabrics may have:
Water-resistant fabrics Chemically treating non-woven fabrics can make them water-resistant and even flame-resistant. This can be particularly advantageous in making outdoor gear for medical or hygiene workplaces. Treating these fabrics to make them water or flame resistant, enhances the fabric with additional properties like making them an insulator
Biodegradable fabrics Chemically treating fabrics is often harmful to the environment and the people working in such factories. To tackle this issue, there is a great stress on making nonwoven fabrics biodegradable. Biodegradable fibres made from renewable resources, such as plant-based materials, makes them more environmentally friendly compared to traditional materials. Such fibres are frequently used in disposable products and packaging materials, and can also be made biodegradable through chemical treatments or additives applied during the manufacturing process or integrated into the fabric after production.
Use of non-woven fabrics
Nonwoven fabrics are extensively used in the market to serve different purposes. Depending on their characteristics, these fabrics are used to make diapers, surgical gowns, filters and even home furnishings. Its use is greatly increasing in the fashion industry to make bags and clothing. These fabrics are strong, durable and available in multiple colours, making it an easy choice to replace woven or knitted fabrics.
The pandemic gave the industry a major boost and saw the rise of nonwoven fabrics in the hygiene segment. It was used as an alternative to traditional fabrics because of its absorbent properties, softness, strength, malleability and cost-effectiveness.
Market Drivers Medical Industry:
Rise in the need for cost-effective medical gear like disposable and reusable surgical gowns, drapes, gloves, and instrument wraps
Lack of availability of raw materials Synthetic fibres such as polyester and cotton are common and cost-effective, yet materials like carbon fibres, glass fibres, high tenacity yarns, and aramids are significantly pricier and harder to find.
Rise in the need for biodegradable materials The awareness around environmentally conscious materials often increases the overall costs. Cost-effective raw materials and its availability are necessary for the industry’s growth.
Revolutionary technology is making the production of nonwoven textiles more cost-effective than ever before. Not only that, but the advent of nanofiber and high-performance materials is presenting new prospects to nonwoven manufacturers, providing a viable alternative to traditional membranes.
The nonwoven fabrics market has experienced a tremendous surge in demand, with estimations of the market size to reach USD 53.5 Billion by 2025, growing at a remarkable CAGR of 5.73% from 2020 to 2025. This growth can be attributed to the increased demand for nonwoven products and solutions for hygiene, medical, construction, and filtration applications. Such a tremendous surge in demand for nonwoven fabrics is sure to create immense opportunities for businesses in the industry