The 4th Conference on Nonwovens for High‐performance Applications took place in Cannes, France, in October 2018, giving participants the opportunity to meet and discuss many areas of the emerging high‐ performance end of the nonwovens industry.
Speakers demonstrated how technology is creating new markets with new processes, materials and machinery and how the search for new high‐performance applications are shaping these developments, alongside increasingly important sustainability requirements.
The conference started with a talk on disruptive technologies, including biodegradable polymers, nanofibers and e‐mobility. The program was then divided into four sessions, the first of which examined fibers and raw materials, including nanofibers, superabsorbents and engineering polymers and discussed the misconception that natural fibers are better than synthetics for the environment.
Session two highlighted pioneering fabrics and finishing, concluding for example that there is a strong future for flax in the automotive industry, that dry powder impregnation provides product advantages and there is further potential for functionalizing nonwovens with active particles, and much more.
Sessions three and four on the second day of the conference examined new process technologies such as foam forming, printable nonwovens, elastanes for stretch, ultrasonic welding and inline measurement.
The event concluded with talks highlighting the winning combination of wetlaid and spunlacing, pneumatic fiber transport and filtration systems, and how to protect innovation.
However, underpinning most of the presentations was the issue of the environment and sustainability. Industry expert and conference chair Adrian Wilson finished his summary of what had been learned from the latest NHPA by quoting Dr Benham Pourdeyhimi, from Nonwovens Institute, NC, USA: “The concern over single‐use plastics will redefine the nonwovens industry. New materials and processes will now emerge, with fibers such as PLA, PHA, PBS and cellulose driving innovation. Right now there are transformational opportunities.”