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|Dornbirn 2012: No limits for nonwovens|
The future very much belongs to polyester filament and to spunlaid nonwovens.
This was one of the key messages conveyed by Peter Driscoll of UK-headquartered PCI Consulting at the recent Dornbirn Manmade Fibres Conference in Austria (September 19-21).
PCI predicts that having climbed from just over 2 million tons in 1990 to over 5 million tons in 2010, nonwovens will more than double again to reach 10.58 million tons by 2030. And while around 25% of 2010 nonwovens production was polyester filament spunbond, over 45% will be made in this way by 2030.
“Historically, if you look at the textile industry, it was based on staple fibres, and even when the manmade fibre industry started producing filament the practice was to chop it up to make fibres and felt it together again, until the Belgian carpet industry first decided to stay with the filament,” he said. “These things take time to develop, but I don’t see the gains to be made by nonwovens in coming years to be in roofing felt or interlinings. I see them in the whole gamut of current textile applications. The limitations are only imposed by the imagination of the nonwovens producers.
“And polyester filament is so versatile, with the ability to produce such a wide variety fibre types and clean technology that I see all the growth in filament and not staple.”
“The cost of polypropylene is a problem I don’t think is going to go away,” he said. “There have been times when polypropylene has been more expensive than polyester. It’s a wonderful fibre for some applications but the problem is, unlike polyester, you can basically do anything with it as long as you add something to it. And that adds cost. If you want to colour or shape it, it’s not so good. We see massive growth in polyester filament in the coming years.”
In the nearer term, between 2010 and 2015, the amount of recycled fibre – primarily polyester – on the market, will also have risen by 400%.
“There is currently a massive effort going into recycling and over half of the polyester staple fibre in Europe is already recycled, although in China, it’s currently not so significant” Mr Driscoll said. Overall, global fibre production in 2012 will be 80.2 million tons, and climb by 3.8% to 83.2 million tons, he said, with manmade fibres accounting for around 67% of the total. By 2030, PCI predicts total global production will be 112.5 million tons, with polyester’s share alone being above 50%.