As one of the leading manufacturers of polyester spunbonded fabrics, Toyobo Co., Ltd. sells toward a wide range of applications including civil engineering, construction and automotives. In recent years, sales of secondary processed composite members are also expanding. New products made with functional nonwovens have also been introduced one after another, and the company is also focusing on proposing solutions with these specialized materials.
Toyobo spunbonded business continued to show strong movements in fiscal 2017, especially for automotive applications. The recent global boom in SUVs is considered a factor expanding the use of nonwovens in automotive applications.
Under these circumstances, Toyobo has also been focusing on composites by secondary processing. One of them is tonneau covers used for covering goods on the platform of vehicles. The covers have commonly been made from PVC, but from the viewpoint of recycling, other materials are increasingly being used as a substitute. Toyobo applies a special resin coating on a spunbonded polyester fabric to produce a tonneau cover that boasts light weight, low cost and low environmental burden.
According to a Toyobo official, sales are growing especially abroad. Particularly, production in China complies with VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) regulations. Since tonneau covers made of nonwovens are about half the weight of PVC, it meets the trend toward electric vehicles, for which lighter weight is an important factor.
Even for civil engineering applications, the proposal of new commodities is advancing. One of them is a sheet-type heavy metal ion adsorption material. This spunbonded polyester fabric coated with a heavy metal ion adsorbent was co-developed with The Wakasa Wan Energy Research Center and Professor Kentaro Miyawaki of Meisei University.
In Japan, there are many naturally derived heavy metals contained in the soil, and many pointed out the risk of soil contamination as a result of heavy metals flowing out into the ground from temporary placement and reuse of building soil (soil residue). For this reason, the Soil Contamination Countermeasure Act was revised in 2010, and naturally derived heavy metals became subject to laws and regulations.
The use of sheet-type heavy metal ion adsorption material on the ground surface at locations where soil from civil engineering work is placed or reused adsorbs of naturally derived heavy metals (arsenic, fluorine, lead, cadmium, etc.) contained in the excavated soil and prevents them from flowing into the ground.
Sales began in November 2017, and performance demonstration tests started in Hokkaido at actual construction sites. The construction burden is low thanks to its light weight of 450 gram/sqm2, and it is also advantageous in terms of cost. Its demand is expected to grow, as large amounts of soil are likely to be discharged from large-scale civil engineering construction projects, such as the Linear Chuo Shinkansen Line.
As for other civil engineering applications, Toyobo offers a line-up of various functional nonwovens products, such as conductive needle-punched nonwovens (manufactured by group company Yuhou Co., Ltd.), which can detect water leakage from impervious sheets.
At ANEX 2018, Toyobo will present these features, and will place an emphasis on introducing functional nonwovens. Exhibiting as the Toyobo Group, various solutions will be proposed including spunbonded, air filters, Breathair cushion materials and Exlan acrylic fibers.