Toray Industries, Inc. set up the Performance Nonwoven Products Department in FY2017. In addition to filament nonwovens such as polyester and polypropylene spunbonded fabrics, the department has been expanding the product varieties with developments made from fibers for nonwovens in cooperation with the Staple Fibers Department. Moves to put unique materials into practical use have also accelerated, such as Gulfeng flame-retardant fire-shielding nonwovens. By combining various materials, it aims to expand the field of nonwovens.
Tatsu Matsushita, General Manager of the Performance Nonwoven Products Department, looks back on FY2017, the first fiscal year for the department, saying, “Although individual tasks remained, it was overall not satisfactory but passing.”
As for polypropylene spunbondeds for sanitary products, a stock operation system was established with production carried out in the world’s three core areas of Korea, China and Indonesia, and development equipment introduced at the Shiga Plant also began to be used in October. Demand for Axtar polyester spunbonded fabrics grew for application in filters. Its good formability for a heavyweight fabric, dust collection efficiency and durability are appreciated, and sales are growing in China where environmental regulations are becoming stricter.
Meanwhile, results have been achieved for staple nonwovens. In the automotive industry, for instance, the development of new sound-absorbing materials using microfibers is progressing. Gulfeng is also being evaluated for application in materials for aircraft seats, and progress has also been made for use in commercial furniture, etc.
Under these circumstances, new initiatives have begun in FY2018. Toray Polytech (Foshan) Co., Ltd. was launched in Foshan, China as a new base for manufacturing polypropylene spunbonded fabrics. In India, moves are being made to establish a manufacturing base, such as the acquisition of land. General Manager Matsushita says, “Further developments for a global supply system will be made.”
Since polypropylene spunbonded fabric makers in China are increasing their production capacities, competition will become even more intense, so it is important that the upgrade and differentiation of products are made with the use of development equipment at the Shiga Plant. Cooperation with global sanitary product manufacturers has become more important than ever before.
Even for polyester spunbonded fabrics, the lineup is being expanded for filter applications, and there are new products that are already being tested. Besides Japan, Toray Fibers & Textiles Research Laboratories (China) Co., Ltd. will also be utilized for strengthening global research and development.
While the variety of staple fibers is expanded, undertakings with air-through nonwovens makers will be strengthened, especially for conjugate fibers. Furthermore, it is important to develop applications of original high value-added products such as Gulfeng and nanofibers.
Matsushita says, “I hope these efforts will further expand the fields of Toray nonwovens.”
At ANEX 2018, Toray will present nonwovens for a wide range of applications from sanitary to industrial materials with “Further Expanding Fields” literally as a theme. Toray offers an extensive range of materials from super fibers to polyester, polyethylene, polypropylene, etc., and by combining these materials, it intends to show the new possibilities of nonwovens.