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From idea to transfer


Techtextil Innovation Award for bio-based hygiene nonwovens

At this year's Techtextil, Patrick Engel, head of Center of Excellence in Nonwovens, and his colleagues achieved the Techtextil Innovation Award in the "New Concept" category. In cooperation with Kelheim Fibres GmbH and Sumo GmbH, he received the award for the development of a bio-based hygiene nonwoven – a good example of how research and industry are breaking new ground in sustainability through collaboration in an open innovation approach.

The starting point for the innovation was the search for a washable and thus reusable absorbent pad made entirely from bio-based materials for applications in hygiene products for babies and women as well as incontinence hygiene. The focus was on two main requirements: fast and efficient liquid distribution and high absorbency should minimise rewetting and leakage. Both are ensured by special viscose fibres from Kelheim Fibres, which have been making this essential contribution to absorbent hygiene products such as tampons for many years.

Here, the advantages of nonwovens in combination with special viscose fibres in terms of absorption capacity (through more open-pored structures) have been perfectly transferred from the field of disposable to the world of reusable products. For reusable products, however, there is another challenge to overcome: they must remain stable during washing and over several cycles of use. To ensure this, an innovative nonwoven construction was developed at the Sächsisches Textilforschungsinstitut e.V. (STFI). The developed nonwovens ensure sufficient dimensional stability with as little fibre damage as possible due to the bonding mechanisms. The developed nonwoven layers can be used as a stand-alone solution or integrated into a composite structure, such as the diaper from Sumo.

With the Sumo cloth diaper, the liquid management of the absorbent pad sets new standards. The new solution combines the worlds of hygiene and sustainability providing proof of high-performance reusable absorbent products being developed without fossil materials.


More information on the project will be available at this year's 61st Global Fiber Congress (GFC) in Dornbirn. At the world's largest fibre innovation congress, taking place from 14th to 16th September 2022, project manager Patrick Engel will speak about the ongoing research project providing interesting data.

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