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Nonwovens / Technical Textiles

Cotton Incorporated Assists With Commercially Viable Technologies For Nonwovens

Manufacturers of absorbent, personal-care products have been hesitant to use cotton in the past, perhaps due to the myth that the fiber is difficult to work with, according to Cotton Incorporated, Cary, N.C. The upland cotton research and marketing company has been providing technical assistance to those interested in developing, producing and marketing cotton nonwoven products.For example, Cotton Incorporated developed a continuous bleaching system that includes several patented elements, one of which creates a more open fiber that is easier to process for nonwoven materials. Charlotte, N.C.-based Barnhardt Manufacturing Co. currently licenses this technology, which is critical to the recent expansion of their bleaching facilities.Since bleaching cotton removes its natural finish, a lubricating finish must be applied in order to make nonwoven webs. After testing several different finishes, Cotton Incorporated found that butoxyethyl stearate (BES) is the best lubricant for bleached cotton processed through the traditional high-production, web-forming equipment common for synthetic nonwovens.Cotton Incorporated remains committed to pursuing a share of the nonwoven absorbent market by replacing non-cotton cellulose and synthetic with performance-oriented, cost-effective cotton alternatives in key product categories such as diapers, feminine hygiene and wipes, backed by the Absorblend trademark, said Mac McLean, manager, nonwoven research and implementation.Cotton Incorporated introduced the Absorblend trademark in 1998. It features the Seal of Cotton and identifies hygiene products that contain at least 60-percent upland cotton and/or cotton linters in the absorbent core.According to a national study conducted by Atlanta-based Mills Consulting Group on behalf of Cotton Incorporated, consumers favor cotton for its purity, hypoallergenic benefits, superior absorbency, durability, softness and overall comfort.

April 2001