Application of Non-Woven Fabric in Apparel, Fashion and Technical Textiles

Non-Woven Fabric:
During the non-woven fabric production, the yarn manufacturing as well as yarn preparation processes (required in woven fabric) are eliminated. Due to this reason non-woven fabrics are cheaper as compared to the conventional fabrics. The great advantage of non-woven fabrics is the speed with which the final fabric is produced. Non-woven fabrics are formed directly from fibers into a fabric. Therefore, they miss out the yarn production process.

Conventional fabric is produced in the following way:

Fiber → Yarn → Fabric (knitting or weaving)

Non-woven fabrics are produced in the following way:

Fiber → Fabric

Non-woven is a much quicker method of producing fabrics, but the fabrics have limited use due to their poor durability and strength. Yarns used for knitting and weaving have been through the spinning process, which adds great strength and cohesion to the group of fibers. With non-woven fabric, the fibers are laid as a web and only held together by chemicals, heat or mechanical processes. There is some relative strength in these fabrics but it is short term, and, therefore, these products have a short life span.

non woven fabric
Fig: Non-woven fabric

Non-woven industry manufactures and converts versatile and engineered fibrous assemblies with numerous existing applications and continuously innovating products for new applications. The classification on the basis of employed technology can be challenging as numerous combinations of raw materials, web formation, web bonding, and post processing methods lead to non-woven products for a wide range of application areas. This degree of freedom is the key to offer non-woven with unique properties to suit a myriad of application areas.

The end uses of non-woven fabrics can be segmented into, but not limited to, hygiene, wipes, apparel, medical, health care, personal care, automotive, electronics, filtration, agriculture, horticulture, furnishings, construction, and packaging. It is important to mention that a single product in an application area can be manufactured by employing different technologies.

Different Uses of Non-Woven Fabrics:
The examples of uses of non-woven fabrics are tabulated below:

ApplicationsExamples of UseTechnologies Employed
Absorbent hygiene products (AHP)Baby diapers, feminine hygiene products, and adult incontinence productsAir-laid, carded nonwovens, spunmelt (SMS, spunbond)
Agriculture and horticultureCrop covers, plant protection Seed blankets, weed control fabrics, greenhouse shading, root control bags, biodegradable plant pots, capillary matting, landscape fabricNeedle punched, spunbond
AutomotiveHeadliner, dashboard insulation, carpets and flooring, seats, interior trim, cabin air filters, airbags, wheel housing, dashboard insulation, hood insulation, filtration, molded bonnet liners, heat shields, parcel shelf, boot liners, boot floor covering, boot carpetsNeedle punched, spunlace,
thermally bonded, spunbond
BuildingInsulation (thermal and noise), house wrap, roofing, covers for acoustic ceilings, air infiltration barrier, vapor barrier, flooring substrates, facings for plaster board, pipe wrap, concrete molding layers, foundations and ground stabilization, vertical drainageDry-laid, needle punched, spunlace, thermobonded,
GeotextilesRoad and rail building, dam, canal and pond lining, hydraulic works, sewer lines, soil stabilization and reinforcement, soil separation, drainage landfill, filtration, sedimentation and erosion control, weed control, root barriers, sport surfaces, asphalt overlay, impregnation base, drainage channel linersDry-laid, needle punched, spun-laid
FiltrationEngine air, oil, fuel, cabin air, HVAC—industrial heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning, industrial consumer products, clean rooms, food and beverage, pharmaceutical/medical, water, blood, hydraulic, antimicrobial, biopharmaceutical, dust, odorAir-laid, electrospun,
meltblown, needle punched, spunbond, spunlace, thermobonded, wet-laid
HouseholdAbrasives, bed linen, blinds/curtains, carpet/carpet backings, covering and separation material, detergent pouches/fabric softener sheets, flooring, furniture/ upholstery, mops, table linen, tea and coffee bags, vacuum cleaning bags, wall covering, wipesNeedle punched, spunbond, wet-laid
MedicalDisposable caps, gowns, masks, scrub suits and shoe covers, drapes, wraps and packs, sponges, dressings and wipes, bed linen, contamination control gowns, examination gowns, lab coats, isolation gowns, transdermal drug delivery, shrouds, underpads, procedure packs, heat packs, ostomy bag liners, fixation tapes, incubator mattress, sterilization wraps, wound care, cold/heat packs, drug deliveryDry-laid, spunlace, meltblown, spunbond
Personal care wipesBaby wipes, facial wipes, cleansing wipes, hand and body wipes, moist towelettes, personal hygiene wipes, feminine hygiene wipes, antibacterial wipes, medicated wipesAir-laid, spunlace, wet-laid

Application of Nonwovens in Apparel and Fashion:
Woven and knitted fabrics are widely employed in apparel and fashion applications. Non-woven fabrics find some application in disposable sector and are mostly employed as components of durable applications. The key areas of applications include interlinings, protective clothing, shoe linings, and synthetic leather. Going into the history of disposable dresses, Scott Paper Company introduced paper dresses in 1966 and sold more than half a million in less than a year. The dress was actually part of an advertising campaign and included yarn reinforcement. Following the trend, other companies also launched paper products, including evening dress, wedding gown, water proof rain coats, bikinis, and paper suits; some of the examples with commercial success are mentioned here.

Uses of non-woven fabrics in fashionwear
Fig: Uses of non-woven fabrics in fashionwear

Miratec fabrics by Polymer Group International are textured hydroentangled fabrics and offer applications in durable apparel. DuPont introduced the spunbonded olefin, TyvekR, which is lightweight protective apparel and has achieved a lot of commercial success. TyvekR-based jackets are also offered but not in the mainstream. EvolonR by Freudenberg is another notable example. EvolonR is made from splittable bicomponent fibers, which are split during hydroentanglement resulting in microfilament fabric and the fabric is claimed to be processed like a traditional fabric. Another interesting example is Spray-onc fabric by Fabrican, which uses liquid suspension sprayed by the use of either a spray gun or an aerosol can to create an instant non-woven fabric.

Though nonwovens have some degree of success in commercialization of limited-use apparel but, in general, struggle to meet the properties required for the durable applications. Fabric drape, handle, elastic recovery, and abrasion resistance are important for applications of nonwovens in main stream apparel. Nonwoven technology has advanced and fabrics with desirable properties for apparel applications are being developed. For example, hydroentangled fabrics provide better drape characteristics than other available non-woven fabrics as the entanglement and twisting mechanisms during hydroentangling are superficially similar to the twist in yarns. Furthermore, the use of post processing methods, especially coloration approaches, functional finishes, and joining techniques, are the key to develop nonwovens for durable apparel applications.

Application of Nonwovens in Medical Textile:
Application of nonwovens in medical field goes back to the time of Second World War when need for new and large volumes of medical product had arisen. At that time nonwovens were regarded as the most effective materials for bacterial barriers. Besides, in hospitals, cross-contamination is always one of the biggest problems which were attributed largely to re-using of woven gowns, masks and other similar articles which would get contaminated and potentially spread the germs. On the other hand, non-woven fabric is a more cost effective alternative which was disposable and reduced the problem of cross-contamination greatly. Most non-woven products used outside the body are disposable, single-use articles that have the advantage of not requiring sterilization or cleaning for reuse. However, there are some that can be reused to provide the required function over a limited period of time.

Application of Non-woven for medical textile
Fig: Application of non-woven in medical textile

Non-woven possesses following properties due to which they became famous in medical field:

  • Nonwovens are easy to sterilise.
  • Various manufacturing technique options according to applications
  • Economical manufacturing process
  • Excellent barrier properties
  • Superior efficiency
  • Better performance (comfort, thickness and weight, water vapor transmission, air permeability etc.)
  • Increased protection for user (better physical properties like tensile, tear resistance, abrasion resistance etc.)
  • Less potential for cross contamination etc.

Non woven fabrics play a significant role in the medical sector. The product range includes surgical gowns, surgical masks and other wearable products; surgical drapes, sanitary pads; dressings; filtration materials; and implantable textiles such as tissue scaffolds for rebuilding internal organs, among other products.

You may also like: Applications of Nonwoven Hygiene Materials

Applications of Nonwovens in Technical Textiles:
Applications / uses of non-woven fabric in technical textiles is not a new trend. Today, non-wovens are being widely used in many industrial sectors and they play a vital role in their application in technical textiles worldwide.

Advantages of nonwovens for technical application: Nonwovens’ resistance to tears, soil, chemical, puncture, UV light exposure, mildew, rot, freeze/thaw conditions, excellent strength, breathability and barrier properties, attractive fiber and structural appearance of various surface tension at relatively low cost makes them an ideal candidate for technical applications.

Uses of non-woven fabrics in the below sectors of technical textiles:

  • Agrotech: Agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture and forestry.
  • Buildtech: Building and construction.
  • Clothtech: Technical components of footwear and clothing.
  • Geotech: Geotextiles and civil engineering.
  • Hometech: Technical components of furniture, household textiles and floor coverings.
  • Indutech: Filtration, conveying, cleaning and other industrial uses.
  • Medtech: Hygiene and medical.
  • Mobiltech: Automobiles, shipping, railways and aerospace.
  • Oekotech: Environmental protection.
  • Packtech: Packaging.
  • Protech: Personal and property protection
  • Sporttech: sports and leisure.

You may also like:

  1. Characteristics of Nonwoven Fabric | Uses and Specialty of Nonwoven Products
  2. Spunbonding Method for Nonwoven Fabric Production
  3. Hydroentanglement Bonding Process for Production of Nonwoven Fabric
  4. Melt Blown Non-Woven Technology – An Overview

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