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Airlaid is the way to go

The demand for nonwovens is growing steadily, in the hygiene and health care segments in particular. This has seen things move ahead in the airlaid area, which is good news for Anpap and good news for the environment too, as the technology is primarily renewables-based.

Unlike conventional papermaking, which is based on producing paper from a suspension of fibre and water, airlaid technology is water-free. As the process uses no water during web formation, wastewater treatment and disposal problems are eliminated. And as the process does not generate airborne or other forms of emissions, plants can be located close to the sources of the raw materials used or close to consumers.

As a result of these intrinsic differences, the properties of airlaid materials are closer to those of nonwoven fabrics or cloth than those of paper. High absorbency is provided by the wood pulp, which is used as the main raw material; while good wet strength properties are provided by chemical binders and/or thermal bonding. The result is an ideal material for disposable hygiene products that require high performance in terms of absorbency, softness, and wet strength. Used in wiping materials, it does not fluff or scratch delicate surfaces.

Airlaid products such as wipes, hygiene products, napkins, and tablecloths have been well-received, and there are good prospects for extending the use of the technology.

New turnkey line

Anpap delivered its seventh complete airlaid production line in 2009-2010, to a new nonwovens plant in Finland. The 7,500 t/a line signalled the re-start of airlaid production in Finland after a gap of around a decade.

The scope of the delivery to Lacell extended from raw material processing and an airlaid nonwoven machine to post-processing units, a winder, and roll wrapping. The line also features a number of new Anpap innovations, such as a new generation of hammer mill for more efficient pulp processing, proven twin-drum forming, even binder application, and high-power air-drying.

This state-of-the-art technology has resulted in a highly efficient line capable of producing material with a low basis weight, giving the customer more fabric for less. Thanks to its flexibility, the line can also easily produce customised material, as well as small production runs.

Anpap’s latest production line can produce binder-, thermal-, and combi-bonded nonwoven materials for use in a wide range of end-products, from wipes and napkins to cleaning products.

Able to call on decades of experience in the field, Anpap’s offering covers:

  • Complete airlaid production lines supplying material for hygiene and health care products, wipes, and table top products
  • Combining airlaid systems with other processes, such as wet-laid, carding, spunlacing, and spunbonding
  • Nonwoven process equipment, including pulp defiberizing equipment, a new hammer mill design, and efficient thru-air dryers for water evaporation, crosslinking, and thermal bonding
  • Pilot lines
  • Process and equipment development, production improvement, and
  • Consulting and engineering services.
> Pentti Pirinen
(Published in HighTech Finland 2011)