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What is Non Woven Fabric? An In-depth Guide

In 2024, people have absolutely defeated COVID-19. During the past long battle, the non woven fabric, a new type of material used in medical products, made a huge difference. Moreover, non woven fabrics are pervasive in daily life and will never come to a halt in the future. This post shows detailed information about this fabric. It explores what a non woven fabric is, its origin, manufacture, types, characteristics, and what it is used for.

What is Non Woven Fabric?

Non woven Fabric, or non-woven fabric, is a new kind of high-tech textile manufactured without weaving. Filaments or staple fibers are placed and arranged directionally or randomly to form a net structure. Then the net is glued to an integrity and forms a textile with various forms of modern bonding technologies. Therefore, its manufacture does not convert fibers into yarns, or yarns into textiles.

Compared to woven fabric, non woven fabrics possess some unique characteristics, such as shorter process flow, and a larger variety of raw materials.

Origin of Non Woven Fabric

The origin of non woven fabric could be traced back to thousands of years ago. In ancient China, it was recorded that people made a quilt over 8 meters long by pressing and gluing millions of cocoons. Both Asian and European nomads got command of technologies of felt making. For example, some added water, urine and milk into animal hair and fur, and then stepped on the mixture or beated it with sticks to form a felt. 

Since the 19th century, industrialization of non woven fabrics has sprung up. At first, textile mills blended surplus fibers to stifle pillows, quilts, etc. In the early 20th century, non woven fabrics became economical substitutes for coarsely woven fabrics. In 1947, George M Schroder invented the disposable diaper of non woven fabrics. The textile industry no longer took it for granted that non woven fabrics were inferior to woven ones. Soon after, the ASTM, American Society for Testing and Materials, officially designated a fabric of adhering carded wet as “non woven fabric” in 1962.

In contemporary times, a non woven fabric has developed as an emerging material.  Its manufacture blossoms as a sunrise industry based on the collaboration of petrochemistry, fine chemistry, paper chemistry, the textile industry, etc.

How are Non Woven Fabrics produced?

The production of non woven fabrics can be summarized into 3 parts, web formation, web consolidation and finishing.

Web Formation

Above all, the manufacturer extracts filaments and staple fibers from both natural and man-made sources. These fibers are raw materials of non woven fabrics. Then, machines arrange them in a web directionally or randomly by plural methods, such as carding, air laying, wet laying, melt blowing, submicron spinning, etc. Nowadays, lines of a non woven fabric tend to integrate web formation with web consolidation.

Web Consolidation

Web consolidation, also called bonding,  endows the fiber web with the strength to further cohesion. It can be classified into 3 types, mechanical bonding, thermal bonding and chemical bonding.

  • Mechanical bonding: Entangle the fibers in the web by improving physical friction. It mainly includes 2 ways, Needle punching and spunlacing.
  • Thermal bonding: Add fibrous or powdered adhesive into the fiber web. Then the web is reinforced by heating, melting and cooling.
  • Chemical bonding: Add a chemical liquid into the web as a binder. It strengthens fibers’s cohesion and transforms loose fibers into a fabric.

In modern technology, these three methods are applied in combination to impart unique features to textile products.

Finishing

Finishing is a treatment to promote the functional properties of non woven fabrics, such as reliability, reproducibility and hydrophilicity. It can be chemical treatments or mechanical treatments.

Types of Non Woven Fabrics

There exist 2 ways when it comes to the classification of non woven fabrics. The first one is durability. It divided non woven fabrics into 2 types.

  • Disposable fabric (disposable diaper)
  • Durable fabric (felt)

The second classification is based on the manufacturing process and separates nonwovens into different groups. You can get further knowledge through the following list.

  • Spunlace non woven fabric (facial mask, wet wipe)
  • Spun-bonded non woven fabric
  • Heat-bounded non woven fabric
  • Melt-blown non woven fabric
  • Pulp air-laid non woven fabric(air-laid paper)
  • Wet non woven fabric (paper)
  • etc.

Characteristics of Non Woven Fabrics

Non woven fabrics are renowned for several advantages.

  • Interdisciplinary and high-tech
  • Lightweight
  • Soft and comfortable 
  • Handy and flexible for handicraft
  • Less absorbent to water but breathable
  • Non-toxic
  • Non-irritant
  • Better strength than staple fiber products
  • Sustainable

They also have obvious disadvantages, especially compared with woven fabrics.

  • Not durable
  • Hard to wash
  • More vulnerable to breakage

What is Non Woven Fabric Used for?

Non woven fabrics find versatile applications in various industries. Here are some crucial applications of them.

Medical Application

The disposable nonwovens assume a better resistance to microbial permeability than weaving textiles. Therefore, they replaced the traditional medical cotton articles and featured prominently in the medical and health industry. They are almost everywhere in hospitals.

  • Surgical cap
  • Quarantine gown
  • Medical mask
  • Surgical wiper
  • Surgical drapes and covers

Filtration Application

Non woven fabrics are employed to filtrate air and liquid. They are capable of trapping particles of different sizes. You can find them at home.

  • Food bags, such as tea bags and coffee bags
  • Vacuum bags

They perform well in industrial filtration as well.

  • Water filtration
  • Energy filtration, such as gasoline filtration
  • Mineral processing
  • Allergen membrane

Geotextiles

Nonwovens are economical and serviceable geotechnical materials. They provide excellent performance in insolation, filtration, drainage, reinforcement and protection. 

  • Stablablizers for soil, foundation, etc
  • Filtration for drainage
  • Decrease of soil erosion
  • Retaining and protecting an embankment
  • Facility for canals and kennels

Automotive Application

Non woven fabrics play a vital role in modern automotive manufacture. They can reduce noises, filter air, isolate heat, provide comfort and so on. You can find many non woven fabrics in automotive internal accessories. 

  • Car set cushion
  • Trunk lining
  • soundproofing blanket

Agricultural Application

Non woven fabrics are useful and irreplaceable covers in agriculture. For example, lightweight and breathable agricultural nonwovens placed on seedbeds increase the yield and quality of crops. They protect the seedling from bad weather and pests. Furthermore, high-tech nonwovens even offer a more desirable humidity for seeding.  Besides, in soilless culture, non woven fabrics help to deliver fresh air, water and nutrients while restraining the weeds and insects.

Personal Care Application

Nonwovens demonstrate their skin friendliness and comfortability in personal care products.

  • Sanitary pad
  • Baby diaper
  • Disposable wiper

FAQs

Woven vs Non-Woven Fabric, Which is Better?

It is very hard to decide which is better. These 2 types of fabrics have different properties and are used in diverse areas. Here is a conscious comparison between them.

Properties Drapability Durability Weight Air permeabi-lity Abrasion resistance Bending rigidity Affordability
Non-woven fabric low low relatively low high low high low
Woven fabric high high high low high low high

What is GMS in Non Woven Fabric?

GMS is the abbreviation of “grams per square meter”. It indicates how densely the fibers are compacted in the fabric. GMS of non woven fabrics varies from 10 g/m² to 320 g/m². They own diverse properties and have different usages. For example,  non woven fabrics of 10 to 40  g/m² are lightweight and have a strong filtration capacity. Thus they are used in medical and sanitary products, including medical masks, insolation garments, etc.

What are Nonwoven Fabric Bags?

They are bags made of non woven fabrics. They are soft and breathable. And they possess a unique and flat surface.  Nonwoven fabric bags gain popularity for their durability, shape, breathability and sustainability.

Can I Wash a Nonwoven Fabric?

 Yes, a non woven fabric can be washed but only by handwash and with a gentle touch. It can not withstand machine washing and will be less durable with tough rubs.

Conclusion

During the epidemic period, you might be haunted by the annoying masks. On the other hand, the textile industry and non woven fabrics substantiated their value. In the future, they will bring about more surprises beyond imagination.

More Resource

Nonwoven fabric – Source: Wikipedia

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