International Nonwoven Disposables Association Goals and Plans – 2021
Written by Dave Rousse, INDA President
Published in the January, 2021 PFFC (Paper, Film & Foil Converter) Magazine
Learn more about the role of INDA and what its goals and plans are for the future with this Q&A from Dave Rousse, INDA president:
Rousse: INDA is the trade association of the nonwoven fabrics industry formed in 1968 to advance the growth and interests of the young industry at the time after the International Nonwoven Disposables Association. In the early 1970s we supported the establishment of EDANA in Europe and welcomed durable nonwovens into the fold, but the name “INDA” had taken hold so we continue to use it without attaching meaning to the letters. Our role now is to help our industry and our member companies be successful. INDA helps its 370 members succeed by providing the information they need to better plan and execute their business strategies.
We provide technical training at various levels, publish market statistics and data to enhance decision-making, manage critical issues impacting market sectors, organize events that add program value and connect similar interests, and involvement and provide relevant government regulatory and legislative advocacy.
What specific services does the association provide to its members and how does the offering expand?
Rousse: INDA’s market research and trend reports are trusted around the world for their accuracy and reliability. One of the most valuable reports INDA provides is the member-only report on the North American Supply/Demand balance. This is a full survey of industry producers, market suppliers, and producers for internal consumption. Additionally, we publish Outlook reports providing decisive five-year forecasts by industry sector. Along with a North American forecast edition and, with EDANA, INDA publishes a separate Worldwide Outlook for the Nonwovens Industry, both segmented by sectors and geography. We also produce the Global Nonwoven Wipes Industry Outlook and, with EDANA, the Global harmonized test methods and flushability guidelines to address the nonwoven R&D community and other stakeholders.
Beyond those publicly available Outlook reports and the member-only Supply report, we offer members the quarterly INDA Market Pulse, a report that provides members with an exclusive overview of the current state and direction of the North American Nonwovens industry, including economic viewpoints. The publication provides a consensus outlook of economic, energy, and end-use market forecasts. The INDA Price Trends Summary is another INDA member benefit that provides a monthly summary of price analyses for Roll Goods, Staple Fibers, and Polymers.
What new services did INDA plan for 2020?
Rousse: INDA is always open to new partnerships to advance the industry. We recently acquired two publications to extend our reach and voice in two important areas. We have International Filtration News to expand our reach into this important sector, and International Fiber Journal to elevate the role material science will play in developing more sustainable approaches to the single use disposables so prevalent in our industry. With our new INDA Media, we intend to provide some thought leadership, expose new developments, relate them to the challenges going forward, and to expand INDA’s presence and service in important areas.
How do your activities reflect the dynamics of the nonwovens industry?
Rousse: As an association, we have the standing to provide industry recognition to innovations and individual service so important to our industry’s growth. We do this through our Innovation Awards programs attached to our conferences, and our IDEA® event. Our events foster Thought- Leadership in the sectors that we address. Our conferences are peppered with industry experts looking forward to future growth, articulating unmet needs, interpreting market signals, and presenting innovative thoughts, developmental concepts, and trends. This progressive methodology has been very important in the success of our conferences. The content is serious and the networking continues the discussions. And we try to inject a little fun as well.
What are the sustainability programmes is INDA working on in the moment?
Rousse: Our industry recognizes the need to move from a “Linear Economy” toward a more “Circular Economy” through recycling, reclaiming and reuse. We believe advancements in material science will be a great help in this area, and are seeing interesting new developments in bio-based polymers and polymer combinations to advance in this area. Our drivers are an increasing concern about single use plastics and their persistence in the environment. INDA’s conferences will continue to provide cutting edge content on this growing topic.
What are new important developments in terms of R&D and innovations in the nonwoven sector?
Rousse: The market we are in is very dynamic, so we need to be continuously alert to new demands, new unmet needs, and new ways to meet those needs. Nonwovens are engineered materials that provide solutions to material science challenges. There will always be new challenges to be met, and nonwovens are successful because they are a very versatile, nimble platform that is receptive to new materials, new processes, and new technologies. Our job is to make it easy for resources to connect to facilitate the new developments and to execute well the management of the services and activities that deliver these connections. Last year, we celebrated our 50th Anniversary as the trade association leading the world of nonwovens. We need to stay sharp for the next 50 years.
Would you like to mention any of your specific training program that would demonstrate the benefit INDA brings to its members?
Rousse: INDA and North Carolina State University’s Nonwovens Institute offers members and professionals a jointly organized series of nonwoven short courses with The Professional Development Series of Nonwovens Courses. Starting with the nonwovens basics, the educational content and rigor level increases to intermediate and caps off with advanced series of product development, advances in filtration and fabric property development, spunbond and meltblowing technology. INDA also offers specific product courses in Absorbent Hygiene, Filter Media Training and a WIPES Academy 2-day course. This joint venture harmonizes and unifies each organization’s separate nonwoven training courses into a single series. The series gives industry professionals targeted and flexible short course opportunities to gain knowledge in the field of nonwovens and advance their career development goals. INDA also provides on-site training for Member companies. We are able to customize a curriculum with our Members Human Resources, Engineering and Plant Management that train their employees, and suppliers about specific nonwoven applications, product components, and sectors needed for new employees or seasoned professionals across multiple departments..
What would INDA like to achieve in the near future as an organisation to promote sustainability?
Rousse: The general issue of “Plastics in the Environment” is growing in public awareness with increasing calls by non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) on producers and users to do something about it. At the same time, there are a growing number of legislative initiatives at the state and municipal level to ban or regulate certain single use plastic items and additional activity at the Federal level, in Europe, and in other parts of the world.
As policy makers strive to responsibly advance circular economy principles that improve the disposability of single use plastic products, it is important to distinguish between the indulgence of convenience (such as sipping straws and grocery bags) and the necessity of convenience, such as in providing efficacy in personal, household and institutional hygiene. Baby care and elderly care rely on the convenience of disposable wipes. Home hygiene as well. Consequently, as policies are being developed on plastic materials, we encourage the determination of the appropriate balance between the benefits provided by such materials, what alternatives exist that can still deliver on consumer expectations, and the environmental costs of their use and disposal. Nonwovens manufacturers and brand owners will be partners in this endeavour.
Written by Kelly Robinson, Contributing Writer for PFFC Magazine
Published in the October, 2020 PFFC (Paper, Film & Foil Converter) Magazine
Treaters are often used before lamination to improve adhesion and before coating to improve wettability and adhesion. (See the PDF of the Article below to see Figure 1.)
The functions of the four key components of a corona treater (See the PDF of the Article below to see Table 1 for more details.)
High Voltage Electrodes
The best practice is to install powered static bar SBCT in Figure 1 on the web exiting the corona treater facing the treated surface. Corona treaters can deposit large amounts of static on treated surfaces. This static is an unwanted by-product of treatment. Dissipate static on the web from corona treaters using a powered static bar installed on a web exiting the corona treater facing the treated surface.
How to Guide: Improve Efficiency on Winders, Unwinders & Slitters
Published in the November, 2020 PFFC (Paper, Film & Foil Converter) Magazine
Contact and separation between two surfaces creates static electricity, which results in process problems and safety concerns when static reaches shock levels. The challenge is that static electricity causes severe problems throughout winding and unwinding applications, whether running plastic, film, paper or textiles. Both AC or DC type of anti-static ionization systems generate an electrical field, which causes the air molecules in the vicinity of the ionizer to break down into positive and negative ions. Because opposite polarities attract, any static charge material or product passing near the ionizer will attract ions of the opposite polarity until the charged material is neutralized.
But, the greatest influence over static bars performing well is “distance to target”. Due to AC ionization requiring a static bar to be mounted within inches of a web to effectively neutralize the static charge, this can be a problem if you can’t mount the bar close enough to the moving web.
Static Clean offers cost-effective solutions to all these problems. The all new 24vDC long range bar with its revolutionary built-in intelligence are ideal for dealing with static electricity on winders. The 24vDC style long-range technology has been the most significant development in the static industry. On most new converting equipment, the 24vDC static bars can operate at higher speeds and distances from 200mm to 1500mm from the web. Bars are also available for shorter ranges.
The 24vDC static eliminators are designed to compensate for the changing geometry of the roll and provide a consistent level of static elimination by reacting to the static charge and emitting the quantity and polarity of ions to neutralize it. The combination of long-range intelligence with intense ion generation creates static eliminators for the most demanding applications.
This week, especially because it’s December and so close to the Christmas holiday, I worked on an alarming application that involved a static hazard. 100% ethanol was poured from a plastic container, which held approximately 5 gallons of the liquid, into smaller or larger containers that were also made of plastic. Ethanol is a colorless, volatile liquid. Most people recognize it as the ingredient in liquor, which has an intoxicating effect on most people. However, it is also used as a solvent which can ignite under certain conditions. Static electricity is one of the three components necessary to create an event, which is a soft way of saying an arc-over, a fire or an explosion. The other two ingredients are oxygen and a volatile vapor.
There are well established protocols for handling and working with ingredients that can go “boom in the night”. The front line of defense in protecting oneself from mishaps is grounding everything that is capable of being grounded. If we take a simplistic approach and look at the world as being made of only two materials, insulators and conductors, you can get a better sense of safety procedures that will keep to us out of harm’s way. Metal is a conductor and easily grounded by clamping onto a known building ground or electrical ground or even by driving a rod deep into the earth. Hence, we call it an earth ground. A water pipe inside of a facility can also act as a good ground source. By grounding the metal, electrons can flow through the metal to ground itself. Conversely plastic cannot be grounded. This is why my static application hit a bump in the road. Static is generated on plastic materials through friction which we call Tribocharging. There are a myriad of types of plastic, but for the most part, assume that all plastics are huge static generators. Plastics are insulators and not conductive so the energy generated by simply handling plastic stays on the surface and can be a source of ignition.
In my static hazard application, an ungrounded person holding the ethanol picks up an ungrounded plastic container and pours it into another ungrounded container. This is not a good situation. During the pouring process, a potentially explosive, volatile vapor cloud forms around the pouring action in both the dumping container and the receiving container. There are three possible opportunities that can cause ignition in this scenario: a discharge from the ungrounded tech who is pouring the flammable ethanol; a discharge from static on the container which is high enough in proximity to the vapor cloud which forms in the discharging plastic container; a discharge from static to the same cloud that can form in the receiving plastic container. If a static charge is present, with enough energy behind it, there is a strong chance that any of these actions can create a safety hazard.
A Grounding Solution
Finding a solution to this problem can be a bit tricky. The basic approach is to ground everything that can be grounded or switch to materials that can be grounded. Simply switching from plastic containers to metal is a huge step in the right direction. There will be times when grounding is not possible and materials cannot be changed. In that case, ionization is the only choice. There are approved ionizing static bars and blowers that remove or greatly reduce static electricity on plastic materials. Static Clean and Fraser AntiStatic Techniques of England have formed a strategic alliance / partnership to address these dangerous scenarios. When you have concerns about your facility and the safety of workers who may be in harm’s way, please reach out to Static Clean for help. At this special time of year as with any time of year, it is important to always think “safety first”.
I was chatting with a friend/customer the other day and asking him if he was still playing hockey in a men’s no-check league. His response was that it was “time to hang it up”. It got me to thinking about all the things we do in life where we can use or connect that phrase.
The obvious meaning of hang it up is to stop doing something that you’ve done for a long time. How about hang it up as in hat, coat, phone, pictures, and decorations. The gloomier side of the phrase can mean break-up, bring to a close-like a chapter in one’s life- and cease, which has very strong connotations, but the one that I like the most is “bag it”. Many of us have used the phrase, “why don’t you bag it” on people we know. From watching detective TV shows involving criminal investigations and forensics, “bag it” refers to putting evidence in a sealed bag or container.
Plastic, All Wrapped Up?
There are many kinds of bags and containers that are produced every day in factories throughout the world. They can be either converted film, blow molded containers, injection molded boxes or cast materials, but can you imagine not having a plastic storage bag or container to keep food in the refrigerator? While we all try to be “green”, the plastics converters are working to make improvements with bio-degradable, engineered materials, but the reality is that plastic bags and containers are creature comforts that make our lives easier and will be around for a long time.
Most plastics come from petroleum based resin, that by the time it becomes a finished product on the various machines, it has been subjected to high amounts of static electricity. These unwanted static charges can cause defect in the materials, lost production because of having to run the equipment slower than possible, particle attraction which reduces quality and jamming in the process, which causes down-time and lost profits. Static Clean provides many types of ionizing air products that reduce the ill effects of static electricity. They are available in the form of static bars, blowers, nozzles, air knives and cleaning systems.
In time, the choice of materials will lean more towards environmentally friendly resins that may not cause static levels that are harmful, but until then Static Clean can help improve the process, because most of us would have to agree that it is not quite time yet to “Hang It Up” when it comes to creature comforts like plastic bags.
Tribo-Charging, Who Really Discovered Electricity?
The relationship between static electricity and particle attraction has been long known. The Ancient Greeks when polishing their jade and precious stones noticed that straw, chafe and other particles were attracted to the exact things they were trying to clean, the family jewels. This phenomena became known as “Tribo-charging“. Simply stated it was the contact and friction that generated an electrostatic field around the parts that attracted the debris.
The Plastic Attraction
In the Life Sciences Industry of today most companies use plastics in their process. Whether it is to replace body parts, catheters, injection systems, pumps, blood separators or their packing, plastics are here to stay. Not only are they here to stay, but plastic is being used in this process at an increasing rate. Most of these engineered plastics are for a specific need but the premise is the same, they generate huge amounts of static that causes Foreign Matter (FM) to be attracted to the products and the process.
Medical Device Manufacturers most often individually package each medical device and they are subjected to 100% inspection. When the inspector sees a speck of debris (FM), which could be in the form of plastic bits, fuzz balls from clothing, or even human hair, the package is then ripped open and put aside for repackaging. These units are tracked in what is generally called “the tear down rate”. In almost every case, the root cause was the forces of static electricity pulling unwanted particles onto the product and the packaging materials. In addition to the packaging level there are various stages in the assembly process where FM causes rejects. Some of those stages include Injection Molding, Coating, Ultrasonic Welding, Bonding/Gluing, Forming, and handling during the assembly processes. These are also key functions that need to be addressed. The common denominator being that contact and separation (tribo-charging) occurs, static is generated and FM comes into play to contaminate products that could end up inside the human body or blood stream. The FM could also potentially block injection or fluid systems clogging pathways designed to deliver medicine.
Gains are Being Made, Reducing FM
The front line of defense is a properly maintained clean room, but that doesn’t address process problems at the local level, aka the workstation or cell. How does static control reduce particles via ionization in the fight to reduce FM? Static Clean did a job last year for a major medical device company that was experiencing a very high tear down rate. They approached us to come up with a system where they could pass their products thru a blow-off, ionized, vacuum table. The results of this first system allowed them to run 50,000 parts without a single tear-down.
While not all medical device manufacturers have identical assembly lines, let’s take a look at the types of static controls are that implemented for specific reasons or points in the process.
Room Ionization: In this installation, ionizers are mounted in the ceilings and the preferred method is to locate the ionizer right under the Fan Filter Unit. (FFU) to take advantage of the clean air being delivered into the room.
The Increasingly popular approach has been to use source capturing methods in conjunction with ionizing air tools. Recent gains have been made in the development of customized medical cleaning workstations that meet clean room protocol and are tailor engineered to a specific product or package.