Drylaid or wetlaid nonwovens, spunbond, spunlace, or needlepunch: ANDRITZ Nonwoven supplies integrated solutions from web forming systems to finishing. Recently, customers and experts at the IDEA fair in Boston were able to verify this. In the following report, we will take our readers to the French town of Elbeuf – the location of ANDRITZ Asselin-Thibeau, which is part of international technology Group ANDRITZ.
- What are the core competences in carding, crosslapping, and needling?
Johannes Haep: ANDRITZ Nonwoven always has a global approach to the different manufacturing processes and develops solutions that integrate various technologies to the benefit of its customers. ANDRITZ Asselin-Thibeau is the competence center for drylaid processes that involve the use of cards, crosslappers, and bonding technologies, especially needlepunch technology.Based on many years of experience and intensive market research, ANDRITZ designs solutions in close cooperation with its customers in order to improve fabric evenness, to bring added value to nonwoven webs through additional fabric performance, or to develop systems to optimize productivity and minimize maintenance requirements. Over the years, this has led to many outstanding innovations, such as the eXcelle TT card design, the TCF-X chute feed that also operates with long fibers at high throughput, the well-known ProDyn weight profiling system, and the Isolayer draft control, to name but a few.
Listening to nonwovens producers and meeting their challenges is our daily mission. We have developed extensive simulation tools to identify the potential limits or highlight the advantages of various process solutions. The simulation tools can easily compare alternative solutions in terms of productivity and quality, taking account of the range of fabrics our customers want to consider. This important step, combined with trials in our ANDRITZ pilot facilities, provides our customers with the necessary confidence to decide what the right investment is for their specific project.
The value of this diagnosis is underlined by offering a very wide range of alternative solutions. Whatever the customers’ project requirements are, they can easily find the right combination in the eXcelle (state-of-the-art equipment for large capacities) and aXcess (equipment for medium capacities) ranges for neXline needlepunch lines.
- How is neXline needlepunch technology integrated into your technical center in Elbeuf?
Jean-Philippe Dumon: The ANDRITZ Asselin-Thibeau technical center located in Elbeuf is equipped with an industrial-scale neXline needlepunch eXcelle pilot line. It combines all of the most advanced technologies developed by ANDRITZ for the needlepunch market. Our technical center is available for trials, product developments, marketing tests, and technical training, and also offers expert support. For nonwovens producers, it is the perfect opportunity to experience advanced technologies and witness the fabric performance they can achieve with ANDRITZ lines and also to assess the investment and maintenance requirements.
Our main line concept is very flexible because it can combine different types of fiber raw materials. The TCF-X chute feed can process short and long fibers with an accuracy of ≤ 3% basis weight CV in cross direction (CD), feeding a double eXcelle card that can handle fibers up to 120 mm. ProDyn and Isolayer technologies can be used or switched off to evaluate their input, and nonwoven and woven fabrics can be introduced at different stages of the bonding process. The needling effect can be carried out in different steps, from both sides or from one fabric side only. A large number of different needle patterns and needle types are available to simulate industrial conditions. The bonding process can associate needling with batt drafting and/or felt drafting to modify fabric performance in terms of tensile strength, elongation, and so on. Testing equipment in our laboratory is available to shorten the equipment adjustment time.
The complete line is equipped with the SCADA system, an “intelligent” industry 4.0 product from ANDRITZ. Its features for production management, maintenance assistance, and operating cost management can be demonstrated to visitors.
Besides the main carding-needling line, off-line needlepunch machines are available for further needling processes at speeds up to 100 m/min, or for random velour effects. On the SDV-2 needleloom equipped with the patented, inclined brush conveyor, we can demonstrate the superior fabric abrasion resistance that can be achieved.In order to be able to conduct reliable trials in the medium-capacity range, ANDRITZ also has an industrial-scale neXline needlepunch aXcess pilot line at its technical center in Wuxi, China. The 2.5 m-wide pilot line is configured with opening and blending units, aXcess card, Profile crosslapper, and A.30 needleloom to demonstrate the machinery capability at full speed.
- What are the main technical and technological characteristics of this new technology?
Jean-Philippe Dumon: The neXline needlepunch concept offers several specific advantages, from web forming to web bonding. ANDRITZ system solutions integrate many machines working together as if they were a single machine unit. All ANDRITZ Asselin-Thibeau machines use the Siemens MicroBox solution, which has been implemented with great success.
Such integrated systems are delivered nowadays for most of our projects, thus underlining that cost and quality management have become a key criterion in maintaining a competitive edge.
In the following, we would like to summarize the key components of a modern ANDRITZ neXline needlepunch:
The new TCF-X chute feed is included in more than 80% of the latest ANDRITZ neXline needlepunch lines. It is flexible with regard to fiber types and length ranges, and it has a high production capability, frequently more than 1,200 kg/hour in 2.5 m working width.
The double eXcelle card produces homogeneous and perfectly even webs. This is an extremely important criterion nowadays because most customers seek to make their lightweight fabrics with a minimum number of folds on the crosslapper.
The ProDyn weight profiling system remains a “must-have” for new production lines. It is already known worldwide for its capabilities, as it optimizes the weight profile and allows fiber savings. It is a controlled loop, acting on the quantity of fibers delivered at the card outlet and the speed of the crosslapper, thus generating cost savings for the operator year after year.
Profile and Dynamic crosslappers, two ranges that were introduced many years ago, benefit from the short textile path. Our new generation of crosslappers is easy to maintain, with fewer cleaning requirements.
The Isolayer draft control enhances the line’s ability to produce homogeneous fabrics, even when using two crosslaid folds. It is able to absorb the speed difference at the outlet conveyor of the crosslapper, it improves overlap, and it has a faster running speed. The Isolayer creates a more balanced shrinkage effect over the entire fabric width, thus bringing more added value to the final products.
The ANDRITZ needlelooms from A.30 to A.50 include a wide range of alternative solutions, with various maximum speed and punching load capabilities to meet any market requirement.
Over the years, market demands have increased the punching load requirements for higher throughput, yet most lines have the same number of needlelooms. Our needlelooms have been redesigned in order to have more strength, and their reputation for robustness is steadily gaining market recognition. ANDRITZ needlelooms use oil for lubrication and cooling purposes. The robust design is such that some customers have been able to use their machines intensively (as in a 24/7 spunbond process) without changing their module bearings for many years. These needlelooms are designed to minimize unwanted draft and shrinkage; random needle patterns provide high flexibility for nonwovens producers by allowing advanced pitches with almost no effect on the harmonics of the web.
Last but not least, drafters have become an essential contribution to the drylaid needlepunch process. With the Isoweb and Zeta drafters, ANDRITZ has developed unique solutions that maximize drafting benefits with minimal fabric distortion. The production capacity for lightweight fabrics is enhanced with improved MD/CD ratio strength values.
- What are the main product fields for this technology?
Johannes Haep: The above mentioned ANDRITZ solutions can be used almost universally for all drylaid products. Currently, the automotive, geotextile, filtration, industrial, and domestic end uses are particularly active. Synthetic leather, bedding, wipes, etc. can also benefit from these advanced technologies.
- Please give us an overview of the main parameters for the aXcess and eXcelle line ranges.
Johannes Haep: ANDRITZ offers two types of neXline needlepunch: aXcess and eXcelle. Both lines are able to cover a wide range of applications. Not all nonwovens producers have the market potential for high capacity or for outstanding fabric performance. Nevertheless, all customers deserve high-quality machines at competitive prices. The neXline needlepunch aXcess line is perfectly suited for producers entering the nonwovens market with a capacity range up to 4,500 t/a. This aXcess range is designed for medium production levels, also allowing emerging countries to benefit from proven technologies based on many years of ANDRITZ experience.
With the neXline needlepunch eXcelle range, ANDRITZ offers comprehensive solutions for premium drylaid lines. Process engineers select and combine the corresponding individual machines according to their technology and capacity results in production lines. One of the market trends for state-of-the-art needlepunch production is to provide lines with high productivity. In this field, ANDRITZ offers an outstanding solution by combining the carding machine with the new high-speed crosslapper D.630. This needlepunch line configuration can achieve a capacity of up to 12,600 t/a.
- What are the advantages of the new crosslapper D.630 compared to previous models?
Jean-Philippe Dumon: ANDRITZ Nonwoven recently launched the D.630 high-speed crosslapper on the market in response to nonwovens producers’ demands for production lines with larger capacities.
Thanks to the new D.630 crosslapper, the latest needlepunch lines installed by ANDRITZ produce over 1,700 kg/h of roll goods. The D.630 model has a robust design specially developed to withstand the acceleration required by the ProDyn system. In order to meet the high expectations in terms of even fabric weight, modern production lines often require crosslapper speed variations of +/-20% of the average crosslapper inlet speed. For even higher demands, ProDyn can generate card web weight variations of +/- 25% by using the D.630 crosslapper at a lower infeed speed.
In addition, the new crosslapper D.630 is equipped with HSC high-speed carriages. Our R&D department is constantly looking for increased performance, with reduced cleaning and maintenance requirements at the same time. Our pilot line is now equipped with these HSC carriages, and customers can run tests with their fibers to evaluate how much faster and/or more efficiently they can produce their fabrics. Such systems are also available for retrofits, depending on the crosslapper model. In particular with bulky web, condensed or not, the HSC system shows improved production performance.
- What parameter fields for input width, maximum layering width, and maximum input speed does this new machine cover?
Jean-Philippe Dumon: This latest addition to the Dynamic crosslapper range has been designed for a maximum speed of 205 m/min at the input for an infeed width of 3 m, allowing an average inlet speed of 170 m/min with the ProDyn system instead of the 140 m/min achieved by the previous D.530 crosslapper.
- How is the ProDyn system placed on the market?
Jean-Philippe Dumon: The Prodyn system leads the market because it ensures the uniformity of the final fabric. It provides a clear competitive edge for nonwovens producers. ANDRITZ crosslaid lines offer an automatic adjustment loop system that includes a weight control gauge at the very end of the production line for self-adjustment of the card output speed. This system’s benefits include weight quality and fiber savings.
- What are the possible percentage evenness parameters of the area weight in MD and CD direction depending on fiber parameters and product weight?
Jean-Philippe Dumon: The ProDyn web profiling efficiency does not basically depend on the type of fiber, fabric weight, and production speed. Most customers want to have balanced MD/CD strength ratios. For lightweight to medium-weight fabrics, the process generally requires a high percentage of drafting during the bonding process. The main drawback is that the fabric usually shrinks over the working width, increasing fabric weight at the edges. Such shrinkage ratios are frequently between 10 and 30% depending on the end use and the bonding section of the production line.
Another important factor is to understand the expectations of the end user in terms of fabric elongation. More and more, we see modern lines that are dedicated either to low-elongation fabrics or to high-elongation fabrics. With some adjustments, ANDRITZ can also deliver solutions for customers that have a need for maximum flexibility to cater to a wide variety of product end uses. ProDyn is the first response to this weight deformation. The design of the bonding machine is also important in order to minimize fabric distortion. The way draft occurs is a key point. You may create large clouds in the fabric or obtain a nice looking fabric while using the same global percentage of overall draft. The batt drafter, pre-needling feed system such as SFD, pre-needling zone design, infeed and delivery press on needlelooms, and the use of felt drafting units are among the many parameters to consider. Each parameter and combination of parameters are all part of the ANDRITZ expertise when designing high-performance needlepunch lines.
Moving on to medium-weight and heavy felts, balanced MD/CD strength is also requested, but is somewhat more difficult to achieve on wide production lines in combination with high throughput. The revolutionary concept of the eXcelle TT card, now also applied to the crosslapping processes, provides highly uniform webs with MD/CD ratios of less than 3:1. This line is capable of producing needled felts with low to high elongation percentages and with high tensile strength values. Final MD/CD tensile strength ratios of 1:1 will be possible once the felt reaches the winder, even using a low drafting ratio.
- What new solutions can customers find in the line control systems?
Johannes Haep: The SCADA monitoring system developed by ANDRITZ helps production managers to improve textile performance of the line by generating production reports that show all the parameters. Thus, recipes can be reproduced quickly and operators receive the relevant production information in real time. ANDRITZ textile engineers provide a monthly executive report with proposals on how to improve production. It is also possible to use “walking cameras” to explain a situation or a problem easily to the remote ANDRITZ support team. The system sends you preventive maintenance alerts that help to anticipate problems and reduce unplanned down time.
- How can the machine systems be integrated into an automatic factory in line with Industry 4.0?
Johannes Haep: The system is designed to be integrated into a fully automatic factory according to the Industry 4.0 concept. It controls the line parameters constantly and creates the best configuration to enhance production. It guarantees smooth operation, optimizes the process, maximizes the yield contribution, and improves plant profitability.
- How are automatic machine monitoring, maintenance, and service supported?
Johannes Haep: The ANDRITZ commitment is to ensure that our customers receive prompt and reliable service to keep the machines at the peak of their performance. For spare parts, an ANDRITZ sales team is at your disposal to help producers make the right choice. Coupled with a dedicated supply chain, this ensures a fast and efficient response to your requirements.
In addition to scheduled maintenance and repairs, ANDRITZ process experts are available to inspect and audit the production lines and to propose possible improvements or upgrade opportunities.
With the goal of providing the most efficient and responsive service as possible to nonwovens producers, ANDRITZ provides a dedicated team of skilled technicians, as well as automation and textile engineers. These experts are also available worldwide thanks to the various service centers close to our customers’ locations.
As ANDRITZ wants to support its customers around the clock and around the globe, a 24/7 hotline is available. Nonwovens producers will find competent partners to address their process, mechanical, or electrical issues.
- Which fairs and trade shows will you use for presentations this year?
Jean-Philippe Dumon: After the IDEA show, ANDRITZ will participate in several conferences and/or exhibitions around the world, such as IranTex (Hall 38A) from September 3 to 6 in Teheran, CINTE from October 12 to 14 in Shanghai, ITMA Asia from October 24 to 28 in Shanghai, and a conference from November 8 to 10 in Hof, Germany.
- Can we mention any new references or customer plants?
What can we report about your new plant delivered recently to India?
Jean-Philippe Dumon: ANDRITZ has recently concluded several projects in South East Asia. Many remain confidential until the equipment has been commissioned and superior products are ready for sale.
Among the orders from India at the end of 2015, ANDRITZ received an order from Autotech Nonwovens, based in the automotive hub of Gujarat state. Autotech Nonwovens is one of the leading suppliers of high-quality nonwovens to the automotive industry in India. The complete needlepunch line is dedicated to flexible production of nonwovens for automotive, filtration, and coating substrate applications. Start-up of the complete needlepunch line is scheduled for mid-2016. The ANDRITZ neXline needlepunch is designed for high production capacities and integrates fiber opening and blending, chute feed, carding, crosslapping, drafting, needleloom, and winding technologies. The complete process is controlled by the ProDyn closed loop system and allows for extremely demanding profile requirements. The highly reliable ANDRITZ needlepunch technology meets the most stringent quality demands.
- As for the first time you will participate in IRANTEX exhibition, could you please let us to know your idea about IRAN’s market?
Jean-Philippe Dumon: ANDRITZ Asselin-Thibeau has sold lots of the lines in the 1990’s in IRAN. Among our customers in that decade we can mention some famous names such as: Bibaft, Gariveh, Pars Moquette, Arta Moquette, Negin Rose Moquette, etc. We hope in the coming years by smoothing the trade relation between IRAN & west, we receive more enquiries in Automotive, Geotextile, Filtration, Floor covering, etc. from IRAN.
F1. ANDRITZ show rooms in different locations
F2. Mr. Johannes Haep & Mr. Jean-Philippe Dumon Managing Director & Sales Director of ANDRITZ Asselin-Thibeau
F3. ANDRITZ Asselin-Thibeau show room in Elbeuf
F4. Main equipments of AAT needle punching line
F5. Nonwovens in automotive industries