Usually people consider textile fabrics as the common categorization such as woven, knitted, braided or tufted constructions. They commonly abandon nonwoven fabrics form the textile group. In the conventional fabric, the fibre is first made into yarns; on the other hand, nonwovens are manufactured sheets or webs directionally or randomly orientated fibres, bonded through resistance, solidity or sticking together into a fabric.
The demands for fabrics have increased sharply. Conventional textiles are not able to meet the production cost and higher cost of upgradation along with demanding consumers in new fields of consumption. With better customization of characteristics into the fabric and appropriateness to certain end uses being advantages, nonwovens have emerged rapidly as the fabrics of the future.
Nonwoven fabrics presents many advantages over conventional fabrics, the clearest benefit is cost savings. In recent couple of years the nonwoven industry has emerged at a rapid speed, offering a huge range of products to several diversified fields. Conversely, nonwoven fabrics hold some natural characteristics, which led them to be counted for non-usable in certain applications. At present, many research and development has been conducted on enhancing the characteristics of nonwoven fabrics. Nonwovens are also entering into some astonishing fields, with making its mark in fashion apparel also.
Currently, three fibers lead the worldwide market:
� Polypropylene (synthetic � 63 percent)
� Polyester (synthetic � 23 percent)
� Cellulosic staple fiber (natural-based 8 percent)
To manufacture a nonwoven fabric, first a web is made, and then it is tied (bonded together) to give strength. Usually, Nonwoven fabrics are made from two processes, a one-step or two-step.
One-step process: In this process, the formation of web and bonding is conducted continuously. The processes, spunbond and melt blown are considered under one-step.
� Spunbond process: The thermoplastic fibers are extruded via a spinneret, and then is it spread on a conveyor belt to make a web. Following the process, the web is bonded by passing it through two calendar rollers.
� Melt blown process: The thermoplastic fibers are driven onto a collector screen to make a web. The combination of fibers fixing and snaring, results bonding.
Two-step process: A web is made and bonded via another process. The web could be made by three different methods, dry laid, air laid and wet laid. These three words refer the instrumentation, which leads the fibers into a web or sheet. Most webs are very delicate, and to strengthen them bonding is done, by many mean like needle-punching, applying adhesive, thermal exposure, stitch-bonding or hydro-entanglement (spunlace).