One of the most rapid growing sectors of the textile market is of nonwovens. The use of nonwovens in technical textile is not a new trend. Today, nonwovens are being widely used in many industrial sectors and they play a vital role in their application in technical textiles worldwide.
Nonwoven is a term used to designate fabrics that are neither knitted nor woven. They are materials with similar characteristics and useful properties of fabrics, wherein the fibers are bonded with each other chemically, mechanically, through heat or solvent treatment. These fabrics are permeable sheets directly made from fibers or melted plastic, which does not require transforming fibers into yarn.
Nonwovens used for technical textiles are chiefly synthetic polymer based fibers because of their strength and flexibility. Generally, nonwoven fabrics are made from some amount of recycled fabrics and oil based materials. The amount of recycled fabric depends upon the strength required for a specific purpose. Moreover, some nonwoven fabrics can be recycled after use with the help of correct treatments.
Therefore, nonwovens are also considered as eco-friendly fabrics for certain uses. Especially, in healthcare industries like hospitals, nursing homes etc. where disposable products are mostly used. In the past few years, nonwovens have become a substitute to polyurethane foam. Today, nonwoven fabrics are in great demand and have opened up novel possibilities of application in different industries like apparel, home furnishings, geotextiles, medical, consumer products etc. They can be used alone or in combination with other materials in various applications.
Nonwovens have specific properties like absorbency, bacterial barrier, softness, strength, cushioning, liquid repellency, stretchability, flame resistance, washability, sterility and filtering. These properties are used to manufacture fabrics suited for specific purpose. Nonwovens look, feel and have strength of a woven fabric.
In modern times, application of nonwovens play important role in the medical sector. A range of products are manufactured from nonwoven textiles such as surgical gowns, masks, surgical drapes, pads, dressings, filtration materials and textiles used for implantation in the body. Moreover, the products that are used outside the body are mostly disposable ones. Nevertheless, there are also products that can be reused for a limited period of time.
According to a report, the market for disposable nonwoven medical apparel products in North America is around $1.46 billion and is expected to grow further. Recent developments in nanotechnology and fiber modification have developed bio-absorbable material that is used inside the body, which cannot be differentiated from the part of the body after some time. For example, when a ligament is damaged, it can be restored using this nonwoven textile.