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Dr Ulrich Hornfeck
Board Member & Chief Commercial Officer Sandler AG
One relatively new area of use of nonwovens is office design & interior acoustics
Sandler AG develops and manufactures nonwoven roll goods for the hygiene and wipes industry, home textiles as well as technical applications. Dr Ulrich Hornfeck, board member and chief commercial officer at Sandler AG discusses the latest trends dominating the nonwovens industry.
Which are your biggest markets and where does Asia feature in your growth strategy? Which are the countries seeking more of nonwovens?
Sandler exports about 60 per cent of its production annually to customers all around the globe. A large share of them is located in Europe, but we also have customers in North America and of course Asia. In 2004, we established a sales office in Shanghai, working with a local partner. The staff members at this sales office advise Chinese customers on all matters concerning nonwovens, particularly for technical applications. In 2011, a further sales office was established in New-Delhi, India. Additionally, Sandler works with representatives around the globe, who liaise with customers in their respective countries and administer the order processing.
The Sandler Nonwoven Corporation in Perry, Georgia, USA, established in 2015, is our active point of entry into the North American market, supplies customers with Sandler nonwovens "made in USA" and helps us further improve customer service for longstanding clients in this region.
Where do you see the application of nonwovens increasing?
Owing to an extremely large number of combinations between web-forming, bonding and finishing technologies as well as extensive possibilities of further processing, nonwovens continue to tap into new markets and are constantly opening up new areas of application.
One relatively new area of use is office design and interior acoustics. Modern offices should ideally combine a pleasant working atmosphere, conducive to concentrating on the task at hand, and a state of the art design. Sandler polyester nonwovens are applied in acoustic ceilings, partition walls, acoustic furniture and wall decoration as well as in office chairs. In acoustic components, they efficiently absorb noise owing to their open-pore structure, thus creating a sense of quiet during the hustle and bustle of workdays. These materials are supplied in the form of self-supporting panels - ideal for partitions or wall elements. These textiles can be printed with a customised design, laminated with coloured fabrics or integrated into acoustic wall or ceiling structures. Thereby, they support individual room layouts and designs.
In office chairs, nonwovens for seat upholstery offer high, durable seating comfort. They are air permeable and support an optimum micro-climate of the seat. In addition, they are drapeable and can be adapted to the chair's contours.
What are the trends in the different product segments at Sandler and what new can be expected from this field?
There are different trends shaping each industry.
In the transportation sector, for example, lightweight construction and the reduction of fuel consumption and emissions are major trends that still shape product development. Fulfilling these demands, Sandler launched the Sawasorb advanced product line in 2016. These absorber nonwovens feature excellent sound absorption throughout the frequency range at low product thickness. This characteristic makes them ideal for narrow installation spaces. At a thickness of just 6 mm, Sawasorb advanced meets acoustic requirements designed to be met by absorbers of about 15 mm thickness.
In the filtration sector, indoor air quality and energy efficiency are major topics. Sandler's new synthetic pocket filter medium Sawascreen EnAIRsave answers to both: An efficient depth filter medium featuring a multi-layer structure. EnAIRsave combines optimum performance and reduced energy usage. Different layers and the use of finest submicron fibres create a particularly large inner surface. Large quantities of dust can be deposited in the coarser layers. Even if the filter is loaded with dust, air can keep flowing through it; the pressure drop increases only very slowly during use, effectively reducing energy consumption.
In the construction industry, nonwovens are increasingly applied as insulation materials in walls and roof. Again, they efficiently insulate heat as well as sound, helping create a comfortable home while contributing to lowering the requirement for heating and therefore reducing energy consumption.
These are only a few examples. Nonwovens continue to open up new applications and they are also applied in composite materials, for instance for automotive components, where their textile properties complement those of plastic materials.
The markets for wipes today are drifting towards flushable wipes. To what extent has Sandler been successful in implementing?
The importance of flushability in wipes substrates depends on the application. It is certainly a vital characteristic for toilet wipes. However, this market is not one of Sandler's target applications.
Our main focus is on personal care wipes and for these areas of application-baby wipes, cosmetic wipes and also industrial cleaning and disinfection wipes-flushability is not a vital subject.
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