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Carver Non-Woven Technologies to start-up new manufacturing facility

The plant will produce single- and multi-material nonwoven products for both R3 and the broader North American composites industry.

16th June 2016

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Fremont, IN


The plant will be in full commercial production of high-quality, single- and multi-material nonwoven products for both R3 and the broader North American composites industry by 15 July 2016. "We're very proud of the amount of flexibility, new technology, and custom-modified equipment this new facility represents,” said Mark Glidden, President, R3 Composites and Carver Non-Woven.

"To achieve this level of competence right from the start, our organization has made a substantial US$ 13-million-dollar investment. If our products really take off the way we believe they will, then our five-year plan calls for us to make an additional US$ 20-million-dollar investment to expand our operations.”

Production of nonwovens

Carver complete production line is fully automated. As a result, Carver is able to produce nonwovens with low-variance weight (density). According to the company, this leads to the production of nonwovens that are more consistent and mechanically more efficient. This, in turn, can have the follow-on benefits of reducing both cost and mass of finished applications in either thermoset or thermoplastic composites.

The Carver team also works with the broad range of fibre types, including E-glass fibre, bast natural fibre, carbon fibre, basalt fibre, and thermoplastic fibre including virgin and 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyamide (PA, also called nylon), polypropylene (PP), polylactic acid (PLA), as well as high-density and low-density polyethylene (HDPE and LDPE).

During nonwovens production, the fleece mats are typically coated with thermoset binder resins, including an acrylic/latex binder, which itself confers unique properties, including specific colorants, when the mats are subsequently impregnated with thermoset resins prior to forming. Carver's dual-web configuration is said to enable the company to formulate products using different binder types, including the novel option to combine two different resin formulations in a single-fibre architecture.

New facility

High levels of flexibility have been designed into the new facility in order to allow the company’s team to be able to respond to customer needs by offering products with areal weights ranging from 300 to 2,400 grams/m2 (gsm) using numerous fibre types, blends, and layering.

The company says it is able to achieve blend ratios from 80%/20% to 20%/80% for natural fibres and other fibres (such as fibreglass, polymeric fibres, or even carbon fibre). The diversity of available fibre types helps Carver offer both single-, as well as multi-fibre and layered (hybrid) mats, thanks to the company's specially designed production line.

The system is capable of simultaneously running up to six different fibre types, all of which can be commingled either in a single layer, or in a structure featuring up to three different fibre types, each on top and bottom sides of the nonwoven mat. For greater design flexibility, these hybrid fibre combinations may be the same or different areal weight depending on customer requirements. An application in which hybrid mats are increasingly used is automotive underbody shields.

Needle loom technology

Carver's knowhow with respect to commingling and homogenization of hybrid mat technologies led to collaboration with equipment suppliers to customize many pieces of equipment being used at the new plant. The new production facility features state-of-the-art technologies.

For example, Hyperpunch needle loom technology, developed by Dilo Group, is designed to bring a multitude of benefits. Thanks both to the elliptical needle beam movement of the technology, as well as sequential movement of the needles, Hyperpunch technology aims to eliminate drag on the fleece in the machine direction during its dwell time in the needles, which in turn can lead to pulling and shrinkage of the fleece in the cross-machine direction, causing unevenness and dimensional changes to the batt.

The technology is also said to allow for faster needling and higher throughput, hence more economical production of needled fine fleeces. The Carver team believes it is the first nonwovens manufacturer to apply Hyperpunch technology to the production of natural fibre nonwovens.

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