Nonwoven innovations to take virtual center stage at TAPPICON

Posted March 31, 2021

By Seshadri Ramkumar

LUBBOCK, Texas – COVID-19 has highlighted the importance and need for lifesaving soft materials.


Nonwoven textiles are integral components of surgical masks, N95 face masks and different PPE, which have saved lives. The state of the nonwovens sector during the current pandemic, innovations in this sector and its contributions to counter future pandemics will be discussed in a forthcoming virtual conference.


As part of TAPPICON 2021 event of the Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Association (TAPPI), a nonwovens conference will take place virtually May 4-5. The event will bring in leading organizations such as TAPPI and INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry.


The event will kickstart with a keynote presentation on the industry’s response to COVID-19 by Dave Rousse, president of INDA.


The highlight of the program is a power-packed panel session on “Preparing for Future Pandemics and PPE.” The panel involves key leaders in the industry, including Karen Bitz-McIntyre, editor of Nonwovens Industry magazine.


Speaking about the nonwovens field, Larry Montague, TAPPI president & CEO said, “While the pandemic has taught us many things over the last year, one of the most significant has been the sizeable role nonwovens played in ‘stopping the spread,’ both in the healthcare community and beyond. Whether we’re talking about face masks, filters, various Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or wipes, the industry was, and still is, on the frontline of this fight providing lifesaving protection.”


“The nonwovens industry really stepped up in a responsible way to rapidly fill the need for face masks, disinfectant wipes, flushable wipes and medical gowns, booties and nets needed to push back against COVID-19,” Rousse said. “We are now essentially self-sufficient in these areas after being reliant on imports as the pandemic started, with much new capacity added that will serve these needs as well as emerging needs in indoor air quality.”


For newcomers to the field and due to the need to create more awareness on nonwovens, a session will be dedicated as a mini-tutorial on technical textiles and nonwovens. A few key themes of the conference include medical applications of nonwovens, novel materials for PPE, functionalization of nonwovens and textiles, etc.


The conference features presentations from leading industry and academic leaders. A timely presentation on the recent advances in spunmelt nonwovens will be delivered by an industrial expert. Novel solutions to microbial problems will be dealt with in a presentation by ViaClean Technologies. International speakers from India, the United Kingdom, Turkey and the United States will deal with topics like design aspects of coveralls, nanofiber filters, to name a few.


In discussing the importance of creating more awareness on nonwovens in fight against infectious diseases, Gaurav Pranami, chairman of the Nonwovens Division of TAPPI said, “Other than social distancing, perhaps the single most important precaution one could take to protect themselves and others was to wear a mask. However, it’s the masks made from nonwovens that provide meaningful protection because of their high filtration efficiency. With the experience of COVID-19, the nonwovens industry must innovate to make more comfortable, effective and easily accessible masks for future preparedness.”


New developments from the cotton industry such as cellulosic films and daylight-induced antiviral coatings will be discussed. The event will end with a presentation on the state of the wipes sector from Euromonitor. 


Virtual event details can be found at: https://tappicon.org/virtual-program/virtual-program-tracks/nonwovens/.


Seshadri Ramkumar, Ph.D., FTA (honorary) is a professor of Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory at Texas Tech University.

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Seshadri Ramkumar

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