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News Releases 2006

New-Type Nonwoven Fabric Developed,Introduces World's First Steam Jet Technologies
Next-generation nonwoven fabric created: Environmentally responsive (no need for adhesive, recyclable), various for products from bandages to boards, possesses unique features and functions not found in existing products

May 18, 2006
KURARAYKURAFLEX CO.,LTD.
(Kuraray Group)

KURARAYKURAFLEX CO.,LTD. (Headquarters: Osaka, President: Nobuaki Sumita), which engages in the manufacture, finishing and sale of nonwoven fabric and nonwoven fabric products, has introduced the world's first steam jet technologies that use high-speed steam heating. This technology has been successfully utilized in the development of a new type of nonwoven fabric that embodies special features and functions never before achieved using Kuraray proprietary materials, and will be released to the market from October 1.

Steam jet technology was pioneered by Mitsubishi Rayon Engineering Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Tokyo, President: Shigeaki Masuda) with the introduction of the world's first dedicated factory. Both companies are collaborating on the technology (patent pending) for form processing nonwoven fabrics. Utilizing steam heat and jet blasts simultaneously, steam jet technology is capable of manufacturing new nonwoven fabrics that are different from fabrics conventionally produced. Furthermore, this innovative technology can manufacture nonwoven fabrics with added features, through the selection of different materials and processing conditions.

The newly developed nonwoven fabric is based on Kuraray's proprietary materials, leveraging the special features of Kuraray's EVAL fiber SOPHISTA , water-soluble KURALON K-Ⅱ and microcrimp fiber and utilizing their first-in-the-world technologies. Possessing unique thermal adhesive properties, SOPHISTA raw fiber contains a hydrophilic group and can, in high volumes, be made into new types of high-strength nonwoven fabrics. The special properties of KURALON K-Ⅱ enable water-soluble nonwoven fabrics. And by using microcrimp as raw fiber, nonwoven fabrics with remarkable stretch can be quickly produced.

Specific performance and application details are: (1) bandages and hygienic goods that take advantage of the new fabric's advanced stretching and self-adhesive properties; (2) underwear, support cushion filler material and other goods requiring outstanding air permeability while retaining softness and shock-absorbing characteristics; (3) high-performance ink-absorbing material that does not shed fluff and combines lipophilic and hydrophilic properties; (4) acoustic absorption and heat insulation, including use in automobiles and other applications seeking superb form stability and high porosity; and (5) boardlike lightweight construction materials due to the new fabric's superior flame resistance and the wealth of variations possible by combining other materials and manufacturing conditions. Use in sophisticated form processing and manufacturing processes involving adhesives is yet another possible application. This next-generation nonwoven fabric displays excellent environmental responsiveness as it can be manufactured without adhesives, thus saving energy, and can even be recycled.

Exhibition of the product is planned at Tokyo Big Sight from May 24 to May 26, 2006, in conjunction with the Asia Nonwovens Exhibition and Conference (ANEX2006).

Product overview

1. General features

  • (1) Excellent environmental responsiveness: non-adhesive production minimizes energy
    consumption; recycling (remolding) possible
  • (2) Form stability with high strength
  • (3) High surface abrasion strength, extremely low fluff levels
  • (4) High porosity, structure, durability, and other characteristics comparable to resin
    foam
  • (5) Boardlike form exceedingly flame resistant, emitting no toxic fumes
  • (6) Textile oil solution and contamination from manufacturing process removed by steam jet, major advances in safety and cleanliness levels

2. Specific applications and features

High absorption material Inkjet use liquid absorption (hydrophilic and lipophilic properties, low fluff levels)
Cushion material Bra padding, helmets (air permeable, water absorbent, gentle to the skin)
Stretch material Self-adhesive medical dressings, hygienic goods (high-stretch elasticity, self adhesive, chemical free)
Low-fluff nonwoven fabrics Clean wipes, medical sponges (chemical resistant, low fluff)
Acoustic absorption and
heat insulation material
Automobile interiors, construction, domestic appliances (environmental responsiveness, flame resistance, durability)

3. Price

From ¥200 to ¥2,000 /m²

4. Sales targets (Total of both types)

First fiscal year ¥200 million
After 3 years ¥1,000 million
After 5 years ¥2,000 million

Company overview

(1) KURARAYKURAFLEX CO.,LTD.

Established April 2005 (first established as Kuraray Chicopee Co., Ltd. in 1971)
Capital ¥100 million
President Nobuaki Sumita
No. of employees 133 (as of December 1, 2005)
Headquarters Shin Hankyu Building
1-12-39, Umeda, Kita-ku Osaka 530-8611Japan
Business Manufacture, processing and sale of nonwoven fabrics and nonwoven fabric products

(2) Mitsubishi Rayon Engineering Co., Ltd.

Established August 1975
Capital ¥1,200 million
President Shigeaki Masuda
No. of employees 650
Headquarters Shinagawa Crystal Square
1-6-41, Konan, Minato-ku Tokyo 108-8506 Japan
Business Design, construction, repair and maintenance of various plants, including environmental and water treatment plants