Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/16/2010
Publication Date: 4/25/2011
Citation: Reynolds, M.L., Allen Jr, H.C., Sawhney, A.P., Condon, B.D., Slopek, R.P. 2011. Our experience in processing a pre-cleaned greige cotton lint for certain nonwoven base materials. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference. p. 1449-1453. Interpretive Summary: Cotton has a very small (< 2%) market share in the rapidly growing and progressing nonwovens industry worldwide. One of the few main reasons is that the nonwovens industry historically has been using manufactured fibers, such as polyester, polypropylene, rayon, etc., which inherently are clean and consistent (in quality and supply) and, thus, do not require any fiber cleaning equipment that is essential for processing a classical greige cotton that always has some foreign matter that must be removed at the first opportunity in its processing. Since the existing manufacturers of nonwoven fabrics do not have the necessary cotton cleaning equipment, it becomes a great challenge for them to incorporate cotton into their products that could benefit from their cotton content. Fortunately, a few companies have developed technology to mechanically (pre) clean greige cotton before it leaves for consumption by the user mills (entities). We, at the Center, have evaluated one such cotton, supplied as UltraCleanR cotton by a progressive U.S. cotton producer and ginner, in the production of needlepunched and hydroentangled nonwovens fabrics and are satisfied with the preliminary investigations and the results thereof. In summary, a pre-cleaned cotton may be efficiently used in nonwovens manufacturing entities without the traditional cotton cleaning equipment and processes, provided the entities are prepared to do their own homework with regard to their certain, product-specific, process modifications that may be necessary.
Technical Abstract: Traditionally bleached cotton has been used for the production of nonwoven fabrics. One primary reason for this scenario was that there was no greige cotton fiber alternative that would meet the required cotton cleanliness needs of the nonwovens manufacturers. However, today, there are several versions of pre-cleaned greige cotton fibers commercially available, which efficiently can meet the stated needs of existing nonwovens roll goods manufacturers. In other words, no cotton cleaning equipment is needed for production of cotton-based nonwovens, using these pre-cleaned cottons. Furthermore, a pre-cleaned cotton also has the advantage of more efficient web production compared to that of a bleached cotton. This presentation will show in detail how a pre-cleaned cotton can be efficiently used in the needlepunch and hydroentanglement nonwovens production systems to produce nonwoven base fabrics for certain end-use applications. The properties of the fibers and fabrics processed in this study will also be discussed. Notably, the test data have revealed that some of the greige cotton's natural waxes (heavy hydrocarbons) are also removed during hydroentangling of the (greige) cotton web at a certain hydraulic energy level, which, in turn, makes the nonwoven fabric partly hydrophilic (without the fabric bleaching), which obviously could eliminate the need for cotton fiber or fabric scouring and bleaching for some nonwoven materials and end-use products.