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ARS Home » Southeast Area » New Orleans, Louisiana » Southern Regional Research Center » Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #322311

Research Project: Cotton-based Nonwovens

Location: Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research

Title: Rethinking cotton in nonwovens

item Sawhney, Amar

Submitted to: Trade Journal Publication
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/15/2015
Publication Date: 5/15/2015
Citation: 2015. Rethinking cotton in nonwovens. Speciality Fabrics Review. 100(5):52-55.

Interpretive Summary: Cotton historically has been a textile fiber of choice in traditional textiles. However, with the advent of manufactured or synthetic textile fibers in the first half of the last century, the cotton’s global market share in the traditional textiles of yarns and woven and knitted fabrics has considerably dropped from about 65% to ~35 % of all textile fibers. But, cotton still retains its original attribute of “King of fibers,” especially in the traditional apparel and household products which certainly require the fiber’s most desirable moisture absorbency. With the advent of manufactured fibers, such as polyester, polypropylene, rayon, etc., a number of new textile technologies and products also have been developed in the recent few decades. One of these new technologies is called ‘nonwovens,’ which, as its name implies, does not involve any yarn spinning, weaving, knitting, etc., that are mandatory in traditional textile manufacturing processes and products. In nonwovens, a woven-like, nonwoven fabric can be produced directly from fibers, without yarn spinning and weaving, in small fractions of the time period and the processes involved in producing a traditional woven fabric. Consequently, the nonwovens, especially their technical versions, are growing at a rate faster than the traditional textiles. This has adversely impacted the overall use of cotton, as well. The present article reveals what can be done to increase use of cotton in nonwovens.

Technical Abstract: This invited article (published in a popular online trade periodical “Advanced Textile Source,” April 10, 2015, and later published in the Industrial Fabrics Association International’s (IFAI’s) regular print journal “Speciality Fabrics Review,” May 15, 2015) briefly reviews the long history of cotton and its traditional textile processes and products. However, cotton lint (virgin raw fiber) thus far has not fully penetrated into markets for modern nonwovens, perhaps because of several legitimate reasons that have been discussed in the article. Certain viable ways and means to resolve and overcome some of those reasons or challenges are also discussed in the article. Basically, the article sheds light on some key attributes of especially greige (raw/unbleached) cotton that may be quite suitable for use in certain nonwoven products such as wipes, hygienic and incontinence products, medical devices, specialty products, and the like. The current global emphases on the use and consumption of natural and renewable raw materials for environment-friendly and indefinitely-sustainable end-use products, combined with cotton fiber’s excellent absorbency, may also assist in accelerating cotton’s expected rapid growth in nonwoven products.