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Research Project: Innovative Approaches for Value Added Cotton-Containing Nonwovens

Location: Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research

Title: Microstructure and physical properties of composite nonwovens produced by incorporating cotton fibers in elastic spunbond and meltblown webs for medical textiles

item SIKDAR, PARTHA - University Of Georgia
item BHAT, GAJANAN - Agriculture University Of Georgia
item Hinchliffe, Doug
item ISLAM, SHAFIQUL - University Of Georgia
item Condon, Brian

Submitted to: Journal of Industrial Textiles
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/3/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The use of nonwoven products continue to grow due to their unique structure, properties, and their versatile applications, which include filters, absorbent products, and stretchable medical nonwovens. Stretchable meltblown and spunbond webs can be produced from synthetic elastomeric polymers, however the physical properties of these stretchable fabrics can be improved by inclusion of natural cellulosic fibers such as cotton. Stretchable composite nonwovens containing cotton were produced and evaluated by two different processing methods. In the first scenario, cotton webs were integrated onto pre-formed meltblown/spunbond webs using a high-pressure water bonding process known as hydroentanglement. Secondly, water-based polyurethanes were coated onto hydroentangled cotton nonwovens. The composite structures produced were evaluated for their structure and physical properties such as pore size, porosity, fiber structure, tensile strength, and absorbency. Adding cotton into synthetic stretchable webs enhanced the performance properties such as absorbency and skin contact comfort of the products. Additionally, stretchability and stretch recovery of the webs showed improvement as determined by standardized testing. This research presents an effective process for improving function and comfort of existing stretchable nonwovens through incorporation of cotton fibers with production processes already widely used by nonwovens producers.

Technical Abstract: Nonwoven products continue to grow because of their unique structure, properties, and one’s ability to engineer their properties for desired applications, which include various filters, absorbent products and medical nonwovens. The objective of this research was to produce elastomeric nonwovens containing cotton by the combination of appropriate process. Meltblown fabrics have very high surface area due to microfibers and have good absorbency, permeability, and barrier properties. Spunbonding is the most economical process to produce nonwovens with good strength and physical properties, but with relatively larger diameter fibers. Whereas stretchability is an advantage, adding cotton fibers into elastomeric nonwovens can enhance the performance of products, such as absorbency and comfort. Hydroentangling process was used to incorporate cotton fibers into produced elastomeric spunbond and meltblown nonwovens. The webs and laminated structures produced by various combinations are being evaluated for their physical properties such as weight, thickness, air permeability, pore size, tensile strength, and water absorbency. Additionally, the stretchability of the webs and their stretch recovery from certain level of stretch was measured using the tensile cyclic loading and unloading test. Incorporating cotton into elastic webs resulted in composite structures with improved barrier and absorbency as well as good breathability and elastic properties.