If industry conferences like IDEA and World of Wipes are any indication, innovation in the wipes category continues to grow. A product category that was basically unheard of two or three
decades ago has become so prevalent in our society that today,
there is virtually no part of our lives, homes or bodies not touched
by some sort of wipe. There are even wipes for the family dog!
One of the drivers of wipes innovation can be found in base
sheet technology, specifically the nonwoven materials that
are engineered to provide precise performance properties like
strength, absorbency, fluid release and more. Fortunately for
wipes manufacturers and consumers alike, there is a range of
nonwoven materials available for different wipes applications,
many of which are manufactured with high-speed, innovative
and value-added processes.
This article will review some of the leading nonwoven base sheet
technologies available today and will provide insight on how they
can be used to deliver exceptional performance to wipes.
Meltblown nonwovens offer high wet strength and excellent
compatibility with most wet wipe chemical formulations. Meltblown is available in both fine-fiber and dual-texture forms, depending on the type of end-use application. The microfibers in a
meltblown nonwoven are extremely thin and tend to fall within
diameters of one to five microns. These microfibers are randomly
mixed to form a nonwoven web.
Fine-fiber meltblown nonwovens produced from multi-bank
machines provide high absorbency and excellent metered fluid release properties. They are naturally oleophilic but can be treated to
increase wettability. They are low-linting and contain no chemical
binders. This mix of properties makes fine-fiber meltblown nonwovens an ideal base sheet for commercial and industrial-grade
wiping applications including automotive/car care, hard surface
cleaning and polishing, hard surface sanitizing and disinfecting
and hand cleaning. Patterns can be incorporated into the sheet to
provide extra strength and create different tactile hand feel.
Dual-texture meltblown nonwovens feature a smooth side and
a“scrubby” side. The“scrubby” side fibers can be pigmented with
various colors. As with fine-fiber meltblown, dual-texture melt-
blown can be engineered to provide high absorbency and excel-
lent metered fluid release of desired wet wipe chemistries. They
also are low in lint and contain no chemical binders. Dual-texture
meltblowns are ideal for wipes used in hand cleaning/sanitizing
and hard surface cleaning.
Interwoven Pulp/Polymer Material
A patented and proprietary material (Hydroknit Material), this
nonwoven is manufactured using jets of high-pressure water
to bond soft pulp fibers into a strong polypropylene base sheet
without chemicals or adhesives. In the hydro-entangling process,
the pulp fibers intertwine around each other and with the polypropylene base sheet. The result is a highly absorbent fabric that
offers high wet strength.
This type of base sheet offers excellent wet durability, tear-resistance and a cloth-like appearance and feel. It is ideal for
consumer/household wiping applications including hard surface
cleaning; furniture cleaning and polishing; glass/lens wiping; as
well as granite and stainless steel wiping.
Spunbond filaments are laid on a continuous belt and thermally
point-bonded in a heated calendar to create a uniform web appearance without the need for binders.
Spunbond nonwovens offer high strength, softness and a
cloth-like appearance. They are low in lint, durable and abrasion-resistant and are ideal for personal care wiping applications including insect wipes and other specialty hand and face wipes.
Coform base sheets are created through a proprietary process
that combines short, wood pulp fibers with fine polypropylene
meltblown fibers to create a homogenous sheet.
Coform nonwovens result in a thick, pillow-like sheet that is drapable and cloth-like. Because it is gentle to the skin, it’s perfect for personal care wipes, and its flexibility means it can easily get into corners
and crevices for cleaning applications. Its wet strength integrity also
makes it an ideal base sheet for wet wipes. The addition of texture to
the sheet can improve its perceived cleaning performance and softness.
Nonwoven Base Sheets
By Michele Neher, Business Development Manager
Kimberly-Clark Professional Partnership Products