Specialty Fabrics Review June 2022 - 48

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Regional Research Center in Louisiana
pioneered the development of
nonwoven soft pad-based composites
for acoustic insulation in cars.
Nonwoven fabric structures with
pores and high-loft structures provide
an efficient absorbent medium.
Nonwoven fabrics such as those
designed to reduce cost use shorter
and discounted fibers. Nonwoven
manufacturing processes such as
airlaid and needlepunching are suited
to develop headliners, trunk liners
and acoustic insulation pads. More
recently, alternative natural fibers
such as kenaf, hemp and even jute
have started being explored to develop
composites for varied applications.
Plotz says some of the newest
developments in transportation textiles
can be found in the broad offerings of
new electric vehicles. " These materials
are increasingly attractive to designers
and engineers due to their low weights
and lower costs than traditional
 Engineered fabrics used in
lightweight vehicles, trucks, railways
and airplanes fall under the category
of " vehicle construction " due to the
use of nonwoven fabrics. They are
typically lighter and easier to recycle.
Photo: © Yury Rybin, Dreamstime.com
woven and knitted fabrics, " he says.
" Advancements in polymer science
are being incorporated into nonwoven
technologies that make it easier to
break the polymer bonds and revert the
materials back into basic monomers
that can be turned back into new
automotive nonwoven materials. "
Texas-based Hobbs Bonded Fibers
has been a leader in developing
needlepunch-based nonwoven
substrates for the automotive sector.
Hobbs and other manufacturers are
looking into alternative fibers to achieve
green status. " By the end of 2022, Hobbs
plans to start up a new production line
that will allow for greater flexibility for
renewable alternative natural fibers such
as hemp, jute and other natural fibers, "
says CEO Bill Neal. He says Hobbs has
initiated a project to manufacture an allfiber
hood insulator to replace fiberglass
and polyurethane, which will be a new
direction for the industry.
The four Rs
Picture the industry as a table standing
balanced on four legs. The four legs are
reduce, recycle, reuse and regenerate.
As the transportation sector is highly
cost sensitive, even while advocating
for sustainability, it is important to
be cognizant of costs, which will help
the industry move forward with new
products at competitive price and
quality levels.
Transportation textiles have
important roles to play in reviving
the economy. The use of sustainable
products and processes helps with
combating climate change. With
the recently passed Infrastructure
Investment and Jobs Act, resources
will be available to enhance the life
and quality of roads with structures
like geotextiles and geogrids, to
name a couple. In addition, such
policy initiatives will support greater
collaboration among researchers, the
end user community and industry.
Cost-effective advanced fiber-based
structures that help with sustainability
will be the way forward.
Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar is a professor in the
Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory
at Texas Tech University.
48 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / June 2022
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Specialty Fabrics Review June 2022

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Specialty Fabrics Review June 2022 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review June 2022 - 1
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