Medical Nonwovens - Indispensable Versatility
by Kathlyn Swantko
In the Medical textile market, the use of nonwoven products is extensive. According to INDA (Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry), the combined medical and hygiene sectors make up more than 90% of the total nonwoven production in the U.S. Since nonwovens can be designed according to the requirements of the finished application and are engineered to meet the specific needs within medical and surgical applications, they are known for delivering superior performance for specialized tasks. Because of their easily modifiable properties and excellent performance, nonwovens have become indispensable in the medical field.
Wound care is the primary use for medical and surgical nonwovens. Nonwovens find applications in a variety of products, including absorbent incontinence products, apparel for patients and staff, diapers, bed linens/blankets, burn/wound dressings, gowns, disposable underwear, drug delivery devices, sponges, sutures, tissue, towels/wraps etc.
Nonwovens can provide a combination of qualities: comfort, strength, flexibility, abrasion/tear resistance, moisture absorbing capacity, air permeability, and can be an excellent barrier, providing less potential for cross-contamination. Because of their performance qualities, the demand for medical nonwovens is growing, and the demand of nonwovens in medical field is expected to increase steadily.
At Techtextil North America, which ran February 26-28 in Raleigh, North Carolina, exhibitors highlighted a diversity of textiles for medical applications. The FabricLink Network looks at some of the companies at the forefront for creating innovative textiles for specific medical purposes.
Bondex’s nonwovens for wound-care dressings, gauzes, and wraps.
Bondex, Inc. targets a variety of nonwoven medical fabrics towards markets where FDA and EC (Europe compliant) grades are required. Bondex’s Flat- and Point-bonded thermal nonwoven materials are used extensively in a broad range of niche medical applications. Hydroentangling, the fastest growing bonding technique, is used in medical nonwovens for its textile-like hand that is desirable for products like gauzes, dressings, hospital apparel etc.
Bondex’s flat-bonded thermal nonwovens, made by applying heat and consistent pressure in the form of a flat calender (a finishing process used to smooth and coat a thin material) across the web, create a smooth surface where fibers are bonded to each other. Bicomponent fibers are widely used in thermal bonding for added functionality. Thermal nonwoven polyester is used when strength, mechanical properties, and ease of sterilization are of prime importance.
Point-Bonding (aka Pattern-bonding or calendering) is a process of applying a heated roller with a pattern embossed within the roll. The calendaring process consists of heated rollers, sometimes called spunbond when combined with spunlaid webs. This thermal bonding process uses binders that melt at a lower temperature than the main nonwoven fiber to create bond points on the roll.
Medical end-use applications for thermally bonded nonwovens include wound dressings, medical gauze, and fluid management/containment, medical drapes/gowns, surgical drapes, and surgical facemasks.
Freudenberg Performance Materials first-aid dressings
for everyday use.
Freudenberg Performance Materials produces Modern product solutions needed to support the self-healing powers of the body, accelerate the healing process, and enhance wellbeing. The company’s high performance nonwovens and polyurethane foams have been designed to meet these requirements.
Whether in first aid dressings for everyday use or in modern, multi-layer dressings for chronic wounds, Freudenberg’s performance products offer appropriate solutions that contribute to the recovery process. The company places high value on the bio-compatibility and tolerability of its raw materials. Freudenberg components are used in Class 1-3 medical devices and in FDA-certified products.
Freudenberg Performance Materials manufactures innovative nonwoven components for traditional wound care. Whether for classic first aid dressings, post-operative wound dressings, or compresses, the nonwoven materials offer the right solution for every customer, and are a safe choice for gentle healing processes. The company offers nonwovens with different wound contact layers and absorption capacities, wound pad materials with antimicrobial properties, as well as cross and bi-elastic backing materials.
Sandler AG's nonwoven wound treatment for comfortable applications.
Sandler AG's sawabond® nonwovens are used in products for wound treatment. Manufactured without chemical binders, Sandler materials are also a beneficial choice for sensitive skin. Nonwovens used as outer layers for wound dressings are also suitable for gamma sterilization (treatment for sterilizing and killing bacteria in medical devices), making users feel completely secure.
Nonwovens are also prevalent in the OR: In surgical masks, highly air-permeable inner covers made from Sandler sawabond® nonwovens allow the wearer to breathe freely. Robust sawabond® tie tapes provide a secure fit of the mask, even when activity heightens during an emergency.
Sandler’s sawasoft® nonwovens offer comfort when injured arms or legs need to be braced. Applied on the inside of temporary braces, the fabric offers a pleasant textile feel, increasing comfort by helping to wick moisture away from the skin. Permeable and absorbent, the materials allow the skin to breathe and prevent irritation, even when the brace has to be worn for days. The sawasoft® nonwovens are also very lightweight, adding to the comfort of the medical product.