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Post published on 12/05/2021

Next generation wipes: plastic-free and dispersible

Guido Conio, Teknoweb Sales Director

Teknoweb Converting and wet wipes

In the IMA Tissue&Nonwoven team of Companies, Teknoweb is the expert in wet wipes converting for all categories: personal care, household and industrial, both in stack and roll form.

Teknoweb is known on the market as a provider of cutting-edge converting and packaging lines with the lowest TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

In addition, it can act as a main contractor for wet wipe clients by including machines manufactured by the other companies belonging to the IMA T&NW team in its range. A successful synergy to deliver first class manufacturing plants.

As part of the Group’s IMA Zero sustainability project, Teknoweb is actively participating in IMA’s No Plastic Programme (NOP) aimed at maximising the use of biodegradable or compostable  materials.

Background

For some time now, wet wipes are seen as threats for the environment by many opinion groups.

The reason behind this lies not with the product itself that, if properly managed, would not have such significant environmental effects, but due to the lack of attention paid by consumers after use. In fact, instead of being managed as dry or plastic waste, ending up in the incinerator, wet wipes are often thrown into the toilet, clogging the gray and black water purification systems.

Alternatively, being an on-the-go product (there is no water nearby) wet wipes are often left in the environment, where it takes decades for them to disintegrate.

With the aim of improving the acceptance of the product in the market and thus reducing the environmental impact of wet wipes, Teknoweb has been collaborating for years with the major fabric and fibre manufacturing companies.

The goal was and still is to identify a raw material with low – or even zero – environmental impact that could be processed without negative impact, compared to the standard one normally composed of PP, PE or viscose.

The material identified by the fabric producers is composed of cellulosic fibres derived from wood pulp. In some extreme products, this is held together by resins that dissolve with movement in water. These products can be thrown into the toilet after use without any damage anddeteriorate after hours or days – instead of decades – when or if dispersed uncontrollably in the environment. These are the green future of wet wipes.

The challenge

The new materials feature low wet strength, high rigidity and are sensitive to heat, which reduces their dry strength. In traditional converters, the materials often used to break and consequently these machines did not achieve high processing speed due to the heat generated during the unwinding phase.

Using new materials means accepting a significant loss in terms of speed and efficiency, making the use of the green alternative more expensive.

The solution

Teknoweb has first developed and used a technology able to eliminate the inefficiencies resulting from the new dispersible materials in its length-fold machines, and specifically:

  • Unwinders with tension control without the use of motors and reel change devices at zero

speed splice.

  • Use of low friction fabric turning bars to reduce heat development.
  • Driving belts of multilayer fabric, technologically advanced, toothed and guided to handle high tension without slipping.
  • The multi-step wetting system of the fabric allows for optimal adjustment of the amount of lotion up to the saturation point, without the risk of breakage.
  • Non-return valves to avoid fabric wetting in case of line-stop and consequent breakage when the line restarts.

Today, Teknoweb enables its customers to process dispersible green materials at the same speed and efficiency of traditional materials.
Going green no longer means accepting lower efficiency and greater costs.