Beaulieu Fibres International is continuing to strengthen its position as a global supplier of polyolefin fibers. Large investments in fiber production is an important driver ensuring it can meet future challenges and customers’ needs.
Since the acquisition of Meraklon four years ago, the product portfolio has been broadened significantly to better serve market needs. Several investments were made to offer trilobal shaped mono polypropylene (Mono PP) fibers and bicomponent (BICO) fiber with a PP core and polyethylene (PE) sheath.
The focus, however, is on innovation: the company continues to explore possibilities for new and enhanced fibers to meet the market requirements.
Being the European leader for polyolefin staple fibers, Beaulieu Fibres International is committed to staying ahead as a technology innovator.
Today, the broad portfolio includes ultra-soft fibers, high-elongation fibers, high-tenacity fibers, colored fibers, BICO fibers and fibers with various cross-sections suitable for a wide range of processing technologies.
The innovation strategy is the cornerstone of its activities and key fiber innovations are set to develop that will address future market demands in segments such as hygiene, automotive, flooring and geotextiles.
Light, soft and opaque for hygiene
Beaulieu Fibres International supplies Meraklon man-made fibers for a broad range of hygiene products.
Meraklon meets the key market requirements for softness, opacity and lightweight fabrics for baby diapers, adult incontinence products, feminine care products and wipes.
The fibers are tailored for the different process technologies used in the market today, such as carded thermobonded, carded through-air bonded, spunlace and needlepunch.
Beaulieu Fibres International offers four fiber platforms:
- Mono Round PP fibers
- Mono Trilobal PP fibers
- BICO round PE/PP fibers
- The recently launched Meralux platform.
In addition to advantages provided by the trilobal shape, the ultra-soft property helps to achieve greater softness of the nonwoven, which is key for the hygiene and wipe market.
The unique, defined cross-section of the true trilobal shape achieves resilience that enhances fiber opacity and leads to a superior coverage effect and bulkiness in the finished nonwoven. This allows weight reduction of both the fiber and related nonwoven while overcoming the traditional loss of opacity associated with less material use.
Meraklon trilobal fibers are available in 1.0-6.7 dtex for spunlaced and thermal calendered/bonded technologies. Ultra-soft can be combined with well-being features such as aloe vera to add tailor-made functionality to the fiber.
Meraklon BICO fibers are based on a PP core and PE sheath: the PE offers excellent softness in the nonwoven, while high strength and thermal stability are ensured by the solid PP core. In addition, PE’s low melting temperature of 130°C supports low bonding temperatures during processing.
Meraklon BICO fibers are globally available in 1.2-8.9 dtex. The combination of properties makes these ideal for hygiene topsheets, where softness for direct skin contact is required.
It is possible to tailor the performance through different finishes such as permanent hydrophilic, hydrophobic, other well-being features and additives including ultra-soft and titanium dioxide (TiO₂).
Meralux fibers have been recently added to the Meraklon product portfolio. Nonwovens made with the new Meralux fiber show higher loft/bulk; its coverage is unique and provides nonwovens with a much closed surface, without containing additives like TiO₂.
With the higher loft and unique coverage, softness is provided by the choice of raw materials. Equipped with all these features, Meralux allows basis weight reductions without losing performance.
Lightweight automotive composites
Beaulieu Fibres International has developed a range of engineered PP bonding fibers (3.3-17 dtex) for lightweight thermoplastic composites, such as door panels, underbody shields, wheel arch liners, parcel shelves and headliners. Each of the bonding fibers is designed to provide a homogeneous blend and optimal molding performance.
Additionally, with their inherently low shrinkage and excellent elongation properties, these bonding fibers offer dimensional stability in compression molding.
The fiber recipes are designed and customized to meet the most stringent original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirements in terms of heat stability, volatile organic compound (VOC) and windscreen fogging (FOG) emissions, and interior odor requirements. The main advantages are reduced weight, lower system cost and enhanced acoustic properties.
For automotive interior fabrics, the color development department of Beaulieu can match any of the OEM color masters. The fiber recipe is designed to comply with OEM requirements in terms of ultraviolet (UV) resistance, VOC/FOG emission and flame retardance (FR). The low-melt PP bonding fibers contribute to a fully recyclable system (patent pending), replacing the use of latex.
Staple fibers for floorcoverings
Beaulieu Fibres International offers a full decitex range of PP fibers (5.5-300 dtex) for the production of needlepunched carpet for indoor and outdoor applications, such as trade and event carpets, contract and residential carpets, and sports surfaces.
Coarse fibers have been developed that offer superb shrinkage control, dimensional stability and the high resilience required for the carpet tile market.
Beaulieu Fibres International is an expert in color development and has the knowledge to provide the appropriate functionalities in terms of colorfastness, abrasion and UV resistance.
Lightweight nonwoven geotextiles
The high-tenacity fibers offer unique high tensile strength of a minimum 52 cN/tex (6 g/denier) without compromising on elongation. The fibers (4.4-11 dtex) provide opportunities to reduce geotextile system cost by maximizing machine efficiency, ensuring desired performance and saving weight – up to 15% compared with standard geotextile fibers.
Beaulieu also offers a higher decitex range for environmental applications. Heavy-duty engineering and construction require high-performance nonwovens for railways and motorways, landscaping, erosion control, waste containment and coastal protection.
This year Beaulieu Fibres International announced new investments in both Belgium and Italy amounting to more than € 80 million in 2016-2018. The investment program is the cornerstone of the company’s current growth strategy in both hygiene and industrial fibers, which consists of extending the production portfolio with innovations and expanding the production capacity to support the industry’s growth.
The investments in Belgium will enable Beaulieu Fibres International to explore its new fiber technology on an industrial-scale level.
The investments in Terni, Italy, center on a new hygiene line equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art long spin technology to meet the increasing demand for high-quality polyolefin staple fibers. It will be housed in a new building offering space for further expansion, which will be constructed at the Terni site.
With the extended production capacity and the expansion with new specialty PE/ polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and PP/PET-BICO fibers, Beaulieu Fibres International wants to make the Meraklon plant in Terni a true center of excellence for hygiene.
The new hygiene line will enable the company to add BICO PE/PET and BICO PP/PET fibers to its Meraklon product portfolio.
Nonwovens made with BICO fiber combinations have a higher loft/bulk and a good resilience. The higher melting temperature of the PET in the core of the fiber allows a broad bonding window during the production process.
In particular, PE/PET fibers address the requirements of softness in the market in combination with a higher bulkiness through the PET.
Beaulieu Fibres International is the biggest European producer of PP staple fiber. The company is part of the Engineered Products Business Unit of Beaulieu International Group, with headquarters in Belgium. It has three production sites in Europe: two in Belgium and one in Italy.
It supplies PP and BICO fibers with densities of 1.0-500 dtex to customers in industries such as hygiene, geotextiles, flooring, automotive, filtration and upholstery. Beaulieu Fibres International has 220 employees and in 2016 reported a turnover of €200 million.
Sales representatives are located in Europe, China and recently also in the US. The Belgian company has been represented locally in the US, based in Georgia, since June 2017.
For more information contact:
Beaulieu Fibres International