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French Nonwovens And Technical Textiles Machinery: UCMTF Respondents' Profiles

As part of its effort to gather information about the involvement of French textile machinery manufacturers in the nonwovens and technical textiles sectors, Textile World Asia prepared a questionnaire that was distributed by the French Textile Machinery Association (UCMTF) to its membership. Responses were received from 24 out of a total of some 35 member companies. Below are profiles of the respondents, followed by a table providing a portfolio of the machinery and accessories offered by those respondents.

AESA Air Engineering
AESA Air Engineering specializes in air-conditioning and waste-collection systems for textile mills. It has established its position as a leading supplier in the field for more than 70 years. The company came together when two companies, France-based Ameliorair and Germany-based LTG Air Engineering, merged fifteen years ago. Today, AESA operates independently with companies in France, Egypt, India, Singapore, Hong Kong and China; employs 100 people of 15 different nationalities; and has thousands of installations in operation worldwide in all kinds of industrial applications.

The company's aim currently is to strengthen its position in the Middle Eastern region. AESA is looking at increasing business volume by targeting customers in the fields of spinning and weaving, for cotton and other natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and any kind of blends, as well as in the field of chemical fiber production. The company offers solutions for automatic humidity control, temperature control, ventilation and cleanliness of production areas; as well as automatic waste-collection systems for cotton trash and fiber dust, for both continuous and intermittent processes.

AESA supplies complete solutions consisting of pre-filters and waste compactors; drum filters; fine-filters and dust collectors; all types of centrifugal and axial fans; air washers for adiabatic cooling and chilled water systems; air mixing dampers; return-air grilles; supplier-air diffusers; fully automatic electronic control systems including of PCD controller, electrical actuators, valves, inverters, all types of humidity, temperature and pressure sensors; as well as computer software to run its plants.

Projects start at the design stage, according to the customer's requirements, and go all the way to the full commissioning of the plants, including the delivery of all the required equipment, drawings and files. Its customers most often are new textile mills in need of air-conditioning and waste collection, existing mills needing revamping or extensions of their existing systems, existing mills that will be relocated after dismantling, and other such customers.

Foundation date
: 1984
Number of employees: 100
Headquarters location: Thann
Subsidiary companies: 4
Annual turnover: 15 million euros
Website: www.aesa-ae.com.sg

Calemard S.A.
Calemard specializes in the design and manufacture of in-line and off-line slitting and rewinding machines. Present since 1955 in a wide range of markets, Calemard has focused its activities on very technically demanding applications. The strong market position has been achieved thanks to a strong know-how in slitting technologies. The company has expertise in crush, shear and razor slitting systems, and also in sealing/cutting technologies including hot cutting and also ultrasonic cutting through Decoup+, its sister company.

Calemard also has expertise in rewinding technologies. Originally focused on narrow web slitting, the company has expanded its knowledge in spooling technology. As an alternative to the use of pancakes, its spooling technology is said to be the the solution that enables 10 times more product to be rewound than a pancake and offers a stable package of narrow products.

Foundation date
: 1955
Headquarters location: Roche la Molière
Annual turnover: 7.8 million euros
Owner: Spoolex Group
Website: www.calemard.com

Decoup+
Decoup+, Calemard's sister company, specializes in the design and manufacture of ultrasonic cutting/sealing/splicing solutions, which are applicable at any stage of the textile and nonwoven fabrication and conversion process. Ultrasonic devices use high-frequency vibratory energy combined with pressure to effect a cut or splice on synthetic textiles. Decoup+ ultrasonic modules are very compact components and are easy to integrate on existing manufacturing lines.The Decoup+ slitters/sealers cleanly cut and seal the edge of synthetic films and fabrics in a single pass. Fraying, unraveling and material beading along the cut edge are totally eliminated.The solutions developed by Decoup+ are part of an industrial range of ultrasonic equipment; they are proven solutions with power from 75 to 1,200 watts and are specifically adapted to continuous operations. These solutions are proposed as modular units to be mounted on existing lines, as adapted benches or as handheld units.

Foundation date: 1996
Number of employees: 9
Headquarters location: Roche la Molière
Annual turnover: 2 million euros
Owner: Spoolex Group
Website: www.decoup.com

Dollfus & Muller S.A.S.
Dollfus & Muller manufactures endless woven belts, specific woven fabrics - especially of wide widths, endless nonwovens and coated fabrics for conveying, calendering, filtration and advertising. It is recognized as a top player in open mesh conveyor belts and endless felts manufacturing. The major markets are textile finishing, nonwovens, tanneries, advertising, aluminums and food. The company invests 10 percent of its turnover in research and development (R&D). Its R&D team in its own laboratory works on process improvements, development of durable and reliable products, as well as improvements in finishing.

The company has a worldwide network of agents dedicated to helping every customer in the different industries.

Foundation date: 1811
Number of employees: 55
Headquarters location: Mulhouse
Annual turnover: 7 million euros
Owner: Dynamonde
Website: www.dollfus-muller.com

Ebelmann S.A.
Ebelmann specializes in precision engineering of hard metals. Present since 1981 in a wide range of markets, the company has focused its activities on very technically demanding applications. Thanks to constant technical innovation, helped by fully digitized equipment at the leading edge of technology, Ebelmann contributes, with its customers and partners, to the enhancement of their production resources by offering reliable, high performance solutions to equip textile machines with cutting tool systems.

For technical fibers such as Kevlar®, carbon fibers and glass fibers, Ebelmann manufactures special scissors, made with carbide tungsten blades, in association with polycrystalline diamond inserts. The company sees its position to be a global innovator, offering customers the best products and services in terms of both performance and quality; maintaining synergy among the needs of customers, suppliers, staff and the environment; and actively supporting any initiative aimed at further improving productions and services.

Active in the weaving sector, the company's most important target groups are weavers of technical fabrics. Three percent of its annual turnover is invested in R&D. Service is globally organized, and Germany is the company's most important export country.

Foundation date: 1981
Number of employees: 9
Headquarters location: Éloyes
Annual turnover: 850,000 euros
Website: www.ebelmann.com

Laroche S.A.
Laroche specializes in textile waste recycling, fiber preparation and complete lines to produce nonwoven products using airlay web-forming technology. Its processes are used in applications such as hygiene and medical, wipes, building, mattress, heat and acoustic insulation, automotive, underlayer, technical products and paper for banknotes, among other applications.

The company has given top priority to developing a new technology for semi-cured and/or thermobonded felts using the Air-Felt airlay process for flat or molded parts, semi-cured or cured nonwoven products used in the automotive and appliance industries; as well as for products used in the bedding and furniture, insulation and building industries. This airlay short process allows blending of thermobonding resin with many types of fibers without losing resin and with very low energy consumption and high efficiency. With the steam process after the Air-Felt process, the fibers are adhered by the thermobonded resin, which permits handling of the nonwoven matt to the press and processing of molded parts. By adding a Laroche opener after this process, the company is able to make very inexpensive thermobonded fibers from recycled fibers such as cotton. This technology is also dedicated to the processing of very short fibers --- less than 3 millimeters -- as fluff pulp, wood and cellulosic fibers, as well as shredded paper or particles ans many other applications.

Laroche holds some patents for its machinery, and some 10 people are working in R&D. Roughly 15 percent of the annual turnover is invested in R&D. Laroche runs its own laboratory for technical trials at its headquarters at Cours la Ville, and also conducts trials at NSC nonwovens' Asselin-Thibeau trials center in Tourcoing.

Machinery for opening, blending and dosing units for nonwovens; airlay units for hygiene and medical, building, mattresses, heat and acoustic insulation, and underlayer; and recycling machinery for nonwovens are at the forefront of demand. The most important export countries and regions are Europe, the United States, Russia, Turkey and Asia. Due to the current economic crisis, many projects have been postponed. However, thanks to new developments, Laroche is still doing some business.

Foundation date: 1926
Number of employees: 100
Headquarters location: Cours la Ville
Annual turnover: 15 million to 17 million euros
Owner: Laroche family
Website: www.laroche.fr

Lemaire S.A.R.L
Lemaire has been a designer and manufacturer for more than 100 years, and especially of technical and special calenders for 40 years. The company is involved in processes such as heat-setting and heat-bonding - including fuse, powder, hotmelt and film processes - for products such as nonwovens, technical textiles, plastics, and many other technical products. It manufactures machines and processing lines for applications such as upholstery, nonwovens, floor coverings, insulation, leather and shoes, luggage, care, hygienic and pharmacy products.

Lemaire provides solutions for processes such as transfer-printing, laminating, heat-setting, metal foil lamination, waxing, calendering and heat-bonding. Customers may also update existing machinery, including simple modifications and also the total revision of machines and regulation systems. The company also provides accumulator, winder, stacker and special machinery for technical applications.

Foundation date: 1909
Number of employees: 25
Headquarters location: Hem
Annual turnover: 3 million euros
Owner: Frédéric Bernard
Website: www.lemaire.fr

N. Schlumberger S.A.S.
N. Schlumberger manufactures spinning lines for processing long-staple fibers for technical applications. Long-staple yarns can be spun in various blends from any high-performance fibers. Natural fibers such as wool, silk, flax, ramie and hemp; as well as man-made fibers such as acrylic, polyvinyl alcohol, high-tenacity and aramid can be processed. Fabrics containing long-staple fibers are appreciated for their strength, flexibility, cleanness, evenness, traditional look and soft touch.

The company offers three processes to produce long-staple top for technical fibers: carding, stretch-breaking and crush-cutting. These three processing lines are composed of different machines including cards; converters; pin drafters; blenders; defelters; combers; and rubbing, roving and spinning frames. All these components are based on five trademarks including Cognetex, San't Andrea Novara, N. Schlumberger, Seydel and Thibeau; and are marketed under the NSC fibre to yarn label.

Foundation date: 1810
Number of employees: 230
Headquarters location: Guebwiller
Annual turnover: 29.6 million euros
Owner: NSC Groupe
Website: www.nsc-fibretoyarn.com

NSC nonwoven
NSC nonwoven is a worldwide supplier of Excelle® and Axcess cards, crosslappers, drafters, needlelooms, winders and slitters-rewinders. The compant designs, builds and supplies turnkey nonwoven lines for needlepunching, spunlacing, thermobonding, air-through bonding and chemical bonding. The lines are equipped with a supervisory control assistance system, which includes production recipes, maintenance and assistance to line management.

Over the last decade, innovations in crosslaid technology concentrated exclusively on improved weight evenness. The new IsoProDyn technology not only further improves the capability of the Prodyn system, but also controls machine direction:cross direction (MD:CD) characteristics across the fabric width. Direct benefits are potential fiber savings with lighter products and improved quality. Customer benefits are an enhanced strength uniformity, improved weight uniformity, added product value and performance.

Foundation date: 1896
Number of employees: 274
Headquarters location: Tourcoing
Owner: NSC Groupe
Website: www.nsc-nonwoven.com

Rieter Perfojet S.A.S.
Rieter Nonwovens Systems, also known as Rieter Perfojet, is part of Rieter Textile Systems and is responsible for the engineering, development, sales, marketing and services for nonwovens machinery. The company says its expertise in spunlace, spunbond and spunjet processes makes it the only supplier to offer all these nonwovens technologies from a single source. Globally, the company has installed more than 150 spunlace lines. Through a collaboration with NSC nonwoven, Rieter supplies complete spunlace lines from the opening to the winder.

The company reports the Perfobond™ spunbond system demonstrates several production benefits, including excellent web uniformity for low fabric weight and isotropic web strength. Rieter Nonwovens has more than 200 patents for spunlace, spunbond and spunjet technologies. One of the main patents in spunlace technology is the random micro-perforated entanglement sleeves (MPA), which provide producers many benefits such as the reduction in operating pressures, energy savings, and up to 500-percent gain in bonding.

Regarding the spunjet process, the pick-up of the spunlaid filaments from the conveyor belt to the hydroentanglement system is important in order to have the bonding of the filaments without pre-calendering or needlepunching. This patented system avoids web damaging and improves the final characteristics of the fabrics.

Rieter Nonwovens has its own R&D service including six experts in the nonwovens area responsible for processes, technical and fabric development, and intellectual properties.

Since 2003, the company has offered nonwovens producers access to its technical center in Montbonnot, where trials, product development, marketing tests, technical training and expertise support are conducted with the most important technologies of the nonwovens technologies.

Rieter Nonwovens offers its customers a supply of original spare parts as well as the possibility to retrofit their existing lines in order to improve machine performances and fabric properties.

Rieter has developed on its Perfobond machine a new nonwovens process, called Spunjet, which entails in-line hydroentanglement of continuous filaments from spunlaid technology. The process offers nonwovens properties with regard to fabric bulk, softness, drape, tensile strength and an isotropic MD:CD ratio.

At the moment, the main business is the installation or retrofitting of spunlace lines. Making up 50 percent of the total spunlace production, wipes is currently the fastest-growing end-use market. Therefore, a line comprising Rieter's Jetlace® machine combined with NSC nonwoven cards provides state-of-the-art spunlace fabrics for the wipes industry. Its Jetlace Essentiel hydroentanglement system is designed for the production of light spunlace fabrics from 25 to 80 grams per square meter (gm2), and has a capacity of up to 15,000 tons per year.

The company's most important export countries comprise a balance among the United States, Europe and Asia. Nevertheless, the nonwovens market in emerging countries also is developing. In order to support the development of emerging countries, Rieter has launched the Jetlace Avantage machine, designed for the spunlace production from 30 to 120 gm2 and having a capacity of up to 4,000 tons per year.

Rieter Nonwovens sees the current market situation as being not very good in light of the financial crisis. A lot of nonwovens producers are coping with the economical slowdown by consolidating. In different geographical zones, the situations vary. Some producers see the crisis as an opportunity to retrofit existing lines in order to be better-performing when the business booms again in the future.

Looking into the future, the company sees the main product trend as the engineering of lighter nonwovens. Ten years ago, the weight of a standard wipe was of 60 g/m 2, and today, the weight of spunlace fabrics for wipes is 40 g/m 2. In order to maintain product bulkiness and the same properties, Rieter Nonwovens has improved the technical performance of its machinery. The company also believes nonwovens business will head toward sustainable development and environmental solutions.

Foundation date: 1984
Number of employees: 80
Headquarters location: Montbonnot
Annual turnover: 34.7 million euros
Owner: Rieter Group
Website: www.rieter.com/en/textile/nonwovens/

RITM
RITM is active in ring and two-for-one twisting, direct and conventional cabling, air and conventional covering, air and false twist texturing, spooling, winding, and assembling machinery for continuous filaments including: man-made fibers such as polyamide, polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene and aramid; artificial fibers such as rayon and acetate; natural fibers such as wool, jute, sisal and cotton blends with continuous filaments; mineral fibers such as glass and quartz; and metal fibers such as steel and copper.

The company's most important target groups are companies in the technical yarn segments - especially electronic-glass yarn twisting and assembling, and tire-cord yarn cabling; but also all industrial yarn applications such as ropes, twines, nets, belt reinforcements, hoses, tarpaulins, carpet backing and artificial grass, as well as carpet-yarn twisting and cabling.

RITM holds numerous patents and has more pending. Its R&D staff totals some 30 people, out of a total workforce of 150 people. Roughly 5 percent of the turnover is invested in R&D, and the company operates its own laboratory for technical trials at its Valence plant. Boasting a company philosophy of "Think globally and act locally," RITM maintains customer service operations in the United States, Turkey, China and Taiwan, as well as in France.

The most important export countries and regions are Taiwan, China and the United States. Actual key developments are in the making for glass, tire-cord and industrial applications. Current top sellers are dedicated to two main sectors: electronic-glass and industrial yarns applications. RITM claims to be a market leader in these two sectors.

The current market situation is considered to be very tough. The company believes only the key players will survive - not necessarily the biggest ones, which RITM contends are too large and not able to adapt their structures to the current situation. The companies that will remain are those that respect their customers and propose innovative solutions - technologically, economically, and ecologically - in a mutual win-win partnership. Small, innovative and flexible companies will survive, especially if they are able to work together as a network. In the short-term, RITM believes 2009 and maybe 2010 will be very tough to go through but it claims it is in a good situation to face these challenging times.

Foundation date: 2006; successor of ICBT, created in 1984
Number of employees: Approximately 150
Headquarters location: Valence
Annual turnover: US$100 million in 2007
Owners:    Carlos Matas, Noël Paul, Frédéric Belval
Website: www.ritm-fr.com

Roll Concept
Roll Concept's Alveotubes® are used as idler, transducer, accumulator, guide, contact, nip, dancer, lay-on, calender, reel spool and roll cores. Its range includes simple profile but also ready-to-be-installed solutions with a choice of mountings, coatings and coverings, notably anti-adhesive coatings to prevent a hot product from sticking to the roll. They are also balanced to insure perfect concentricity and straightness. Each tool is adapted to each specific inquiry, taking into account productivity requirements, type of products processed and machine configuration to guarantee regularity of production. The idler rolls guide and transfer the web at different steps of the production run, keeping a constant tension on the webs thanks to reduced friction and perfect rotation. Their light weight and the unique alveolar structure make it possible to combine bending strength and resistance to corrosion. Customized rolls in different diameters and lengths are available. Corexal® is a universal core adapter for all 3-inch shafts: this unique mechanical system doesn't need electricity, air or water. It allows changing of the winding core diameter easily without any tubing, mounting or tools; nor any internal diameter modification.

Foundation date
: 1991
Number of employees: 4
Headquarters location: Roche la Molière
Annual turnover: 1 million euros
Owner: Spoolex Group
Website: www.rollconcept.com

Stäubli France
Stäubli is a supplier of shedding systems for weaving machines, and the company reports it holds a strong position as a supplier of shedding machinery for technical fabrics such as geotextiles; carpet backing; tire cord; fabrics for parachutes, fire protection or weather protection; and also for paper machine clothing and many more applications.

For the production of heavy technical fabrics, Stäubli provides extra-heavy shedding equipment such as the electronic dobby type 2685 S or the closed-shed dobby type 4080. The delivery also includes the complete heddle frame motion and the heddle frame, suitable for such drive systems with high warp tensions and wide weaving widths. The series of machines for producing heavy technical fabrics is completed with the electronic dobby Unival 500. This dobby drives each heddle frame with one motor, independently from but synchronized with the weaving machine drive, allowing total freedom in shed formation.

Shedding parameters may become essential when producing sophisticated technical textiles of lighter quality. This is where users can benefit most from Unival 100, the single-end Jacquard machine that uses servo motors instead of mechanical drives. Technical textiles, for example, for automotive and aeronautic fabrics, but also for sports, industry or medical -- and even with materials made from glass fibers, carbon and Kevlar -- can take advantage of the Unival 100 technological concept.

Stäubli sees its leading role as a supplier of shedding, weaving preparation and carpet manufacturing machinery; and holds a lot of patents. Laboratories for technical trials are located at its production sites in France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and China.

Foundation date: 1892
Headquarters location: Faverges
Other locations in France: Lyon
Owner: Antonin Stäubli family
Website: www.staubli.com/en/textile/

Superba S.A.S.
Superba is a provider of complete solutions for saturated steam continuous heat-setting processing of bulk continuous filament carpet yarn including polyamide 6, polyamide 6,6, polypropylene, polyester and polyacrylic (PAN); or spun and wool blends. It has its own R&D center and showroom dedicated to customers' needs, a hotline service and international spare-parts department for customer support, and skilled technicians for line installation and training.

The company has more than 35 years of experience in the highly specialized field of high-quality tufted or woven carpets, providing advanced and competitive solutions with a complete range of machines, including the new TVP3, third-generation heat-setting line, together with the MF4 friezing machine and the B401 truly automatic winder. LV3 and DUOVAP steaming and shrinking lines for PAN high-bulk yarns as well as sophisticated MCD-LA and DL5 space-dyeing lines complete the portfolio.

These lines integrate the latest technologies in term of automatiom, information treatment and remote access; and are said to be high-performance and efficient, environmentally friendly, energy-saving and economical. Superba exports approved machinery all over the world with international certification and has sister companies in the United States, China and the Middle-East.

Foundation date: 1954
Number of employees: 180
Headquarters location: Mulhouse
Subsidiary companies: 3
Annual turnover: 35 million euros
Owner: Thierry Grasser
Website: www.superba.com

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