More from the Lenzing Annual Reports...
- Tencel selling at a 35% premium over viscose
- Tencel sales to nonwovens now above 40,000 tonnes per annum.
- Wipes, Face Masks, Medical, Battery Separators, Capacitor dielectrics mentioned as key applications
- TencelWeb(R) (spunlaid Tencel) is "the biggest development project at present"
The year 2011 also proceeded gratifyingly for TENCEL® textile fibers. Considering the entire year, TENCEL® continually obtained higher prices, and thus clearly distinguished itself from the general market trend. The price premium of TENCEL® textile fibers compared to Lenzing’s standard viscose fibers was more than 35% on average in 2011. One of the main reasons for this development was the continuing growth in the range of applications for TENCEL®. Accordingly, TENCEL® is not only found in the world of fashion, but increasingly integrated into home textiles. With respect to bed linens, TENCEL® fibers exploit their moisture management properties and are winning over a growing number of friends. The specialty fiber TENCEL® A100 used in the activewear and life style segments also achieved very good market successes.
Sales of TENCEL® fibers produced in an environmentally compatible manner are also being driven by an enhanced environmental awareness. Similar to Lenzing Modal®, Far Eastern sales markets for TENCEL® textile fibers proved to be more attractive in 2011 than their counterparts in the industrialized nations of the West. On balance, the average selling price per kilogram for Lenzing’s nonwoven fibers could be raised by close to 14% in 2011 to EUR 2.04/kg. Shipment volumes climbed by about 4% to 206,000 tons, thus accounting for almost 30% of Lenzing’s total fiber shipment volumes. TENCEL® fibers comprised close to one fifth of nonwoven fiber shipment volumes.
In 2011 Lenzing succeeded in further expanding its market leader position for cellulosic nonwoven fibers used in the production of wipes. Lenzing profited from the strong demand along the value chain for fibers manufactured in an environmentally compatible manner but offering correspondingly good performance. Lenzing was granted PEFC1 certification in 2011 for all its nonwoven products manufactured in Lenzing. This certificate as well as the Lenzing nonwoven FSC2 certification ensures consumers that the raw material wood is derived from sustainable forestry. In addition to the major successes with baby wipes, market success was also achieved in the fields of cosmetics, household goods and industry in 2011. The cooperation with private label manufacturers was further intensified. Lenzing is also supporting its customers on the cost side with innovative products made possible by technical improvements, for example low weight.
An increasing number of global partners of Lenzing’s nonwoven fibers are relying on the positive reputation of the brands Lenzing Viscose® and TENCEL®. This trend strengthens the cooperation with important partners along the entire value chain. For example, at the end of 2010, a Japanese retailer launched an improved version of its baby wipes made of 100% TENCEL® on the market. The retailer conveys his trust in the brand to his customers on the basis of the reference on the label to TENCEL® in the accompanying advertising materials. The high quality baby wipes were granted the “Kids Design Excellence Award” in September 2011. Cosmetic facial masks made of nonwovens play an important role with Asian consumers. Here TENCEL® is also gaining in importance. Thanks to the pleasantly soft structure of the material which feels silky, an increasing number of skin-friendly facial masks are being manufactured with TENCEL®.
Medical applications comprised a further focal point in 2011. The use of Lenzing’s nonwoven fibers for hygienic applications developed stably.
R&DIn the reporting year Lenzing also pressed ahead with the development of other non-filbrillating types of TENCEL® fibers. Due to their special properties these fibers are particularly suited for use in process-critical segments, for example in knitwear. For the first time TENCEL® fibers were successfully integrated into car seat covers in combination with polyester. The biggest technological challenge for the researchers in Lenzing is fulfilling the specifications of automobile manufacturers with respect to wet rub fastness and light fastness. In particular, the enhanced sitting comfort resulting from the outstanding moisture management of TENCEL® is a good reason for integrating the fiber into car seat covers.
In the technical segment, Lenzing achieved good success in 2011 with capacitors to compensate for peak electricity demand in motor vehicles. In this case TENCEL® nonwoven products were deployed as separators for an optimal ion exchange, thus enhancing the performance of the capacitors. Increased sales with TENCEL® nonwoven applications were also reported for lithium-ion batteries for electric-powered vehicles. Following the successful market launch of TENCEL® powder in mattress foam in 2010, Lenzing’s efforts in 2011 focused on scientifically evaluating expanding applications to other areas such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and detergents. Furthermore, research was carried out in the reporting year on a completely new cellulose product from the lyocell technology. This refers to a gel consisting of submicroscopic TENCEL® fibrids which can form clear and closed films in drying. This new type of TENCEL® gel could be used in a broad range of applications in the future, from coatings for paper or nonwovens to the paint and lacquer industry.
During the year under review Lenzing also pressed ahead with the biggest development project at present, i. e. TencelWeb™. This innovative technology enables TENCEL® nonwovens to be directly produced from the spinning solution, which features a high share of microfibers as well as low weight. Further process and product optimization work was carried out in the pilot facility in 2011 along with the generation of customer samples.
Another focal point of the research carried out in the nonwovens segment in 2011 was the production of microfibers. Initial laboratory tests concluded that these microfibers have outstanding properties when used in battery separators.