Airlay Processes

What do cosmetic pads, nonwovens sound insulation, and painter‘s drop cloths all have in common? These are all Airlay products. The applications of nonwoven fabrics are continuously  increasing, especially, in the automotive industry.

Hence, the demand for the production equipment to manufacture aerodynamic random webs has also increased – and so, also the demand for so called Airlay units from the nonwoven fabrics producers is growing.

3D Microstructure of an Airlay Nonwoven

Functional Principle of Airlay Processes

An Airlay unit works is based on the following principle:

  • First, the supplied raw material, for example, fiber mats made from renewable raw materials or recycled plastic fibers, are preopened.
  • Then, the fibers are detached from the rotating cord cylinder and transported in an air stream.
  • The air fiber mixture lands on a conveyor belt where it is compressed by suction.

The goal of the nonwoven manufacturers is to produce nonwovens with the greatest volume with the least raw material. Additionally, energy consumption needs to be minimized.

Simulation with FIDYST

In close cooperation with machinery manufacturer Autefa Solutions, we simulated the K12 process for an optimal design of the Airlay process. Hereto, we extended the fiber dynamics simulation tool (FIDYST) with a new module for the simulation of staple fibers.

The new tool couples iteratively the simulation of fiber dynamics and air flow. Simulating thousands of representative fibers enables engineers to evaluate modifications of the process. Additionally, the simulated fibers generate a 3d microstructure that is used to analyze the mechanical properties of the complete nonwoven. The simulation steps are validated by measurements of the plant and computer tomography analysis of the final product.

With this project FIDYST has proven once again its huge potential to simulate and to optimize production processes of technical textiles.