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[Success story] Halyard Health: Three Layers Lamination Line for Medical Use in an Integrated System

Halyard Health (Halyard), a company now part of the Owens & Minor family of companies, acquired in 2018, is a supplier of protective medical clothing and materials, such as sterilization wrap, face masks, gloves and surgical drapes and surgical drapes, to more than 100 countries.

With 11 manufacturing facilities across the globe, Halyard relies on superior machinery to produce top-quality products.

Upon acquiring Halyard, Owens & Minor continued to support a previously recognized need to insource all production of film laminate fabrics in-house, as the production of these fabrics had been with an external supplier. The timing of this expansion (completed in 2019) was important, as the unexpected shock in demand with the COVID-19 pandemic began to be visible late that same year. The increase in demand for medical film laminate nonwovens in 2020 has been a challenge Halyard has risen to, thanks to A.Celli’s help.

The underlying problem of the previous lamination line

Halyard was using film laminate fabrics for its highest protection gowns made by an external supplier. However, due to higher costs and less control of the supply chain, it was recognized that this production needed to be in-house. In addition, there were limitations with the capacity of the external supplier that would not allow Halyard to meet the needs of any unplanned surge in demand. Halyard needed a solution that would boost production without compromising quality or significantly increasing costs.

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Read more: 3 ways to boost lightweight laminated nonwoven production (with 0 risks)

Why did Halyard choose A.Celli

Halyard did their research and discovered A.Celli and their history of innovation, superior machinery and unparalleled customer service. That is why Halyard reached out to us through our website to request information about capabilities of our lamination machine solutions.

Launched as a family-run business in 1944, A.Celli has grown into a renowned international company that supplies high-end machinery and technological solutions for both the tissue and nonwovens industries. One of the elements for which we are universally recognized is the innovative character of everything we do.

A.Celli is specialized in tissue, nonwovens and paper winding and rewinding, complete turnkey tissue plants, multifunctional solutions for nonwovens plants (including lamination, spooling and printing systems), upgrades/updates, rebuilding and retrofit of obsolete machinery and digital solutions designed to optimize production and maintenance and monitor every stage of the production processes.

When Halyard contacted us on January 2017, the initial calls were for a feasibility assessment and understanding of what options could be available for a solution with Halyard. Our sales department promptly made an offer based on their request and, shortly after this, a meeting was arranged in North Carolina to evaluate their plant and their specific needs.

Halyard was impressed by what we had to offer and, after various technical discussions and Owens & Minor approval of a capital expenditure, a contract was signed on July 18, 2018.

A.Celli got straight to work, building a lamination machine that matched Halyard’s needs. In May 2019, the operation of the machine was tested on the A.Celli premises with excellent results and the machine was then shipped to Halyard and arrived in July 2019, installed in Halyard’s Linwood, NC plant in August and tested onsite in September.

Halyard was incredibly satisfied and signed off on the final acceptance on October 11, 2019.

How Halyard boosted its production: the project

At the time the Linwood, North Carolina Halyard plant was acquired by Owens & Minor, the plant was a traditional spunlaid nonwovens plant with several Spunbond and SMS lines, primarily supporting medical nonwoven fabric production. In addition, the facility has Converting assets that manufacture some finished product like Sterilization Wrap and AAMI2 Cover gowns.

The Film Laminate equipment provided to Halyard by A.Celli included:

  • Unwinder and unwinder loading system
  • Web handling and transfer rollers, including spreader systems and tension control equipment
  • Lamination frame to host adhesive bonding equipment
  • In-line slitting winder, edge trim removal systems and roll handling system
  • Shaft extraction system and crane for returning empty shafts back to the winder

A specific list of the equipment supplied includes:

  • Two Nonstop Shaftless Unwind Stand for Spunbond/SMS
  • One Nonstop Shaftless Unwind Stand for PE Film
  • Product Threading and Passage Structure
  • Lamination Frame
  • Defect Management System (DMS)
  • Automatic Winder with In-Line Slitting “Stream”
  • Flag Applicator System
  • Shaft Handling System
  • Roll Handling System

The A.Celli solution implemented the automation of processes along the production line. These automated processes include:

  • Winding
  • Slitting
  • Reel ejection and core loading

The results of the new A.Celli lamination machine

The automation of these processes made it possible for Halyard to make their highest protection gown fabrics while improving overall costs, and with the added benefit of internal product quality control. In addition to this, the new line is equipped with world-class barrier safeguards and interlocks for improved safety.

With increased fabric demand for medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for protection against the COVID-19 virus, this new lamination line is now running at double the original forecast volume. In addition, Halyard has hired an extra 16+ operators to support the additional production shifts. Overall, production of all of the plant’s nonwovens fabrics and finished products has increased due to demand for PPE and there are plans to expand to additional nonwoven fabric offerings.

If you are interested in expanding your nonwovens capacity or starting a new production line, please contact us: we will discuss together the best solution for your needs.

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Walki®Apron 45 has been certified and is now ready for delivery

Walki’s high-performance protective material for single use hospital aprons, Walki®Apron 45, has achieved the highest class according to the  standard based on the DIN EN 14126: 2004 norm.

The material  is now ready to be delivered to customers, who will make the aprons needed in hospitals all over the world in the fight against COVID-19.

The Walki®Apron 45 was certified to resist penetration by contaminated liquids under pressure and infective agents due to mechanical contact with substances containing contaminated liquids.

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The material was also tested and certified for resistance to contaminated aerosols and solid particles.

“This means that the Walki®Apron 45 meets all the necessary safety standards, and the material is safe to use in protective gear for hospital personnel”, says Bart Vansteenkiste, Business Development Manager Engineered Materials at Walki.

The Walki®Apron 45 is based on a high-performance extrusion coated non-woven fabric suitable for medical applications.

The material used in hospital aprons needs to be highly tear-resistant to hinder the material from suffering damages during the manufacturing process. As hospital personnel work long days in difficult conditions, it is also important that the apron is comfortable to wear.

“The softness in the Walki®Apron makes it pleasant to wear”, says Vansteenkiste.

The first batches have been delivered to customers already and the feedback from hospital staff has been very positive.

Walki Group is a leading manufacturer of technical laminates and protective packaging materials specialising in the production of fibre-based, intelligent multi-laminate products for markets as diverse as energy-saving facings and construction membranes to barrier packaging applications. The Group has production facilities in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, the UK, Russia and China. The Group has a workforce of around 1100 people. In 2018, the Group’s annual turnover was EUR 317 million.

www.walki.com

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VTT and 52 companies to cooperate to reduce need for plastics by using natural fibres

Materials based on natural fibres are an interesting alternative to replace fossil-derived plastics. In the future, they may replace plastics in, for example, packaging, hygiene products, building materials and textiles. The Piloting Alternatives for Plastics project brings together a wide range of Finnish and international companies to take materials developed in laboratories towards more industrial production. The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, VTT and companies.

Plastic is an excellent material with many unique properties in, for example, packaging applications. Plastic consumption is estimated to double over the next 20 years. The biggest challenge for plastic products is their recyclability. For example, only 14% of plastic packaging is recycled, so the majority of plastic ends up being incinerated or in landfills and, unfortunately, also improperly disposed of in forests and oceans (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017).

In a three-year piloting project, VTT is working with companies to take the manufacture of new generation fibre products towards the scale of industrial production. The pilots are being carried out at VTT in Jyväskylä, with access to, among other things, the first research environment in the world to utilise the foam-forming process. The selected piloting targets include fibre-based materials to replace the plastics used in, for example, food packaging, filters, textiles as well as wiping, hygiene and construction materials.

VTT's foam forming research environment is situated in Jyväskylä. (Photo by VTT). VTT's foam forming research environment is situated in Jyväskylä. (Photo by VTT).

“In this project, we are creating a new understanding of bio-based fibre networks and how, by tailoring them, we can produce new types of recyclable materials that do not burden the environment”, says Vice President Jani Lehto from VTT.

From laboratory through piloting to the product development phase

In the research of new materials, the challenge is to select the most interesting from a wide range of raw material and manufacturing options, and to reduce the time it takes to scale the results obtained on a laboratory scale to commercial production scale. The development work done in the project will result in expertise in various raw materials, equipment and manufacturing technologies. Based on the development work, companies can move to the product development phase for different solutions in company-driven projects.

The Piloting Alternatives for Plastics project started on 1 April 2020 and ends on 31 March 2023. Its total budget is EUR 6.7 million. The project is implemented with funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), VTT and companies coordinated by the Regional Council of Central Finland.

Participants in the project include 52 companies from Finland and elsewhere in Europe. A total of 28 companies from Finland are involved, of which 18 are small and medium-sized companies.

Corporate project partners

Ahlstrom-Munksjö Glassfibre Oy, Andritz Küsters GmbH, Anpap Ltd, Berndorf Band GmbH, Betolar Ltd, BillerudKorsnäs AB, CH-Polymers Oy, CP Kelco Oy, DAIO Paper Corporation, Domtar Paper CO LLC, DS Smith Paper Limited (GBCE), Elomatic Consulting & Engineering Ltd, Epira Oy, Essity Hygiene & Health AB, Evergreen Packaging LLC, Fiber-X Finland Oy, Huhtamäki Oyj, Ibema Cia Brasileira de Papel, Kemira Oyj, Kimberly-Clark Corp., Kuraray Europe GmbH, Lenzing AG, MegaTrex Oy, Metsäliitto Cooperative, Moorim P&P Co. Ltd, Nalco Finland Oy, Neenah Gessner GmbH, OrganoClick AB, Pankakoski Mill Ltd, Paptic Ltd, Pixact Ltd, ProSolve Oy, P.T. Bukit Muria Jaya (BMT), PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper – APRIL Group, Sappi Netherlands Services BV, Serres Oy, Solenis LLC, Sonoco-Alcore Oy, Spinnova Ltd, Stora Enso Oyj, Sulzer Pumps Finland Oy, Suominen Corporation, Södra Skogsägarna, Termex-Eriste Oy, TetraPak Packaging Solutions AB, Trinseo Europe GmbH, UPM-Kymmene Corporation, Valmet Technologies, Inc., Visuvari Oy, Vologda Pulp LLC, Weidmann Electrical Technology AG and Wetend Technologies Ltd.

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Walki has developed a high-performance protective material for single use hospital aprons amid the Covid-19 crisis

The demand for protective clothing has significantly increased in the last weeks in hospitals and other health care facilities due to the Covid-19 crisis. To fulfill this need, Walki has decided to act fast and develop a new material that meets the stringent quality demands.

 “Walki is known for producing sustainable laminates for a broad range of applications from construction to packaging and thus possesses extensive material knowledge. Doctors, hospitals and other medical specialists have reached out to us, asking us to supply them with a protective apparel”, explains Bart Vansteenkiste, Business Development Manager Engineered materials at Walki.

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The material for protective clothes in hospitals need to fulfill a broad range of requirements. It should be highly tear resistant to make sure the material is not torn apart in the manufacturing process. It also needs to be resistant to water and splash to protect the person who is wearing it. Another important feature is that it’s comfortable to wear. The material Walki has developed, called Walki®Apron 45, is a high-performance extrusion coated polypropylene non-woven suitable for medical applications.
“It meets all the requirements: it’s flexible and highly tear-resistant with good barrier properties against water”, explains Vansteenkiste.

Walki®Apron 45 has been produced on an industrial scale and has been tested at Walki premises with very positive results. As hospitals all over the world are grappling with supply shortage, it’s of utmost importance that the materials needed can be supplied promptly.
“Currently the Walki®Apron 45  is in the process of being certified and we expect to have the feedback within a week”, says Vansteenkiste.

For more information, please contact:

Silvia Hanzelova

Category Manager, Technical Products

e-mail: silvia.hanzelova@walki.com

tel. +32 475 689 098

Walki Group is a leading manufacturer of technical laminates and protective packaging materials specialising in the production of fibre-based, intelligent multi-laminate products for markets as diverse as energy-saving facings and construction membranes to barrier packaging applications. The Group has production facilities in Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, the UK, Russia and China. The Group has a workforce of around 1100 people. In 2018, the Group’s annual turnover was EUR 317 million.

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Launch pad for 3D printing

At Optima in Schwaebisch Hall, 3D printing is now part of the company's range of machines. For this future-oriented technology, the company has specifically founded a 3D printing center – the Additive Innovation Center – and has presented a route map. 3D printing will massively change special purpose machine manufacturing.

Optima has invested in the advanced multi-jet fusion technology which enables parts to be produced faster than with the SLS process. (Source: Optima)Optima has invested in the advanced multi-jet fusion technology which enables parts to be produced faster than with the SLS process. (Source: Optima)

“Machine parts that previously took a week to manufacture can now be printed in a significantly shorter time”, says Optima Vice President Manufacturing Volker Freisinger. At its Schwaebisch Hall site, Optima has invested around half a million euros in the new 3D printing center, known as the Additive Innovation Center. The Additive Innovation Center has been in operation since July 2019 and, after a test phase and staff training, went into production at the end of 2019. It features a 3D printing lab and a training and design area, known as the Innovation Space. Since December 2019, employees with key roles are being trained there in 3D-compatible design.

The 3D printing process enhances customer flexibilit

The consumer demand for specific products is changing at an ever increasing pace. Social media and e-commerce are accelerating this growth. This affects all the market segments for that Optima develops machines for, which include pharmaceuticals, paper hygiene, consumer goods and healthcare products. New agile and flexible processes and technology are needed to counter this trend. “That's why we are providing our customers with support in terms of flexibility with additive manufacturing technology”, says Michael Weber, Director Service at OPTIMA consumer GmbH. Machine, format and replacement parts can be produced in a significantly shorter amount of time. In addition, a better price/performance ratio can also be achieved over the entire manufacturing process, especially for complex components. Therefore, design solutions that could not be implemented before are now possible. Inspired by nature, existing parts can be made lighter, stronger and with less material than before, for example, by using honeycomb structures. This is also a positive development in terms of sustainability – after all, no shavings or waste are generated during production.

Additive manufacturing – the 3D printing process – enables Optima customers to respond with even greater flexibility to new market requirements. Among other processes, Optima uses the multi-jet fusion printing process (image). (Source: Optima) Additive manufacturing – the 3D printing process – enables Optima customers to respond with even greater flexibility to new market requirements. Among other processes, Optima uses the multi-jet fusion printing process (image). (Source: Optima)

All current printing methods are possibl

In the Additive Innovation Center, all the standard 3D printing methods are used. To produce prototypes quickly, Optima uses the fused deposition modeling (FDM) process, which has been successfully used in the automotive industry for many years, and the selective laser sintering (SLS) process. The SLS process opens up a broad range of materials, colors and subsequent treatments. A partner company contributes to the team advanced SLS processes with a wide variety of post-processing options. These include, for example, tinting and smoothing the components. Optima has also invested in the advanced multi-jet fusion technology which enables parts to be produced faster than with the SLS process. The breakthrough of SLS and multi-jet fusion printing technology has paved the way for companies to take 3D printing to an industrial level, far beyond simply creating prototypes.

Optima will be presenting a platform where machine users can order their parts online.