Technical Absorbents Limited (TAL) has developed a new grade of superabsorbent fibre (SAF) specifically for use within a new range of SAF nonwoven fabrics that are more resistant to shrinkage. The company produces and markets versatile super absorbent fibre grades for use in clothing, cable, yarn, tape, packaging, medical, and various other industries.

The new SAF was developed in response to the demand from the medical industry for a superabsorbent fabric suitable for use in advanced wound pad dressings. The fibre had to be capable of withstanding the moisture used in the EtO sterilisation process that is frequently employed in the production of the pads, in order to ensure product safety and compliance.

EtO sterilisation is a low-temperature process (typically between 37 and 63°C) that uses ethylene oxide gas to reduce the level of infectious agents. While generally applied in gas form, however, the EtO is usually mixed with other substances, and often steam, according to a press release by TAF.

The amount of shrinkage caused by EtO sterilisation depends very much on the product design and construction, he adds, but in general, the new SAF has been tested and proven to reduce fabric shrinkage by around 70 per cent. It is suitable for use in all SAF nonwoven formats, whether needle-punched, thermally bonded or airlaid.

While the proprietary process developed at TAL for the production of this new fibre and resulting fabrics was prompted by the specific requirements of wound pad dressings, TAL sees opportunities for its application in other areas as well.