Radici invests €15M in new line for meltblown nonwoven

Radici invests €15M in new line for meltblown nonwoven

RadiciGroup invests EUR 15 million in a new production line for meltblown nonwoven, the filtering material used in protective face masks.

RadiciGroup invests EUR 15 million in a new production line for
meltblown nonwoven, the filtering material used in protective face masks.

A strategic decision aimed at more independent Italian production of
personal protective equipment RadiciGroup has taken the next step in its
commitment to the health emergency response, by making a sizeable investment
for the purchase of a new production line for meltblown nonwoven, the material
used for manufacturing protective face masks and other personal protective
equipment (PPE).

The Group has been at the forefront in the fight against the spread of
COVID-19 from the very beginning of the pandemic, above all by rapidly setting
up a production chain involving local factories for the manufacture of spunbond
nonwoven for medical gowns and other personal protective equipment. As a
result, the Group quickly came to the decision to produce meltblown nonwoven, a
type of nonwoven not readily available in the Italian market, but indispensable
in the manufacture of surgical masks.

“In the midst of the pandemic crisis,” said Maurizio Radici, vice president and COO of RadiciGroup, “the lack
of meltblown nonwoven became evident. We kept receiving tens of requests from
potential customers. A very small quantity of meltblown material is produced in
Europe, which is certainly not sufficient to meet demand in a health emergency.
Given our extensive experience in the field of nonwovens, we swiftly began
figuring out how to set up a chain for the production of PPE in Italy. And, as
soon as the opportunity arose to take concrete action, we had no hesitation to
jump on it”.

The investment made by RadiciGroup for the meltblown nonwoven production
line is EUR 15 million. Presently being installed, the large new line is
extremely sophisticated and technologically advanced. It has a high production
capacity and can also realise products with special technical characteristics,
not only made of polypropylene, but also other polymers, such as polyester,
polyamide and TPU. The new line is being set up at Tessiture Pietro Radici SpA,
a Group company based in Gandino (Bergamo), where work was previously carried
out to ready the site.

Enrico
Buriani, CEO of Tessiture Pietro Radici
, added: “With this new line
installed in the Seriana Valley – among the areas in Italy that have been
hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, RadiciGroup will become one of the few
European manufacturers able to offer both spunbond nonwoven – a well-known
product already produced by Tessiture Pietro Radici for many years and used in
protective face masks as both the outer layer of fabric and the inner one in
direct contact with the face – and meltblown, which is the real filtering and
protective component of all types of masks, including surgical and FFP2 or FFP3
protective masks. In terms of production capacity, the new line will be able to
produce about 120 tonnes/month of meltblown nonwoven, or enough material to
make about 170 million surgical masks per month.

The objective is to reduce the dependence on imports from non-European
countries – indeed, during the pandemic, there have been long slowdowns in
deliveries of imports – and to bring back to Italy the production of essential
products for health protection needed during health emergencies. Suffice it to
say that, from February to August 2020, Italy imported EUR 2.66 billion worth
of masks, 92 per cent of which came from China (source: Assosistema –
Confindustria).

“We believe it is vital for Italy not to be caught unprepared in future
health emergencies,” Radici continued. “Our country must have its own
production of essential goods, and our purchase of the new line for the
production of meltblown nonwoven is a step in that direction. At the same time,
the production line is an investment for our Group, because we must also
consider the fact that other technical applications will be found for this
material, such as filtration, thus presenting prospects for economic
sustainability in the medium term.”

On the technical side, meltblown fabric is a continuous filament
nonwoven (from 1 to 5 microns in diameter), has excellent filtering capability
even for particles of microscopic size, such as viruses, and ensures
breathability and protection.

The installation of the machinery will be completed in January 2021,
after which the line will start operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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