One of the oldest nonwoven fabrics is felt. Felt is either 100% wool fibres, or a blend containing wool fibres (Fig. 1). These fibres are then treated with heat, moisture and then agitated. In 1930’s and 1940’s synthetic polymers, with thermoplastic properties, were developed and introduced on to the market (Fig.2). Freudenberg ( a major player in the nonwovens market to this day) began trading in 1938 and went into production artificial leather for World War Two. The main nonwoven process technologies were developed between 1940 and 1965, and this can be seen as the start of the nonwovens industry that we know today.
Figure 1 Wool and hair fibres, due to their unique surface scales, are the only fibres with the ability to felt
Figure 2 Wallace H Carothers DuPont, 1896-1937 Neoprene, PA (Nylon), PET (Polyester)