Nonwoven fabric is a fabric-like material made from staple fiber (short) and long fibers (continuous long), bonded together by chemical, mechanical, heat or solvent treatment. The term is used in the textile manufacturing industry to denote fabrics, such as felt, which are neither woven nor knitted. Some nonwoven materials lack sufficient strength unless densified or reinforced by a backing. In recent years, nonwovens have become an alternative to polyurethane foam.
In combination with other materials or used alone, nonwovens are used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products with diverse properties, including absorbent hygiene products, apparel, home furnishings, healthcare and surgical fabrics, construction, filtration, engineering, and wipes to name but a few.
They may be a limited life, single-use fabric or a very durable fabric. Nonwovens have specific characteristics that allow them to deliver high-performance across a wide range of applications. Specific functions include: absorbency, liquid repellency, resilience, stretch, softness, strength, flame retardancy, washability, cushioning, filtering, bacterial barrier and sterility.
These properties are often combined to create fabrics suited for specific jobs, while achieving a good balance between product use-life and cost. They can mimic the appearance, texture and strength of a woven fabric and can be as bulky as the thickest paddings. In combination with other materials they provide a spectrum of products with diverse properties.