I was reading through articles online in Nonwovens Industry the other day and came across this gem:
Yes, it’s called the Sneeve. This surprisingly useful product helps prevent the spread of germs and is made of, you guessed it, nonwoven fabric. The disposable stretchy sleeve lasts from 12-24 hours and has an antimicrobial application that kills 99.9% of viruses on contact.
I think it’s only a matter of time before the Sneeve hits kindergarten classrooms everywhere. It’s a pretty darn good idea, especially as they begin designing different colors and patterns so discerning parents can coordinate with their germ-laden offspring’s outfits.
Who would have thought?
In the nonwovens industry, there are seemingly limitless applications limited only by our imaginations. We’ve got an ideal product base: inexpensive, easily adapted for different applications with a vast variety of features and benefits that can be altered per application. We can make them strong, soft, absorbent, lightweight, thick, thin, porous, non-porous…the list goes on and on and on.
But how do things like the Sneeve come into existence? And how can you be on the forefront of new products in nonwovens?
- Identify the problem. In the case of the Sneeve, the father of one of the product co-creators saw his grandson sneeze into the crook of his arm. He didn’t realize that children are now taught to automatically sneeze into their arms and immediately a light bulb came on and the word “Sneeve” came into his head. The same thing applies to other new nonwoven products. Take a deep dive into your world and start envisioning problems where nonwovens may be the solution.
- Find the right material. It took the Sneeve creators many different tries to get the right nonwoven material. My suggestion here may be to contact nonwoven manufacturers and tell them exactly what characteristics you need for your new product. Their staff should be able to brainstorm some ideas to get the right type of nonwoven, whether it’s meltblown or spunbond or thermal bond.
- Keep innovating. As mentioned above, the Sneeve still has possibilities for growth. New colors. Patterns. Maybe even adult sizes. It IS cold and flu season, after all. Whatever happens, don’t just think your product is finished immediately after launch. Keep searching for those problems your product can answer. Perhaps all you need to do is look for additional market segments.
Innovating with a flexible base product like nonwoven materials is a lot of fun. More and more uses for nonwovens are being uncovered every day. The demand for nonwovens is expected to rise to $7.1 billion in 2016. That’s a lot of Sneeves.