2) Tissue: This is used to help the manufacturing process, it is used as a carrier for the pad ( the pad is the core of the diaper). The tissue paper helps during the pad knife process, specially for machines equipped with continuous drum forming systems. Tissue helps the diaper by adding integrity and reducing the pin holes associated to the superabsorbent particles damaging the film. Tissue comes from the Kraft paper process. A difference between this material and regular bathroom tissue is its higher elasticity and wet strength.
3) Hot Melts: They are used to glue the different components of the diaper, such as the pad and the elastics. They are made of a mixture of resins, oils and tackifiers. The hot melt adhesive is applied melted and when it cools down provides the bonding force to glue the materials. Most times two types of adhesives are used: a construction adhesive, for the back sheet and nonwovens, and an elastomeric adhesive, for the leg and waist foam elastics. The elastomeric adhesive has a more elastic nature to hold the materials as they are being stretched, it also has a higher bonding strength.
4) Hydrophobic Non-woven: It is used as a top sheet for the leg cuffs, it will not allow water to pass trough. It is made of polypropylene resin. The phobic nonwoven is used to make the leg cuffs that prevent leakage to the outside of the diaper.
5) Hydrophilic Non-woven: It is the main top sheet, the top surface that is in contact with the baby's skin allowing the liquids to flow into the diaper core. The difference between the two non-wovens (philic and phobic) is the surfactant treatment used in the process. The surfactant treatment reduces the surface tension of the nonwoven, reducing the contact angle with the water and allowing it to pass. Flow dynamics within the diaper core prevent liquids from returning to the surface.
6) Elastics: Used to improve the fit of the diaper, usually made of polyurethane foam, rubber or lycra. They are used for the waist and also for the legs. Most gasketing cuffs use lycra to provide a seal with baby's legs. One foot of lycra can stretch as much as 400% before it breaks.
7) Lateral Tapes: These are used to hold the diaper in place once it is on the baby, they are made of polypropylene and hot melt. They can also be made of cloth-like material based also on polypropylene. In premium diapers, Velcro R type materials have been used to provide mechanical means instead of adhesives.
8) Frontal Tape: It is used to allow for multiple repositions of the lateral tape without tearing the back-sheet, it is made of polypropylene film and attached to the front of the diaper with adhesive. Its use has helped to reduce the thickness of the poly film without the risk of potential tears associated with the lateral tapes. In premium diapers, a special loop system has been developed in order to use Velcro type fasteners.
9) Cellulose: Used in the construction of the pad, it gives integrity and absorbing capacity to the diaper. It comes from pine trees from well managed forests. Liquids are absorbed due to the capillaries in the void spaces between the fibers, and the surface tension angle between the fibers and the water.
10) Sodium Polyacrilate: Also known as "super-absorbent or SAP". It is typically used in granular form (like table salt). It helps to improve the capacity and retention of a disposable diaper, allowing for thinner products with improved performance and less usage of pine fluff pulp. The polyacrilate has sodium carboxylate groups hanging off the main chain. In contact with water the sodium detaches, leaving only carboxyl ions. Being negatively charged, these ions repel one another so that the polymer unwinds and absorbs water, which is attracted to the sodium atoms. The polymer also has cross-links, which effectively leads to a three-dimensional structure. In addition, it has molecular weights of more than a million; thus, it cannot dissolve but instead solidifies into a gel. The Hydrogen in the water (H-O-H) is trapped by the acrylate due to the atomic bonds associated with the polarity forces between the atoms. Electrolytes in solution, such as salt minerals (urine contains 0.9% of minerals), will reduce the polarity, affecting the superabsorbent properties. Linear molecular configurations will have less total capacity than non-linear molecules, but on the other hand, the retention in a linear molecule is higher than in a non-linear, due to improved polarity.
1) The idea must be a good one, and with a positive cost-benefit analysis.
2) The patent search must show that your idea has not been patented before.
3) It has to be validated in the diaper lines (viable).
4) It has to pass all safety tests including E.P.A. (Environmental Protection Agency), the F.D.A. (Food and Drug Administration) and provide a fair claim for the F.T.C. (Federal Trade Commission).
5) The use of your idea by Absormex will be negotiated in a fair basis; but Absormex will not accept a royalty based agreement.
6) Get your luggage ready! (I suggest Cancun, my personal favorite)
Once you choose what you want to prove, start by getting some ideas about the evolution of the product (tip: go to my "History of the Diaper" link) Most teachers like a well documented story, and it is always nice to show that you are ready for any question from the parents. By the way, have your parents involved in the project, sometimes they can actually help, and you better believe it! :)
Read very carefully my F.A.Q. section to learn how can you test the performance of a diaper (the very next answer in this page). A few dollars of each team member will allow you to get what you need, if you can have access to some free diapers, for example, from a little brother or sister, a nephew, a great grandparent, great! If you do not have access to them, you can buy the diapers in your local store, a medium size diaper is preferred because it will be more representative, of course you only need a few diapers of each brand, so buy the smallest count bag. You can also ask me for some free samples, but HEY!!... I am already giving you the good tips, go to Pampers or Huggies, have them help you a little. :)
If you decide to find out what makes a diaper absorb and retain liquids, it is also a very nice experiment to do. You will have to separate the individual components of the diaper. Tissue, pulp, superabsorbent, film, etc. You will need to tear several diapers in order to collect enough material of each component. You may need a good mesh screen in order to separate the pulp fibers from the acrylate powder (SAP). Then do absorbency and retention test for each individual component (next section). By the way, it is always very impressive to show how the SAP works. A teaspoon of this granular powder will solidify a full glass of water. This will be a more expensive experiment, because you will require to extract the components from many diapers in order to be able to repeat the experiment several times, you will probably need a few mega packs. Good Luck! (Didn't I tell you it was great to have your parents involved)
A performance gain of as much as 35% can be achieved just by using plain water instead of the "synthetic urine", depending on the amount of SAP in a diaper. So if you think that using water will make the test fair to all diapers... STOP!, not all diapers are made with the same amount of SAP, and it is only SAP that is affected by the salts. By showing respect to the individual properties of the components, you are exercising a scientific criteria. Make sure you record all relevant information in your "experimental record's table". This is what Science Fair is all about.
Absorbent Capacity: Prepare a few liters of saline solution, mixing water with regular table salt at 0.9% (This is the same as 90 grams per liter of solution, and simulates the minerals in babies urine). Find a large container that you can use to immerse the diaper. Start by weighing the dry diaper using a scale and recording this data. Put the saline solution into the container and place the diaper flat on the bottom of the container using a chronometer set for exactly 10 minutes. Do not apply any additional pressure to the diaper as it is being soaked into the solution. After the 10 minutes have elapsed, remove the diaper holding it from the corners, and let it drip for 2 minutes, hanging the diaper with cloth pins or something similar (or use your own hands), in such a way that it drips vertically. After the 2 minutes, measure the weight on the scale. The Absorbent capacity will be the difference between the two recorded weights. The best diaper for this performance attribute will be the one with the highest Absorbent Capacity. Record the data in a table.
Absorbent Retention: I am going to explain a simplified test that you can carry out without elaborate equipment. You will need a washing machine for this experiment. First weight a new dry diaper on a scale and record the data. Then allow it to soak for 10 minutes using the saline solution and the tray you used in the previous experiment. After the 10 minutes have elapsed, remove the diaper and let it drip for 2 minutes. Instead of just recording the weight difference at this time (Absorbent Capacity experiment), we need to place the diaper flat on the inside wall of the washing machine. Important: You will use only the centrifugal cycle. If you are 15 years old or less, please ask the permission to your parents before you use the washing machine, a parent sent me a letter about this situation and I agree, a washing machine can be dangerous. It is much better to have your parents involved with the project (by the way, sometimes they can also help with the writing, when you are capable enough to negotiate with them, for example in exchange to cleaning your room... ups!).
Select the centrifugal cycle in the washing machine, and let it spin for 2 minutes. Remove the diaper from the machine and measure its weight. The weight difference will be the total diaper retention. Be consistent by always using the same washing machine with all the diapers tested. The best diaper will be the one with the highest Retention. Record the data in your experiment's data table.
Speed of Absorption: You will need a flat table, and means to hold the diaper (pins if you use a cork table, or adhesive tape). You will also need a plastic pipe (or equivalent) with an internal diameter of 1 inch, and about 10 inches in length, the length is not so important. You will need to prepare a stand for the pipe, by using a 10 CMS X 10 CMS (4" x 4") Plexiglas square, with a hole in the center where you can attach the 1 inch pipe. Start by measuring 100 ml of saline solution @ 0.9% ( 4 fl. ounces). Place the diaper flat on the table, trying to avoid wrinkles, by adding a little bit of tension to the corners of the diaper before you apply the pins. Put the stand with the pipe on top of the diaper at the target area of the pad. With your chronometer on hand, start the timer at the same time you pour the solution into the pipe. Record the time required for the 100 ml to penetrate the diaper. This will be the speed of absorption or First Strike Trough Time. Repeat the test again with an additional 100 ml for a Second Strike Trough. The best diaper for this performance attribute, will be the one with the least time. The second time is more important than the first, in terms of diaper performance.
Did you know that they actually plant more trees than the ones they cut? It is clear that what happens is that people are confusing the Woods used for pulp, with the Rain Forest.
I am the first to be against the uncontrolled exploitation of our very limited rain forest! I have three kids, and I wish for them to enjoy life and have a better "spaceship earth"(* from my Epcot experience), for them and for their great grandsons.
1) It is always better to get started in this business if you already have a market. May we suggest that you improve your market share by purchasing diapers from us, this way you can learn more about the market, at the same time that you reduce the risk of investing in a new adventure that is capital intensive.
2) The diaper industry is not for weak hearts, and good advice is not always available. You can count on us for honest advice about the facts of this business, and if you are a client of us in a non-competitive territory, you will get help, not only to get you started but also to introduce you with the right raw material suppliers.
3) Even when we know that we might be selling diapers to you for a short time, we have learned that happy customers come back to us, when they are ready to buy their second, third, etc, diaper line. Maybe at that time you will not be in need for our technical assistance, however good service is also not easy to find in this industry. We can provide the service that you require.
4) To avoid making you loose valuable time, please do not even consider the diaper business if you do not have at least a million dollars, this is just for the very basic capital requirements. Recently I get many inquiries from Argentina, due to their current economic situation. Most people want to start a "home garage type" manufacturing facility, I am sorry, we do not sell "home garage" diaper machines either.
The disposable diaper industry uses some components that are not currently biodegradable. About 80% of the volume in a diaper is actually biodegradable (wood pulp), however unless it is properly disposed of, is very likely that it will not decompose.
In my 18 years experience in the industry, I have seen and also participated in the improvement of the design of the diaper, which has helped to reduce the amount of materials used, at the same time that improved its performance. For example, a diaper made 15 years ago, was two times heavier than a modern diaper, and it had a performance of less than one half the performance of a new diaper. A mother needed many diapers before, more than the diapers she needs now, because of this improved performance. There are few industries that can show this level of improvement in terms of ecological value, very few can claim that they have done so much for the environment in so little time.
Many people believe that by using cloth diapers they are doing their part to save the environment, they could be wrong! Once you consider the pesticides used in agriculture, the energy required for the farming and the water used to wash the diapers, even when you use the so called "biodegradable detergents". In some areas of the world, water is one of the most precious commodities, even considering that water will not be affected because of reuse, in actual practice this is a major concern, because water is not truly clean, unless you use a good amount of energy.
You have to be aware that cloth diapers are not recommended by many pediatricians for one simple reason, they can not compete with the comfort and feeling of dryness that a disposable gives to the baby, this is an added value that the cloth diaper do not have. This translates into a simple fact, disposable diapers are healthier for the skin of your baby when used at the same frequency as a cloth diaper. That is why there are less problems associated with diaper rash than those our mothers had when we were babies. For those of us above 40, If we had "full memory" of our lives, we would probably remember the bad yeast infection you and I probably had when we were 1 or 2 years old. Fortunate for some so called "environmentalists" that babies do not talk. (Of course they try, but not everyone is ready to understand them, if you know what I mean). Few diaper services are willing to talk about this condition. After you swim, have you ever sensed the discomfort of not changing your wet swim suit with dry clothes, well that is what I am talking about.
I believe on the benefits of the disposable and adult incontinence diaper, however, I am not satisfied with our improvements and I still feel bad about it. I feel bad about using my car, my air conditioning equipment and so on, and I still use them, I can do little about it, in the case of the disposable diaper, I can be a major factor. We will continue to work on a better and even more environmentally friendly product. We will continue to invest our time and resources in the next diaper generation! I feel bad and that is why I am doing something about it! I will continue to look at better alternatives, we will not stop until we can manufacture a fully degradable disposable diaper.
The non-woven top sheet can be made of one or more pieces, depending on the features to be added to the diaper, for example, a diaper with or without leg cuffs. The next step in the manufacturing process, is the addition of the lateral tapes, they are applied using another cut and place applicator. Tapes can be the standard adhesive type or mechanical tapes, like hook and loop. After the tapes are added, then a die cutting system trims the leg area of the diaper and discards it using a vacuum system. The diaper continues to a folding process, then it is cut into individual diaper pieces and stacked into a bag for its final sealing and boxing.
There are many diaper services, that are truthful in their claims, I have the greatest respect for all of the diaper services that still exist, it is hard not to feel bad for them, when their market has dropped so suddenly and so dramatically. Did you know that less than 4% of all babies in U.S. still use a diaper service? The fact of the matter is that even when we can recognize the benefits of a breathable diaper, it is even more important a dry environment for a healthy skin. Nothing comes close to the dryness that a good disposable diaper can give to the baby's skin, I dare the best cloth diaper in the world to challenge the re-wet of our Soft Tails brand, I pay a reward of $50 if you can beat our best disposable diaper with a commercial cloth diaper.
There are still a few disposable diapers in the market that claim to be better because they are made without any SAP, some of them even try to claim (indirectly of course) that SAP is not good for baby's skin, in my opinion, in an attempt to justify the lack of novelty in their diapers (16 years ago all diapers were made without SAP). Well, this is a lie! Do not be fooled or tricked, read what contemporary Pediatricians have to say about SAP: "The important thing is that parents can feel reassured that these technologies, especially superabsorbent material, improve skin health and hygiene and that they have undergone rigorous testing to ensure their safety"