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Hot Melt Adhesive Formulation for Hygiene Applications

This selection guide will focus on formulation of hot melt adhesives for use in a range of disposable hygiene products. It will identify the basic requirements of the adhesive, recognize the major components in the hot melt composition, and provide examples of starting formulations. Future trends in hygienic adhesive development will also be recognized.

Hot Melt Adhesives for Hygiene Applications

Adhesive technologies support and enable the existing and emerging trends in disposable hygiene products. The global hygiene adhesives market is expected to grow to about $2 billion USD in 2020 at a compounded annual rate of 8.35% over the period 2013-2018. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the high value that adhesives play in developing new products that meet the “comfort and health” requirements demanded by customers and noted above.

Key Players in this Highly Competitive Market

  • Hygiene product manufacturers: Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, Unicharm, and SCA. 
  • Major adhesive suppliers: Bostik, H.B. Fuller, Henkel, Dow, and 3M.

Hygiene Applications

Hot melt adhesives play a strong enabling role in the construction of disposable hygienic products such as baby diapers (nappies), feminine care products, and adult incontinence articles. However, there are also a number of other hygienic applications for adhesives including medical dressings, hospital bed pads, and surgical drapes.

Hot Melts Adhesives Selection & Application Requirements

All of these hygienic products have a similar basic function – reliable absorption of liquids and / or solids with no leakage while promoting comfort and health. These products are also alike in that they are produced in high speed production processes, and the substrates generally consist of nonwoven sheets and polymeric film.

However, not all applications within the manufacture of a hygiene product are alike as illustrated for baby diapers in the figure below. Specific applications include: construction, core (fluff pad) adhesive, positioning adhesive, elastic attachment, frontal tape adhesive, and side tape adhesive. It has been found that a hot melt adhesive used for a particular use must have a specific set of properties and may be completely unsuitable for other uses or applications.

As a result, the selection of the proper adhesive formulation is a complex and difficult task that depends on the end-use requirements of the specific application as well as the manufacturing method employed. In addition, adhesive formulations used are constantly undergoing changes as the performance requirements change.

Adhesive use with non-wovens

Figure 1 Adhesive use with non-wovens in diaper manufacture. (Credit: Nordson)

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