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Mom holding up a baby in a diaper.

The Evolution of the Disposable Diaper Market

Posted 05/09/2016 by Kirstin Hedin, Global Marketing Manager, Hygiene

The Disposable Diaper Industry Source details how, since the creation of the first baby diaper in the 1950s, the market has been revolutionized. What started as a square of linen held together with safety pins in the late 1800s has since experienced decades of refinement and revision, culminating in the modern diaper.

In the Beginning
At its birth, the baby diaper was simple in design: a rectangular shape with basic substrates of nonwoven fabric. It had an absorbent core that was composed of several layers of tissue paper, with plastic film on the outside, and no use of tapes. Because of its high price, it was not readily available to the masses.

Manufacturers, however, quickly identified the positive impact that this product would have on the lives of families around the world. Having recognized the need to meet mothers’ growing demands for a better performing, affordable diaper with different substrates, more manufacturers entered the market and the new diaper trend started taking shape. 

The Addition of Advancements
In any given market, new challenges present themselves over time. Adhesive makers determined that companies manufacturing baby diapers needed to improve, specifically regarding the materials used. 

The use of “cold glue” needed to be swapped for “hot melts” in order to decrease the open time and increase the manufacturing speed. The first diapers had two different glue applications; today, there are approximately 17 glue applications, depending on the diaper’s complexity.

And, after the more recent inclusion of elastomerics, SAP and mechanical tapes, for example, the market for disposable diapers started to have very good overall performance. However, because of tight competition, winning in the market came down to having differentiated and innovative products that truly address the needs of both mothers and babies. This is where the latest in disposable diaper trends comes into play.

Accommodating the Change in Lifestyles
Currently, the upcoming and mainstream demands in the diaper market are focused on the baby’s comfort. This shift from performance-centric to comfort and user friendliness requires manufacturers and suppliers to step up their game and develop innovative raw materials that enable production of what consumers want. 

Thinner disposable diapers are a result of overall thinner diaper components and a change to the composition of the core, decreasing the amount of pulp and increasing the SAP. The result is reduced weight of both the product and the packaging space. Furthermore, the newly-engineered thinner diaper components also have the advantage of being soft on itself, in addition to having a cloth-like back sheet that both feels softer and is quieter than its predecessors.

A leak-free diaper is a necessity nowadays with the changing lifestyle of women and babies around the world. As there is an increasing amount of more active mothers with hectic agendas, and babies who need to be moved around several times over the course of the day, disposable diaper manufacturers are being called upon to create more absorbent channels to help babies stay drier. This includes changing the distribution of the core’s absorbent material, changing the raw materials to ones that lock the moisture away from the skin, and aiming to help distribute wetness and help prevent the diaper from sagging. 

H.B. Fuller—Making Strides in Diaper Innovation
Together with the assistance of tools like H.B. Fuller’s wetness indicator adhesive, these advances help to indicate when a diaper is too full and ready to be changed. 

These modifications were designed specifically to fit the diaper and adjust to any movement, ensuring high wearing comfort and offering the highest protection at the same time. These features are the result of a combination of raw materials (such as very soft nonwoven fabrics with softening additives) and stretchable material, all joined with a highly cohesive adhesive that glues it all together.

H.B. Fuller has years of experience in this area, and offers a line of elastic attachment adhesives for strands and films that ensure a robust performance and maintain the soft feeling on the nonwoven. Together with innovative products that continue to emerge in the market, we give manufacturers the capacity and assurance to bring differential innovation to the disposable diaper market.

IDEA16
We had a great week connecting with customers and co-suppliers at IDEA16, an event where the hygiene and nonwoven industries gathered to present the latest innovations that answer the challenges of today and tomorrow. 

Didn’t make it to IDEA16? Don’t worry, you can still contact us to discover our new high performance adhesive Conforma™, as well as see how we’re answering the call to true odor control with ODOGard®.

At H.B. Fuller, we’re connecting what matters. 

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