Manifattura Fontana: A hidden gem in geotextiles

Manifattura Fontana (Sioen Group), near Venice, Italy, is one of those hidden gems – a small-sized company with big ideas where innovation is in the very fabric of its being. The company recently doubled capacity in the manufacture of specialist nonwoven geotextiles by installing a complete state-of-the-art neXline needlepunch line supplied by ANDRITZ, making it the most productive geotextile line in the world.

Manifattura Fontana, situated in Valstagna just north of Venice, was established around 200 years ago, originally spinning and weaving wool, but has been a specialist in the field of geotextiles since the 1960s. The company was recently acquired by Belgium-based textile giant Sioen Industries, a niche manufacturer of specialist textile products with operations in over 20 countries.


Orwig Speltdoorn, Director, Sioen Industries, and responsible for the Nonwoven Division and Manifattura Fontana had already had a number of positive experiences with ANDRITZ nonwoven technology and equipment. Before joining Sioen he worked at a senior level in the geotextile industry. “We knew straight away that if we were going to achieve our ambition to become a major player in geotextiles, we needed to invest heavily in increased capacity, which at the same time needed to be the best available technology. We took the time to have a really good look around the suppliers and benchmark the very best nonwoven technology on the market for the production of geotextiles. ANDRITZ came out on top.

“I already knew of ANDRITZ due to my former position in running geotextile plants. So I already had an idea in my mind just what could be achieved at Manifattura Fontana. We knew that ANDRITZ could provide the capacity increase we needed, as well as the top technology. Another important element from my point of view was that we needed an excellent service and support, which, from my previous experience, I knew we were going to get from ANDRITZ.”


“Basically we came in at the very beginning and took a global view on the whole process.”

Sales Director, ANDRITZ Nonwoven / Needlepunch

ANDRITZ high-speed needlelooms: robust, versatile, easy to operate


After major consultation between Sioen, Manifattura Fontana, and ANDRITZ, it was decided to go ahead and order a complete nonwovens geotextile production line that would include all machines from opening and blending to an automatic packaging system. Also, for the first time in Italy, the line would feature air-through bonding capabilities in combination with calendering.

Most of the technology and equipment for the line came from ANDRITZ, including:

  • A TCF-X high-capacity chute feed capable of processing long staple fibers
  • An eXcelle card with 3.5 m working width
  • ProDyn and Isolayer systems for weight evenness
  • High-speed needlelooms with the innovative Zeta drafters to fine-tune tensile strength parameters and boost the production capacity for lightweight fabrics.

Also, ANDRITZ was given complete responsibility for the design of the system, including the installation of other vendors‘ equipment. Jean-Phillippe Dumon, Sales Director, ANDRITZ Nonwoven Division, says, “Basically we came in at the very beginning and took a global view on the whole process. Sioen and Manifattura Fontana explained to us what they wanted to do, and what products they wanted to produce, and we designed the whole process.


“In fact it is the philosophy at Sioen to have operational excellence in all we do.”

Division Manager Sioen Industries

“The reality is, these lines are not just a case of putting machines in one after the other or next to each other. We have to carefully select what sort of equipment should be used in every part of the process. Yes, the capacity is very important, but being such a niche product, geotextiles demand all sorts of bespoke machine performance and capabilities, for instance, making sure there is evenness in terms of weight, and top mechanical fabric performances are essential.”

“This is one of the things we really like about the ANDRITZ approach to projects like this,” adds Speltdoorn. “We discussed our needs when it came to capacity, speed, and quality, and they listened intently. ANDRITZ experts then came back and told us exactly what we needed in terms of our production needs, right from dealing with the raw material down to packing finished product.”

“The new geotextile line at Manifattura Fontana is a perfect example of what we can do at ANDRITZ to really make our customers ambitions become reality,” says Dumon.

Monitoring system to guarantee smooth operation and enhance production

Easy accessibility of the card for maintenance