Lifetime Technical Achievement Award
Bob Brock began his career with Kimberly-Clark in 1968 as a senior research technician developing nonwoven materials with a primary focus on polypropylene spun bond and melt blown materials. Bob investigated and developed a number of novel materials that resulted in 9 US patents. The most significant of these, US #4,041,203 (issued 8/9/77), covers SMS laminates. This patent was the technical basis for Kimberly-Clark’s Professional Health Care Business that uses SMS for both sterilization wrap and medical packs and gowns. This business has grown to $600 million annual sales.
In the period of 1976 through 1983, Bob moved from R&D into Sales and Marketing of the nonwoven materials produced by Kimberly-Clark. Here he added a business perspective to his technical base.
In 1983, Bob returned to R&D to lead Nonwoven Product Development for Professional Health Care and Nonwoven Fabrics. During this time, K-C developed and commercialized a second generation SMS laminate with improved attributes.
In 1987, Bob was promoted to R&D Director and assumed leadership of Nonwoven Technology Development for Kimberly-Clark. Under Bob’s leadership since 1987, Kimberly-Clark has pioneered the use of nonwovens in personal hygiene products as replacements for existing components or as additional components to enhance product performance.
- Through air bonded bicomponent carded web was added as a surge layer to diapers to improve fluid handling and reduce diaper thickness.
- Elastomeric stretch bonded laminates were commercialized as side panels in HUGGIES® PULL-UPS® training pants, providing a substantial line extension for infant diapers.
- Stretch-thinned film/nonwoven laminates were commercialized as cloth-like outer cover for diapers replacing film. These were later replaced with breathable cloth-like outer covers to improve skin health. Cloth-like outer cover has significantly increased nonwoven usage in the industry.
- Lightweight SMS was commercialized as barrier leg cuffs for infant diapers to reduce leakage.
- Neck bonded laminates, another elastomeric laminate, was commercialized to provide stretch properties for diaper tabs for improved fit.
- Bicomponent spunbond loop materials were commercialized to provide hook and loop fasteners for diapers.
- Unique pulp coformed materials were commercialized as HUGGIES® Baby Wipes and quickly established a market leadership position for K-C in this category.
- This extensive research effort was coupled with a strategic patent strategy that has provided Kimberly-Clark with a market leadership position supported by an extensive patent estate that represents 25% of the nonwoven patents issued in the US since 1995.
- Since 1997, Kimberly-Clark’s global production of nonwovens has grown almost five-fold. Proprietary Kimberly-Clark nonwoven technology has been transferred to many foreign countries including Korea, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.
- All of Bob’s efforts have obviously benefited Kimberly-Clark with a stream of product improvements and innovations needed to grow its businesses. Most notably, he has contributed to helping build the company’s global Professional Health Care business and to making HUGGIES® diapers and PULLUPS® training pants leaders in their categories. He has also benefited all non woven suppliers by significantly increasing the use of nonwovens into new and unique applications. We, as consumers, have also benefited from improved consumer products that contain these innovations.