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HQ 087523

October 11, 1990

CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 087523 CRS


TARIFF NO.: 5603.00.1000

Ms. Patricia Bulaski
C.J. Tower
128 Dearborn Street
Buffalo, New York 14207

RE: Needled padding and resinated padding used as floor covering material in the manufacture of automobiles classifiable as nonwoven material of heading 5603. Needling complementary to other types of bonding. Application for further review of Protest No. 0901-9-700975.

Dear Ms. Bulaski:

This is in reply to protest no. 0901-9-700975 filed May 17, 1989, at Buffalo, New York, on behalf of Bauer Industries, Ltd., of Waterloo, Ontario. Samples of the merchandise were provided. Further information was provided in a letter from Bauer dated September 21, 1990, and in a meeting with Messrs. E.J. Bauer and Larry Patterson of Bauer on September 25, 1990.


The merchandise at issue consists of two types of underlay material (needled padding and resinated padding) imported in rolls from Canada. The material is made by Bauer Industries to automotive industry specifications and is used in the manufacture of automobiles as carpet underlay. The padding material is also used for sound insulation in door panels, pillars and dash areas.

Needled Padding

The needled padding is manufactured from a blend of shoddy fiber comprised of 30 percent low grade rag shoddy, 52 percent intermediate grade shoddy and 18 percent high grade shoddy. Of this, cotton fibers will constitute 55 percent and synthetic fibers 45 percent.

The fibers are blended based on the grade of material and then are processed through garnetts where the fibers are laid in a parallel process into a continuous web formation. The web is then laid by cross lappers onto a main apron in a "Z" pattern. The apron takes the web to a needle loom where it is needled and further compressed. The web continues through a foamer where sizing, an emulsion consisting of acrylic polymer, residual monomers and water, is applied to the bottom layer of the web. After exiting the foamer, the web passes over a gas fired hot roll at approximately 400 degrees Fahrenheit driving the water contained in the sizing out through the top of the web. In this manner, the polymer is spread throughout the bottom layer of the web, thereby locking the fibers in place.

The application of sizing to the needled product imparts dimensional stability without which the web would be deformed in length and width. Sizing also adds substantially to the web's tensile strength. Attached to Bauer's submission of September 21, 1990, is a comparison of sized and unsized material which indicates that the addition of sizing effectively doubles the article's tensile strength in both the warp and weft, without adding significantly to the weight of the product.

The needled padding is also manufactured on one production lone using an air laid process, which replaces the garnetts in the web laying stage. The hot roll is replaced on one production line by the use of an oven.

Resinated Padding

The resinated padding is made from a of denim shoddy fiber blend of approximately 90 percent cotton and 10 percent synthetic fibers. This product is not needled at any point during the manufacturing process; instead, a powdered phenolic resin (phenol formaldehyde polymer in a non-reactive, stable form) is added to bond the fibers.

The fibers are blended, then are passed through a feeder onto garnetts which carry the fibers to a forming chamber. There resin is introduced and distributed evenly throughout the fibers and the web formed. From the forming chamber, a conveyor moves the web into an oven heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat melts the resin thus causing the fibers to bond. After the web passes through the oven it is rolled or else is die cut. Both the needled and resinated padding are manufactured to automotive specifications. These include weight, thickness, dimension, bonding and thermal requirements.


Whether resinated padding material is classifiable as a felt or a nonwoven; whether the mechanical bonding (needling) process used in the manufacture of the needled padding is complementary to other types of bonding.


Heading 5602, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), provides for felt, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or impregnated. The Explanatory Notes, which although not legally binding, nevertheless constitute the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level, state in pertinent part at 773-774, EN 56.02, that:

Felt is usually obtained by superimposing, one on the other, a number of layers of textile fibres (usually the laps as produced by carding or by air-laying); these are then moistened...and subjected to pressure and a rubbing or beating action. This causes the fibres to interlock and produces sheets of even thickness, much more compact and difficult to disintegrate than wadding, and quite distinct from felted woven fabrics (generally Chapters 50 to 55).

This heading also includes needleloom felt which is made either:

(1) by punching a sheet or web of textile staple fibres (natural or man-made), without a textile fabric base, with notched needles; or

(2) by needling such textile fibres through a base of textile fabric or other material which is finally more or less hidden by the fibres.

Needled webs of staple fibers in which the needling is complementary to other types of bonding and needled filament-based webs are regarded as nonwovens (heading 56.03).

In contrast, EN 56.03, 775-776, describes nonwovens of heading 5603 in pertinent part as follows:

Nonwovens can be produced in various ways and production can be conveniently divided into three stages: web formation, bonding and finishing.

I. Web formation

Four basic methods exist:

(a) by carding or air-laying fibres in order to form a sheet. These fibers may be parallel, cross or random oriented (dry-laid process);

II. Bonding

After web formation the fibres are assembled throughout the thickness and width of the web (continuous method) or in spots or patches (intermittent method).

This bonding can be divided into three types:

(a) Chemical bonding, in which the fibres are assembled by means of a bonding substance. This may be done by impregnation with an adhesive binder such as rubber, gum, starch, glue or plastics, in solution or emulsion, by heat treatment with plastics in powder form, by solvents, etc. Binding fibres can also be used for chemical bonding.

(b) Thermal bonding, in which the fibres assembled by submitting them to a heat (or ultrasonic) treatment, passing the web through or between heated rollers(area bonding) or through heated embossing calenders (point bonding). Binding fibres can also be used for thermal bonding.

(c) Mechanical bonding, in which webs are strengthened by the physical entanglement of the constituent fibres. This may be achieved by means of high pressure air or water jets. It may also be achieved by needling but not by stitch-bonding. However, needled products regarded as nonwovens are restricted to:

- filament based webs;

- staple fibre webs where the needling is complementary to other types of bonding.

These various bonding processes may also frequently be combined.

III. Finishing

Nonwovens may be dyed, printed, impregnated, coated, covered or laminated. Those covered on one or both surfaces (by gumming, sewing or by any other process) with textile fabric or with sheets of any other material are classified in this heading only if they derive their essential character from the nonwoven.

The resinated padding is produced by carding or garnetting the shoddy fibers, then chemically bonding the fibers by heat treatment with plastics in powdered form (powdered phenolic resin). Subsequent to the general manufacturing process, the fabric is coated with glue and polyurethane. The manufacturing process is distinct from that discussed in the Explanatory Note to heading 5602. The web is formed using a dry-laid process and the fibers are not moistened, nor are they subjected to a rubbing or beating action; however, the production process is consistent with the three stage process described by the Explanatory Note to heading 5603.

With regard to the needled padding, the Explanatory Notes suggest the possibility that it could be classified in either heading 5602 or heading 5603. If the needling is complementary to other types of bonding, the padding would be classifiable in heading 5603; however, if the needling is the primary method of bonding, the padding would be classifiable in heading 5602.

Once needled, the padding in question is treated with sizing, an acrylic cross linking polymer. The application of sizing gives the padding increased stability and tensile strength by locking the fibers in place. Without sizing, the padding would not conform to the required automotive company specifications. In view of this, Customs considers the needling to be complementary to the chemical bond produced by the polymer in that the polymer not only supplements the needling but is also an integral part of the manufacturing process. Since the padding conforms in all other respects to the description of nonwovens as set forth in EN 56.03, Customs also is of the opinion to that the needled padding is classifiable in heading 5603.


Both the needled and resinated paddings are classifiable in subheading 5603.00.1090, HTSUSA, under the provision for nonwovens, whether or not impregnated, coated, covered or laminated, floor covering underlays, other and is dutiable at the rate of 3.4 percent ad valorem.

Due to the changeable nature of the statistical annotation (the ninth and tenth digits of the classification) and the restraint (quota/visa) categories, you should contact your local Customs office prior to importation of this merchandise to determine the current status of any import restraints or requirements.


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