A novel finite element modelling method is presented with its application to analyse the effect of manufacturing parameters on the tensile stiffness of thermally bonded nonwovens. The model is constructed employing an efficient parametric modelling technique in order to implement various dimensional parameters related with manufacturing of such materials. It also allows modelling a large number of fibres that cannot be studied with traditional finite element techniques. The effect of fibre length is studied, which is another unique feature of the model. It was shown that the proposed modelling method is a useful tool to understand the effect of various dimensional parameters related with the manufacturing of nonwoven materials. (C) 2012 Published by Elsevier B.V.