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By Max W. Sung

In search of innovations: Techtextil, the leading international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens, concluded its 16th edition in a four-day run at Messe Frankfurt this month. The 3rd edition of Texprocess, the international trade fair for textile processing which succeeded IMB, was also held concurrently with Techtextil in the same venue.

Attendance figures which Messe Frankfurt released showed both shows successful and sustainable. Compared with its previous edition two years ago, Techtextil recorded 4.4% increase in exhibitors, totalling 1,389 from 52 countries, while visitors increased 3.9% to 28,491 from 102 countries. Since the previous edition, exhibitors from all of Asia increased from 184 to 212, while those particularly from China increased from 76 to 84. At the same time, Texprocess acquitted itself well compared with its previous edition in 2013. Exhibitor numbers has increased 1% to 273 from 33 countries, and visitor numbers increased 10% to 13,335 from 94 countries - 58% of them coming from outside Germany. Texprocess also benefitted from its concurrent venue with Techtextil; an additional 7,600 visitors crossed its portals from Techtextil.

The rating for the fairs given by visitors this time remained at a high level; 97% said Techtextil was good to very good (96% in 2013). 87% of the exhibitors said they had achieved their goals for the fair (90% in 2013). Also, 94% of the exhibitors saw the economic situation in the sector as being satisfactory to good (88% in 2013). Similarly, 92% of the visitors also viewed the current economic situation to be satisfactory to good (88% in 2013).

The technical textile market is indeed robust and growing.

Detlef Braun, member of Messe Frankfurt's executive board, had provided an overview of the global technical textile market at a press conference on April 29, just prior to the opening of the shows. Technical textiles account for 27% of global textile production. The market for technical textiles is expected to grow from around US$130 billion now to $160 billion by 2018. The demand for technical textiles is mainly in China (30%), in the USA and the Americas (19%), in India (18%), and in the EU (16%). In segments with less value addition, such as Clothtech and Packtech, the percentage share for China and India is particularly high. The market for technical textiles in China is estimated to expand at the rate of 10% per year, particularly in construction, automotive, medicine and protective clothing. India is aiming for up to 20% annual growth starting this year, particularly in medical, geotextiles and agrotextiles. The president of Euratex, Serge Piolat, provided details for the EU technical textiles market for 2014 at the press conference: manufacturing of nonwovens increased by 4.5%, other technical textiles by 2.1%. Overall the total textiles production in the EU for 2014 had increased by 2.6%. Technical textiles represent 37% of textile sales outside the EU-28 and reached slightly more than 30% of imported textile products.

Changes for 2015 include extending Techtextil from three to four days; integrating the Avantex symposium into the techtextil symposium and relocating both to the middle of the exhibition centre rather than in the separate Congress Centre Messe. A new event, the "Innovative Apparel" show, was added where students from four universities of applied science and arts from Niederrhein, Lucerne, Frankfurt and Schneeburg presented their visionary designs for technical textiles created with modern processing technologies.

The Techtextil Innovation Awards went to:

New technology: Sosa Fresh for 3D-weaver, a 3D printer than can produce three-dimensional woven structures step-by-step; Emil Stutznaecker for high-performance sewing technology with automatic handling in the sewing area, which can produce performs (multi-layer woven and nonwoven fabrics for textile-reinforced lightweight structures) at a record speed of 3,000 stitches a minute.

New Product: Empa Research Institute for an embroidered electrode that can be used for long-term electrocardiograms in healthcare. New Concept: Switch Embassy for a washable LED screen that can be used in many applications from clothing to interior furnishings; ITC Denkendorf Research Institute for BioGlizz, a biological alternative to artificial snow based on and algae-covered textile layer.

New Application: The Hohenstein Institute for ARTUS, a technical textile that can be used as an artificial womb for premature basis and reproduces the mother's movements and heartbeat.

New Composite: TU Dresden for a new technology which makes it possible to weave fibre-reinforced 3D structures that can reduce weight in automobiles and machinery. New Material: Sioen Industries for developing a marine textile that makes it possible to cultivate kelp and alternative sustainable biomasses.

The Texprocess Innovation Awards went to:

New Technology: Veit for Fusing 4.0, a decentralised control process that makes it easier to regulate production processes as a whole; Xi'an Typical Europe for its Vetron Autosarm, a sewing machine that can produce three-dimensional components without an operator; Brother International Industries for its S-7300A NEXIO, the world's first lock stitch sewing machine with an electronic feeding system directly connected to a stepping motor.

New process: Duerkopp Adler for its M-type PREMIUM sewing machine, which permits a repeatable process - a sewing program - that supports the operator visually with respect to process progress. The textile industry has made tremendous progress from an apparel-based industry to ever-expanding applications in non-apparel areas.

Innovations from concept to application and product development are the keys to progress, for which Techtextil and Texprocess 2015 have provided a most stimulating venue.












Special Reports

  • Market for nonwovens recovers from years of depression: Demand for nonwovens which suffered seriously from the 2008-13 economic recession is bouncing back. The recession sparked by the US subprime mortgage crisis and regarded as the greatest since the Second World War, had shaken the developed world's economies that constitute the major markets for nonwovens to the core and dampened demand in both the disposable and the durable categories for some years. That phase is now past. The upturn that the US economy began experiencing since last year has helped to revive demand again, noted Brad Kalil who is the director of market research and statistics at INDA, in a keynote address delivered at the 2015 edition of the conference on Nonwovens for High-performance Applications (NHPA) in Cannes, France, in early March.

    A wide range of new products and technologies were presented at the conference. And there was optimism all around asMr Kalil said that North American consumption of nonwovens is forecast to improve and tonnage increase by an estimated 5.1% annually. Besides, demand for materials suitable to new and specific endues that would also employ other new materials would continue to remain the catalyst for further growth in demand for nonwovens.

    By Bosco Chui, technical textile consultant and currently the general manager of Pollux Bleaching & Dyeing Works and Fashion Hometex Limited of Hong Kong.

  • Fashion designers need to develop a new outlook: Academics, industrialists and design students assembled at Donghua University in Shanghai last month to discuss the present state of fashion designing and the direction it needs to take in the future heard that challenging times are ahead for the fashion industry. The fashion scene has become cross-disciplinary which demands designers to develop a societal and cultural point of view with links between technology, business and design while curators, conservationists and collectors need to ensure that the best design examples and apparel are selected and preserved for display so that the new generation of designers developing new styles of fashion can see what, and how, garments were worn in the past.

    By Gail Taylor, Shanghai

  • Mill use is rising, but not enough to inspire growers: Large quantities of cotton remaining in warehouses worldwide and low prices are driving growers to reduce acreage. According to estimates that the US Department of Agriculture has released recently, well over 23 million tons of cotton would be sitting in warehouses worldwide at the end of the 2015-16 crop year. World total of ending stocks had set a series of successive records over the last four crop years. Mill use during 2015-16 is expected to increase while production will decline from the previous season. While this combination will lead to the first production deficit in six crop years, stocks are unlikely to decline to a level to help prices up and inspire growers. .

Products and Technology

  • Cost-efficient narrow fabric loom: A user-friendly narrow fabric loom designed for light- to medium-weight elastic and non-elastic narrow fabric and takes less water and electricity to operate has been launched by Jakob Müller of Switzerland. This loom, NH2 53 2/130, is an enhanced version of the company's NH2 53.

  • A tricot to make a variety of textiles: Karl Mayer Textilmaschinenfabrik has launched a tricot machine, called HKS 4-M that can operate 25% faster than its predecessor.

  • Black dye with novel features: DyStar has released a new black dye which, the company says, is a complete and advanced novelty in the industry as it is completely free of p-chloroaniline (PCA) as well as other regulatory-controlled amines and is compliant with all Restricted Substance Lists (RSL) and with Oeko-Tex Standard 100. It is also free of heavy metals.

  • Antimicrobial fibre applications: Swiss additive expert Sukano has expanded its masterbatch and service portfolio. Sukano's product range for textiles, include masterbatch solutions for antimicrobial fibre applications, UV stabilisation of polyester fibres, and processing aid for PLA non-wovens.

  • High-speed machine for fixing dyes: Some five years after it launched the I-Fix unit for fixing disperse direct and disperse transfer/sublimation dyes, SETeMa (Scientifically Engineered Textile Machines) of Netherlands has produced a high-speed new version called II-Fix for the fixation of disperse dyes and pigments up to five metre width and to deliver four times more output than I-Fix.

  • Hot-melt paper for patternmaking: As new textiles are being developed, not every hot-melt paper is fixed as good as customers were used to. The parameters to be met are getting wider in range, forcing some manufacturers to even use two different heat-seal-papers. Now, Poland's Duledo Spz O. O., which has been in the textile business for over two decades, has developed the 'Duledo Special' hot-melt paper to enable it, with ironing, to glue to the top-layer of the materials to be cut so that it should, after cutting, release without any traces.

  • A new range of water-based inks: Kiian Digital, a supplier of digital inks for the textile industry, has developed a range of water based inks for soft signage and textile printing. These Digistar water-based inks in the company's Digistar range offer high quality and vibrancy.

  • Brilliant shades at low output cost: Huntsman Textile Effects has introduced a new concept that can help mills achieve a range of brilliant shades while using less water and energy for better environmental performance, lower processing costs and enhanced productivity.

  • Waterproofing for outdoor fabrics: The chemicals supplier Archroma has introduced a new line of water-repellent agents for outdoor textiles. This new line of agents, called Smartrepel Hydro, is designed for polyester, polyamide and cotton-based fabrics and are said to extend the benefits of high-performing, nature-friendlier protection to the full spectrum of fibres used in the outdoor segment.

  • Digital inks for polyamide textiles: The industrial inkjet solution provider, Xennia Technology, has launched a full range of digital textile inks for printing silk and polyamide fabrics including nylon and lycra/elastane/ spandex.

  • Adhesive good for breathable bonding: Sika Services that supplies textile adhesive solutions to the textile lamination industry has developed a new and versatile polyurethane-based reactive hot melt adhesive with outstanding performance for breathable membranes bonding.

  • Eco-friendly water repellent fabric finish: A water-repellent finish that can make a variety of fabrics made of cotton, synthetics or blends repel water and common water-based liquids such as fruit juice, hot coffee and red wine, and said to be the "first and only" renewably sourced water repellent treatment available today has been developed by the Chemours Company, a subsidiary of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, and Huntsman Textile Effects. .

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