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By Max W. Sung

Sustainable innovation at ITMA 2015: the quadrennial international textile machinery trade fair, came to Milan November 12-19 for its 17th venue since its debut in Lille, France, in 1951.

ITMA is owned by CEMATEX (nine national textile machinery associations from Western Europe) and this latest edition in Milan was organised by the Singapore-based MP Expositions.

The ITMA venues used to be held on a rotational basis amongst the nine member associations, but since attaining behemoth proportions with its 1991 show in Hanover (185,546 sq m exhibition space, 1,391 exhibitors and 149,564 visitors), there were only a few exhibition centres in Europe that could offer the large venue the show required. Fiera Milano Rho, where this edition of ITMA was held, is one of the biggest fairgrounds in the world, spanning 345,000 sq m of covered gross exhibition space, 14,000 parking spaces for visitors, and easy access to the city centre by railway and metro. World Expo 2015 was held at this venue just before ITMA 2015, thus, ITMA benefitted from the abundant supply of hotel rooms with easy access to the exhibition site.

Milan had hosted ITMA four times previously - in 1959, 1975, 1983 and 1995. For 2015, ITMA attracted 1,691 exhibitors, the highest for the show since its inception. More than 108,000 sq. m of exhibition space was used, with exhibitors from the nine CEMATEX countries occupying 69% of it. The largest participating country, in terms of exhibition space, was Italy. It took up 32,540 sq. m of space to accommodate 353 exhibitors. Right behind Italy was Germany taking up 21,380 sq. m, followed by Switzerland (5,530 sq. m) and Spain (4,540 sq. m). For non-CEMATEX countries, the top four were Turkey (7,590 sq. m), China (5,880 sq. m), India (4,870 sq. m), and Japan (3,060 sq. m). The 2015 show attracted almost 123,000 visitors from 147 economies, which, though lower than the record 158,000 visitors came to the 1987 ITMA in Paris, kept the exhibition halls fully packed for a major part of the eight-day show. Italy, the host country, accounted for 18% of the visitors. Next stood India, but half way behind, accounting for 9% of visitors, followed by Turkey (8%) and Germany (7%).

ITMA over the years has lifted its restriction to only textile machinery exhibits, or to products that have not been shown in the previous two years in a European venue. The index of products has expanded to 19 chapters and included, in addition to spinning, web formation, winding and texturing, weaving, knitting and hosiery, embroidery and braiding, also finishing dyestuffs and chemicals, software, logistics, plant operations, recycling, education, garment making and textile processing, printing, fibre and yarn. At this show, dyeing, finishing and printing occupied 33% of the exhibition space with 416 exhibitors while spinning, with 290 exhibitors, took 14% of space.

The theme of ITMA 2015 was "Master the Art of Sustainable Innovation." The theme of the previous show in Barcelona was "Mastering the Art of Innovation." ITMA 2015 is to be commended for making this commitment to promoting sustainability in the textile industry. During the past four years, more and more textile machinery manufacturers have developed innovative sustainable solutions to energy and water savings, and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2010, the Italian Textile Machinery Association (ACIMIT) had launched the project, "Sustainable Technologies" with the ACIMIT Green Label, a voluntary declaration of the energy and/or environmental performances of Italian textile machines. More than 800 ACIMIT Green Labels have since been produced. The international certification organisation, RINA, has validated the Green Label issuing process and the evaluations it contains. Every year RINA verifies the Green Label designation on 20% of the participating companies. The data provided by the companies permitted an estimation of the environmental impact generated by the project. D'Appolonia, an engineering company, has estimated emission reductions of 221,181 ton CO2 eq. for 2014 compared with the previous year. The highest reduction of emissions was in the finishing sector.

At ITMA 2015, the German mechanical engineering association VDMA updated progress with "Blue Competence", its sustainability initiative. This is an international initiative for sustainable solutions of the machinery and construction sector across the entire spectrum of industrial applications and distinguishes those companies that have aligned their development and production to the principle of sustainability. Textile machinery is one of the thirty mechanical engineering branches within Blue Competence. At this time, 35 textile machinery companies have joined the VDMA sustainability initiative. Blue Competence has demonstrated with many examples as to how energy-efficient textile machinery can offer significant savings potentials.

CEMATEX launched the first ITMA Sustainable Innovation Awards at ITMA 2015 as part of its ongoing efforts to encourage and recognise outstanding contributions to the sustainable development of the global textile and garment industry. A panel of distinguished judges reviewed the entries and picked the finalists and winners. The winner of the ITMA Industry Excellence Award for ITMA 2015 exhibitors and their clients went to Levi Strauss & Co., which had started preliminary development work in its Plock facility in Poland using the NoStone garment washing technology from Tonello. The challenge was in denim finishing and the use of pumice stones that have environmental, economical and mechanical disadvantages.

While ITMA is unlikely to restrict exhibitors to only those with sustainability practices, it is highlighting and raising the consciousness of textile machinery manufacturers to the importance of sustainability. As Mr Charles Beauduin, President of CEMATEX noted: "Necessity is the mother of invention, and the synergies from both parties (technology providers and industry users) working together towards a common goal will bring about more innovative solutions that will positively impact the environment and business bottom line."

To master the art of sustainable innovation, I would add, one also has to understand and learn the science.











Specail Reports

  • China's great leap to retainlead in the world of textiles: The emergence of Trans-Pacific Partnership without China in it is driving the country's textile sector to speed up the program for Going Out and establishing production bases overseas. Addressing a conference called "Going Out and TPP" that the China National Textile & Apparel Council (CNTAC) organised in Shanghai in mid-October, the president of CNTAC, Wang Tiankai, said the passage of TPP will pose a significant challenge for China's healthy economic development and, as a consequence, could speed up the process of Chinese textile ventures expanding to overseas production sites. Considering such expansion outside the borders of China as almost a collective patriotic duty, he advised enterprises going out to collaborate and work closely with each other to establish special textile-apparel industrial zones and parks in foreign countries while the headquarters of the enterprises strengthen their ability to manage the core business in China. "Let us adopt the going out strategy in support of China's textile industry continuing to be a major player in the world of textiles and apparel." Another speaker, Tung Jisheng of Shanghai Textile Development Corporation, suggested that Chinese entrepreneurs not to focus their attention narrowly on neighbouring locations in Southeast Asia, they should look farther afield to Africa and Latin America.

  • Nonwovens output in China will keep rising in the next five years: New investment in China's nonwovens sector registering more than 44% increase in 2014 has slowed down in the first quarter of 2015 to 14.8%. Even then, production of nonwovens is poised to rise 10% a year until 2020. By then, China's annual output of nonwovens would have reached seven million tons - up 59% from the country's 2014 output. This was the forecast that Li Linsheng, the president of China Nonwovens and Industrial Textiles Association (CNITA), made at the fourth China International Nonwovens Forum in Shanghai that was a part of the three-day (Oct 14-16) China International Nonwovens Expo & Forum (CiNE) held at the ShanghaiMart.

    By Bosco Chui

  • Research for product upgrade: Academics, researchers and experts from the nonwovens industry also made presentations or addressed the fourth China International Nonwovens Forum held with the first CiNE. They discussed many issues including the environmental risk discarding of flushable napkins and wipes cause, like clogging of drainage systems, and how to reduce landfill and incineration to prevent environmental pollution.

  • China restricts imports to make mills buy local cotton: With 11 million tons of cotton still in its stockpile, China has decided to restrict imports next year to 894,000 tons whereas other Asian countries, notably Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia, will increase their intake.


  • ITMA 2015 in Milan scores record exhibitor turnout: ITMA, the world's foremost textile technology fair that is held once every four years in Europe, celebrated its latest presentation in Milan from Nov 12 to 19 with 1,691 exhibitors, a record number since its inception in 1950. Almost 123,000 visitors from 47 countries came to see their latest innovations. Environmental safety was a primary focus of this event. Additionally, this Milan presentation also included a new chapter, Printing. It occupied about 10% of the exhibition space with digital printing as its focus.

  • Technology is the answer to sustainability: During an interview with Textile Asia's executive editor Max Sung, the president of CEMATEX, Charles Beauduin, spoke of the significance of sustainable innovations. He said that sustainability is one of the key challenges that the textile industry needs to address. "We think that there is a big potential for improvement in the environmental footprint of the textile industry, and this is what we are happy to show at this exhibition," he said.

  • The path towards sustainable innovations in textiles: Conventional textile manufacturing, which requires water at every step of production, produces some of the most massive water pollutions on the planet. Millions of gallons of water are used each year to meet the high demand for textiles. Due to inefficient, multi-step methods of production, much of this water becomes saturated with potentially harmful chemicals, including unused dyestuff, fixing agents, bleaches, and detergents. Irresponsible wastewater management risks the health of surrounding communities and environment, not only by increasing exposure to hazardous substances but also by depleting potable water sources - a situation that presents especially dire consequences for developing countries where drought persists. Now, mounting public pressure is making textile industry adopt sustainable practices, which, in turn, is leading to remarkable innovations.

    By Kimberly Sung, in Milan

  • ITMA Milan attracted huge number of Asian visitors: The largest number of visitors came from the host country, Italy while India ranked second. Also, among the top ten countries for visitors were Iran and Pakistan.

    By C. K. Chow

  • It's show time!: C.W. Kan, the associate professor at the Institute of Textile and Clothing of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, who is also a consulting editor with Textile Asia, reviews some of the technology and machinery displayed at the ITMA Milan 2015.

  • Conventional Finishing: The focus on finishing machine was not only on the sustainable innovation such as water and energy saving but also in the process of technical textiles.

  • Garment Finishing: Garment finishing machines were present on a large scale at this ITMA.

  • Laboratory-scale testing instruments: Similar to the previous ITMA show, laboratory scale/testing instruments played a significant role in ITMA 2015.

  • Digital inkjet printing: There were a larger number of digital textile printing machinery on display at this ITMA than in the previous ITMA in 2011, which demonstrated the rapid growth of digital textile printing.

Technical Features

  • Ways to obtain good colour strength for wool and silk in blended fabric: Fabrics made of silk and wool fibres blended are often preferred choice for high-class apparel because they offer good lustre, handle, drape and warmth. These protein-based have different levels of amino acid which influences, in single bath process, their ability to absorb dye that is essential to colour strength. This study proposes how to render similar colour strength to both fibres.

    By Debojyoti Ganguly, Assistant Professor, Department of Textile design, National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bhopal, India; Chanchal Mondal, Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India; and Asim Kumar Roy Choudhury, Professor and Principal, Gargi Memorial Institute of Technology, Baruipur, Kolkata, India .

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