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Techtextil 2018 preview

TTNet is pleased to make available our preview of the Techtextil North America exhibition (22-24 May, Atlanta, GA, USA). Please click here to access a complimentary PDF of this article as it appears in our sister publication Technical Textiles International.


Coping with the perils from apparel

Microplastics, small pieces typically less than a few millimetres in size, are a big part of the problem of plastic waste in the environment and microfibres from clothing are a major source of them. Whether shed from general abrasion, from laundering or from the breakdown of irresponsibly discarded garments, microfibres are polluting our oceans, our land and our freshwater.

Already significant, we also know this form of pollution is a growing problem. Plastic fibres account for about two-thirds of the more than 100 Mt a year of fibres we currently produce and we continue to increase their production year-on-year.

Important problems demand our proper attention and a measured response, not just the knee-jerk reactions of those anxious to be seen to be doing something or to promote their own agenda. There are already signs that inappropriate “solutions” are being implemented that will create different kinds of pollution.

There is a lot to do. We must begin by understanding the mechanisms by which the plastic microfibres escape to unwanted places, the nature of their impact when they arrive and the consequences, good and bad, of any proposed alternatives to their use.

Early research has indicated that the type of plastic has an impact on the shedding of microfibres; acrylic fibres appear to shed more readily than polyester, for instance. Fabric construction is another factor; fleeces shed large fibres more readily than tight weaves, but the high degree of rubbing in the latter causes small pieces of fibre to break away. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation breaks down polymer chains, weakens the fibres and increases the likelihood of shedding over time. Laundering is a big factor; a high degree of agitation and the use of harsh detergents can boost the release of microfibres.

The effects of plastic microfibres on the environment, on the food chain and on water are not yet well understood. How do these waste materials break down and if so do they release toxins? Are pathogenic microorganisms encouraged to proliferate on the surface of these waste particles? How commonly are the materials ingested by animals? Basic investigations have hinted at detrimental effects, such as stunted growth and diminished reproduction, in fish that ingest microplastics and shown that ingestion is common, but much more research remains to be done.

One solution would be to replace plastic fibres with natural ones. However, natural fibres also pose problems for the environment. Vegans and animal rights activists have long argued that the rearing of livestock makes a big contribution to the damage we do to the environment, whether its for meat or fibres and furs, and they campaign for the use of plastic fibres. Crops for plant-based fibres need agricultural land and irrigation, often in places already desperately short of food and drinking water, and frequently require the application of pesticides that themselves escape to cause damage to the surrounding land, rivers and oceans.

My plea for an intelligent response is not prevarication, this problem is urgent and we need to do more to understand all of these issues quickly, instead it is an appeal for us to form balanced views of all the pros and cons of each approach, and to do what we can to limit the existing problem while we do. We need to re-engineer yarns and fabrics to limit the shedding of fibres. We need to design products from the outset for re-use and recycling, and create an infrastructure that makes sure textiles are recycled. We need to reduce the impact of laundering, by adding filters to washing machines and designing products that need less frequent washing.

We need to learn to use (and use again) all materials responsibly, and we need to apply the innovation, flexibility and creativity that are the foundations of the technical textiles sector to the manufacture of all apparel, adding value not only to the product, but also to the whole planet.

Nick Butler, Editor Technical Textiles International

Nonwovens for High-performance Applications

PROGRAMME ANNOUNCED for the 4th International Conference on Nonwovens for High-performance Applications, Cannes, France  

We are pleased to announce the programme for this year's conference, which can be viewed in full here

Visit the conference website to view the programme, speaker biographies and how to register as a delegate or event sponsor.

The next NHPA will take place at the Novotel Cannes Montfleury in Cannes, France, on 10-11 October 2018.

Early-bird delegate registration and event sponsorship packages are available to purchase in our online Shop.


Now available: World Markets for Technical Textiles To 2022

World Markets For Technical Textiles To 2022 is the ONLY current comprehensive survey of the international technical textiles industry and its future development. The report will help you to identify future business opportunities in the changing market for technical textiles. It will give you detailed and reliable information in a single volume, saving you and your company time and money.

Available now for immediate download in PDF format, or ensure your printed copy by ordering today. Click here for full information on the report and to order.


In their attempts to conquer space travel, today’s private companies backed by entrepreneurs have a rich legacy of development work from the USA’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to draw on, writes Adrian Wilson

The fifteenth edition of Techtextil North America (TTNA) will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, on 22–24 May 2018. Co-located with Texprocess Americas, also organized by Messe Frankfurt Inc of Atlanta, the combined shows offer a comprehensive overview of the performance textiles industry in the region, from the beginning to the end of the supply chain, and have become an important date in the calendar. To help our readers find what they want in the expansive halls of the Georgia World Congress Center, Composites Editor James Bakewell has compiled this preview of the shows

Founded in 1880, Bekaert of Zwevegem, Belgium, has grown to become a worldwide company with around 30 000 employees specializing in steel wire and coating technologies. For more than 40 years, an important part of this activity has been in developing, making and supplying metal/metal alloy fibres, textiles and semi-finished products, reports Nick Butler.

Few can afford to ignore the draw of the large and fast-growing market in China, but many are still worried about trading there owing to the unique challenges this poses. Jason Teng believes reassurance is to be found in first understanding how to use the local legal framework for intellectual property rights to protect the would-be trader’s innovations.