A fish's view of the natural world in 2018? Throughout the year, we reported how synthetic textiles and plastics were capturing global attention for all the wrong reasons. Industry's response in 2019 will be crucial.
Commentators frequently use December as a convenient pause, a chance to reflect on the previous year while looking forward to the next. It is an artificial pause, however, as political and technological developments do not follow the convenient cycle of a calendar. This reflection on 2018 and its attempt to make predictions about 2019 illustrates the point well, because the major upheavals reported during the last 12 months remain unresolved and will continue seamlessly to focus attention into the new year and beyond.
Major political upheavals, the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) and the Trump Administration’s withdrawal of the USA from several crucial agreements, have and will continue to re-write the rules books concerning trade affecting all the major regions of importance to our industry. Meanwhile, global concerns about plastic waste, ignited during the past year, will also continue to make significant impacts on the way business is conducted and regulated in 2019.
Other ongoing issues include disruptive changes in the automotive sector, where the imminent arrival of autonomous cars and cars linked to one another via the Internet, as well as the growth in sales of electric-powered cars, all offer considerable opportunities to innovators in the textile industry. Moreover, this issue has prompted the publisher of technical-textiles.net to organize a new conference dedicated to these possibilities, Textile Opportunities in a Changing Automotive Industry.
Other key industry events in 2019 will highlight important trends too. JEC, Techtextil/Texprocess and ITMA, for instance, will take place in rapid succession, in March, May and June, respectively. All will confirm the manufacturing industry’s enthusiasm for automation and the exploitation of data exchange via computer networks.
One issue that has been a long-standing part of many observers’ annual reflections is that of the anticipated breakthrough of smart textiles into consumer markets. As such only a foolhardy commentator would predict that for 2019, but the industry continued to invest in such developments during 2018 and this observer is prepared to say these commitments will continue to grow and to reap increasing rewards. The use of smart textiles in healthcare, for instance, is a sector to watch or better still be involved in.
Finally, reflecting on 2018 also reminds us to expect the unexpected, which no-one can help you prepare for, but with our stable of specialist publications and reports, our online information resources, and industry-focused conferences, we are best placed to make you aware of all the key developments as soon as they occur. We look forward to keeping you informed and helping you succeed in 2019.