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New on Technical Textiles

Shaping textile manufacture

In Machinery innovations show the future of textile manufacturing, Adrian Wilson takes one last look at ITMA (held in Barcelona, Spain, on the 20–26 June). It would be a mistake, however, to see this as a retrospective article, because the trends revealed will help to shape our industry for years to come.

One such trend is the increasing reliance of machinery builders on sensors, which they are deploying to make manufacturing machinery run more efficiently, produce better-quality textiles, and be easy to set-up and operate. These developments can also be seen as the first practical steps towards the implementation of automation and data exchange between textile manufacturing technologies (frequently referred to as “Industry 4.0”). Indeed, many exhibitors at the show presented developments involving machine–machine interactions and, in more advanced programmes, the means for such networks of equipment to adapt autonomously (so-called “machine learning”) for the benefit of the manufacturing process.

Workers in highly automated factories, such as found in the automotive industry for instance, are used to the ubiquitous presence of robotics. The show floors in Barcelona and at Techtextil/Texprocess (held on 14–17 May, in Frankfurt, Germany) made it clear that this is also the future for textile mills, now that the difficulties of such systems having to manipulate soft materials are being overcome.

A third trend was a notable increase in the number of exhibitors demonstrating technologies dedicated to the needs of the booming composites industry. Machines to make textiles for reinforcements, and to handle and coat composites have now been developed specifically for these tasks, rather than adapted from existing products. Equally, it was clear exhibitors are beginning to use composites to make some machine parts. Could the next ITMA (in Milan, Italy, in June 2023) see the first textile machine to be built exclusively or largely from composites?

One specific need of the composites industry is to reduce its manufacturing waste, because the matrix materials and textile reinforcements it uses are expensive. More generally, ITMA exhibitors showed they are heavily committed to helping to reduce and recycle manufacturing waste, as well as to recycling post-use materials, for a range of industries. Manufacturers who face the prospect of legislation that will make them responsible for the collection of colossal numbers of garments and textile-based products after use will have been reassured to see several commercial technologies demonstrated that can take textile waste, including some comprising mixed materials, and use it to make new products. Only partially reassured, though, because future such developments will need to be profound and rapid if the industry is to meet the huge expectations currently expressed by regulators and consumers.

No need to wait until 2023 to find-out if machinery builders can provide the answers, however, as Technical Textiles International and technical-textiles.net will be here to keep readers informed of any progress as and when it happens.

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Conference programme

The conference programme is available to view on the conference website where you can also register as a delegate. Places are limited, so register soon.

Textile Opportunities in a Changing Automotive Industry

Jaguar Experience Centre, Birmingham, UK - 5-6 February 2020

Speakers from companies already engaged for the conference include:

  • Alice Swallow, Innovation, Ford Motor Company 
  • Mark Dohmen, Head of Competence Center, Archroma
  • Friedrich Suchomel, Product Development, Lenzing AG
  • Matthew Tipper, Business Director, Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute (NIRI)  
  • Ross Ward, New Business Development Manager, NIRI  
  • Thomas Schmidt, Director of Innovation and RSL, Huafeng
  • Silke Brand-Kirsch, Executive Partner, Schlegel & Partner
  • Raquel Ledo Banobre, Head of Materials Innovation Area, CTAG – Automotive Technology Centre of Galicia                       
  • Deborah Maxwell, Patent Attorney, Potter Clarkson LLP
  • Laura Kunze, Project Manager Colour & Trim Development, imat-uve gmbh
  • Paul Stollberger, Member of the Board, Kobleder GmbH with Axel Magin, Trevira GmbH
  • Christian Fischer, CEO & Co-Founder, Bcomp Ltd
  • Patrick Cronin, Technical Director, Mica NanoTech Ltd 
  • Adrian Wilson, Industry expert and editor                   

This conference will explore how the changes in the automotive industry will offer opportunities for technical textiles, nonwovens and composites, and how these materials will contribute to the next generation of vehicles.

Join key players in the industry, from OEMs and Tier 1 and 2 suppliers to raw material manufacturers, and suppliers of technical textiles, nonwovens, composite fibres and machinery. Presentations will examine in detail how trends are already reshaping the automotive industry, and its supply chain, and will continue to do so in the next decade and beyond.

Topics for discussion will include:

  • Textiles for a unique passenger experience
  • Innovations in lightweight, sustainable and robust textiles
  • New textiles sources for sound insulation to adapt to changes in vehicle design resulting in new NVH (noise, vibration harshness) environments
  • Smart textiles - for monitoring physiological signs of passengers, and providing information and entertainment during the journey, to innovations in user experience
  • The use of natural fibres and plant-based polymers for enhanced sustainability
  • Materials that make vehicles lighter, smarter, cleaner and more comfortable
  • Composites for lightweight and bespoke components
  • Graphene-enhanced materials for automotive applications
  • Changes in supply chain and manufacturing planning that are needed to bring innovations to market
  • Limiting factors and future trends in automotive textiles


Book your place before 29 November 2019 and save €100/£80/$120.

For further details and to book your place, visit www.technical-textiles.online/TOAI.

Society has a duty to protect those that protect us. Fortunately, there is now a wide range of high-performance personal protective equipment available to do so effectively. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of one of the world’s leading suppliers, PPSS Group of Wetherby, UK, Robert Kaiser offers his opinions on slash-resistant clothing.

A range of inherently flame-retardant fibres are employed in fabrics for shielding workers from arc flashes, one of the most dangerous, complicated and demanding of applications in the safety and protection sector, according to Adrian Wilson.

The oil and gas exploration industry is a rich market for protective textiles and garments. Sarah Gibbons reviews some of the latest product developments, introduces the companies behind them and discusses the factors driving growth in the sector.

Mount Vernon FR’s massive manufacturing complex in the northwest corner of Georgia, USA, has become one of the leading suppliers of flame-retardant fabrics over the past decade, recently driven by the rapid growth in North America’s energy exploration sector, reports John McCurry.