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Textile coaters and laminators have adapted well to the many challenges the industry has faced since the early 1990s, writes Ian Holme, but there are more challenges to come and companies must still be prepared to innovate.

Niki Tait talked to Nabila Ben Romdhane of the Ben Arous-based Textile Technical Centre to learn about the industry in Tunisia, and how the country’s transition towards democracy offers great opportunities for foreign investors.

Clinical trials of textile surfaces treated with an antimicrobial agent have shown the technology to be effective in real-life conditions and that it could play an important part in the battle against nosocomial infections, according to Alain Langerock.

Sophisticated sewing threads must be developed to meet the needs of a broad range of applications for technical textiles. Niki Tait looks at how manufacturers are responding to this challenge and describes some of the special threads now available.

Lighter weights, engineered performance, and the use of natural and sustainable raw materials are just some of the advantages nonwovens provide when used for packaging, an application with great potential, according to Adrian Wilson.

Unifi has developed proprietary processes and techniques to recycle waste and convert it into a first-quality fibre. The company’s Meredith Boyd discusses what has been learned from the challenges of handling and processing these materials.

Manufacturers gathered in Orlando, Florida, USA, for the International Conference on Textile Coating and Laminating (TCL) 2011, held on 17–18 November, where one of the recurring themes was the importance of environmental issues, reports Nick Butler.

Strong growth is expected for nonwoven products in the Middle East and North Africa and, despite the headline-making political unrest of 2011 in the region, investment plans are being set in place by several manufacturers, says Adrian Wilson.

At a congress in Belgium towards the end of 2011, leading figures from the coating and laminating sector debated the emerging technologies that they believe will shape the future of the industry. Ian Holme attended on behalf of Technical Textiles International.