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The Rupp Report: Busy Times To Come In Frankfurt

Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

For decades, the international textile community has been arguing about that fact that too many exhibitions exist all over the world. However, in spite of all initiatives to stop this costly trend, there is no end of the inflation of shows.

Another trend can be seen in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Exhibition organizers Messe Frankfurt GmbH succeeded in attracting the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) Garment and Leather Technology Association away from a cooperation with Koelnmesse GmbH to be the conceptual sponsor of the IMB show for textile processing machinery in Cologne, Germany, after the close of IMB 2009. The association is now Messe Frankfurt's conceptual partner for a new show in Frankfurt. Maybe with the idea to reduce the number of exhibitions, Messe Frankfurt established Texprocess, and will hold its first edition May 24 to 27, 2011, alongside Techtextil 2011, the most popular exhibition for technical textile applications. Texprocess, International Trade Fair for the Processing of Textiles and Flexible Materials, will mainly show manufacturing equipment and technologies for the apparel industry.

Techtextil 2011 will be held May 24 to 26. The organizers call it "International Trade Fair for Technical Textiles and Nonwovens, the leading trade fair for the technical textiles and nonwovens sectors." However, the forthcoming INDEX in Geneva, is still the number-one venue for the entire nonwovens sector only (See " The Rupp Report: INDEX, The Nonwovens Industry Summit," www. TextileWorld.com, March 8, 2011).

Techtextil is no doubt the world's highlight for the combined technical textiles/nonwovens sector, and an absolute must for every company and individual that is working with industrial fabrics and is willing to enter new market opportunities. Fibers, fabrics, machinery, R&D, and even retailers and wholesalers can find the solution under one roof for any new product relating to industrial fabrics, including durable nonwovens. Nevertheless, with nearly 1,200 exhibitors from 45 countries and 24,000 trade visitors from 85 countries exhibiting at Techtextil 2009, Michael Jänecke, brand director of Techtextil, is expecting at least the same figures regarding exhibitors and visitors for this year's show. Pre-sales figures show a positive trend.

Material Vision
In addition to Texprocess, also taking place in parallel to Techtextil is Material Vision, Materials for Product Development, Design and Architecture International Trade Fair and Conference.

"Three trade fairs at the same time and at the same place — not only does this offer significant synergies, but it is also of interest to both exhibitors and visitors in terms of cost and time considerations," Jänecke said. However, time will tell if three events plus a symposium at the same time are not competing with one another and confusing not only the exhibitors of each sector, but also — and even more — the visitors.

In the field of industrial textiles applications, it has been of major importance that there be an ongoing discussion and cooperation among all interested parties. In this connection, nanotechnology can play an important role, including nanofibers for various applications such as filtration as well as nanoscale surface finishes including soil-release, abrasion-resistant, conductive and luminescent. However, nanotechnology has not yet totally been explored. There is still some strong hesitation because the results and influence of this technology are not yet fully known.

Clever Products
Today, technical fibers must have additional properties such as antimicrobial and flame resistance, warming and cooling qualities, or self-cleaning effects — or even temperature-regulation, as in phase-change polyester fiber, which should neutralize temperature fluctuations.

A Swiss manufacturer will demonstrate new high-performance fabrics including what it calls a rechargeable drug-delivery textile whose approach turns around the improvement of factors such as wellbeing, prevention and therapy. The textile base material can be impregnated individually with substances that provide beneficial or therapeutic effects. Originally, the manufacturer conceived the material for medical wellness in protective apparel or sportswear, but now, the plan is to use it for dispensing drugs. The product was under development for more than seven years.

Composite Fabrics
Composite structures are probably the most promising sector of this industry in the next few years. Using the right fibers for the right fabrics and combining them in different layers — even with nonwovens — results in products with inherent characteristics that were impossible a few years ago. Virtually every product is possible, and the further development of new resins and fibers such as carbon opens new possibilities, where the skies are the limit. And textiles play an important role in the sky: airplanes are constructed more with composite materials instead of steel, thanks to the inherent qualities of composites and — first of all — much lower weight, which leads to reduced fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

Various companies are focusing on the prominent subject of sustainability, which is becoming more and more a key factor for market success, mainly in the West, but also in Asia, thanks to the increasing awareness for the environment.

For a cleaner environment, duroplastic and thermoplastic bonded layers are also applied for rotor blades of wind-driven power-generating equipment. The discussion about alternative energy production is again on the front pages of all newspapers and in the focus of television news around the globe after the disaster in the Japanese nuclear plants. "These facts," Jänecke said, "will lead the producers of tailor-made industrial fabrics and products to the forefront of interest, and I expect that this will lead them to considerable growth rates."

March 29, 2011