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Nonwovens / Technical Textiles

Highlights From Techtextil

Techtextil - the International Trade Fair for Technical Textiles and Nonwovens - offers networking and educational opportunities to exhibitors and attendees.

By Rachael S. Dunn, Editor

Techtextil Frankfurt is held at the Messe Frankfurt Congress Center.
Photo courtesy of Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH
Photographed by Jean-Luc Valentin

F rankfurt- based Messe Frankfurt GmbH has successfully grown the Techtextil franchise into an exhibition that now is held in four different countries.

Frankfurt — the original home of the show, which debuted almost 20 years ago — now hosts the largest of the biennial Techtextil exhibitions. The Frankfurt show has gained a reputation as the must-attend technical textiles event, and the 2005 edition did not disappoint exhibitors or visitors.

“The booth was pleasantly busy during the show,” said Andreas Weber, head of sales/marketing of Switzerland-based Heberlein Fiber Technology Inc., “although I am not surprised, because we expected a busy show.” Weber was at Techtextil highlighting Heberlein’s range of interlacers, splicers and jets for man-made yarns, which the company is continuously developing for technical textiles applications.

“Our expectations for the fair were more than exceeded,” said Stephan Kehry, sales manager of Switzerland-based Benninger Co. Ltd.

Two Shows, One Venue
In response to exhibitor and visitor demand, the Avantex International Forum for Innovative Apparel Textiles was held concurrently with Techtextil for the first time.

More than 22,000 visitors came from 70 countries to view products of and network with the 1,117 exhibiting companies. Of the total number of exhibitors, 1,075 companies from 47 countries exhibited under the Techtextil banner — representing an increase of 22 percent over the 2003 edition — while the remaining 42 companies from 11 countries exhibited at Avantex. Combined, the two shows attracted an 11-percent increase in participation over the previous events.

“These were the best-ever Techtextil and Avantex events,” said Michael Jänecke, project manager, Techtextil and Avantex Worldwide. “Both were characterized by a very good underlying atmosphere and a high degree of satisfaction on the exhibitor and visitor sides.”

In addition to exhibitor stands, approximately 120 lectures covering the use of technical textiles, nonwovens and innovative clothing technologies were offered to visitors during a three-day Techtextil and Avantex symposium series.

Nine Techtextil and Avantex Innovation prizes were awarded for outstanding achievements in research, materials and product development. Students were invited to participate in the 8th Textile Structures for New Building competition, which focuses on new ideas and concepts for architecture of the future. Work presented by all prize winners was exhibited during the fair in three special areas to publicize new developments and promote unconventional thinking in the technical textiles sector.

Broad Scope
Unlike at a typical machinery show, exhibitors at Techtextil comprise both machinery and textile manufacturers. This mix offers a broad range of products to visitors, but it also allows exhibitors to interact with one another and network.

“As a machinery producer, Dornier is here because all of our customers have booths at the show,” said Egon Wirth, marketing, communication manager of Germany-based Lindauer Dornier GmbH. “ If you look around at the visitors, they are from all over the world. Techtextil in Frankfurt is the show for technical markets.”

Fritz Legler, head of service and spare parts sales, Sultex Ltd., Switzerland, shared Wirth’s positive view. “The advantage of Techtextil is that everyone is here,” Legler said. “It’s a very professional show, and the number of contacts and exchange of information are very good.”

Companies from throughout the supply chain are found in the exhibit halls at Techtextil. Starting with fiber and yarn producers, companies such as INVISTA™ Inc., Performance Fibers Inc., Shakespeare Monofilament UK, W. L. Gore & Associates GmbH and Lenzing Fibers were present at the Frankfurt show.

“Our booth was very busy during the show,” said Won-Ki Baek, president, technical yarn performance unit and senior executive vice president of Korea-based Hyosung Corp. “We had many exhibitors and visitors asking for new products.” Hyosung was able to offer its new high-tenacity polyvinyl alcohol yarn. This yarn has half the tenacity of Kevlar® yarns, but more than twice the tenacity of a regular nylon or polyester yarn, according to the company. “We like to work with our customers to develop new fibers for new applications,” Baek said.

Machinery producers included Dilo System Group; Monti Antonio S.p.A.; Laroche S.A.; Jakob Müller AG, Frick; Saurer GmbH & Co. KG; Fehrer® AG; SSM Schärer Schweiter Mettler AG; Brückner Trockentechnik GmbH & Co. KG; Mayer & Cie.; Karl Mayer Textilmaschinenfabrik GmbH; and Eduard Küsters Maschinenfabrik GmbH & Co. KG.

Auxiliary and other equipment companies were present as well, including companies such as Wacker-Chemie GmbH, Bayer MaterialScience AG, Mahlo GmbH & Co. KG, Elbit Vision Systems Ltd., Zwick GmbH & Co. KG, Clariant International Ltd., Hacoba Spultechnik GmbH, Leister Process Technologies, Sonobond Ultrasonics and Genkinger-Hubtex GmbH.

Fabric manufacturers also selected Techtextil as a venue to showcase their product ranges. Inman Mills, Milliken Europe NV, Precision Fabrics Group Inc. and Saint-Gobain Technical Fabrics are just a few of the companies that exhibited in this sector.

New Products, Big News
While many companies chose to exhibit at the show because it is known as a great place to network, others chose Frankfurt as the venue to announce company news and introduce new products.

Ciba Specialty Chemicals Inc., Switzerland, announced it had entered into a cooperation agreement with Schoeller Technologies AG, also based in Switzerland, for Schoeller’s 3XDRY® multifunctional finishes. Under terms of the agreement, Ciba is now responsible for 3XDRY’s technical support, sales, quality control and production licensing worldwide. Branding, marketing, patents and branding licensing will continue to be handled by Schoeller. “3XDRY finishing technology, which incorporates Ciba Specialty Chemicals products, is an ideal complement to our range of textile effects,” said Peter Otto, head of global marketing, Textile Effects, Ciba. “Ciba can ensure availability of the required resources for continued customer-oriented and quality-consistent servicing of the expanding markets.”

Ciba also introduced DICRYLAN® PGS, a new polymer for ultrafine coatings, and announced effects chemistries are in development for use with plasma technology.

France-based NSC Nonwoven used the show as a venue to celebrate the delivery of its 1,000th Asselin crosslapper. The machine is part of a needlepunching line installed at FILC d.d. Menges, Slovakia, and the line is the largest order ever from a single customer. The line also features NSC’s new Excelle® card. According to Bérangère Amestoy, NSC Group external communications manager, Excelle is a brand-new concept in carding that was under development at NSC for several years. The card was developed to be more efficient, consistent and user-friendly than conventional cards.

Germany-based BASF AG showcased several new products at Techtextil. The company has added flame-retardant formulations to its Lurapret® range of textile coatings, which were developed in cooperation with Germany-based Schill + Seilacher AG. “In Schill + Seilacher we have gained a partner whose product range and know-how optimally complement our own,” said Werner Bertleff, Ph.D., manager, Innovation Group Textiles, BASF. “Flame retardancy is a really hot topic, especially in relation to textiles used in public places — for example, furnishing fabrics in discotheques,” Bertleff said. “The regulations are constantly getting tougher — not least because of accidents.” BASF also highlighted a new coating for polyolefin functionalization and ComDRYve™, a textile foam substitute for car seats developed in cooperation with Germany-based Hänsel Verbundtechnik GmbH.

Rieter Textile Systems, Switzerland, displayed technologies from its Perfojet, Filament Yarn Technologies (FYT) and Automatik divisions. Rieter has combined its JETlace 3000 spunlace and PERFObond 3000 spunbond concepts to produce a nonwoven product called SPUNjet. In the production line, the fabric is spunbonded, then water jets from the JETlace machine are used to create a product with a softer hand.

The company also displayed the UT 50, a new concept machine from the FYT Division. It is a twister with fully independent positions that can ply yarns with counts ranging from 235 decitex (dtex) to 1,800 dtex.

Matex S.r.l., Italy, introduced the Roto Labo pilot coating and laminating machine, which offers interchangeable components for individual configuration. The Roto Labo was designed to facilitate taking pilot projects into full production, according to Andrea Troncon, area sales manager. The multi 600 and 900 versions are equipped with 600-millimeter (mm) and 900-mm diameter coating rolls, respectively.

HSGM GmbH, Germany, had several new products on display for cutting man-made textiles. In addition to its traditional hand-held heat cutters, the company also offers table units with automatic cutting functions. The HSG-G2S-50/80/100-E rope- and belt-cutting machine pulls material from a roll or out of a barrel, measures the material to a predetermined length, uses an electric heated blade to cut the material and features a piece counter that stops the machine when the desired number of pieces has been cut. As with other HSGM cutters, the heated blade seals the cut edge, which prevents the material from fraying.

“We are sensitive to the customer and will work extensively to develop what the customer needs,” said David Brown, sales and marketing director, High Performance Yarn, Pharr Yarns Inc. McAdenville, N.C.-based Pharr recently worked with James E. Hendrix, Ph.D., president of Pacolet, S.C.-based Jim Hendrix & Associates, to develop a proprietary process for spinning a staple-fiber carbon yarn. “The process is patent-pending, and Pharr is very excited about the possibilities for this yarn because it adds a market for the company, as well as a product,” Hendrix said. This spun yarn is comprised of 95-percent carbon. Pharr also offers a pre-oxidized yarn that is 65-percent carbon.

Another newly developed product at Pharr Yarns is a very fine para-aramid yarn, which the company currently supplies to Warwick Mills, New Ipswich, N.H., for Warwick’s TurtleSkin® product. According to Brown, gloves and gaiters made from TurtleSkin fabric can protect against knife attacks, hypodermic needles and snake bites.

Livio Piccinini (left) and Andrea Jonoch, area sales manager, represented SMIT S.p.A. at Techtextil.

First-Time Exhibitors Attracted To Techtextil
Sensing opportunities in technical markets, some companies are targeting technical and industrial markets for the first time, or are increasing their marketing efforts to this sector. Most of these companies have been involved in the textile industry for many years, but have not placed an emphasis on technical textiles in the past. But just as traditional textile manufacturers are looking to technical markets for a competitive edge, so too are traditional textile machinery manufacturers.

“For four years now, Picanol has been moving more towards technical fabric production,” said Filips Lombaert, product manager, after-market sales and support at Belgium-based Picanol NV. “We now have a dedicated group within the company for technical textiles.”

Marc Wolpers, sales manager with Germany-based Trützschler GmbH & Co. KG’s Nonwovens Division, was at the show to promote the fact that all of Trützschler’s nonwoven carding equipment will now be made at the company’s US headquarters in Charlotte. “We selected the United States because of our existing division, and because with a growing US market in nonwovens, it was a good fit,” Wolpers said. Approximately 95 percent of Trützschler’s current business is in the spinning sector, but the company sees growth opportunities in nonwovens. “We will build nonwovens as a separate business from spinning with its own sales and marketing personnel,“ said Wolpers. “It’s necessary that we offer tailor-made machinery for the individual customer.”

Italy-based RadiciGroup’s RadiciFibres was exhibiting for the first time at Techtextil, according to Andrea Borgis, marketing and communication manager, RadiciFibres, PET (polyester) Yarns. The company is focusing on technical markets with its RadiciFibres Industrial division. A new product from this division is Raditeck® Dyna, a new high-tenacity polyamid 6,6 air-jet yarn. Backpacks, protective workwear, outdoor clothing and luggage are some of the end-uses for this product, according to the company. In addition to other yarns from its industrial division that are suitable for tire cord and air-bag applications, Radici highlighted antistatic Dylar® spunbonded nonwovens manufactured by Tessiture Pietro Radici, a RadiciGroup Textiles division company.

“Monforts has been in the technical textiles market for many years, but we are now promoting even more dyeing and finishing applications in this sector,” said Klaus A. Heinrichs, vice president of marketing at Germany-based A. Monforts Textilmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG. “Coating is popular and provides good margins for European textile companies.” Monforts’ booth at the show featured a video screen showing product information.

“Lots of producers are looking to specialize,” said Christian Moser, product manager of multifilament spinning at Austria-based SML Maschinen GmbH. “Business has been good for SML, and we think our compact spinning lines offer producers what they need to offer new products.”

Germany-based Groz-Beckert KG has taken its expertise in precision needle production and applied it to jet strips for spunlacing and hydroentanglement of nonwovens. “There are other companies in this field,” said Edelgard Keinath, management, advertising, “but we think it’s a good market and a good fit with Groz-Beckert’s existing products.”

The HyTec® precision jet strip is available in customer-specified lengths with holes 0.10 mm to 0.18 mm in diameter. According to the company, a new production method guarantees a burr-free strip with uniform jet geometries. Groz-Beckert also engineered a special shipping tube for the jet strips to ensure they arrive at the customer’s plant undamaged.
Ullrich Munstermann, Ph.D., (left) director, technology and product development, and Peter Ziehl, sales manager, Fleissner GmbH, discuss Fleissners new lean configuration spunlacing lines.

Growing The Techtextil Brand
“With dramatic increases in both visitors and exhibitors, Techtextil continues to demonstrate its position as the world’s leading trade show for technical textiles and nonwovens,” said Daniel McKinnon, director, textile fairs, Messe Frankfurt. “The Techtextil brand name continues to be the destination for international business, wide-ranging educational programs and remarkable networking opportunities.

We hope to build on the success of the Frankfurt show in Atlanta in 2006,” he added.

Techtextil North America will be held Tuesday, March 28, through Thursday, March 30, 2006, at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta.

October 2005