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Nonwovens / Technical Textiles

Techtextil, Avantex Set New Records

Participants at colocated technical textile, apparel shows expressed optimism about the sectors' economic picture.

By Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

S eemingly, nothing can stop Techtextil. A record number of visitors attended the most recent Techtextil, International Trade Fair for Technical Textiles and Nonwovens; and Avantex, Forum for Innovative Apparel Textiles. Once more, Techtextil confirmed itself as the right place and information platform for industrial textile applications.

techtextilThe events in Frankfurt closed their doors after setting a new record of more than 23,200 trade visitors from 80 countries, compared to 21,730 in 2005. These figures make Techtextil and Avantex 2007 the largest event since the inaugural Techtextil in 1985, said Detlef Braun, member of the Board of Management of show organizer Messe Frankfurt, summing up the results of the biennial fairs. The proportion of trade visitors from outside Germany rose by 8 percent to represent 54 percent of the total. Thus, every second visitor came from abroad — in particular, from Europe, North America and Asia.

Around 60 percent of visitors to the 12th Techtextil, which had 1,086 exhibitors, were managers with decision-making and purchasing authority and came from several industry sectors. The 4th Avantex, with 33 exhibitors, was attended primarily by industry, fashion, design, sports apparel and medical technology experts.

Favorable Economic Situations

Participants rated the economic situation in the sector as better than ever: 88 percent of exhibitors and 89 percent of visitors shared this optimistic outlook. The fairs’ symposia attracted 1,039 visitors — more than ever before. In 120 seminars and expert lectures, speakers from Germany and abroad discussed topics of current interest from the fields of research and development, technology and industry; and from the marketing and user points of view.

The high degree of visitor satisfaction — 97 percent of visitors, 2 percent more than in 2005, rated their visit to the fair as having been a success — was a major contribution to the highly successful event. Visitors primarily were interested in woven fabrics and fibers, textile finishes, reinforcement textiles, composites and innovative garments. On the exhibitor side, the degree of satisfaction with visitor quality and contacts with the appropriate target group also set a new record at 98 percent.

Machinery Industry With Strong Participation

Ever since the first Techtextil, a large number of exhibitors have come from the machinery and accessory sector. How do these enterprises view Techtextil? Were they satisfied with the results? Textile World interviewed enterprises that represent these areas to find the answers.

Rieter Perfojet, France; NSC nonwoven, France; Sultex Ltd., Switzerland; and Groz-Beckert KG, Germany, have participated in Techtextil since its inception. For A. Monforts Textilmaschinen GmbH & Co. KG, Germany, this year’s event was its third time. Mount Holly, N.C.-based American & Efird Inc. (A&E) exhibited for the first time in Frankfurt, but previously had been an exhibitor at Techtextil in Atlanta.

According to Fritz Legler, sales director, Sultex, rapier weaving machines such as the G 6500 are very well-represented in the air-bag sector, but also for weaving aramid and glass fabrics. He also said Sultex, as the only supplier of projectile machines, can build these machines up to a working width of 655 centimeters. These heavy machines are especially suitable for geo- and agrotextiles, fly screens or polypropylene ribbon. They also are particularly suitable for heavy fabrics and high-tech fabrics such as bag fabrics or sails.

Many Techtextil segments are target groups for Rieter Perfojet, according to Laurent Jallat, marketing manager. In cooperation with NSC nonwoven, Rieter Perfojet offers a wide spectrum of spunlace and spunbond production lines that are well-established in the marketplace. Jean-Philippe Dumon, sales and marketing director, NSC, said NSC’s products are the only ones that can offer machines and plants for both medium- and high-speed production. Here, both capacity and the ability to manufacture niche products of high quality are equally important elements in nonwovens production.

Groz-Beckert, a manufacturer of needles for technical textiles and nonwovens, has a broad range of needles for knitting, weaving, felts and tufting; and also sewing needles for many application fields.

Wolfgang Kaphahn, managing director, Monforts, described coating plants as its most important product group for these markets, as well as through-air and conveyor dryers for distance fabrics. Important target groups are the manufacturers of awnings, protective apparel, nanocoatings, medical textiles, wipes and sportswear.

For Mark Hatton, global marketing manager, Technical Textiles Division, A&E, the most important target groups for A&E yarns are tubes and belts, reinforcements, cable sheetings, motors and filtration.

New And Future Developments

Technical high-performance fabrics are woven partly from very expensive yarns such as aramids. For these fabrics, Sultex offers the G 6500 rapier weaving machine with leno technique and a so-called economizing selvage. This selvage technique can save expensive material in comparison with traditional selvages, making it particularly interesting for heavy and thick fabrics.

For NSC’s Dumon, the company’s ProDyn® system is an important development that, after the web is carded, regulates the evenness and the amount of fiber material at the entrance of the feeder to produce nonwovens with a perfect machine-direction-to-cross-direction ratio. A short time ago, NSC nonwoven delivered a plant to a southern European customer, and with this system, that customer can save 7 percent of material in the needling and achieve the same product qualities. Since 2003, more than 85 plants have been equipped with the system.

According to Rieter Perfojet’s Jallat, Perfojet’s SPUNjet system, in combination with spunbonds, manufactures very good-quality products. And, he mentioned, a little water applied on the surface of the nonwoven during processing brings a much better textile feel. Both NSC and Rieter Perfojet have achieved excellent results with their strategic alliance and are more than happy with the cooperation.

Groz-Beckert also offers nozzle stripes for spunlace production plants, as Edelgard Keinath, corporate services, explained.

Kaphahn described Monforts’ multifunctional Montex tenter with an integrated coating aggregate at the entrance as a new development. The coating aggregate is movable, making the tenter suitable for coatings and other traditional finishes.

Hatton described A&E’s intermingled polyester yarns as a special new development. These coated, high-tenacity yarns have improved adhesion ability, he said.

Excellent Visitor Feedback

Without reservation, everyone interviewed described the response to the products they showed to be from good to excellent. Dumon mentioned that at the fair NSC nonwoven sold a thermobonding line to the India-based Welspun Group for the production of wadding.

Kaphahn also saw the response as very positive, due to the fact that many classic textile enterprises are more and more involved in technical textiles and require very flexible lines for many products. He added that the Montex 6000 TT tenter will be shown at ITMA 2007 in Munich.

According to Hatton, A&E’s first Techtextil participation in Europe also was a success. The company had many enquiries for its yarns; its portfolio consists not only of sewing threads but also products for other areas.

Top Seller

Legler said Sultex’s top products were weaving machines for carpets, floor coverings and air bags.

According to Jallat, the JETlace 3000 is still the great frontrunner in Rieter Perfojet’s program. More than 150 plants have already been sold with these spunlace lines. He said that at the moment, spunlace lines are very much required because soft products of 30 to 80 square meters are in demand.

For NSC nonwoven, Asselin’s needle felting machines for geotextiles and filtration run particularly well. However, spunlaced products such as coating substrates and wipes are also part of NSC’s success. Three plants were sold to China for coating substrates, Dumon said.

According to Kaphahn, Keinath and Hatton, there is no true top-selling product at the moment for their companies. However, this is not a bad state of affairs because sales are evenly spread.

Most Important Markets

The music for technical textiles still plays mainly in the United States and Europe — primarily in Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain. Legler and Jallat also mentioned India, where Rieter Perfojet recently sold a spunlace plant to Gini Filaments.

Turkey, Korea and Japan were mentioned as well; and more and more, Bangladesh and China. According to Hatton, growing markets for A&E are Canada and Mexico. Dumon said NSC has even markets everywhere, and one can be happy with the situation.

The nonwovens and technical textiles segment performs very well at all interviewed companies. The segment has grown by 3 to 4 percent at Sultex for years, Legler explained. The share of turnover for technical textiles is already more than 15 percent and continues to increase.

Rieter Perfojet is selling now with delivery periods up to the year 2008. The company has sold machines to India and tow spunlaced plants to Russia. These countries know how to work with fibers, Jallat said. Dumon believes the market has calmed down in China a bit; however, other markets are growing. NSC discovered that customers today buy different cards for different products in order to be very flexible.

The market situation is also good for Groz-Beckert. Although the investment activity has slowed down a little, it is still promising, Keinath said.

Kaphahn sees Monforts’ prospects primarily in Europe and noted that Turkey is still not so strong for these markets. However, he sees a growing interest from India.

A&E’s Hatton mentioned that high-tenacity yarns more and more are replacing steel in certain industrial fields of application.

Although the interviewed companies are working primarily in the traditional textile industry, a growing share of their sales volume is realized in the technical textiles sector. The share of turnover for technical textiles is about 15 percent at Monforts, Kaphahn said.

Promising Prospects

It is not surprising that all enterprises consider the future for technical textiles to be good-to-excellent. The sector will further grow, and the trend towards higher quality always goes on and on, according to information provided by Legler. Technical textiles are a highly specialized market for every supplier. Further enterprises from the traditional textile industry will enter markets for technical textiles and give the sector another growth push. 

September/October 2007