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From The Editor

ITMA 2011: Innovation Showcase

James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

For 60 years, ITMA has been the pinnacle of textile technology exhibitions. Many members of the industry can recall points in their careers when a trip to ITMA was not just a rare trip outside the United States, but part of an exploration — a visit to one physical location to meet the entire international textile machinery complex.

For members of the industry who take part in implementing innovations in the physical manufacture of textiles, ITMA is like a technology Christmas morning. Every four years, for one week, the latest and greatest textile machinery is in one location, often in full working order, for investigation and comparison with competitors' offerings.

But ITMA is about more than machinery. It is also about top-level people, both management and technical, from machinery companies and textile companies around the world, all in one location.

For this once-young technician, such exposure was more than eye-opening — it presented a sense of scale and opportunity not available within the walls of a day-to-day textile manufacturing plant. It really doesn't matter on which sector of the industry you are currently focused: To walk into the weaving hall, with all the major brands present, when the talking stops and all the weaving machines are turned on — air-jet, water-jet, rapier, projectile — and production of fine fabrics, jacquards and narrow fabrics through area rugs and carpeting is all taking place in front of you — for true textile geeks, the weaving cacophony is downright symphonic.

And it is not just weaving — spinning, knitting, nonwovens, dyeing, printing and finishing sectors all will be there as usual; and, this year, the organizers have strengthened the fiber, yarn, dyes and chemicals sectors.

Expect themes of improved efficiencies, greener manufacturing techniques, less water usage, less power consumption, flexible manufacturing systems, more automation, high levels of quality control and improvement, and higher transparencies in operations for technicians and managers.

The current global economic conditions may dampen huge investment commitments at the show, but ITMA is a place where many conversations begin rather than end. A trip to ITMA is a very efficient way to get current with today's level of technology, look for solutions to support current opportunities, and re-examine current manufacturing systems to find opportunities for improvement.

ITMA is also a great training ground. A very dense dose of exposure to the technical nuts and bolts of making textiles is available in one stop. Not just those involved in the manufacturing process, but also, arguably, those involved in application areas like apparel design and manufacture can get a glimpse of what goes into fabrics before they end up on their cutting tables. They can see open-end and ring spinning of yarns, circular and flat knitting, various forms of weaving, new digital fabric printing techniques — and the list goes on.

There are many textile expositions going on around the world every year — some have argued, too many shows. But for 60 years, ITMA has maintained a unique position of leadership as the textile technology showcase. Innovation is the future of a healthy textile industry, and ITMA is where those innovations come to market.

July/August 2011