Textiles: Investing In The Future
James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief
There is something to the idea that ITMA — perhaps the largest display of textile machinery and
technology in the world — sets the stage, every four years, for investment and implementation of a
new wave of textile technology. The 2011 show, recently held in Barcelona, yielded great content
regarding every facet of the textile industry for
to present to readers.
Leading off with Executive Editor Jürg Rupp's executive perspectives, TW will feature coverage from the Technical Editorial team from the North Carolina State University (NCSU) College of Textiles. TW and NCSU continue their close collaboration, and ITMA is a special opportunity to showcase NCSU professionals discussing their areas of technical expertise.
Given the current global economic uncertainty, it is not a slam-dunk that there will be a great surge of investment. However, the progress made in technology can be a game changer for some. Trends of increasing efficiency, productivity and sustainability were clear throughout the show. And there is a sense that "greener" processing is a smart, cost-effective investment in the future.
As energy, water, chemicals, and manufacturing inputs rise in cost, and productivity reduces labor demands, an interesting opportunity emerges for the future of the textile industry. This isn't new, but it is more apparent than ever and is challenging the design and specification of processing lines.
With so much of the textile technology being designed and built in Europe, one wonders what the effects will be on the supply of technology around the globe if the Eurozone continues to wobble. ITMA offered a healthy view of the possibilities for the zone's machinery manufacturers — a healthier view than expected — but whether all the interest from attendees will convert into orders remains a question.
In this issue of TW , spinning; circular and warp knitting; and dyeing, printing and finishing are highlighted. These are strong segments in U.S. textiles and present some great investment opportunities to create innovative textile products.
The challenge is in choosing to invest. In the wake of ITMA, the passage of KORUS — the Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement — continued promotion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and a hazy view of the economic future create a headwind that is challenging to overcome. But it must be overcome if the U.S. textile industry is to remain viable.
Technology that enables creative, innovative products to emerge is the core of successful investment in this competitive market. Whether they are products based on the fine-gauge knitting developments reviewed by Trevor Little, spinning advances highlighted by William Oxenham, or Peter Hauser's comprehensive review of dyeing, printing and finishing developments — in Hauser's review, dyeing using 40-percent less water — new processes can move a product from marginal to profitable.
The highly efficient, highly productive U.S. textile industry didn't get that way by sitting on the sidelines of investment in technology. It will be interesting to see in the coming months how the industry responds to ITMA's offerings and what the market chooses as the winners.