he chemical industry has been an integral part of ITMA exhibitions since the 2003 show in
Birmingham, England. This branch of the textile industry is a primary factor in finishing, if not
the decisive factor. Many textile products become the requested high-tech product after the right
finishes are applied according to specifications.
The environment was a hot topic at ITMA 2007 in Munich, Germany. Never before was a
trend toward greater ecology and energy savings more obvious. For example, machines feature reduced
water and dyestuff consumption, and environmentally friendly processes. These features go
hand-in-hand with increased and reproducible quality.
Machinery suppliers know today’s customers want more than just machines — they want
methods and solutions. Therefore, suppliers cooperate very closely with the chemical industry. The
future lies in developments that are a cooperation between the machinery producer and the chemical
manufacturer. Many suppliers showed such partnerships at ITMA 2007.
Dow Corning Corp. has introduced a new silicone softener for denim that can be combined
with previously incompatible processing steps, thus reducing the amount of water used during
The trend toward increased environmental consciousness is favorable for European
producers, which are constantly developing environmentally friendly processes and chemicals. Today,
the big manufacturers of finishing machinery and chemicals are not only suppliers of machines and
dyestuffs, but more often providers of total solutions.
This is today especially the case in all countries with a high level of
environmental consciousness. However — and this is the overall opinion of the industry — in a short
amount of time, all markets are being required to move in the same direction for ecological and
economic reasons. The increasing price of oil is accelerating the problem even more.
The strengths of the European chemical industry are its proximity to and presence in
all important textile regions, and its global network based on local expertise. All products
fulfill international standards regarding quality and ecology, regardless of origin, and are
tailor-made to meet specific regional customer requirements.
Chemical companies are present in all major global textile markets. Production sites
and technical service centers are located in the most important textile markets, including growing
markets such as China, India and other Asian countries. This ensures efficient delivery of service
and high-quality products. BASF AG, Germany, has moved the global headquarters of its textile
chemicals business to Singapore to strengthen its focus on the aforementioned growth markets in
To produce a higher-quality end product, high-quality dyestuffs are required, for
the continuous dyeing process in particular. Reactive dyes — less delicate than other
dyestuffs — are commonly used.
According to Switzerland-based Huntsman Textile Effects, chromium-free dyestuffs
were of interest at ITMA. Huntsman’s latest development is a chromium-free black dye called Lanasol
Deep Black CE-R.
BASF has developed a new crosslinker, Helizarin Fixing Agent TX 4737, with reactive
centers that are free of formaldehyde. In addition, a formaldehyde-free binder, Helizarin Binder TX
4738, has been developed that is ideally suited to the new crosslinker. Together with BASF’s
existing formaldehyde-free thickeners, the new products form the formaldehyde-free Helizarin
(See “BASF Develops Formaldehyde-Free Pigment-Printing System,” www.
TextileWorld.com, Sept. 11, 2007). According to BASF, the advantages of the
new products are considerable:
• All the components of the printing system
(binder, crosslinker, thickeners and other auxiliaries) are formaldehyde-free.
• Formaldehyde levels on the textile
before and after the printing process remain unchanged.
• High-quality printing is guaranteed, meeting
the requirements of the industry with regard to processing properties on the printing machine and
• Textile producers can now meet all regulatory
standards as well as the leading retailers’ and brands’ requirements related to formaldehyde
without any additional measures, even in dark shades.
Another important topic at ITMA was raw material savings — with lighter weights at
the same quality level as heavier weights. If the raw material costs make up 60 percent of the
finished product cost, this issue will become more prominent in the future. Flexibility and quality
monitoring for even better products were mentioned, as well as an increasing regularity and
reproducibility of the products.
There is a trend in the finishing industry — until now, only countries that were
forced by law were interested in heat recovery. However, with increasing energy costs, Asian
countries also are now interested in this technology.
Effects and functions are still a hot topic. Today, most consumers expect a garment
to offer some functional features. As a result, the demand for functional textiles, especially, as
BASF mentioned, for wrinkle-free, antimicrobial, and anti-stain and -soil finishes, is increasing.
There is great interest in and a demand for sustainable textile solutions. At the moment, BASF sees
this especially in the following areas:
• safer production at textile mills, as well as
consumer safety — for example, the new formaldehyde-free Helizarin pigment printing system;
• resource-saving solutions and technologies —
for example, the Cyclanon XC-W after-soaping agent for reactive-dyed cellulosic fibers, which has
both economical and ecological advantages in time, energy and water savings, according to
In the marketplace, there is a constant shift of textile production towards Asia
from North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) countries and Europe. Therefore, there has been a
lot of consolidation in the textile chemicals business in the last few years. BASF has followed
this shift of textile production in the past, and has improved its competitiveness significantly in
the global market.
NAFTA countries and Europe continue their trendsetting roles with regard to
technical and fashion-driven innovations in textiles. In Europe, there is a still-growing interest
for technical textiles.
There is an increasing demand for sustainable textile solutions. Regulatory
standards as well as requirements by retailers and brands are becoming increasingly strict. Also,
public awareness is increasing, and consumers are becoming more ecologically conscious.
Manufacturers hold certain obligations to protect consumers, and the industry expects the
significance of this responsibility will become more evident in the future.
Leveraging the global network and proximity to customers, chemical companies can
provide tailor-made solutions for their customers. In addition, customers can rely on extensive
know-how and expertise based on the global network of most of the suppliers from Europe, especially
when it comes to fulfilling international standards in terms of quality and ecological
Dow Corning Launches Silicone Softener For Denim
With the introduction of a new silicone softener, Midland, Mich.-based Dow Corning
Corp. hopes to reduce the amount of water it takes to process denim fabrics. Dow Corning®
GP 8000 Eco Softener is a water-dilutable, nonionic treatment that is stable over a
range of pHs and temperatures, and is compatible with other enzymes and washing stones typically
used to process denim, allowing the softener to be applied in previously incompatible processing
steps. The softener produces a rugged, natural hand on processed fabrics.
GP 8000 Eco Softener can be applied in a wide variety of denim processing baths
including enzyme baths for fading, desizing baths, post-bleach neutralizing baths, stone-washing
baths and rinsing baths; or in an enzyme wash bath for biopolishing twill garments.
According to Dow, the ability to combine the softener with other denim-processing
steps could potentially reduce the water-processing requirement by 30 to 50 percent — equivalent to
as much as 15 liters per pair of jeans.
“With GP 8000 Eco Softener, processors can reduce their utility bills and improve
productivity,” said Anthony Feng, global industry director for Dow Corning’s textile business. “And
brand owners can improve their image by offering the market more sustainably produced garments.”&
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The product was developed
for use in denim fabric and garment wet processing, but Dow states it also can be
used in exhaust or padding applications and may have potential in other garment, fabric and knits
Textile World Special Report