Connecting With The Advanced Textiles Community

Tobias Cochran, softgoods lab engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center

The collocated Advanced Textiles Expo and Sun Shading Expo recently gathered in Orlando, Fla., to showcase industrial, technical and sun shading textiles.

By Jim Kaufmann, Contributing Editor

This year’s Advanced Textiles Expo — organized by the Roseville, Minn.-based Advanced Textiles Association and held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. — focused on the industrial, technical and performance sectors of the textile industry. It was once again collocated with the Sun Shading Expo, which caters to and addresses the interior and exterior sun shading industry. Unfortunately, both shows may have been the victims of either unlucky scheduling or trade show fatigue as the collocated expos were held the same week as two other functional textile and composites trade shows, both of which undoubtedly siphoned off some of the usual attendees.

That said, though the number of attendees may have been smaller than usual — actual numbers for exhibitors and attendees were not available as of TW’s press time —several exhibitors shared that they had a good show experience. Scott Hilleary, president of SSM Industries, Spring City, Tenn., expressed: “We’ve had a really good show here in Orlando. We’ve participated in a number of good meetings and made some interesting introductions to potential customers that we hope will develop into opportunities.”

“This is our primary event, and we always seem to have good traffic and meaningful conversations in our booth, so yes it’s been a good show for us,” said Dan Weisenberger, Southern Regional sales manager for Seaman Corp., Wooster, Ohio.

Exhibitors included a variety of narrow- and full-width fabric suppliers, coaters and laminators, machine vendors, auxiliary components, and accessories suppliers. Each catered to the wide breadth of markets that typically fall under the advanced textiles umbrella.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) again exhibited at the expo and brought what was probably the most visually interesting inflatable booth to grace the show floor. The booth showcased several examples of softgoods products and prototypes intended for use on future space missions to the moon and Mars, and maybe beyond, giving visitors a small glimpse into some of the challenges today’s space travelers face.

Tobias Cochran, an engineer in the softgoods lab at NASA’s Johnson Space Center appreciated the variety of exhibitors presented and the conversations that occurred. “We work on a lot of different prototypes, typically with rather unique requirements,” Cochran said. “So, coming to this show is great for us. It gives us the opportunity to not only show off the products we produce, but also provides us the opportunity to talk with the advanced textiles community and discuss problems we’re hoping to solve, learn about new and existing technologies, and look for possible new solutions that may help us at some point in the future.”

Events like the Advanced Textiles and Sun Shading Expos continue to provide a focused meeting space for industry newbies and veterans alike to meet and make new connections, get caught up with old friends, and maybe solve a problem or two. Ironically, regardless of how many attend a trade show, it really only takes one or two of those connections or conversations to make the trip worth the effort. As an old friend always used to say, if you’re fortunate to partake more than one or two good conversations, “…well, that’s just gravy! And man, do I like the gravy.”

The 2024 Advanced Textiles Expo will be held September 24-26, 2024, in Anaheim, Calif. Let’s hope there’s lots of gravy to be spread around again.

November/December 2023