Technical textiles: Germany remains driving force for innovation

How is the sector doing? What areas of application are set to grow? Stefan Schmidt from the German Association IVGT explains what innovations he expects to see at Techtextil 2015.

What is your assessment of the current state of business and the strength of innovation amongst your members?

Stefan Schmidt, IVGT

Stefan Schmidt, IVGT

The textile industry is not immune from factors currently affecting the wider economy. Nevertheless the robustness of the sector is helped by its focus on exports including to countries outside Europe. Germany continues to grow as the driving force for innovation in technical textiles. As demands on technical textiles increase, companies with high-end products have the opportunity to further expand their product portfolio. Over the last two years in particular our members have made great efforts; they have made significant investment in new machine technology as well as in research and employee education and training. This creates a solid basis for the future.

Could you be more specific in your assessment with regard to individual segments or clusters?

The segments of Indutech and Clothtech continue to be especially important for the sector and so this coming year will again see new innovative textiles added to the existing diverse range of products. In the Mobiltech segment lightweight construction is now a must. With Germany’s technological lead in electric-powered vehicles comes a demand for lightweight, high-strength substrates. This will lead to an increasing demand for hybrid and sandwich materials, which is an interesting market for all manufacturers of such substrates (woven, layered and knitted fabrics). The increase in geotextiles and architectural textiles is driven by the growing need to repair the road network. Indeed if you take the latter two together, they already represent the second most important application area for technical textiles.

Techtextil is the leading event for the sector so what kind of innovation and development do you expect to find there next year? Please give examples if possible.

This is a sensitive topic since product launch timing is critical for ‘first mover’ advantage. In the sector we currently talk about new hybrid yarns and multi-material threads as a way of giving the final products special properties. Due to the public focus on sustainability and ecology there is a strong expectation that new filter structures and filter materials will be on show. The safety clothing market has the objective of providing a high level of protection whilst at the same time increasing wearer comfort; the task of the emergency services should not be made more difficult than it is. It is expected that the machine technology sector will again specialise increasingly in building bespoke machines and a number of companies have signalled their interest in taking part in the trade fair for the first time. All this bodes well for a trade fair that will be even bigger and extremely interesting. I greatly look forward to it.

 

Marc Chalupsky

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