air-jet weaving machine - source: Dornier

TechTex Equipment for the USA

According to the Textile Machinery Division of the VDMA (Association of German Machine and Plant Manufacturers), German textile machine manufacturers exported € 233 millions’ worth of textile machinery and plant to the USA in 2017. They are benefiting from the growing demand for technical textiles worldwide, which are increasingly being manufactured by machines ‘made in Germany’, even in the USA.

“North America is one of our most important markets,” says Jürgen Hanel, Head of Technical Textiles at A. Monforts Textilmaschinen from Mönchengladbach. This medium-sized company is one of the numerous German textile machinery manufacturers, who will be showcasing their latest developments at the end of May in the sector’s ‘High-Tex from Germany’ display at Techtextil North America. Monforts ship mainly machinery for applying coatings used in textile finishing processes across the Atlantic. For example, with their machines, active pharmaceuticals are transferred onto insulin patches, textiles are prepared for use in solar cells and airbags are coated with silicon to make them more resistant to tearing.

Coating (Source: Monforts)

Multifunctional plant for applying coatings: machines like this are used for coating digitally printed advertising banners and mattresses, amongst other things / source: Monforts

Are there any special aspects, typical for USA requirements, that need to be taken into account when exporting overseas? “The USA are still not really a ‘metric’ country; there aren’t really any unified standards for control mechanisms, electronics and safety features,” says Hanel. This leads to deviations both from European norms and amongst the various standards within the USA themselves. It is, therefore, all the more difficult for Europeans to offer competitive machines. “Almost every one of our installations is a one-off,” observes Hanel.

Individually made rather than off-the-shelf
However, individually tailored machinery is traditionally one of the specialities of German plant manufacturers. And this is equally true of Lindauer DORNIER GmbH. This family firm from near Lake Constance supplies machines for producing foil as well as, first and foremost, both air-jet and rapier weaving machines, on the other side of the pond. These machines can be used to create woven fabrics for bullet-proof vests as well as for airbags and tyre cord. “Our machines offer our customers the highest possible levels of security in the manufacture of technical wovens,” says Peter Brust, Executive Vice President of the American DORNIER Machinery Corporation, the company’s American subsidiary, which, this year, celebrates its 40th birthday. Brust appears to be very satisfied with the business climate in the US: although the weaving companies are still reluctant to spend money – apart from the lively demand for spare parts – the general mood is good.

Excellent export figures
The Textile Machinery Division of the VDMA sees it the same way: although German machinery manufacturers recorded a drop, in 2017, of 1.3 per cent in US exports, as against the previous year, according to the sector’s professional association, this year’s exports, up to and including February, rose by another 26.4 per cent to € 41 million. But what about the punitive tolls on steel and aluminium that Trump has announced? “They are the wrong way to go and would severely damage transatlantic trade. We don’t need any more walls, we need free trade between the USA and the EU,” comments Nicolai Strauch, Press Spokesperson for the Textile Machinery Division of the VDMA.

At the same time, the enthusiastic demand for German textile machinery appears unbroken. “Our US sales have been growing continuously for the past five years,” says René Gotolle, Deputy Head of Technical Embroidery at ZSK Stickmaschinen GmbH in Krefeld, machinery manufacturers who supply machines for embroidering hoodies, T-shirts and basketball caps to America. In Atlanta, the Krefeld company are keen to show their US colleagues their machines for use with carbon fibres and conductive yarn.


Title image – source: DORNIER

Ronny Eckert

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