Technical Textiles 2/2021: Post-crisis hope f...
Technical Textiles 2/2021

Post-crisis hope for technical textiles

Michael Jänecke
Michael Jänecke

Few sectors have been hit harder by the effects of the Covid-19 crisis than the textile and fashion industries. Thanks to their inventiveness, however, the prospects for a rapid recovery are good. Not least because of the contribution made by technical textiles.

These days, the next piece of bad news continues to come hot on the heels of the last. And this is equally true in the textile industry. According to the latest figures from the Confederation of the German Textile and Fashion Industry, turnover in the textile and fashion industries in 2020 plummeted by 11.4 %. The recession in the textile trade has been caused by, for example, the fact that suppliers to the automotive industry have had to absorb major losses. In contrast, manufacturers of nonwovens and home textiles have seen increases in business. Exports, too, declined – except for exports to China. The unfolding economic situation took its toll on employment in the sector, too: the German textile sector lost, on average, 4.4 % of its workforce; for the apparel industry, the figure was 8.7 %. Further job losses are expected in 2021 [1].

With the spread of the corona virus, domestic demand for cars, clothes and shoes declined – all products whose sales have a knock-on effect on the order books in the German engineering sector producing the machines and technology for the sewing and clothing sectors [2].

Technical textiles drive sales – Nevertheless, there is every reason to be positive as we look to the future. Despite a general decline in sales, manufacturers of nonwovens and home textiles increased their overall turnover in 2020. Technical textiles are also on the road to recovery, and spinning and weaving factories, too, have finally been increasing their turnover once more. Technical textiles, in particular, are contributing to the textile sector’s ability to look forward once again.

When it comes to technical textiles, Germany is in a strong position. This is borne out by news from Bloomberg, indicating that, for 2020, Germany occupies first place on the innovation index – ahead of South Korea and Singapore [3].

Examples of Germany’s capacity for innovation in technical textiles and the inventiveness of companies in the textile processing industry include: Ibena Textilwerke GmbH in Bocholt, who manufacture protective clothing for fire services, other emergency services and the police. In collaboration with fire safety consultants, Gelkoh from Hamm, and the PPE Factory, manufacturers of specialist textiles from the Netherlands, they have developed a new kind of fire blanket for hybrid and electric vehicles. The HPS company, which specializes in industrial space travel, the Fraunhofer Application Center for Textile Fiber Ceramics and other partners are, in their turn, working on a textile antenna for use in space, based on carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) and gold-coated wolfram, to enable data to be transported more quickly and in larger quantities.

Cautious relaxation outside Germany – A look should also be taken beyond Germany’s borders, where the leading international fairs for technical textiles and nonwovens and for the processing of textile and flexible materials – Techtextil and Texprocess – have also taken root. Techtextil India will open its doors in a hybrid trade fair format from September 1-3, 2021 and will be assessing the potential areas for growth within the sector. As always, India continues to meet a major part of its requirements for technical textiles and nonwovens from imports. At the beginning of the corona virus pandemic, this led to bottlenecks in the supply of products for medical use, including textiles for hygiene and infection control. In order to limit their dependency on imports for technical textiles, the Indian government launched the National Technical Textile Mission with development funding in the region of US$ 280 million.

Additionally, in September 2020, the Cinte Techtextil China hybrid was launched – and turned out to be a complete success. The show will again be held in this format, from June 22-24, 2021, in Shanghai – in both physical and digital form. Demand is great: beginning with this year’s edition, Cinte Techtextil China will now open its doors once a year, instead of every 2 years as before. The background to this is, above all, China’s economic growth, the high level of internal demand and the increasing need worldwide for medical and hygiene products.

In Germany, we shall have to be patient a little longer, before the Techtextil and Texprocess again present their textile innovations live. The next edition of both trade fairs will take place from June 22-24, 2022, in Frankfurt. This postponement means that, in 2022, the 2 trade fairs will also change their scheduled dates and will now alternate in even years on a permanent basis. A new date has already been fixed for April 9-12, 2024.

[1]    Economic report textil+mode, based on figures published by the German Statistics Office Destatis in December 2020
[2]    Texprocess blog “And then came the coronavirus!”; figures are based on those of the VDMA Textile Care, Fabric and Leather Technologies
Michael Jänecke
Director Brand Management Technical Textiles and Textile Processing
Messe Frankfurt

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