Technical Textiles 3/2022: Innovations and su...
Technical Textiles 3/2022

Innovations and sustainability drive the textile industry forward

Michael Jänecke
Michael Jänecke

After more than 2 years of corona and the associated social and economic restrictions, the textile and fashion industry is increasingly recovering. Innovations, especially in the field of technical textiles, and sustainable approaches are moving the industry decisively forward and allow an optimistic view of the future. However, the effects of the war in Ukraine are presenting the industry with new challenges.

A good order situation in the national and global textile industry is strengthening the economy after major corona-related restrictions in recent years. The latest figures from the German confederation of the Textile and Fashion Industry show a 5.5 % increase in sales and a 6.1 % increase in exports in 2021. While sales in the apparel sector increased only slightly by 3 %, the textiles sector recorded a 6.9 % increase. Despite the increase compared to 2020, however, the level of sales is still lower than before the outbreak of the corona pandemic [1]. However, the industry is on a good track. In the first months of 2022, the corona-related difficulties of the industry seemed to have been overcome in many sectors and people were looking positively to the future. Until the war in Ukraine presented the economy with additional new challenges. Price increases, especially in the energy sector, shortages of raw materials, supply bottlenecks, including in the area of machinery and electronic components, as well as a shortage of personnel, are keeping textile manufacturers busy worldwide and dampening the economic upswing.

With a sales increase of 17.3 % compared to 2020, the technical textiles segment shows the highest growth [1], nonwovens (excluding apparel) were up 5 % [2]. Demand continues to rise, as technical textiles are characterized by enormous potential and innovative strength. Many companies have invested in research and further development of their products during the corona pandemic. According to the IVGT's April 2022 survey, this trend continues, and 71 % of manufacturers plan to continue investing in new technologies in 2022. Of these companies, 78 % expect this to keep their exports the same or improve them compared to 2021 [2].
A current example is research into textile strain sensors for prostheses and orthoses, which, thanks to their elasticity, should provide optimum support in the fitting of carbon prostheses [3]. Many of these new and further developments will be on display at the Techtextil and the Texprocess in June 2022. Among them will be the products and technologies honored with the Techtextil or Texprocess Innovation Award.
In the apparel sector, demand for workwear is growing [1]. Furthermore, due to the pandemic, medical clothing and textile protective products such as masks were and are in high demand.

Sustainability – a topic for the future: The topic of sustainability can be identified as a major trend. More and more manufacturers are focusing on sustainable fibers, yarns, textiles and composites. Recyclability plays a major role, as do biodegradable materials, which are not a source of microplastics. Manufacturers of machines for processing textiles are also increasingly focusing on sustainability. The goals here are to reduce resources such as electricity, water or gas without sacrificing efficiency. Thus, water-saving dyeing processes, cutting technologies with minimal waste or digital solutions that avoid overproduction are promising approaches for the future. The topic of sustainability is given a stage in the conference formats, which are free-of-charge at the Techtextil and the Texprocess.

Strong demand abroad: Exports by the German textile industry rose by 6.1 % in 2021. The apparel sector in particular showed significant development, with exports rising by 7.8 %. Exports within the EU increased strongly in this segment. Internationally, the USA, China, South Korea, Japan and Canada were among the top 5 importers of textiles Made in Germany in 2021 [1]. Overall, the largest sales markets are the USA and Italy [2]. Imports decreased by 4 % compared to the previous year [1].

The textile industry, and especially the technical textile industry, is active across all sectors and is globally networked. Our events abroad are of particular importance in this respect. Many foreign Techtextil and Texprocess events are taking place as planned and bringing regional markets together. These include the Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas (May 17-19, 2022 in Atlanta, GA/USA), the Gartex Texprocess India (August 4-6, 2022 in Delhi/India), the Cinte Techtextil China (September 6-8, 2022 in Shanghai/China) and the Texprocess Addis Ababa (November 4-7, 2022 in Ethiopia).
In Germany, the leading international trade fairs Techtextil and Texprocess are waiting in the wings. From June 21-24, the international community will finally meet again at the Frankfurt fairgrounds. Over 1,300 exhibitors from 47 countries and 12 international country pavilions promise a diverse range of products. For the first time, there will be a Digital Extension to these leading trade fairs. The Digital Extension extends the trade fairs to a total of 4 weeks. Exhibitors will additionally present themselves online and thus increase their contact opportunities.
The Heimtextil Summer Special will also be held at the same time. Trade visitors will benefit from the presentation of textile value chains at the fair and can take advantage of unique synergies.

[1] Economic report textil+mode, based on figures published by the German Statistics Office Destatis in December 2021
[2] IVGT – Industrieverband Veredelung – Garne – Gewebe – Technische Textilien e.V., Frankfurt/Germany
[3] Techtextil blog “Textile Prostheses in the Medal Race at the Paralympics”

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