"New Textiles. Research and innovation in the textile-clothing-technical
textile industry" was the title chosen for the Information Day hosted
yesterday by AITEX. A whole
day of conferences and scientific roundtables discussed the most promising lines
of research in the near future and how innovation can contribute to the survival
of the textile industry in Europe.
The more than 100 participants also had the opportunity to discover some of
the latest developments showcased by AITEX and exchange experiences in the fields
of nanotechnology, biomaterials, technical fibres and processes applied to textiles.
Attendees included representatives from some of the most relevant textile companies
and research centres in Europe, Member States’ governments, public institutions,
textile associations and universities.
Textile R&D synergies
Ms. Alexandra Curatolo, sales manager of European Children’s Fashion
(ECF) explained quite clearly that to be able to compete in the current global
environment, “companies have to give something more to the consumers,
innovation must be at their core”. It is therefore crucial to generate
“R&D synergies” among companies, research centres and universities.
“Only more collaboration will lead to better competitiveness” she
In that respect, the R&D manager of EURATEX, Mr. Lutz Walter, stated that
“the era of mass-production is over”. Textile and clothing companies
need to invest more in research and innovation to meet their costumers’
demands. That includes not only production management systems but also the development
of new textiles with added functionalities that can appeal to specific uses
in areas such as health, sports, leisure, or architecture.
Diversification and fragmentation are the biggest obstacles that textile research
faces today. That is why Mr. Walter highlighted the importance to bring together
industry, research centres and universities to fully understand what is being
done. “We do not need to reinvent the wheel 20 times”, he said,
and that is why collaborations and partnerships are so important in the current
scenario for the sector.
Latest R&D developments
On the occasion of the InfoDay, there was an exhibition with some of the most
innovative prototypes and technologies developed by AITEX, many of them already
commercially available. They included thermo-chromatic fabrics that change colour
with the temperature which could be used, for example, to detect fever in babies
and children. There was also underwear which incorporates the anti-bacterial
properties of silver and copper, socks that fasten the healing of wounds and
regenerate the skin, and an anti-stress fitted bed sheet able to capture and
release static energy accumulated in our bodies.
Other projects develop by AITEX and some of the invited centres were presented
during the R&D parallel sessions. They included advancements in the fields
of nanotechnology, microelectronics or biomaterials in textiles. Many of these
are based on the addition of new characteristics to fibres and fabrics that
make them suitable for innovative applications in a wide variety of fields such
as medicine and rehabilitation, construction, transportation, agriculture or
personal protection equipment.
The added value of ecological alternatives
Participants were also introduced to the “made in Green” ecological
certification which has been developed by AITEX to certify manufactured products
free from harmful substances, and with respect to the environment and the workers’
human rights. Traceability is a crucial aspect to obtain this label because
the whole supply chain must be valuated from spinning to the finished garment.
As the AITEX general manager, Mr. Vicente Blanes, explained, “made in
Green” is a “marketing tool that contributes to have a better environment
by giving visibility to certain products and companies”. The label was
originally created in 2005 as a response to “cheap imports” produced
in countries with clear absence of strict environmental and work regulation.
That is why In his opinion, ecological protection should become an advantage
for the EU textile industry to compete in global marketplace.
There are already more than 40 companies with this certification being used
in Spain and the label has recently been introduced in the UK and Belgium thanks
to licensing agreements with Shirley Technologies and Centexbel.
Posted April 1st. 2009