After nearly a year and a half of virtual business dealings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US textile industry gathered together in-person for this highly anticipated reunion. "Decision makers from all of the major industries that touch technical textiles and nonwovens attended the event to conduct business, reunite with industry pals, and discover the latest technological developments and trends shaping the industry as we approach a post-pandemic world," fair organiser Messe Frankfurt North America said in a press release.
This year, visitors included top industry executives, buyers, engineers, technical directors, plant managers, product development managers, and more from the world’s leading brands including Gildan, Honeywell, Lear Corporation, Patagonia, Procter and Gamble, Milliken and Company, Courtland Biomedical and Bluewater Defense Inc, among others.
Techtextil North America Symposium
Symposium ticketholders attended sessions covering hot topics on new levels of innovation, disruptions brought on by COVID-19, and how the global textile industry continues to thrive and find new solutions. Many sessions nearly sold out during the last weeks of pre-registration; sessions including “Sustainability,
Traceability and Supply-Chain Disruptions”, “Digital Transformation Strategy" and “Manufacturing, Managing and Regulating PPE- Now and into the Future” proved to be in high demand.
Student Research Poster Program
The Poster Program returned to Techtextil North America again in 2021. Participants included undergraduate research students and those pursuing their Master’s or Ph.D. from the top textile engineering programmes in the Southeast region. Participants had the opportunity to share their research findings with peers and potential employers on the show floor each day, and a handful were given the opportunity to present their research at The Academy in front of a captive audience throughout the three days.
A must-see show floor attraction area, The Academy combined the previously named Tech Talks and The Lab for three days of free show floor education. Featuring the latest scientific developments in technical textiles and nonwovens, the Academy features students from the Poster Program and speakers from companies like AATCC, American Truetzchler, The Hohenstein Institute, Manufacturing Solutions Center, and Microban. Sessions covering antiviral and antimicrobial textiles and textile treatments proved to be in high demand, and “Testing Water Resistance of PPE Fabrics” proved to be a hot topic as well.
With happy hours held on the show floor on the afternoons of both day one and two, Techtextil North America was full of networking opportunities. The opening day reception was sponsored by Techtextil North America and SPESA, who hosted their Advancements in Manufacturing Conference in parallel with the event, drawing sewn products professionals from the region to the show floor. Day two’s happy hour was hosted by the show’s official Academic Partner, North Carolina State University’s Wilson College of Textiles, along with The North Carolina Textile Foundation. The events provided free drinks, light hors d'oeuvres, and an opportunity to network with other show-goers outside of the booth setting, and proved to be a great way for attendees to catch up with old industry peers prior to dispersing for evening plans.
The show’s return since the COVID-19 pandemic proved to have met or exceeded expectations for visitors and exhibitors alike, and many were more than happy to share their thoughts on the value of in-person events after such a long hiatus:
"It's been great to be out and about again" stated Ernest Sumner of A.B. Carter. "We've been able to see and meet a lot of people that we hadn't been able to catch up with or wouldn't have known about had we not been here in Raleigh. We didn't know who we needed to see until we saw them!"
“Shows are a pain in the neck, but so worth it," said Steve Aranof of exhibitor Zund America Inc. "As someone who has participated on both sides as an exhibitor and an attendee, it's hard to say which option is best. But we are such social characters. If I didn't wander the show floor, I wouldn't have met certain people to have conversations with and wouldn't have learned what they know without engaging in that conversation."
"It's been a surprisingly good show and turnout," said Lou Ott, Gentex. "It was good to be face-to-face with people for a change without having a Zoom screen between us. And also having the time to catch up with friends and acquaintances – where they are, how they're doing and all those personal things that you don't have the opportunity to do on a zoom call – was great."
“It was great to be back in a live setting, talking face to face, seeing new developments as well as older, tested solutions,” said Keith Hoover, President of Black Swan Textiles and featured speaker in the Techtextil North America Symposium. “I saw firsthand several instances of unintended connections and serendipitous introductions between people - all of which led to unforeseen opportunities. There is no substitute for being there. Video conferences have their place, but, if that's all we have, then there will be a downturn in innovation and ultimately, prosperity. Thanks to Techtextil North America for leading the way back to personal interaction and real networking. It's time to get back to work.”
The Atlanta edition of Techtextil North America will take place May 17-19, 2022, once again co-located with Texprocess Americas, the leading sourcing event for sewn products manufacturing. "You can count on another stellar event bringing together the best in technical textiles, nonwovens, and sewn products equipment and technology," the organisers said.
Fibre2Fashion News Desk (RKS)