International Fiber Journal / Vol. 1

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SHOW PREVIEWS: Cellulose Fibres Conference Istanbul Yarn Fair INDEX 23 FIBERS, FILAMENTS & PROCESSING SOLUTIONS Issue 1 2023 NANOCOMPOSITES: Self-disinfecting fabrics that protect public health & the earth Sustainable High Fashion Makes a Splash at the Premiere of Avatar: The Way of Water. ECO-COUTURE & THE RED CARPET NATURAL FIBERS: New opportunities for natural fiber in auto composites May 10 - 12, 2023 Atlanta, Georgia Scan to Register Co-located with Incorporated with Don‘t miss the biggest Technical Textile and Nonwovens industry event in the Americas. REGISTRATION IS LIVE!







new horizons with nonwovens plore



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SHOW PREVIEWS: Cellulose Fibres Conference

19th International Istanbul Yarn Fair INDEX™ 23

Eco-Couture Inspires in the Spotlight

By Caryn Smith, Chief Content Officer & Publisher, IFJ

Nanocomposites: Self-disinfecting Fabrics

By John Brockgreitens

Challenges in Making Smart Clothing Accessible for Healthcare

By Geoff Fisher, European Editor, IFJ

Natural Fibers: The New Fashion in Automotive Composites



Viewpoint Cleaning Out My Closet

By Caryn Smith, Chief Content Officer & Publisher

Tech Spotlight

Technical Packaging Textiles with 35% Less CO2 Emissions

Tech Notes New Technology Briefs

Tech Talk

Prognostication on Nonwovens in the Coming Year

By Matt O’Sickey, Director of Education & Technical Affairs, INDA

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The Fiber Year

Historic Decline in World Staple Fibers

By Andreas Engelhardt, President, The Fiber Year, GmbH

M&A Insights

Has Diligence for M&A Deals Gone Too Far?

By Len LaPorta, Managing Director, Wiley Bros.-Aintree Capital, LLC

Movers & Shakers

Industry News and Notes

2 IFJ ISSUE 1 2023
By Geoff Fisher, European Editor, IFJ 2023 | VOL 37 | ISSUE 01
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42 12 28 13 36
On the Cover: Gown sketch by designer Vivienne Westwood for Suzy Amis Cameron, inset. Getty Images/RCGD Global
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Visitor registration is now open! Scan the QR code to find out why you should visit. from some 1,570 leading manufacturers and see live machinery demonstrations Source and grow your business through digitalisation and sustainability Collaborate solutions that put you ahead of the competition Future-proof the new year-round sourcing and knowledge hub for the global textile community Access ITMAconnect Source, collaborate and future-proof your business at the world’s largest international textile and garment technology exhibition CEMATEX Associations Scan for More Info ACIMIT (Italy) AMEC AMTEX (Spain) BTMA (United Kingdom) GTM (Netherlands) SWISSMEM (Switzerland) SYMATEX (Belgium) TMAS (Sweden) UCMTF (France) VDMA (Germany) Show Owner Show Organiser T: + 6 5 6 8 4 9 9 3 6 8 E: i n fo@it m a co m Connect With Us @ ITMA2023


If you have an interest to be more involved in International Fiber Journal as an IFJ Editorial Advisory Board Member, we are accepting applications for the opportunity to work with subject matter experts and industry professionals in an enhanced capacity. Please contact Caryn Smith at to receive Guidelines and Expectations of service. This is a unique opportunity to help inform, educate and inspire the global textile fiber industry.

The Fiber Year 2023

Annual textile yearbook covering natural and manmade fibers, feedstocks, nonwovens, trade data, 20 country profiles and a wealth of further information helping to conduct business.

In addition, major associations and industry experts provide their views on the markets.

Publication: May 2023

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Len LaPorta Managing Director of Investment Banking Wiley Bros.-Aintree Capital, LLC (615) 782-4107
Caryn Smith Chief Content Officer & Publisher, INDA Media +1 239.225.6137 John Brockgreitens Director of Research and Development, Claros Technologies Matt O’Sickey Director of Education & Technical Affairs, INDA 1+ 919.459.3748 Andreas Engelhardt President The Fiber Year GmbH +41 7145.00682 Geoff Fisher European Editor, IFJ +44 1603.308158

Cleaning Out My Closet ...

ing was doing a good thing, but in donating things I don’t like, there is no guarantee others will either. If it doesn’t sell, then it goes to the trash pile.

When I took on this role as Chief Content Officer and Publisher of the magazine you are reading, I was already in a full-on effort to declutter and reduce. I was also very ingrained in the “sustainability” sector in different industries and considered myself “green” and a somewhat ethically responsible consumer. In fact, Joshua Becker, whom I quoted above, is a declutter guru I found online, and I have been following his system – slowly but surely. It is really hard to de-stuff after so many years of stuffing! One of his main points is to enjoy life and experiences with your favorite people, not by maintaining things. Clutter can detract from your quality of life in time and money. ... But I digress.

My point is, one of the most difficult “exercises” he walks you through in his program, in my opinion, is to take a hard look at your closet. “Americans throw away 13 million tons of textiles a year, that’s 9% of nonrecycled waste,” he says. “Instead, choose quality over quantity.” He also suggests you only keep your favorites – of everything.

During this exercise, he asks that you take all of your clothes and put them away, and leave yourself enough for a week, like seven items of clothing, and see how it feels. Then, thoughtfully consider what you are putting back in. You will soon realize you don’t need nearly as much clothing as you think.

What I learned about myself is I have a lot of clothing that didn’t fit right, and I never wore, but I liked the idea of them. Once I got rid of those “fantasy self” clothes, it was amazing how much better I felt about the clothes I had left. And it is easier to make decisions on what to wear.

I learned I was a contributor to fashion waste. I always felt that donating the cloth-

I am not in any way abdicating for us all to own only seven pieces of clothing. But what I am asking is that we begin to make more sustainable choices. As a consumer, if I am buying quality over quantity now, and I know my purchase is biodegradeable, I would definitely buy it even if it was more expensive. Well, of course it also has to be fashionable, right? But, you get what I mean.

I am not the only consumer who feels this way. If you read the article in Issue 6, 2022, on page 38, Matt Schiering reported in his study on sustainability that fifty-four percent of Generation Z and 52% of Millennials relate to the term “recyclable” in their purchases. And, they are the target market for fashion. 58% of Generation X like the term “biodegradeable,” and even 44% of Baby Boomers and 35% of Silents look for “sustainable” purchases.

In this issue on page 16 we interviewed Samata Pattinson, CEO of RCGD Global, and Harold Weghorst, Global Vice President of Marketing and Branding at Lenzing AG, who have teamed up to bring awareness to sustainable high fashion through the Red Carpet Green Dress™campaign. Samata says, “Collective responsibility means we can’t rely on one end of the industry to save us. We must all do our part.”

It is time for textiles to solve their problems by collaborating across industry lines, and with each other. We all want a great looking suits and ties, dresses and jeans. We all want a good set of sheets at night and to put our head on a comfy sofa pillow. None of that is going away, we just need sustainable choices.

If you have thoughts, I would love to hear them. Email me at

& INDIA Sabine Dussey

ITALY Ferruccio & Filippo Silvera

UNITED STATES Frank Strazzulla


+1 919 459 3700 x 3720



+1 800.553.8878


DAVID ALLEN Fiber Processing Development Engineer, Cotton, Inc.

MICHAEL GOLDMAN President, TSG Finishing LLC

International Fiber Journal is published by INDA Media, the b2b publishing arm of INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. +1.919.459.3700 |

INTERNATIONAL FIBER JOURNAL (ISSN: 1049801x) is published bi-monthly by INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. Subscription price is $125 per year for non-U.S. subscribers. Periodicals postage paid at Charlotte, NC, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to International Fiber Journal PO Box 158 Cedar Rapids IA 52406-0158 USA.


International Fiber Journal covers fiber-related trends and material science developments and how they impact the supply chain from raw material to end use. IFJ provides thoughtful insights and perspectives to global producers, users and business leaders who need to know about what’s next in fibers, filaments and processing solutions.

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“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
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Making Industry Connections Around the Globe

You’re Already a Contributor!

As I say quite often, I am new around here, just taking the helm of INDA Media in May. But it doesn’t take a genius to see that industry contributors are everywhere. In fact, you are one! You make meaningful contributions every day in your work life to advance your company mission and vision. No matter where you are in your fiber journey, what you do matters.

You are researchers, scientists, developers, manufacturers, process & product specialists, inventors, engineers, administrators, sales personnel, site managers, and more. Maybe you presented a research paper or a keynote address at an industry event. Possibly you applied new technology or processes to your fiber endeavors. Or you installed a new line of machinery to increase productivity. You may even have documented new or improved scientific data.

Where do you fit in?

An Invitation to Join Us!

Our mission in 2023 is facilitate industry connections around the globe – through education, inspiration and information. By sharing interesting stories, valuable trends, worthy advancements – and even notable advertising – I hope that we inspire you to think differently about solutions to problems and to connect industry colleagues to collaborate. But I need your help to accomplish this!

Consider this your invitation to contribute to IFJ. I welcome participation through new story ideas and thought leadership. Review the Editorial Calendar below for issue themes. Then, send an email to to receive the IFJ Editorial Submission Guidelines. While I can’t promise all ideas presented will be accepted, I welcome the opportunity to explore them with you.

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Technical Packaging Textiles with 35% Less CO 2 Emissions

By using a high share of recycled content in its Evolon ® materials, Freudenberg Performance Materials now offers technical packaging textiles with a carbon footprint decreased by 35%. An independent LCA study showed additional benefits such as energy resource savings and lower water use. Furthermore, Evolon® fabrics provide sustainability benefits over the packaging entire life cycle thanks to high end performance and durability.

By replacing virgin PET with recycled PET, the cradle-to-gate carbon footprint of Evolon® packaging textile materials decreased by 35%. This is the result of a study by an independent

LCA and eco-design consultancy firm, which made a Cradle-to-Gate assessment of several Evolon® products using virgin PET or recycled PET. The study was finalized in 2022 and conducted according to the principles of ISO 14040/ ISO 14044 standards, following the recommendations of the Product Environmental Footprint and the Circular Footprint Formula.

The study highlighted additional significant benefits on other criteria such as lower water use, reduced emissions into water, lower ozone formation, as well as important savings of minerals, metals and energy carrier

resources. Last but not least, Freudenberg has identified the highest priority areas of work to decrease the material’s CO2 emissions further on.

Sustainability Over the Entire Packaging Life Cycle

Evolon® microfilament textiles have a small carbon footprint because their manufacturing process uses low CO 2 energy sources. The fabrics are lightweight and can be reused throughout entire production programs, e.g. of a car model when it is about the automotive industry. Furthermore, the new Evolon® RE fabrics contain up to 85% of recycled PET which is produced in-house out of post-consumer PET bottles.

Evolon® textiles are suitable for reusable technical packaging, which eliminate the use of thousands of disposable packaging materials. Evolon® fabrics offer scratch-free, lintfree, high-end surface protection for molded plastic parts, painted parts and other sensitive industrial and automotive parts during transport. This contributes to lowering the scrap rate of parts and provide both financial and ecological benefits. By using Evolon ® reusable packaging to transport highly sensitive parts, customers can increase their efficiency and save resources.

For details on how to submit your company’s technology for consideration as a “Technology Spotlight” in IFJ, contact Ken Norberg at or +1 202.682.2022.

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Evolon® is produced using a unique textile manufacturing process invented by Freudenberg, and has outstanding properties and endless possibilities. Environmental impacts of Evolon® with recycled versus virgin PET.


New Study to Explore Upcycling Microfibers Released from Laundering Clothes

Xeros Technology has partnered with the University of Surrey (UK) to jointly fund pioneering research to upcycle microfibers captured from laundering clothes into a useful, and valuable carbon material.

Microfibers are defined as tiny “threads,” defined as smaller than 5mm, that break off from garments through the everyday acts of cleaning and wearing our clothes. Every year more than half a million tons of microfibers are released into the world’s oceans simply from washing our clothes. Research shows that microfibers from synthetic textiles (known as microplastics) are the biggest source of microplastic pollution in our oceans.

In order to address this significant environmental problem, Xeros Technology developed a washing machine filtration device, XFilter, which captures the microfibers and prevents them from being released into our oceans.

XFilter lasts the lifetime of a washing machine and allows users to place the captured microfibers directly into their bin to be disposed of with other household waste. Microfiber waste from filtration is a complex material to recycle within existing recycling infrastructure: not only are the microfibers often mixed materials, but they also

ANDRITZ to Supply SulfoLoop Plant to New Suzano Mill in Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil

ANDRITZ has received an order from Brazilian pulp producer Suzano to deliver a SulfoLoop concentrated sulfuric acid plant for its new pulp mill that Suzano is building in the municipality of Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil. The pulp mill, delivered by ANDRITZ, is in the construction phase with start-up scheduled for the second half of 2024.

The sulfuric acid plant will have the capacity to produce 153 tons of commercial grade (>97%) sulfuric acid per day from the pulp mill’s concentrated odorous gases and elemental sulfur – thus making the mill completely self-sufficient in sulfuric acid and recycling sulfur from the waste streams. The ANDRITZ SulfoLoop solution is based on the Wetgas Sulfuric Acid (WSA) technology for converting wet, sulfur-rich gases and elemental sulfur into sulfuric acid.

The sulfuric acid mill will help the new Suzano mill in Ribas do Rio Pardo to control the sodium and sulfur (Na/S) balance and the sulfidity of the pulp mill. Also, the resource-efficiency of the mill will be improved because less sulfate needs to be discharged due to the optimized Na/S balance. An added advantage is that there is no need for hazardous

contain captured dirt and soil. This is why Xeros have teamed up the University of Surrey – to accelerative research into improved methods to permanently reduce this continued pollution build-up in the future.

Led by Dr. Duyar, the team from the University of Surrey and North Carolina State University have developed a new method specifically designed to upcycle textile micro/nano fibers shed during the washing and drying of clothes. The method produces clean hydrogen and solid carbon nanomaterials as a by-product.

sulfuric acid transport to the mill, which results in a major reduction in the truck transportation volume. The sulfuric acid plant also meets very strict air emission limits and therefore brings a significant improvement to the overall footprint of the new Suzano plant in Ribas do Rio Pardo.

ISSUE 1 2023 13
XEROS Technology


Researchers Develop Virus-Killing Clothing for Production Line

Clothing that can kill viruses and bacteria on contact helps protect the people who protect us but getting that type of protective finish onto the uniforms first responders wear is a big challenge.

University of Alberta, Canada, researchers are now working to make the science behind self-decontaminating fabrics a good fit for the production line.

Textiles scientist

Patricia Dolez is leading research to perfect a “rechargeable” fabric finish that kills viruses.

“We want to take the technology from the lab and scale it up so that it is efficient and compatible for industry-level manufacturing processes, which is a very big step,” said lead researcher Patricia Dolez, a textiles scientist in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences.

To make wide-scale industrial production economically feasible, the one-year project focuses on improving the short- and long-term performance of a fabric finish Dolez and fellow researchers James Harynuk and Jane Batcheller are exploring. The work is supported by almost $1 million in funding from the Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program.

The finish uses N-halamines, compounds that can kill bacteria and viruses quickly and efficiently and can be easily grafted onto textiles.

Once scaled up, it could be applied to protective uniforms for everyone from soldiers and hospital workers to firefighters and paramedics.

Fibre52™ Technology Creates Better Cotton

Fibre52 ™ Cotton has unveiled a patent-pending technology to revolutionize the way cotton is prepared and dyed, substantially minimizing the use of water and energy and eliminating harsh chemicals while also offering a more durable and vastly improved naturalperformance cotton fiber to rival synthetics.

Traditional cotton treatment method, used for generations, involved hazardous chemicals and high heat that weaken the cotton fibers. Fibre52™ cotton’s licensed process replaces harmful chemicals with bio-active products and uses lower levels of heat in the pretreatment process, saving up to 50% in water, energy use and process cycle time.

By including the Fibre52™ dye technology, the cotton retains its natural properties and allows moisture to be transferred away from the skin, as opposed to the normal clingy feel of cotton. Fibre52™ cotton serves as a smart moisture and thermal regulator, forming a layer of dry air next to the skin and ranking it high on the comfort scale.

Fibre52 ™ underwent a rigorous series of tests, overseen by North Carolina State University and SGS to prove performance functionality. The results rank Fibre52™ high on dynamic cooling and drying rate tests as well as high marks for low pilling and improved tear strength. The tests revealed Fibre52™ cotton provides a steady heat flux and a short drying time, proving the wearer would feel more comfortable in hot and cold temperatures due to the slow change of the micro-climate.

MMI Textiles, Milliken & Company Partner on Tegris® Thermoplastic Composites

MMI Textiles and Milliken & Company announced a commercial partnership that allows MMI to supply Milliken Tegris® Thermoplastic Composite fabric. MMI will be able to offer Tegris® at less than case quantities, effective immediately.

Milliken Tegris® Thermoplastic Composite fabric is designed for heavy-duty, often dangerous work. A breakthrough material that provides excellent protection against fragment, projectile or blast threats, it is engineered specifically for applications that need high stiffness, like plate carriers and belts. The fabric features a lighter total weight than traditional thermoplastics and composites without sacrificing protection.

Milliken worked closely with MMI to provide a comprehensive education on the product that positions the distributor as an expert on Tegris®. The partnership is uniquely designed to improve customer experience and provide an opportunity for partners to access Tegris® at quantities that were not previously offered.

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Sustainability Is Focus at Circularity Cellulose Fibres Conference 2023

The Unique Conference Focused on Cellulose Fibers – In Textiles, Hygiene Products and Packaging

he success story of cellulose fibers continues and will be on full display at Nova Institute’s Cellulose Fibres Conference in Cologne, Germany, March 8-9, 2023. A slew of presentations focusing on the latest developments in the sustainable circular industry will be presented by seasoned industry experts and analysts.

The commercial production of man-made cellulose fibers currently relies on the use of dissolving-grade pulp from wood. Alternative feedstocks such as non-wood fibers, textile waste or even paper grade pulp provide new and alternative raw materials for related industries. A wider raw material base also holds great potential for further optimizing the environmental compatibility of man-made cellulosic fibers.

The presentations at the Cellulose Fibres Conference will provide valuable information on the wide range of applications for cellulosic fibers with alternative or improved feedstocks and

technologies, closed loop and circular systems and their environmental impacts.

The conference will have five main topics: Traditional and New Markets for Cellulose Fibers; Circular Economy and Recyclability of Fibers; Sustainability and Environmental Impacts; Alternative Feedstocks; and, Ionic Liquids and New Technologies for Pulps, Fibers and Yarns.

For more information visit:

Yarn Fair Brings Together the Rising Turkish Textile Industry

he 19th International Istanbul Yarn Fair, February 1618, 2023, will bring together the leading yarn producers in the textile sector. The fair, organized by Tüyap, will showcase all innovations in the yarn industry, at the Tüyap Fair and Congress Center.

The production and export capacity of Türkiye in the yarn industry, especially in cotton yarn, is increasing every year. Istanbul Yarn Fair, one of the most important exhibitions in its scope, will bring together the growing Turkish textile industry and the biggest producers in the world.

The 2022 Istanbul Yarn Fair hosted hundreds of companies and thousands of products, with more than 10,000 visitors from 86 countries. This year the fair will feature thousands of yarn types from cotton to wool, from elastane to acrylic, from silk to viscose and bobbins, and spools and reels will be presented as well.

Catering to a wide range of visitor profiles including cloth manufacturers, yarn manufacturers,

home-textile product makers, medical textile producers, and non-governmental organizations, the Yarn Fair is expected to grow even bigger in 2023.

“Pantone Color Institute,” recognized globally as a leading source of color expertise, announced its 2023 Color of the Year: “Viva Magenta.” The Pantone Color Institute described the shade as a “crimson red tone that presents a balance between warm and cool.”

The Yarn Fair will allow visitors to discover this season’s color in various venues.

The Yarn Fair exhibitors continue to receive support from both the Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Türkiye, and the Small and Medium Industry Development Organization (KOSGEB). Follow us on social media to receive further information and instant news about the fair.

Visitors from 79 countries have already registered online with just a few days till the fair. There was a 42 percent rise in online registrations on year-on-year basis.

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Nonwovens World Gearing Up for INDEX™ 23, Post COVID

INDEX™ 23, the world’s leading nonwoven exhibition kicks off April 18-21, 2023, in Geneva, Switzerland, with the theme of encouraging innovation through industry challenges. The triennial event has become the global gathering place for industry professionals around the world, who come together to seek competitive insight, learn about the latest technologies and network for four solid days. The coming INDEX™ 23 will cover innovations across the nonwovens section, including key areas such as automotive, geotextiles, medical nonwovens, filtration, packaging and hygiene.

Based on previous events and before the 2020 onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizer expects over 13,000 visitors this year and over 500 exhibitors occupying 50,000 square meters of space, and attendees from over 100 countries. The 2020 event – the 13th consecutive event in Geneva – was postponed to the fall of 2021, and naturally had less traffic due to the global COVID restrictions.

Murat Dogru, General Manager of EDANA, comments: “The event comes at a time when collaboration and discussion is needed more than ever as the nonwovens industry – and the wider manufacturing landscape – faces unprecedented challenges. With rising energy costs, raw material issues and logistical tasks to overcome – not to mention impacts from COVID-19, a united and transparent industry is essential.”


INDEX is running a comprehensive program in addition to the exhibition, focusing on sustainability, geosynthetics, energy, mobility and healthcare to name a few, immersing participants in developments as well as future market trends.

No less than seven seminars are scheduled over three days, with participants from companies and organizations such as CESI, IGS, World Trade Organization, Hollingsworth & Vose, EDANA and others.

The much-coveted INDEX Innovation Awards – the industry’s highest accolade for achievements in the nonwovens and related industries – will also be handed out.


Just like every other industry and segment has a show to present their latest innovations, INDEX is expected to feature over 500 exhibitors from around the world. What makes the expo attractive for industry exhibitors is that based on INDEX’s surveys of previous events, nine out of 10 attendees are actively seeking new suppliers, and 70 percent of attendees are senior decision makers. More than 90 percent of exhibitors were satisfied with business results at the event.

Around 50 companies from North America to Asia and Europe are launching new products at the event. Exhibitors will have the opportunity to showcase their latest innovations through our successful Exhibitor Product Presentations. From makers of monitoring equipment to nanofibrous materials, to sustainable fibers and healthcare and femcare products and filtration, to name a few, the entire reach of nonwovens products will be at display at INDEX23.

The INDEX 23 show is organized by EDANA and Palexpo. The next show after this year’s event is scheduled for 2026.

For more information visit:

ISSUE 1 2023 17

Inspires in the Spotlight Eco-Couture

AVATAR: The Way of Water Continues the Eco-Aware Saga of the Sully Family, While the Film’s Stars Embrace Eco-Conscious Fashion Beyond the Screen and on the Red Carpet

As the blockbuster sequel AVATAR: The Way of Water inches towards $2 billion in global ticket sales as one of the top producing movies in history, the real story was on the red carpet – at least for the textiles industry. You may or may not know that filmmaker James Cameron and wife Suzy Amis Cameron are a powerhouse when it comes to their dedication to environmental conservation. While he makes a statement on film, she makes hers on red carpets across the world … and beyond.

In 2009, Suzy Amis Cameron founded Red Carpet Green Dress™ — now called RCGD Global, a sustainable fashion campaign showcasing environmentally responsible fashions on the red carpet in partnership with the Oscars®. RCGD Global also co-creates sustainable garments with luxury international fashion brands, and more. This is just one of many of Cameron’s initiatives, but this one clearly shines the spotlight on the importance of social consciousness and eco-positive practices in the apparel industry. According to, much change is needed in the fashion industry if you look at some of the staggering statistics:

· The fashion industry produces 150 billion garments a year and 87% (40 million tons) end up in a landfill where they smolder and pollute the air or an incinerator.

· Only 1% of all discarded clothing is actually recycled.

· The average person today buys 60 percent more items of clothing than they did 15 years ago, but keep them for only half as long. The average garment may be worn as few as ten times before disposal.

· The apparel industry is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions – the same as the countries of Germany, France and the U.K. combined. Unchecked, fashion production would account for 26% of all carbon emissions by 2050.

... And so on.

RCGD Global is working toward solutions to these problems, and the organization uses its platform powered by celebrity influencers to create conversations and awareness to generate change. They want to see a sustainable fashion industry that produces garments with consideration of the environmental and the social impact that they will have throughout the total life cycle.

And to do this, they also believe it will take collaboration across industries.

One such collaboration between RCGD Global and Lenzing is showcased on the AVATAR: The Way of Water red carpet with the display of sustainable high-couture fashion. Lenzing’s flagship product TENCEL™ – the featured textile ingredient – are fibers extracted from sustainably grown wood using a unique closed loop system which recovers and reuses the solvents used, minimizing the environmental impact of production. Unique physical properties lead to their high tenacity profile, efficient moisture management and gentleness to skin. Most TENCEL™ fibers have been certified as biodegradable and compostable under industrial, home, soil, freshwater, and marine conditions, and can fully revert to nature.

The film’s stars supported the effort with their choice of premiere apparel. British actor Henry Cavill wore a double-breasted coat with peak lapel and straight pockets, created by Huntsman using TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers, with a strong waistline and high armhole.

“I decided to support RCGD Global, because they are highlighting yet another way for us all to take a step in protecting the planet and her people. It’s highly unlikely that any of us can change an entire lifestyle in one go, but taking small steps, making small changes especially if done in large numbers can make a difference. Sustainable clothing materials is one of those ways. Just as importantly, sustainability in clothing doesn’t mean a lack of quality. The textiles that Huntsman has provided me are indeed sustainable, while their tailoring remains impeccable – even for a moving target such as me!” Cavill said.

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| Exclusive IFJ Interview |
Designer Vivienne Westwood dress sketch for Suzy Amis Cameron (above) who stunned in an ethical and eco-responsible custommade Vivienne Westwood gown made from a luxurious navy fabric that featured TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers. The gown presents a draped bodice and an elegant train. It is one of the final designs by Westwood, a legendary designer and enviromental activist, who died at the age of 81 on December 24, 2022. RCGD Global

Other stars have recently worked with RCGD Global, including Tati Gabrielle, Billie Eilish and Maggie Baird across to Lakeith Stanfield. They offer different stories and different perspectives to the efforts.

To discuss the RCGD Global/Lenzing collaboration, International Fiber Journal interviewed Harold Weghorst, Global Vice President of Marketing and Branding at Lenzing AG, and Samata Pattinson, CEO of RCGD Global, to share how it all came together. Here is what they had to say.

The Collaboration

International Fiber Journal: How did the joint collaboration between Lenzing and RCGD Global come about?

Harold: RCGD Global (formerly known as Red Carpet Green Dress™) was originally founded by leading environmental advocate Suzy Amis Cameron in response to a lack of ethical choices on the red carpet. Both RCGD Global and Lenzing, a leading global sustainable fiber manufacturer, share a similar vision – we believe high quality and high fashion can be combined with sustainability. Therefore, our partnership just felt like a natural next step for both parties.

IFJ: How long has it been a joint initiative to feature “eco-culture” at the Oscars® and other Red Carpet Events?

Harold: The joint initiative between Lenzing and RCGD Global was carried out under Lenzing’s specialty-fiber brand, TENCEL™, and first began on the red carpet of the Oscars® ceremony in 2020. We will be celebrating our 4th anniversary of the partnership in March 2023. An important point to note is that, in 2022, we extended the initiative beyond the Academy Awards®, to the red-carpet premiere of the recent hit movie AVATAR: The Way of Water.

Aside from red-carpet events, we also invest in empowering next-generation fashion talent through initiatives such as the 2020 and 2021 Global Design Contest, an international design contest that is open to all young and established designers over the age of 21, as well as webinars or seminars targeted to design school students and stylists.

IFJ: What other celebrities are embracing the sustainable fashion trend?

Samata: Every year, since the inception of the campaign, movie stars and filmmakers including Léa Seydoux, Kaitlyn Dever, Marlee Matlin, Tati Gabrielle, Paloma Garcia Lee, Maggie Baird, Elena Andreicheva, along with our very own RCGD Global founder Suzy Amis Cameron, have stunned on the red carpets at the Oscars® in custom-made outfits created with fabrics made of TENCEL™ branded fibers and filament.

In 2021, we were honored to be able to showcase eco-couture on two occasions, thanks to Zoe Saldaña, Henry Cavill, James Cameron and Suzy Amis Cameron, who joined the initiative at the premiere of AVATAR 2: The Way of Water in the UK and Los Angeles.

Designer brands which took part in the creation of these bespoke outfits include Louis Vuitton, Vivienne Westwood,

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Zoe Saldaña (left) and Henry Cavill (right) on the red carpet at AVATAR: The Way of Water premiere in Los Angeles wearing custom items by Tyler Ellis (clutch bag made with TENCEL™) and Huntsman (suit fabric made of 58% TENCEL™ Lyocell and 42% Acetate) featuring fabric made of sustainable fibers. Getty Images/ RCGD Global
Never in history has sustainability been more relevant. Collective responsibility means we can’t rely on one end of the industry to save us. We must all do our part.
— Samata Pattinson

Harold: After the successful premiere of AVATAR 2: The Way of Water, we are looking to continue our expansion of our partnership to other major red-carpet events.

IFJ: What are the challenges observed in pushing haute couture toward sustainability and how TENCEL™ can help overcome these challenges?

Harold: One of the main challenges is material sourcing. After working on this initiative, it came to light that many designers have no idea where to find sustainable materials. We hope that through our actions, we are not only driving awareness within the industry of the urgent need to reduce fashion waste but also introducing sustainable materials like TENCEL™ fibers to designers – present and future.

To address the challenges of sourcing fabrics, we’ve added a directory on our TENCEL™ for business website which shares where to source it, enabling designers, smaller brand owners, or even fashion students, to connect with mill partners that best fit their fabric or garment needs.

Samata: Haute couture is one of the biggest components of the fashion industry, accounting for billions in annual revenue. Unfortunately, the current production practices used to create haute couture garments can often be quite unsustainable and need to be addressed swiftly. To move haute couture towards a more sustainable model, the biggest challenge lies in changing industry-wide operational processes and finding new materials that meet ethical and environmental standards while still being luxurious and fashionable.

The second challenge is obtaining public acceptance as sustainability has yet to become a mainstream norm in highend luxury fashion. To overcome these challenges, brands should introduce ecofriendly materials that still maintain luxury and quality often associated with haute couture, create partnerships with ecofriendly suppliers and initiatives, transparently report efforts taken to improve

sustainability goals, and engage celebrities who share the same values for a successful transition. With the right tactics, haute couture can reach its full potential as an environmentally friendly industry powerhouse. Another part of that requires elevating the experience side of luxury and recognizes that true luxury is community, value systems beyond the monetary and positive legacy building.

IFJ: How has this initiative advanced the awareness in Hollywood (and followers of Hollywood trends) on the importance of being fashionable, but also aware of the impact fashion waste has on the environment?

Samata: We work to really straddle four core value systems. Specifically, this means collaborating with respected and mainstream platforms to foster sustainable conversations and action, developing accessible sustainable design solutions which create real effective change, being part of creating a more socially fair, equitable and representative industry, and helping to find language to create change.

The Technology

IFJ: What is the technology and science behind TENCEL™ that makes it eco-friendly?

Harold: TENCEL™ fibers are wood-based cellulose fibers. The raw material comes from renewable sources and is produced with minimal environmental impact. For example, TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers are produced in a closed-loop process with high resource efficiency and low ecological impact, where process water is recycled and more than 99% of the solvent is reused. Our TENCEL™ LUXE lyocell filament yarns, also recognized as vegan silk, are also produced in a closed-loop process. TENCEL™ modal fibers, on the other hand, are produced using highly resource efficient technology. Thanks to their botanic origin, TENCEL™ branded fibers and filaments are fully biodegradable and compostable.

IFJ: What challenges had to be overcome in development, and how has it evolved over its years of being in the marketplace?

Harold: At Lenzing, we continue to innovate and enhance our fiber offerings through new technologies. Since the launch of the TENCEL™ brand 30 years ago, we have introduced technologies like REFRIBRA™ as a way to produce TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers with circularity in mind. The invention of the REFRIBRA™ technology

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Hollywood power couple James Cameron (left) and Suzy Amis Cameron (right) in bespoke looks by Huntsman and Vivienne Westwood made of TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibers at the London premiere of AVATAR: The Way of Water. Suzy Amis Cameron’s dress is made of fabric with 58% TENCEL™ Lyocell and 42% Acetate.James Cameron’s suit is fabric made of 100% TENCEL™ Lyocell. Getty Images/ RCGD Global

enables us to upcycle cotton scraps from garment production into new virgin TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers by combining them with wood pulp. In 2021, we launched the new TENCEL™ Limited Edition initiative, where we reinvented TENCEL™ fibers using unconventional sustainable raw materials, like orange peel.

IFJ: What is the advantage of TENCEL™ being applied to many uses from fashion to luxe to home goods?

Harold: In addition to its strong sustainability profile, TENCEL™ fibers are known to have a luxurious sheen, are naturally soft, and breathable, providing the wearer with long-lasting comfort. When used in home products, functional benefits such as thermal regulation, moisture absorption, and proofing against bacteria and dust mite growth are what make TENCEL™ fibers much more desirable.

TENCEL™ LUXE Lyocell filament is highly versatile and can be woven into a smooth, lightweight fabric with a liquidlike drape and a highly flattering silhouette, making it a great botanic alternative to silk.

IFJ: How does Lenzing partner with brands to bring these products to market, especially from a technical application perspective?

Harold: We are honored to have worked with numerous fashion and home textile brands, from global labels to local heroes, each joining TENCEL™ in their journey to sustainability. Many of these, in addition to using our fibers in their collection, actively promote the sustainability profile, functional benefits and innovative technologies of TENCEL™ fibers in their external communications.

These cobranding efforts not only help raise the general awareness of TENCEL™

fibers but also educate consumers and industry players about the immense benefits our fibers offer.

IFJ: TENCEL™ is in the news celebrating its 30-year-anniversary. How has it remained a steady force in textiles all these years?

Harold: We have remained a steady force within the textile industry by working closely with partners along the value chain, such as RCGD Global, to drive positive change. We know that sustainability in the industry is an impossible task to progress alone, and complex sustainability challenges require industry-wide collaboration. Commitment to collaboration is a crucial pillar of Lenzing’s sustainability and business strategy, and in our three decades as a fiber producer growing into an increasingly front-facing player, we have worked closely with our partners to understand the needs and challenges the industry faces, so we can unite the industry and set a standard for true sustainability.

The Mission Possible

IFJ: From your perspective, what is the mission and importance of RCGD Global?

Samata: RCGD Global is a women-led global change-making organization bringing environmental and social sustainability to the forefront of conversation and action within the global apparel and design industry. From our Red Carpet Green Dress™ initiative in partnership with the Annual Academy Awards® collaborating with global and small independent brands, across to partnerships delivering sustainable design solutions, we challenge the current linear business model by placing a focus on people-centric values and intelligent design systems. Our educational work with youth and emerging design community includes knowledgetransfer platforms, workshops, internships and work experience, and design contest initiatives. Our R&D division innovates circular design solutions including regenerative materials.

IFJ: How has this mission grown over the years to inspire celebrities and students to be eco-aware in fashion?

Samata: We started as a design contest for emerging designers to enter. We have since grown in an organic way by reacting and also predicting how the space is developing. We went from focusing on design as a source of inspiration through a contest to really seeing how academic

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Samata Pattinson, CEO of RCGD Global. Getty Images/ RCGD Global
Commitment to collaboration is a crucial pillar of Lenzing’s sustainability and business strategy. We have worked closely with our partners to understand the needs and challenges the industry faces, so we can unite the industry and set a standard for true sustainability.
Harold Weghorst, Global Vice President of Marketing and Branding at Lenzing AG. Getty Images/ RCGD Global

thinking, education, collaborations, and much more can help raise awareness and bring more people in. That is our passion, to include rather than exclude and in that way inspire shifts in mindsets.

IFJ: Why is the Red Carpet the place to launch awareness campaigns and promote sustainability?

Samata: It is one place but not the only place. The incredible platform our Oscars® campaign gives us helps us champions brands that are going the extra mile to do good allowing us to reach a global audience in one night – quite literally with one dress (or tuxedo). Through the red carpet, our campaign reaches millions in nearly 100 countries.

Also important, the campaign works with a very global range of talent to remain inspiring and relevant. We make sure the work we do and the brands we support reflect the ever-changing world around us as accurately as possible – to date working with over 21 countries. Through these actions, we can spread more awareness and continue creating positive, accelerated change. We have been promoting this change for over a decade now, but never in history has sustainability been more relevant. Still, collective responsibility means we can’t rely on one end of the industry to save us. We must all do our part.

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Other stars who have worked with RCGD Global on the red carpet including, clockwise left to right, Tati Gabrielle, Lakeith Stanfield, Billie Eilish and Marlee Matlin who offer different stories and different perspectives to the efforts. Getty Images/ RCGD Global
“It’s highly unlikely that any of us can change an entire lifestyle in one go, but taking small steps, making small changes especially if done in large numbers can make a difference. Sustainable clothing materials is one of those ways.”
— Henry Cavill

NANOCOMPOSITES: Self-disinfecting Fabrics

Crescoating Infuses Textiles with Antimicrobial Properties That Don’t Wash Out

The paradox of hospitalization is that the very places patients go to improve their health can make them sick. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are a major public health threat in the United States, with one in 31 patients getting infected during or after receiving treatment in hospitals. A new Crescoating technology creates self-disinfecting fabrics that are as safe for the environment as they are for people, holding the promise of significantly reducing HAIs, which could save many lives and billions of dollars annually.

COVID-19 Worsened HAIs

Hospitals are full of textiles –uniforms, patient gowns, bedding, carpet, furniture, towels, curtains – all harboring microorganisms and facilitating the spread of HAIs, including COVID-19. More than one million U.S. healthcare workers contracted COVID-19 as of March 18, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported.

Cleaning and disinfectants prove insufficient in preventing contagion, with a study finding that a newly cleaned uniform had similar rates of bacterial contamination after an eight-hour shift as infrequently washed physicians’ white coats.

The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a rise in HAIs. For example, central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI), catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and ventilatorassociated pneumonia increased by 47 percent, 19 percent and 45 percent, respectively, in 2020. In addition, the CDC also reported that infections associated

with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) increased in 2020.

This is particularly troublesome for nursing homes, where some of the leading causes of deaths are respiratory infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), gastroenteritis, sepsis and skin diseases, which involve drug-resistant pathogens. These hot spots for life-threatening infections need better protection for residents and workers.

Silver Nanoparticles Are Toxic, Do Not Last

The textile industry has had a growing interest in silver nanoparticles because of their antimicrobial properties. The silver market share of antimicrobial textiles increased from 9 percent in 2004 to 25 percent in 2011, progressively replacing synthetic organic compounds. The most common methods of incorporating metal and metal-oxide nanoparticles into textiles include spraying of a nanoparticle solution, layer-by-layer deposition with polymers or polyelectrolytes, sonochemical coating, plasma deposition and electrospinning.

The problem is these surface coatings are subject to leaching, with silver nanoparticle emission as high as 80 percent during the first wash. In addition,

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Figure 1. Comparison of (A) conventional dip-coating process with (B) thermal Crescoating technology. (A) Wet synthesis of nanoparticles by chemical reduction (1), dip-coating of the textile in the nanoparticle (2), followed by washing and drying (3). (B) Impregnation of the textile in precursor solution (1), Thermal reduction by heating the textile at 100 °C (2), followed by washing and drying (3).

silver has demonstrated toxicity in environmental systems and disruption of biological treatment processes in municipal and industrial water treatment facilities.

Zinc Does Not Harm Human or Environmental Health

Metal nanoparticle-coated textiles have been proven to possess antimicrobial properties but have not been widely adopted by healthcare facilities due to the loss of functionality and environmental pollution from leaching. Yet zinc nanocomposite textiles don’t have such downsides. They are hypoallergenic, nontoxic, maintain their antimicrobial properties for the life of the fabric and do not require high-capital investments for their manufacture.

This is all made possible by a new Crescoating (Figure 1) process that was developed and incubated at the University of Minnesota in which zinc nanoparticles are grown directly on and within the bulk of polymeric materials to form safe and durable nanocomposites (Figure 2). The zinc nanocomposite textiles show unprecedented nanoparticle retention that remains intact even after 100 laundry cycles. That means there is no loss in antimicrobial performance and nanoparticles are not emitted into effluent. Another benefit of Crescoating is that it has been shown to work equally well with natural and synthetic textiles (Figure 1).

Metals have been shown to have strong antimicrobial properties. In this case, zinc was chosen because it is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is commonly used in commercial products ranging from food to cosmetics. Zinc is considered an eco-friendly choice because it does not harm human or environmental health.

Why zinc nanoparticles are so effective in fighting dangerous microbes has not been clearly studied. However, previous studies suggest that their photocatalytic properties generate hydrogen peroxide, which penetrates the membranes of microbes and kills them. There have been fewer studies on the antimicrobial efficacy of these textiles on fungal pathogens.

However, the test results indicate that these novel nanocomposite textiles are also highly effective in antifungal applications.

The Simplicity of Crescoating Belies Its Durability

Claros Technologies’ proprietary Crescoating technology is highly versatile. The process can be adapted to various fabrics, including silk, synthetic polyester, nyloncotton and polyester-cotton blends. The first step is soaking the textiles in an aqueous ionic precursor solution of zinc salt for 30 minutes at room temperature. They are then heated in a convection oven at 100 degrees Celsius for four hours to evaporate water and spur seed

formation and nucleation of the nanoparticles. The size of the particles range from 5 to 500 nanometers (nm). Unbound precipitate is washed away by following the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) LP1: Home Laundering method.

Crescoating improves the durability and longevity of the nanocomposite textiles compared with conventional surface-coated products, which lose their nanoparticles over time from washing.

Testing Finds Nearly 100% Antimicrobial Effectiveness

The AATCC’s Test Method 100–2004 was used to test the antibacterial and antifungal properties of polyester, silk and nylon/

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Figure 2. SEM images of plastic nanocomposites produced with “in situ growth” process. (A) Zinc-polyurethane nanocomposite film. The blue arrows show two pieces of the nanocomposite thin film. Image amplification at the film cross-section shows the presence of zinc nanoparticles inside the film. (B) Zinc-nylon nanocomposite showing zinc nanoparticles embedded with the nylon fibers. (C) Silver-polyester/cotton nanocomposite.

cotton (50:50) textile swatches obtained from Testfabrics Inc. and Rockywoods Fabrics, LLC, all of which had undergone the Crescoating process.

The results have been separated into two categories: a “before washing” test conducted on swatches that have been machine washed soon after treatment and an “after washing” test with swatches that were subjected to more laundering cycles by a third-party testing company. The fabric used was nylon-cotton blend and the tests were conducted on the bacterial species Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (Gram-positive) and Klebsiella pneumoniae (Gram-negative) and the fungal species Candida albicans.

“Before washing” antimicrobial test. The fabric samples were inoculated with suspensions of bacteria in nutrient broth and rinsed. One set of samples had no incubation period and another set had a 24-hour incubation period. The eluted solution from the inoculated fabrics was then plated and incubated for 24 hours at 37 degrees Celsius. Bacterial growth was quantified through colony counting on plates (Figure 3).

The same procedure was followed for tests using Candida albicans. Although AATCC recommended antifungal tests for textiles differ from that of bacteria, the growth cycle of Candida albicans resembles that of bacteria, which enables antifungal testing using this modified version of the AATCC Test Method 100–2004.

The best and most consistent results were found with the samples that had undergone a 24-hour incubation period. The

24-hour elution results showed significant microbial reduction ranging from 98 percent to greater than 99.999 percent in samples treated with zinc nanocomposite textiles compared with untreated controls. The percentages obtained are higher than or similar to those reported for antimicrobial cotton fabrics using silver nanoparticles and those using siloxane sulfopropylbetaine against Gram-positive S. aureus and Gram-negative bacteria.

“After washing” antibacterial test. Zinc nanocomposite polyester-cotton fabric was then machine washed 50 times per AATCC Home Laundering method and the antibacterial properties were assessed by Vartest Laboratories, LLC. The nanocomposite textile exhibited more than 99.999% bacterial reduction for both Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus after 24-hour incubation (Table 1) even after 50 laundering cycles.

Third-party Testing Verifies Unmatched Durability

A third-party testing company, Pace Analytical, LLC, tested the retention of zinc nanoparticles in the textiles after several wash cycles. Samples of several types of nanocomposite cotton fabrics were subjected to the synthetic precipitation

leachate procedure (SPLP). These fabrics were washed once after manufacturing to remove loose nanoparticles from their surface. The study found that the highest zinc leaching of 106,000 microgram per liter (μg/L) occurs after the first post-fabrication wash for one of the cotton types. Subsequent testing based on the EPA 3010A preparation and EPA 6010B analytical method was then applied to study the leaching of zinc nanoparticles from the fabrics. The results show significantly lower leaching after every subsequent wash cycle.

The tests prove that the nanocomposite fabrics made using the Crescoating method are highly durable. The highest initial leachate concentration is found to be much lower than 250,000 μg/L, which is the soluble threshold limit concentration (STLC) value for California, the state with the strictest limits. Based on this limit, it can be concluded that the concentration of zinc leaching from the fabrics after each laundering cycle is not significant enough to pose a health or environmental hazard. The different values of leaching observed for the three different cotton types could be a result of differences in

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their fiber sizes and pretreatment processes. Figure 3. Selected photos of cell culture plates used in antimicrobial testing via cell counting for samples eluted after 24 h with 105X dilution. Table 1. Microbial reduction (%) of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA), methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Candida albicans (CA) after 0 h of incubation (immediate elution) and after 24 h with zinc nanocomposite textiles (The zinc nanocomposite textiles were washed once as part of the manufacturing process to remove loose particles; microbial reduction in terms of log reductions are provided for some of the samples in brackets).
Crescoating technology is a promising process to manufacture zinc nanocomposite textiles that kill more than 99.999 percent of bacteria and fungi.

The Zinc nanocomposite cotton fabric was washed 100 times. These samples were tested against the Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus bacteria according to AATCC test method 100. The results from the 24-hour elution samples show greater than 99.999 percent reduction – better longevity and durability than any other antimicrobial textiles.

Zinc Nanocomposite Textiles Are Hypoallergenic

Zinc nanocomposite textiles were found to be nontoxic and antimicrobial, but it needed to be determined whether they irritate skin. Evalulabs, LLC, conducted the Human Repeat Insult Patch Test (HRIPT) to determine whether these antimicrobial nanocomposite fabrics were safe to use as clothing. The tests were conducted after obtaining informed consent from 50 human subjects and was carried out under the supervision of a licensed derma-

tologist. The results prove that the fabrics are nonirritating and hypoallergenic to human skin.

The Future Is Now for Antimicrobial Textiles in Healthcare

Crescoating technology is a promising process to manufacture zinc nanocomposite textiles that kill more than 99.999 percent of bacteria and fungi. These textiles are hypoallergenic and do not lose any antimicrobial functionality over 100 laundering cycles. Equally important, zinc is safe for people and the environment. And the fact that Crescoating does not require high-capital investments means that widespread adoption is feasible. Zinc nanocomposite textiles show tremendous promise for use in medical settings and nursing homes such as linens and surgical gowns, aiding the fight against HAIs and disease transmission.

John Brockgreitens holds a Ph.D. in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Minnesota, and his expertise includes the development and application of nanomaterials in environmental systems. John serves as a Director of Research and Development for Claros Technologies, a company providing testing, capture, and destruction technologies for PFAS, heavy metals, and mercury pollutants.

Claros Technologies, Inc. was founded in 2018 under the belief that air, water, and other natural resources are limited and do not belong to just one generation. The company’s central mission is to use the latest advancements in science and engineering to create processes that enable sustainable use, recovery, and reuse of these resources. Likewise, the team members at Claros share a moral obligation to create an environment for the next generation that is substantially more healthful than the environment they inherited.

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Medical Smart Textiles and Wearable Health Devices Aren’t Yet Affordable for the Mass Consumer Market

Many in the medical profession have argued that healthcare should move away from its current reactive and diseasecentric system to a more personalized, predictive, preventative and participatory model with a focus on disease prevention and health promotion.

As part of this shift in emphasis, wearable electronic devices worn on or close to the body that monitor and track health or physical activity can help manage cardiovascular health more effectively, with such features as physical activity monitoring, heart rate tracking and heart electrical activity tracing.

Even wearable activity trackers such as daily step counters can be used to obtain metrics associated with users’ general physical health and cardiovascular health status, supporting clinical care for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension and other chronic diseases.

According to Emergen Research, the global medical smart textiles market size was worth US$252.7 million in 2019 and is expected to reach US2.2 billion in 2027 with a compound annual growth rate of 25.6% over the 2020–2027 period.

Cardiovascular Disease Risk

However, new research has found that people who most need wearable health devices, such as smartwatches and fitness bands, may use them the least.

Age, education and income are factors

Prevayl’s sensor is one of the lightest fitness tracking devices in its class, and tracks heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature and body movement. Prevayl

associated with less use of wearable health devices among people with and at risk for cardiovascular disease, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2022 held in November in Chicago, Ill., USA.

The study found that people with cardiovascular disease were less likely than people without cardiovascular disease to use wearable devices. This suggests that those who are most likely to benefit from these technologies are less likely to use them, explained Lovedeep Dhingra, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Cardiovascular Data Science Lab at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

“We need to ensure that wearable devices reach the people who need them

most, by improving equitable access and promoting wearables as health devices to help improve health and decrease health disparities,” Dhingra said.

Challenges for Garment-based E-textiles

Speaking at the E-Textiles Network conference held in November in Nottingham, UK, keynote speaker Martin Ashby, chief innovation officer of Manchester, UKbased sportswear brand Prevayl outlined the challenges of bringing garment-based e-textiles to the consumer mass market.

He noted that around eight million people in the UK alone will suffer from some form of heart disease, which costs the country’s National Health Service some £9 billion a year. Further, it is estimated that 63% of UK adults – some 35 million people – are overweight.

“We are facing a global healthcare and mental health crisis,” said Ashby. “But many people recognize this and want to make a change. However, barriers still need breaking down.”

In 2021, the global smart wearables market was estimated at US$18 billion and US$20.6 billion in 2022 year, with forecasts for 2028 in the US$42 to 118 billion range. However, smart clothing has not kept pace with this growth – the main smart products for the mass market are smartwatches, such as Apple and FitBit, said Ashby.

There are several wearable products now available on the market priced at

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around US$300–600, but few affordable products for the mass market. In addition, none have the desired look, feel and comfort required by most consumers.

Health and Performance Insights

Launched in 2022, Prevayl’s concept range of sportswear contains patented knitted electrodes and includes a small, hidden pocket to store a sensor. The technology includes the Prevayl Sensor, SmartWear and the Prevayl App, which “seamlessly integrate” with one another to deliver key insights that help users improve their level of fitness.

The lightweight sensor tracks heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature and body movement to help users make “smartest fitness decisions,” while the app captures

more than one million data points during each workout and turns them into “meaningful and actionable” insights.

The four-piece SmartWear collection is designed with a second-skin fit and made of durable, lightweight, stretchable, moisture-wicking and breathable materials to ensure maximum comfort and movement. It features adjustable sports bras, short and long-sleeve T-shirts, and tank tops that all have a discreet pocket for housing the Prevayl Sensor.

The garments are embedded with knitted electrodes, which take accurate, clinical-grade electrocardiogram (ECG) readings directly from the wearer’s heart, thereby eliminating the need for wires and straps to create comfortable, durable clothing.

The ECG data identifies heart rate and variability, including heart rate zone and recovery, orthostatic heart rate, cardio age, heart function, atrial fibrillation and ectopic heartbeat.

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The ECG data identifies heart rate and variability, including heart rate zone and recovery, orthostatic heart rate, cardio age, heart function, atrial fibrillation and ectopic heartbeat.
Prevayl’s concept of sportswear that with a sensor can monitor and track your health. Prevayl

The smart clothing also measures the breathing state, time and type (thoracic/ diaphragmatic), ventilatory threshold and minute volume, so it can recognize dysfunctional breathing and stress levels.

In addition, it measures core temperature, energy expenditure and hydration. Finally, it looks at the inertial measurement unit so it can understand acceleration, body position and activity classification between walking, running, cycling, highintensity interval training, yoga and other activities.

Plug-and-Play Solution

“Consumers just want a plug-and-play solution without too much data,” said Ashby at the E-Textiles Network conference. “They do not want to be pro-athletes. They want consumer-led not engineering-led design, at a sensible price point with an easy-to-use, easy-care garment that is fit for purpose.

“The insights provided by a smart garment should educate and empower users – not overload them with data, and the insights must be relevant for user’s ability and lifestyle.

“A more pragmatic approach to collaboration will help us deliver the growth of etextiles. We need to be pragmatic in terms of timescales.”

Wireless Connectivity

John Ho of the National University of Singapore noted that chronic diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, now account for seven out of the ten leading causes of death in the U.S. and more than 86% of healthcare costs.

Much of the current thinking involves delivering preventative healthcare in clinics and in the home – wherever and when-

ever, 24/7 – creating the “virtual ward.” This will require continuous wireless connectivity, using such technologies as Bluetooth/Wi-Fi and near-field communication (NFC).

However, as the human body profoundly affects wireless signals, clothing can be used to manipulate these signals, said Ho. For example, textile design can be employed to place conductive textiles on the outside of clothing to make the signals “glide along the body” by constraining the signal to within around 10 cm.

Further, digital embroidery can be used with conductive yarns that are encapsulated to make them washable. Extenders can be employed to extend NFC to around one meter, for example, to power sensors or where clothing is used to power a smartphone.

Power Generation

In another keynote paper at the E-Textiles Network conference, Dr. Jun Chen, assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, Los Angeles, California, USA, discussed the use of smart textiles for personalized healthcare.

He outlined the use of triboelectricity to generate energy to power wearable electronic devices through such technologies

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UK-based sportswear brand Prevayl has launched garments that look like high-end gym wear, but include a small, hidden pocket to store a sensor. Prevayl Preventive healthcare will require wireless connectivity. Prevayl

as nanogenerators and magneto-elastic generators. For example, a pressure-sensitive smart bed sheet can utilize body movement to generate energy and monitor conditions such as sleep apnea and hypopnea.

Smart textiles can also be used for continuous pulse monitoring and ambulatory cardiovascular monitoring, while smart gloves can be employed in wearable signto-speech therapy or sign language translation.

Meanwhile, solar, biomechanical, body heat and biochemical energy harvesting can be used to charge mobile phones or power smartwatches.

Sustainability of E-textiles

Sustainability and responsible production were underlying themes of the Nottingham conference, with issues such as reusability and recycling continually being challenged by industry. E-textiles also need improvements in terms of durability, washability and sensitivity, and issues of end of life and disposal need to be considered from the initial design development stage.

There are different integration levels of electronics with textiles – which are among the most polluting industries in the world – and this relates to the resource usage of materials and recyclability of the end product. However, there are a mul-

titude of challenges in developing more sustainable and longer lasting e-textile applications.

Professor Elina Ilén of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, BarcelonaTech, Spain, outlined the longevity and end-use aspects of e-textiles, pointing out that smart materials should move away from a linear business model and follow the circular economy model.

Geoff Fisher is the European editor of International Fiber Journal and a director of Textile Media Services, a B2B publisher of news and market reports on transport textiles, medical textiles, smart materials and emerging markets. He has more than 35 years of experience covering fibers and technical textiles. He can be contacted at gfisher@textilemedia. com or +44 1603 308158.

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A smartphone-powered suit, pictured here with a design that resembles the motif on a Spider-Man’s suit, designed by a team led by Assistant Professor John Ho (left) and the research team of Dr Lin Rongzhou (center) and Dr Kim Han-Joon (right). National University of Singapore Left to right: Martin Ashby, chief innovation officer of Prevayl. Dr Jun Chen, Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering, UCLA Samueli School of Engineering. Professor Elina Ilén, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, BarcelonaTech.

Natural Fibers: The New Fashion In Automotive Composites

Electrification, Lightweighting, and Sustainability Targets Are Creating Opportunities for Natural Fiber Automotive Composites

In the automotive industry, composites can help reduce aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance and vehicle weight while offering more flexibility in terms of body panel shape than traditional materials, such as metal.

But despite these advantages, the significantly higher cost of materials and manufacture of composites remains one of the biggest hurdles in replacing steel structural elements, particularly in massproduction vehicles, where cost is more important than for high-performance, low-production volume vehicles, where composites are now widely used.

In volume terms, the principal applications for automotive composites include

underhood components, exterior components and interior components, such as door panels, seat backs and trunk liners, while their use in suspension components and drive shafts is also increasing.

Better Together

Composites are simply a combination of two or more materials, either natural or artificial, with different physical and chemical properties that perform better together than as individual materials.

The individual component materials do not lose their unique identities entirely: they integrate and impart their most valuable properties to enhance the final product or outcome, such as higher efficiency, strength or durability.

Polymer composites contain reinforcing agents, typically fibers, within a polymer matrix. Such fiber-reinforced composites typically incorporate synthetic fibers, such as glass or carbon fibers, and the polymer matrix is usually a thermoset resin, such as an epoxy or polyester resin, which irreversibly hardens during thermal or chemical curing.

The most widespread and well-known composite for automotive – and aerospace – applications is carbon fiber reinforced polymer.

Energy Saving

Fiber-reinforced composites are generally more durable than traditional materials, are corrosion resistant, can withstand

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ampliTex reinforcement fabrics. Bcomp

higher loads and are lighter. As a result, composites do not need to be replaced as often as components made from traditional materials – and in automotive applications they can also save energy as they are less dense than metal.

The reduced weight of composite compared with traditional components – usually steel and aluminum, as well a s injection-molded components – is a major advantage for the automotive industry.

Advanced in-vehicle technology and safety features have tended to make cars heavier in recent decades, so lightweighting using advanced composites has allowed automakers to reduce overall vehicle weight and improve fuel efficiency.

Meanwhile, as the automotive industry begins to shift from internal combustion engines (ICEs) to electric powertrains, composite materials offer key advantages in terms of sustainability as well as lightweighting.

For example, batteries in battery electric vehicles are heavier than ICE vehicle batteries, which requires lightweighting elsewhere in the vehicle to maximize the vehicle’s range and efficiency.

Market Growth

The automotive composites market is forecast to grow as opportunities for lightweighting, requirements for fuel efficiency and global regulations for emissions reduction continue to drive the penetration of composites into passenger vehicles.

According to a recent study from Reports & Insights, the market was estimated to have reached a value of US$9.5 billion by the end of 2022 and is expected to hit US$16.5 billion by 2030 with a compound annual growth rate of 7% over the forecast period.

It is the low-volume, high-end vehicle and motorsports market where composite materials have seen the most gains in recent decades, particularly with the use of carbon fiber materials for highperformance, lightweight vehicles. On the other hand, the market for mid- and highvolume production vehicles, which is more cost-sensitive, has been slower to adopt composites.

Yet, a steady increase has been seen in the use of continuous glass fiberreinforced polymers in applications such as leaf springs, as well as sheet molding compound for such applications as body panels and frames, bulk molding compound for housings and support structures, and injection-molded thermoplastics for bumper frames, lift gates and seat structures.

Vehicle Interior Applications

The use of natural fibers in automotive composite materials is increasing owing to new legislation and directives that are forcing automakers to reuse and recycle materials.

Eco-friendly natural fibers that are lightweight, strong and low cost have already started to replace glass fibers and mineral fillers in numerous applications in the automotive sector. Many European models now commonly use thermoplastics and natural fibers for interior and structural parts, increasingly for interior applications in mass-produced vehicles.

However, the use of natural fibers has some limitations, particularly with regard to moisture absorption and poor fibermatrix bonding. In addition, there are concerns about durability, quality, consistency, availability and processing temperature limits.

The principal natural fibers being used in the automotive industry are bast fibers, such as flax and hemp, grown in Western Europe, and sub-tropical fibers. such as jute and kenaf; other fibers, such as banana, sisal and short wood fibers, are also being considered for specific end-uses.

The main applications of natural fiber composites in automotive interiors include door panels, seat backs and trunk liners, as well as headliners, package trays and dashboards.

Sunroof Frame

Several years ago, automotive interiors supplier International Automotive Components (IAC) launched its lightweight FiberFrame natural fiber sunroof frame on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

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The reduced weight of composite compared with traditional components – usually steel and aluminum, as well as injection-molded components – is a major advantage for the automotive industry.
powerRibs composite reinforcement grid. Bcomp

Developed with BASF, the proprietary innovation is made of 70% renewable raw material content in the form of natural fibers and provides up to 50% weight savings compared with conventional metal-reinforced sunroof frames.

The fiber mat is molded with a thermoset binder and is manufactured in-house by IAC in a hot-molding process. The fibers are bonded together by BASF’s Acrodur 950 L binder, which ensures the loading capacity and heat resistance of the lightweight composite component. The binder is water-based and low-emission and strengthens the natural fibers.

OEM Investment

Several premium automakers have begun investing in high-performance composites made from natural fibers. Last year, several vehicle manufacturers, including BMW, Volvo and Porsche, made a CHF32.4 million investment in sustainable lightweighting specialist Bcomp.

The strategic investors comprised automotive venture capital from BMW i Ventures, Volvo Cars Tech Fund and Porsche Ventures, alongside Airbus Ventures, Generali and existing investors.

The Fribourg, Switzerland-based company’s fiber-based solutions are said to enable weight and carbon dioxide (CO2) emission reductions compared with standard materials, with applications ranging from Formula 1 and automotive, to aerospace, yachts and infrastructure.

The natural fibers used are derived from flax to form a composite made of layers of ampliTex reinforcement fabrics and powerRibs fiber reinforcement grids. The composite can be compression-molded to form automotive interior panels.

Bcomp’s calculations show that compared with regular plastic parts, the natural fiber-based composites are up to 50% lighter, use up to 70% less plastic and generate up to 60% lower CO2 emissions.

All the automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) associated with the investors already have first-hand experience with Bcomp technologies.

BMW has tested and validated the ampliTex and powerRibs technologies in leading motor racing categories since 2019. Starting with the iFE.20 Formula E race car, the technologies were also used for parts of the 2020 BMW M4 DTM bodywork and include the recently announced

BMW M4 GT customer racing exterior and interior. The next step is transferring the technologies and scaling their impact to road cars.

Concept Car

Volvo first worked with Bcomp in 2018 for the Volvo Ocean Race Recycled Plastics Demonstrator Vehicle, followed by its recent concept car, the Volvo Cars Concept Recharge in 2021, where it has used Bcomp’s natural fiber composites for the lower storage areas, back of the headrest and the footrest. On the exterior, they are used for the front and rear bumpers as well as the sill moldings.

Bcomp’s composites are also being used by Electric GT on its Tesla Model S P100DL racecar and by Volvo on its XC60 hybrid sport utility vehicle, while Polestar, a Swedish premium electric performance car brand jointly owned by Volvo

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Several premium automakers have begun investing in high-performance composites made from natural fibers.
Mercedes-AMG GT4 with natural fiber-reinforced composite bumper. Bcomp/Johannes Nollmeyer IAC FiberFrame and headliner for the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. IAC

and Geely, aims to adopt Bcomp materials for most of the interior panels of the Polestar 5, the production evolution of the Polestar Precept, which is expected to be launched in 2024.

Meanwhile, Porsche worked with Bcomp to develop the first natural fiber composite motorsport door in 2019, with the project being listed as a finalist in the JEC Innovation Awards.

Porsche Motorsport then used ampliTex and powerRibs in the production of both exterior and interior vehicle components for the Cayman 718 GT4 CS MR, culminating in the launch of Porsche’s fully electric Mission R concept car in 2021.

Many of the Mission R’s add-on parts are made using Bcomp’s natural fiber reinforced plastic. The material can be seen on the car’s exterior, such as the front splitter, the doors, the side skirts and the diffuser.

Bcomp is now supplying its natural fiber technologies to HWA, a development partner of German automaker MercedesAMG, for the new front bumpers on Mercedes-AMG GT4 race cars.

Bcomp’s bodywork solutions will provide a sustainable alternative to the GT4’s existing carbon fiber panels, offering equivalent mechanical performance in stiffness and weight and improving safety.

Motorsport Partnership

As well as investment, BMW and Bcomp are strengthening their partnership on the motorsport side, with the Swiss company now an official BMW M Motorsport partner with the new BMW M4 GT4 racing car. BMW Group Research and Bcomp are also setting up a development collaboration with the aim of using a higher proportion of renewable raw materials for components in future vehicle models, with the German OEM aiming to lower its vehicles’ lifecycle carbon emissions by more than 40% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels.

Using renewable raw materials and natural fibers, such as hemp, kenaf or flax, which are particularly well suited to use in visible and paneling parts in vehicle interiors, will minimize material usage while also achieving a weight reduction of up to 50% over conventional materials.

This in turn will help lower the energy consumption of the vehicles in which they are used. As an added benefit, the natural materials will bring down the calculated CO2 figure, as the original plants absorbed CO2 while growing and released oxygen.

Recycling Challenge

The irreversible setting of molecular bonds on a nano level after molding means that recycling is hugely challenging for composites. In addition, the use of fillers and additives that provide additional properties or sensor elements enabling multi-functionality further increases the difficulty of separation of the individual components.

This will become even more important as various end-of-life regulations come into force for the collection, sorting and component separation of consumer products. As well as recycling, which may not be cost effective, this may require the implementation of circular economy practices, such as the refurbishment, reuse and repair of components, being considered from the start of the design phase for automotive composites.

Green Composites

Most of the so-called green composites available on the market today are either

Porcher Industries has launched a new range of automotive industry-grade thermoplastic composite stiffeners made primarily of flax fibers grown, selected, mixed and woven in France. These products are being sold as textiles that can be thermo-compressed and injection molded. Porcher Industries

a hybrid of natural fibers with petroleumbased resins or synthetic fibers with bioresins – “all-green” composites made from 100% biomaterial (i.e., natural fibers with bio-resins) have so far achieved limited success owing to issues of cost, adhesion and durability.

In an industry in which mass-manufacture is still largely metal-based, the use of natural fibers as reinforcement in thermoplastic or thermoset automotive composites will undoubtedly continue to grow rapidly and extensively.

However, questions remain over their future availability, and more particularly about the ability of producers to meet demand, especially in a rising market, where electrification and sustainability targets will dominate future thinking.

Geoff Fisher is the European editor of International Fiber Journal , editor of MobileTex and a director of Textile Media Services, a B2B publisher of news and market reports on transport textiles, medical textiles, smart materials and emerging markets. He has more than 35 years of experience covering fibers and technical textiles. He can be contacted at or +44 1603 308158.

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Cobra Advanced Composites has launched a range of flax fiber-based, visual finish components for automotive applications. Cobra Advanced Composites The HexPly Nature Range of prepregs comprising partially bio-based epoxy resins reinforced with natural fibers has been launched by Hexcel for use in automotive and other applications. Hexcel

Prognostication on Nonwovens in the Coming Year

One is often asked as a new year begins, what do you see on the horizon for the coming year? At INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics industry, we are asked more specifically what we see occurring in the markets for nonwovens and fibers. There are a number of challenges and opportunities on the horizon including potential logistic and supply chain issues, legislative changes, regulatory challenges, and market shifts.

Issues pertaining to logistics and supply chain are largely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Manufacturers of nonwovens installed or took commitments to install significant capacity globally, particular for melt blown nonwovens used in medical applications. Additionally, capacity was added, debottlenecked, or optimized for both the substrates and converted finished goods for disinfecting wipes. While demand has not dropped back to pre-pandemic levels, there has been a significant softening in demand and increasing availability of imported nonwovens and finished goods.

In some cases, there is appreciable on-hand inventory of both nonwovens and finished goods. While manufacturers are adjusting manufacturing strategy – decommissioning older, less efficient assets and rebalancing supply chains, there continues to be significant pressure as imports are increasingly available and at lower landed costs than during the pandemic.

Container prices from Asia, which climbed to unheard of levels during the peak of the pandemic, have significantly decreased. Asian manufacturers added significant capacity to meet pandemicdriven demand, much as their counterparts in North America and Europea did. All are aggressively searching for outlets for this added manufacturing and converting capacity. Potential logistic challenges, such as railroad strikes, have been mitigated and avoided by intercession of the government.

Taken together, these factors make for a very competitive nonwoven supply environment. Certainly, there will be additional decommissioning or mothballing of assets put into place solely to meet pandemic driven demand. This is likely to be especially true for companies that added technologies not central to their core capabilities.

On the legislative front, there is growing pressure for government intervention around so-called single-use plastics. Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic commenced, the EU issued the Directive on Single-Use Plastics which attempts to reduce the amount of renegade plastics in the environment from ten products categories:

• Cotton bud sticks

• Cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers

• Balloons and sticks for balloons

• Food containers

• Cups for beverages

• Beverage containers

• Cigarette butts

• Plastic bags

• Packets and wrappers

• Wet wipes and sanitary items

Where sustainable alternatives are easily available and affordable, single-use plastic products cannot be placed on the markets of EU Member States. This applies to cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, and sticks for balloons. It will also apply to cups, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, and on all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.

For other single-use plastic products, the EU is focusing on limiting their use through:

• Reducing consumption through awarenessraising measures;

• Introducing design requirements, such as a requirements to connect caps to bottles;

• Introducing labelling requirements, to inform consumers about the plastic content of products, disposal options that are to be avoided, and harm done to nature if the products are littered in the environment; and,

36 IFJ ISSUE 1 2023
INDA Matt O’Sickey, PhD is Director of Education & Technical Affairs at INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. Matt was previously Director of Technology for RKW-North America and Global Director of Market Development for Tredegar Film Products and may be reached at mosickey@inda. org or +1 919 459-3748.
There is going to be an increasing need for nimble innovation efforts by companies in the nonwovens space to find new outlets for excess capacity, find alternatives to increasingly proscribed materials and additives.

• Introducing waste management and clean-up obligations for producers, including Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes.

The European approach has been noted by U.S. municipal, state, and federal level legislators. While it has not yet resulted in similar bans for nonwoven containing products, a blanket reapplication of the European approach would have significant impact upon consumer and manufacturers of wet wipes and sanitary items. To some extent, the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted momentum in this direction and also created time for alternative nonwoven raw materials to gain traction.

It is safe to say, that there is not a nonwoven conference or event that does not have a significant focus on naturally sourced fibers, biodegradable fibers and nonwovens, and/or circular economy elements such as advanced recycling. This has certainly been true at the World of Wipes, RISE, and Hygienix conferences hosted by INDA in 2022. Additionally, the pandemic slowed momentum towards blanket legislative proscription of single-use plastics, as it has been noted and publicized that many of the wipes, masks, gowns, and drapes endemic to the pandemic response are indeed single-use plastics. But, as legislative and regulatory activities resume, there is more opportunity to provide a tailored response that protects those sub-categories of single-use plastics that are critical to public health and well-being. INDA, is actively coordinating efforts to support logical and fact-based responses to these challenges.

A second regulatory initiative that is impacting some of the nonwoven industry is the rapid actions being taken to limit and/ or eliminate use of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). These chemicals are commonly used as treatments on nonwovens to prevent staining and penetration of hazardous substances. There are in excess of 15,000 different Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances encountered in the market today. Due to the almost unique nature of the incredibly stable carbon-fluorine bonds, these substances are exceptionally durable in the environment and have gained the reputations as being “forever chemicals.” A number of the PFAS have also been identified as being probable causes of severe aliments including:

• Liver effects (serum enzymes/bilirubin, cholesterol)

• Immunological effects (decreased vaccination response, asthma)

• Developmental effects (birth weight)

• Endocrine effects (thyroid disease)

• Reproductive effects (decreased fertility)

• Cardiovascular effects (pregnancy induced hypertension)

• Tumors (liver, testicular*, pancreatic*)

• Cancer* (testicular, kidney)

While only a relatively small number of the overall 15,000+ PFAS have been thoroughly investigated, the severity of the “bad actors” has led to public pressure to eliminate these chemicals. Investors striving to mitigate risk are pushing manufactures to

cease production of these chemicals and companies are beginning to respond. Most notably, 3M announced in December 2022 that it would cease production of PFAS by 2025.

The unique chemistry associated with the highly electronegative fluorine atom and its bonding behavior with carbon results in physical properties is not easily replicated via other, less onerous chemistries. This is resulting in a broad search for single or combinations of chemicals to replace PFAS as nonwoven and textile treatments. Recently, Brian Rosenstein discussed these challenges in an opinion column for Textile World, in which one statement was particularly poignant, “I was always taught not to present a problem without a suggestion on how to solve the problem. PFAS seems to have become an exception to that ‘rule.’” As legislative regulatory efforts to limit or eliminate PFAS increase, there will likely be certain applications excepted, but there will be fewer and potentially no suppliers willing to provide these chemicals. There will certainly be an innovation sprint to identify and implement the best possible alternatives to PFAS in a wide range of applications including nonwovens and textiles.

Lastly, there are opportunities created by changes in consumer behavior. Consumers are increasingly demanding transparency around product compositions that are informing their views on issues related to single-use plastics and the presence of additives such as PFAS, which is creating pressure to change product designs. This pressure is the “stick” that drives innovation. Consumers are also expressing desires for products that are sustainably and ethically sourced, more “natural,” and with greater ability to recycled and part of a circular economy. This continues to create opportunities for products comprised of innovative raw materials and designs. This consumer demand, and willingness to pay for the innovation, is the “carrot” that counterbalances the aforementioned stick.

In conclusion, in 2023, there is going to be an increasing need for nimble innovation efforts by companies in the nonwovens space to find new outlets for excess capacity, find alternatives to increasingly proscribed materials and additives, and to meet growing consumer desire for products that consider both raw material sourcing and end-of-life considerations.

List of References

1. European Commission, “Single-use plastics,”, https://, Accessed 04-01-2023.

2. Interstate Technology Regulatory Council, “PFAS Fact Sheets,” pfas-1.itrcweb. org, Fact-Sheet_082422_508.pdf Accessed 06-01-2023.

3. Rosenstein, Brian, “PFAS Regulation Challenges,” Textile World, November/ December 2022,

As director of education and technical affairs, Matt presents regular training related to nonwovens and filter media from INDA’s headquarters in Cary, NC. For more information about upcoming training opportunities, visit

ISSUE 1 2023 37
* International Fiber Journal is owned by INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry (

Andreas Engelhardt, a former senior manager at Oerlikon Textile International Business, is the founder and president of The Fiber Year GmbH. The company’s mission is to provide international expertise, analyses, strategy consulting, and customized solutions to the international textile industry. Andreas can be reached at +41 71 450 06 82 or

Historic Decline in World Staple Fibers

Global supply of staple fibers in 2021 accounted for 58 million tonnes which meant for the first time in history losing their majority share in primary spinning stage. This decline in the second consecutive year softened their share to 49%, down from more than 80% during the 1980s. Natural fibers suffered from the fastest contraction in five years while both synthetic and cellulosic fibers marked new all-time highs.

World Production of Staple Fibers

The global business of staple fibers has experienced modest growth in recent decades accompanied by structural changes in favor of manmade fibers.

The total volume doubled compared with 1980 to account for about 58 million tonnes while filaments enjoyed a tenfold increase during this period.

Synthetic fibers enjoyed fastest dynamics with an average annual growth rate of 3.1% since 1980 while cellulosic fibers including regular, modal and lyocell types expanded 2.7% annually. Natural fibers just advanced 0.9% on yearly basis despite the push in late 1990s after the approval of genetically modified cotton that helped to raise yields.

Consequentially, the staple fiber segment saw the relative position of natural fibers gradually softening from 72% in 1980 to 52% in 2021. On the contrary, synthetic fibers continuously gained weight

from 20% to 36% at present. Likewise, cellulosic fibers succeeded to expand by doubling their market share within the recent 15 years to 12%.

Six-Decade Market Position

The six-decade development of staple fiber supply illustrates an increasing usage of manmade fibers with in particular a slow movement of synthetics recently. Natural fibers share beyond 90% in early 1960s steadily lost weight. Availability of agricultural land, advantages in prices, security of supply, enhanced properties and economies of scale have been key drivers of the replacement process in favor of manmade fibers. However, weakening dynamics in synthetic fibers may be associated with the serious issue of plastic waste. The urgent search for sustainable and eco-friendly fiber materials will not only stimulate recycling investments but further push cellulosic fiber growth rates as visible from the number of projects in the pipeline for wood-based fibers, in particular lyocell, and biopolymers, such as PLA, which currently enjoy excess demand.

Staple Fiber Supply in Regional Terms

The four listed countries together with 27nation European Union accounted for a 72% share in staple fiber supply in 2021, which was quite stable in the quota-free period.

The natural fiber predominance in India, world’s largest producer of cotton, coir and jute, was mainly destined for local processing while both American countries predominantly rely on exports with a joint fiber export surplus accounting for 6.6 million tonnes in 2021.

The fiber composition in PR China and EU(27) by the majority refers to manmade fibers. Chinese net imports of cotton and wool will remain to fuel downstream garmenting operations. On the other hand,

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World Production of Staple Fibers 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2019 2021 Natural Cellulosic Synthetic million tonnes Source :
ICAC, IWTO, FAO and own research Figure 1.


massive polyester investments in the Chinese industry enabled the country to take in a net exporter status of manmade fibers since the financial crisis in 2008. Contrary, the long-term weakening of manmade fiber manufacturing in the European Union has resulted in steadily rising staple fiber imports during the quota-free period. The region’s net manmade staple fiber imports rose tenfold in quota-free period to 532,000 tonnes while the area established itself as a net cotton exporter after financial crisis.

Multi-Decade Fiber Competition

The long-term performance has increasingly shifted in favor of manmade fibers. The steep drop of natural fibers was primarily result of the pandemic due to the time lag between planting decision and harvesting. Meanwhile, wood-based cellulosic fibers have outperformed market dynamics in the century, essentially due to strong gains in lyocell and modal volumes. The improvement in growth rates for synthetic fibers may in parts be assigned to the growing share of recycled materials from bottle chips. In total, the long-term average annual growth rate of natural fibers amounted to 0.9% compared with 2.7% in cellulosics and 3.1% for synthetics.

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Dynamics in Staple Fibers -8% -6% -4% -2% 0% 2% 4% 6% 8% 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 2020s Natural Cellulosics Synthetics AAGR in % Figure 4.
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 2021 2020 2015 2010 2005 2000 1995 1990 1985 1980 1975 1970 1965 1960 Natural Cellulosic Synthetic Market Share of the Main Staple Fiber Types Figure 2. TOP 5 Staple Fiber Growers and Producers 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 2005 2010 2015 2018 2021 PR China India USA Brazil EU(27) ROW million tonnes Source : ICAC,
Figure 3.
The urgent search for sustainable and eco-friendly fiber materials will not only stimulate recycling investments but further push cellulosic fiber growth rates as visible from the number of projects in the pipeline for woodbased fibers, in particular lyocell, and biopolymers, such
IWTO, FAO and own research

Len LaPorta is a managing director of Investment Banking at Wiley Bros.-Aintree Capital, LLC – a 75-year-old firm, located in Nashville, TN, focused on investment brokerage and underwriting municipal bonds for utility districts in the state of Tennessee. Len brings to the Firm experience in crossborder M&A transactions between USA and Europe, advises business owners on sellside and buy-side transactions, capital advisory, and valuations. Len is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with MBA from Boston College and a veteran of the U.S. Navy. He is also a member of INDA’s non-woven Technical Advisory Board. or (615) 782-4107.

Has Diligence for M&A Deals Gone Too Far?

Investment Banking teams are focusing significant time collecting wide swaths of a client’s company data in the early deal phase prior to marketing the firm in a sellprocess. The main reason for this action –anticipation of receiving the buyer’s thirdparty advisor diligence requests!

For 2023, sellers of their business should anticipate closing their transaction within eight to 10 months of hiring their M&A advisor. This is literally three quarters into the future with global headwinds and competitive variables that will challenge every assumption.

As much as we look forward, the vast majority of M&A due diligence is focused on the past.

Third-party advisors hired by the prospective buyer begin their efforts in earnest once the Exclusivity Phase of the sell-side process commences. As a quick reminder, the sell-side process may have reached the six to seven months milestone prior Exclusivity.

As a general rule, the M&A bankers believe this Exclusivity Phase should be completed in 45-60 days – the result is a closed transaction! It is in the best interest of the client to have all their data and anticipated data ready to be reviewed. Maintaining momentum in the final innings of the game is essential.

Unfortunately, a good percentage of clients tell the M&A banking team, “I want to wait for the buyer to ask specific questions before I get my team in-

volved with pulling the data.” Can you hear the air rushing out of the balloon?

For deals expected to close in 2023, we are seeing more final diligence requests covering the main COVID years of 2020 and 2021. Oh boy!

Important Diligence Questions Prior to a Deal Close

We may have to read this diligence question a few times.

1. For the employee “analysis of effective hourly rates” analysis provided, “There appear to be differences between the years as regards employees listed on the direct labour analysis provided (PDFs for 2019, 2020, 2021), with some staff names “re-appearing” having not been paid in the previous year’s data. Please would you look at/present the data from the start period January 2019 through to September 1, 2022, tracking by name to ensure that we can work out who was an existing employee, who joined and who left? For joiners and leavers, the date that they started/left is also needed to ensure that headcount numbers/movements reconcile for each year and year-to-year.

Most readers of this article would correctly think that either the human resources department, benefits administrator, payroll provider or the owner should readily answer the question. How certain are we that everyone knows exactly what they did with data, over three years old, from 2019?

The M&A banking team is more concerned that the client’s home-grown spreadsheet was not

40 IFJ ISSUE 1 2023
iStock/Worawee Meepian

properly reviewed and qualified prior to handing over to the prospective buyer’s team. Yes, the prospective buyer’s diligence gets into the weeds.

Could this possibility have a negative impact on the deal?

Threats To the Purchase Agreement

In parallel with the Exclusivity Phase and Final Diligence, the draft Purchase Agreement begins to work its way through the legal firms on both sides of the deal. Gamesmanship is taken to a higher artform.

We continue to see more blanket statements being included in the drafts of the Purchase Agreements. Your M&A banking team will work with you to identify these items, but the owner should pull in their legal team prior to the Exclusivity Phase – preparation is critical:

• All former and current employees of Seller have executed written Contracts with seller that assign to seller all rights to any inventions, improvements, discoveries or information relating to the business of seller.

• With respect to each Trade Secret, the documentation relating to such Trade Secret is current, accurate and sufficient in detail and content to identify and explain it and to allow its full and proper use without reliance on the knowledge or memory of any individual.

• Seller has taken all reasonable precautions to protect the secrecy, confidentiality and value of all Trade Secrets (including the enforcement by seller of a policy requiring each employee or contractor to execute proprietary information and confidentiality agreements substantially in seller’s standard form, and all current and former employees and contractors of Seller have executed such an agreement).

• Seller has good title to and an absolute right to use the Trade Secrets. The Trade Secrets are not part of the

public knowledge or literature and, to seller’s knowledge, have not been used, divulged or appropriated either for the benefit of any person (other than seller) or to the detriment of seller. No Trade Secret is subject to any adverse claim or has been challenged or threatened in any way or infringes any intellectual property right of any other Person.

While many of these threats may be outside of your control, their impact can be mitigated (or even deflected) with proper strategic planning.

Closing the M&A Transaction

Congratulations on having survived the nine-month process to sell your business. Your seasoned and experienced M&A team has helped you and your management team avoid the major pitfalls that can occur along those 270+ days!!

Finding, collecting, analyzing and storing your historical company data is an essential function as you enter a sell-side process. Embrace the challenge!

Before finishing this article, I thought you might be encouraged by the words of one buyer’s third-party advisor:

“I have to point out that as our draft report goes through both internal reviews and eventually to our client, there may be additional requests/questions arising.”

This article has been prepared solely for informational purpose. This article does not constitute an offer, or the solicitation of an offer, to buy or sell any securities or other financial product, to participate in any transaction or to provide any investment banking or other services, and should not be deemed to be a commitment or undertaking of any kind on the part of Wiley Bros. –Aintree Capital, LLC (“WBAC”) or any of its affiliates to underwrite, place or purchase securities or to provide any debt or equity financing or to participate in any transaction, or a recommendation to buy or sell any securities, to make any investment or to participate in any transaction or trading strategy. Any views presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of WBAC. While the information contained in this commentary is believed to be reliable, no representation or warranty, whether expressed or implied, is made by WBAC, and no liability or responsibility is accepted by WBAC or its affiliates as to the accuracy of the article. Prior to making any investment or participating in any transaction, you should consult, to the extent necessary, your own independent legal, tax, accounting, and other professional advisors to ensure that any transaction or investment is suitable for you in the light of your financial capacity and objectives. This article has not been prepared with a view toward public disclosure under applicable securities laws or otherwise.

Technical Textiles Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestures

Live Oak Capital, LLC

We understand the nuances of the domestic and international technical textile industry and bring over 70 years of combined business, technical and financial expertise. The current economic climate is an ideal time for sellers to locate buyers seeking to diversify and for buyers to identify growth opportuFor a confidential conversation contact:


ISSUE 1 2023 41
For deals expected to close in 2023, we are seeing more final diligence requests covering the main COVID years of 2020 and 2021. Oh boy! jpullosr@

Zünd Establishes New Subsidiary in Spain

Zünd Systemtechnik is moving closer to its customers on the Iberian Peninsula. Starting January 1, 2023, Zünd acquired its long-standing sales partner Sign-Tronic, which is based in Barcelona, Spain.

Sign-Tronic was established in 1990 and has been an official sales and service partner of Zünd Systemtechnik since 1994. Zund Ibérica serves numerous customers in Spain, Portugal and Andorra.

Jordi Lorente is the new CEO of Zund Ibérica and will be actively supported by the previous co-owner and managing director, Flemming Jensen. Rosa Miralles, also a co-owner, will continue to work in an executive capacity at Zund Ibérica.

Zund Ibérica currently employs 15 people. With more than 1,000 cutters in-

stalled, Zund Ibérica is one of the most experienced distributors of both digital cutting systems and software and workflow solutions on the Iberian market. It has its own showroom, which allows customers and interested parties to experience the many possibilities of Zünd’s digital cutting technology in person. Its staff consists of proven experts in consulting, training, installation, and service.

Burlington Performance Apparel Introduces Biobased Stretch Fabric Collection

Burlington Performance Apparel showcased Synatural at the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show in Salt Lake City, Utah recently. A greener stretch option, Synatural is a unique fabric collection that features planet-positive yarn technology with natural fiber-like aesthetics, engineered for adaptable fabric solutions with lasting comfort and multifunctional performance.

Burlington’s stretch yarn technology includes custom weaves, recycled nylon, and more using Sorona, a partially bio-based polymer that delivers increased stretch performance. The fabrics in this collection include a minimum of 30 percent recycled content and 23 percent bio-based products, according to Burlington.

Tech Absorbents Receives Oeko-Tex Certification for Washable Technology

Oekotex 100 certification has been secured by Technical Absorbents for their washable technology.

Over the past 12-months, the washable superabsorbent fabrics manufactured by Technical Absorbents Ltd (TAL) have become increasingly popular within the reusable hygiene market. During that time, not only has TAL received a huge amount interest from companies looking to create new, or improve their current range of, period and incontinence products, it has achieved Oekotex certification for its washable fabric technology offering.

TAL has been developing its washable superabsorbent fabric product offering for some time – with further innovative grades in the final stages of validation for launch later this year. The fabrics, a blend of its own Super Absorbent Fibre (SAF) and other components – have been engineered for use as the absorbent core in reusable hygiene garments. Once integrated within the final product, they provide elevated levels of absorption and retention so that the wearer can go about their daily life with confidence.

Renewcell Dispatches First Shipment of Circulose

Renewcell dispatched the first shipment of Circulose® dissolving pulp produced at its Renewcell 1 plant in Sundsvall, Sweden to a customer earlier this month. This sale is the latest step in the ramp-up of Renewcell 1 to its initial capacity of 60,000 tonnes per year.

Founded by innovators from Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology in 2012, Renewcell is a multi-award-winning sustaintech company based in Sweden, with a visionto make fashion circular.

Through its patented process, Renewcell is able to recycle cellulosic textile waste, such as worn-out cotton clothes and production scraps, transforming it into a pristine new material called Circulose®.

Suominen Considers Closure of Italian Plant

Nonwovens manufacturer Suominen has begun a consultation procedure aimed at permanently closing its manufacturing facility in Mozzate, Italy.

The move comes after the company determined that the lines at the plant were not best suited for sustainable fibers and combined with high operating costs, means that the plant is not operating competitively.

In a statement, Suominen said it will start consultation with local trade unions regarding a plan to end production at the plant during the second quarter of 2023.

The consultation will be conducted in accordance with the Italian legislation and applicable National Collective Agreement and is aimed to be completed within 90 days. The Mozzate site currently employs 92 people, working both in production and in office roles.

42 IFJ ISSUE 1 2023

A Shark Tank Success Story

Recently the International Fiber Journal interviewed Amrita Saigal, founder and CEO of Kudos, a company that creates the only disposable diaper that is lined with 100% clean cotton. Saigal’s vision for “all things sustainable” has proven to be one that today’s consumers are gravitating toward and, as a result, it earned Saigal a much-sought-after opportunity with Shark Tank, an American business real television show in which budding inventors and entreprenuers present their ideas to potential investors (“sharks”) for consideration.

Originally, Saigal’s idea for a safer disposable diaper was based on a wealth of market and consumer research that indicated a greater interest on the part of consumers for diapers that are both safer for a baby’s sensitive skin and also safer for the environment. Kudos is the only disposable diaper where a baby’s sensitive skin touches 100% soft, sustainable, safe cotton all day.

So why Shark Tank?

“I’ve loved Shark Tank for…ever,” Saigal says. “I don’t think I’ve ever missed an episode! As an entrepreneur, I’ve always dreamed that someday I would get the chance to walk out to the dramatic music and pitch my company to the ‘sharks.’”

After spending nearly three years on research and development for Kudos, Saigal finally launched her product in summer 2021 and it was soon after that that she decided to take a look at the Shark Tank application.

“It was intense. It was extremely long. It would have taken days, or even weeks to complete. And the odds you air? Terrible!” Saigal says. “The stats online said roughly 40,000 companies apply every year and only about 90 pitches make it on-air.”

While Saigal initially decided not to apply, a few months later, during the third trimester of her pregnancy, she received an email from the casting directors of Shark Tank

“My first thought: This is a scam. Shark Tank is reaching out to me? No way,” Saigal says. But the casting director felt Kudos could be a great fit for the show and recommended Saigal apply.

“Well, on top of being six months pregnant, my husband and I were about to move into a new house in Los Angeles. Despite this being my dream, I just didn’t think I had the time I needed to dedicate to the intense, 100+ question application and video I needed to create. So, in my mind, I closed this door, telling myself there was just too much on my plate and I would reevaluate next year.”

But a month later, Saigal couldn’t shake the feeling that she wasn’t staying true to her dreams. She learned that Shark Tank was still interested in receiving her application, so she spent

12+ hours putting her application together along with the video audition tape.

Fast forward to June 2022 and Saigal received an email from Shark Tank indicating they wanted her to film.

“Here I am thinking that I was going to spend the next month on maternity leave to bond with my daughter and instead I was about to have my professional dream of being on Shark Tank come true,” Saigal says. “My rockstar husband took over ALL nighttime duties for the next six weeks and my mom and dad did almost all childcare during the day all so I could focus every moment on preparing for Shark Tank.”

Since most consumers don’t realize that even the softest diapers are made of plastic, Saigal and her team decided she should wear a plastic garbage bag on the show to illustrate how babies wearing traditional diapers are basically wrapped in plastic 24/7.

“Diaper engineering … made visually memorable, perfect!” she says. After going through a wealth of preparation and practice, Saigal pitched her product to the panel of potential investors, including guest “shark” Gwyneth Paltrow – all of whom were impressed with Kudos technology and engineering.

“The Earth may have actually stopped spinning because both Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Cuban were interested,” Saigal says. “At the end of the day, Kudos ended up making a deal with both Mark and Gwyneth for $250,000. Our goal is to make Kudos even more accessible by putting it into more outlets so that every baby can have a dry, happy, cotton-cushioned bottom, not wrapped in plastic.

You can read the entire exclusive Q&A with Amrita Saigal in Nov./Dec. 2022 International Fiber Journal here:

To view the clip of Shark Tank with Saigal’s presentation, visit

ISSUE 1 2023 43
Amrita Saigal in the Shark Tank ... and walks away with a deal!

Mann+Hummel Expands

The Mann+Hummel Group announced a strategic investment in M-Filter Group, one of the largest filter manufacturing companies in Northern and Eastern Europe with several production facilities in Finland and Lithuania.

Founded in 1962 in Finland, M-Filter initially produced automotive filters although today, the focus is mainly on HVAC and air filtration including HEPA filters and oil/hydraulic filters for engines. It also has a strong footprint in both OEM as well as in the commercial HVAC sector across Scandinavia and in the Baltic countries.

While the Filterpak brand will complement Mann+Hummel’s existing portfolios in commercial and residential HVAC, MFilter will also provide a strong input in the OEM products for industrial and engine filtration, allowing Mann+Hummel to expand across the region while offering customers a broader product portfolio.


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Customer Day at ANDRITZ

NDRITZ held a customer day fully dedicated to the absorbent hygiene products value chain at the end of 2022. This event took place at the ANDRITZ Diatec premises in Pescara, Italy, with a variety of key players from the nonwovens industry coming from all over Europe and beyond.

Attendees benefited from live demonstrations of converting lines, unique market and nonwoven production insights, a panel discussion on sustainability, and networking opportunities.

The ANDRITZ team and external partners spoke about the market situation,

trends, technology insights for nonwoven roll-goods production, and panel discussion on sustainability. The company also gave a tour with live demonstration of converting lines.

Fibertex Corp.’s North American Fiber Operations Acquired by Stein Fibers

tein Fibers, LLC, a leading distributor of textile products, announced that it has acquired Fibertex Corporation’s North American fiber operations.

The combination of Fibertex and Stein Fibers will expand the leading fiber product portfolio in North America and allow each company to better serve its customers.

Ernest Elias, president of Fibertex, said, “I am excited to partner with the Stein Fibers organization, which shares the same core values and believe the combination will provide an opportunity to grow our relationships with both customers and suppliers.”

Jaren Edwards, president of Stein Fibers, said, “It is a privilege to partner with such a well-respected industry expert in Ernest, who takes so much pride in customer service and business integrity.”

Robert Taylor, chief operating officer of Stein Fibers, added, “We are truly excited to work with Ernest as Fibertex and Stein Fibers have similar histories rooted in a deep family commitment to the textile industry that has stretched generations. We look forward to continuing to be the premier textile partner for our customers and suppliers.”

44 IFJ ISSUE 1 2023
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