FIBERS, FILAMENTS & PROCESSING SOLUTIONS ifj.com Issue 2 2023 Scandinavia Fashioning Textile Circularity FIBERS FOR FHE Flexible E-Textiles are Proving Useful Across Industries BIOCHEMICALS Wood is Good as Vibrant Alternative Textile Biomass JEC WORLD TECHTEXTIL ATLANTA ITMA MILAN SHOW PREVIEWS:
CEO Q&A with Chirag Virani: Sparkling Sustainability in Hygiene
Chief Content Officer & Publisher, IFJ Showfloor Showcase: Techtextil
North America/Texprocess Americas
Showcasing solutions for success
Brave New World of E-Textiles: Automotive, Robotics and Beyond
By Madison Maxey with Mary Vogt
Fibers for FHE
By Marie O’Mahony
Scandinavia on the Path to Circularity
By Geoff Fisher, European Editor, IFJ
The Cutting Edge
By Chris Plotz
Built for Sustainability
By Caryn Smith, Chief Content Officer & Publisher, IFJ
Biochemicals: A Future Path for Textiles Production?
By Martin Ledwon
JEC World Paris
Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas
By Caryn Smith, Chief Content Officer & Publisher, IFJ
Noble Biomaterials’ Ionic+® Botanical Technology Receives EPA Registration
New Technology Briefs
Size Matters: Opportunities for Tech Textiles
Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar, PhD, Professor, Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
The Fiber Year
TFY 2023 – From Optimism to Recession in 2022
By Andreas Engelhardt, President, The Fiber Year, GmbH
How Do You Define Ordinary Course of Business?
By Len LaPorta, Managing Director, Wiley Bros.-Aintree Capital, LLC
Movers & Shakers
Industry News and Notes
2 IFJ ISSUE 2 2023
ITMA Milan 2023 | VOL 37 | ISSUE 02
Viewpoint E-asy Does It!
On the Cover: Marimekko launched a capsule collection of three products made with Spinnova fiber – the first time the fiber was used in a fabric with a printed pattern. Marimekko 44
12 50 56
26 32 38 40 44 53
13 48 Photino Science/Pentti Pällijeff
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Scan the QR code to register now. from some 1,600 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 to Register SYMATEX (Belgium) TMAS (Sweden) UCMTF (France) VDMA (Germany) ACIMIT (Italy) AMEC AMTEX (Spain) BTMA (United Kingdom) GTM (Netherlands) SWISSMEM (Switzerland) 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
4 IFJ ISSUE 2 2023 CONTRIBUTORS | ISSUE 2 2023
Caryn Smith Chief Content Officer & Publisher, INDA Media email@example.com +1 239.225.6137
Chirag Virani CEO and Co-founder, Sparkle firstname.lastname@example.org www.sparkle.life
Madison Maxey CEO and Founder Loomia Technologies, inc. Maddy@loomia.com +1 833.727.4238
Mary Vogt Marketing Consultant Loomia Technologies, inc. email@example.com +1 833.727.4238
Seshadri Ramkumar, Pd.D. Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory Texas Tech University firstname.lastname@example.org
Andreas Engelhardt President The Fiber Year GmbH email@example.com +41 7145.00682
Geoff Fisher European Editor, IFJ firstname.lastname@example.org +44 1603.308158
Marie O’Mahony Visiting Professor, RCA, London www.linkedin.com/in/ marie-o-mahony-94776836
Len LaPorta Managing Director of Investment Banking Wiley Bros.-Aintree Capital email@example.com +1 615.782.4107
Chris Plotz Director of Technical & Business Development, MiniFIBERS, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org
Polypropylene made in Canada, ready for the world.
Heartland operates out of a major industrial hub in Alberta, Canada. Being located in one of the top propane producing regions in the world is a real asset. Having abundant local supply of feedstock and access to polymer-grade propylene helps us serve customers, wherever they are, more reliably.
E-asy Does It!
“Men have become the tools of their tools.”
IThoreau admit it. I am that person who was an anti-texter. When texting became a thing, back with the flip phone (remember those?) and you had to pound a number a couple times to get the right letter, I wanted nothing to do with it. When the phone got smarter, I still boycotted texting. It was just rude not talking to people.
In my life there are only two technologies I can claim to have been an early adaptor – both were work/career related: The Apple Computer and DirectTV. I have pretty much resisted every other smart technology, well, until I didn’t. I never wanted to be tracked or hacked, but then little by little, I just gave in and went with the flow.
Just when I think I am caught up to all of you, with smart TVs, vehicle technology and even appliances (I do admit my new stove is way smarter than me, heck, it can probably pick the night’s menu for all I know) things change!
With this issue, e-textiles are a highlight as a change agent. Features on pages 26 and 30 detail the merging of textiles and electronics in unlikely places. Little by little, everything we wear, touch, sit on, sleep on and more will be mini-data-bases about us . E-textiles are popping up everywhere. This time, we probably won’t have a choice to adapt or not to adapt, because they are being designed into surfaces from vehicle sun roofs to airplane wings. Data-driven textiles are here, ready or not.
On the opposite end of this technological surge continues the softer and gentler move towards sustainability. Removing toxins from fabric production, reducing plastics in materials, adding natural fibers to increase the eco-factor – these trends are gaining traction. There will be no fiber left unturned in the sustainability test. Geoff Fisher shares how Scandiavian and Nordic companies are quietly but boldly forging a
path to circularity with their pioneering innovations. You can read about these trend setters on page 32. Also under the sustainability theme, wood is good as fossil-based feedstock alternative is explored on page 44. Author Martin Ledwon says, “It is evident that industries relying on textiles – from fashion to homewares – are facing a major challenge to align themselves with sustainability strategies of other industries.”
With these sustainability initiatives and emerging connected textiles, I can only hope that with both come transparency. Imagine a consumer-based blockchain where, like Starbucks coffee beans (https://traceability. starbucks.com), you can track a garment from fabric to factory to delivery to retailer to user to end-of-life. Imagine the impact that would have as we all watch our textile purchases make their way to Goodwill or a landfill, or some post-consumer use we have not even defined yet.
In an article in the February 2, 2023, California Apparel News, “It’s Not Easy Being Green: Transparency Within the Textile, Apparel Industry,” Tricia Carey, Chief Commercial Officer, Renewcell says something interesting:
“The first step is transparency. The industry still needs to get the basic facts right and then make them available. They must say, ‘This is what is in my product, this is where it came from, this is where it can go after use, and this is how all of that affects the environment and communities.’ Transparency opens companies up to ideas about how to do what they do better, from within and without.”
I believe this is what consumers are looking for, but what do you think? If you have thoughts, I would love to hear them. Email me at email@example.com.
Caryn Smith Chief Content Officer & Publisher, INDA Media, IFJ
EUROPE Adrian Wilson
ADVERTISING | SALES
PUBLISHER Driven By Design LLC firstname.lastname@example.org
BUYER’S GUIDE Joan Oakley
CHINA Zhang Xiaohua
EUROPE & INDIA Sabine Dussey
ITALY Ferruccio & Filippo Silvera
UNITED STATES Frank Strazzulla
ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Vickie Smead email@example.com
+1 919 459 3700 x 3720
AUDIENCE | CIRCULATION
CIRCULATION MANAGER firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com | www.inda.media
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.
6 IFJ ISSUE 2 2023
CSMITH@INDA.ORG +1 239.225.6137 CONTENT | EDITORIAL CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER Caryn Smith Driven By Design LLC firstname.lastname@example.org +1 239.225.6137 EDITORIAL & PRODUCTION MANAGER Ken Norberg email@example.com +1 202.681.2022 ART DIRECTOR Julie Flynn EUROPEAN EDITOR, Geoff Fisher INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT,
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YOUR VIEWPOINT IN IFJ
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 email@example.com 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.
— Caryn Smith, IFJ Chief Content Officer & Publisher
8 IFJ ISSUE 2 2023
High Performance Fibers. Made with SAHM Winding Technology. Development & production in Germany Service agencies worldwide Technology leader in winding solutions Please visit us at 10 - 12 May 2023 Atlanta, GA, USA | German Pavilion 8 - 14 June 2023 Milano, Italy | Hall H3, Booth B101 TWINSTAR II The Trusted Industry Leader Automatic precision cross winder American Starlinger-Sahm, Inc. Fountain Inn, SC, USA www.starlingersahm.com firstname.lastname@example.org Georg Sahm GmbH & Co. KG 37269 Eschwege Germany www.sahmwinder.com email@example.com A MEMBER OF STARLINGER GROUP
The largest manufacturer of Textile Machinery in the WORLD
Experienced Excellent Credible High quality, Strict requirement, Good service, Outstanding products No. 258 Wutong Street, Zhengzhou, Henan, China 450001 • Tel.: +86-371-85516600 • Fax.: +86-371-85516611 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com • Website: en.zzfj.com NONWOVEN
Noble Biomaterials’ Ionic+ ® Botanical Technology Receives EPA Registration
Noble Biomaterials, a global leader in antimicrobial solutions for soft surface applications, announced its latest antimicrobial technology has received official Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration.
Ionic+® Botanical uses a bio-based registered citric acid formula to inhibit the growth of microbes and reduce odor on fabric and other soft surfaces. Noble Biomaterials began development of the proprietary Ionic+® Botanical formula in 2021 and filed for EPA registration as part of the development process. Registering the citric acid-based active formula allows Noble’s licensed partners to claim antimicrobial benefits such as “odor control” and surface protection for various performance fabric applications.
Citric acid is one of the most commonly used ingredients in food and beverage products, pharmaceutical and dietary products, and cleaning agents. The registration of Noble’s citric formula introduces this commonly used
product into a whole new arena – the protection of textiles and other everyday manufactured materials. Noble has seen the growing interest in plant-based solutions and recognizes that the Ionic+® Botanical technology can be an important step in meeting the demand for high performance, sustainable material preservation solutions.
“Sometimes innovative solutions are staring you right in the face,” said Joel Furey, founder and chief commercial officer at Noble Biomaterials. “Citric acid is used for so many things in our everyday lives and during the pandemic we noticed how much citric was used as an antimicrobial and disinfectant agent in various consumer products. This led us to explore its use in fabric applications. After significant research and development, we were able to engineer a novel approach that was both an effective and durable solution for the antimicrobial protection of textiles and other materials. Our product team deserves tremendous credit for bringing it to market so quickly.”
Receiving an EPA registration is a big step in the process of advancing Noble’s Ionic+® Botanical products. Before manufacturers can sell products with antimicrobial actives in the United States, EPA must evaluate these products thoroughly to ensure that they meet federal safety standards to protect human health and the environment. EPA regulates antimicrobial actives by reviewing the toxicity of the ingredients and the potential for exposure. Approval of a product for registration is based on scientific assessment related to the identity, composition, potential adverse effects, and environmental fate of each EPA-registered product. After a review, and the EPA determination that no adverse effects are expected to occur when the product is used according to the label directions, they grant product registration.
In the past five years, there is increasing demand for Ionic+ and antimicrobial fabrics in active wear and health care. Also, the market has shifted to more sustainable fabric options requiring more wear with less care. Today, Ionic+® products are found in several categories, including athleisure, travel, home bedding and towels, and sports accessories.
“We hold ourselves to a very high bar,” said Furey. “We know it’s important to our brand partners and ultimately the end users to bring products to the market that are built on integrity, efficacy, and sustainability. As our portfolio of antimicrobial solutions with Ionic+® continues to grow, we are excited to add now a plant-based option.”
Noble Biomaterials, Inc. is a global leader in antimicrobial and conductivity solutions for soft surface applications.
For details on how to submit your company’s technology for consideration as a “Technology Spotlight” in IFJ, contact Ken Norberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 202.682.2022.
12 IFJ ISSUE 2 2023
Uses for Iconic+® are varied.
Polartec® Introduces Technology That Reduces Fiber Fragmentation
Polartec,® a Milliken & Company brand, recently announced Polartec ® Shed Less Fleece, a new milestone in its industry-leading efforts to reduce textile fiber fragment shedding.
Shed Less is a process that combines yarn construction, knitting, chemistry and manufacturing to reduce home laundry fiber fragment shedding by an average of 85%. The first fabric to receive this new technology is the brand’s iconic Polartec® 200 Series Fleece, the modern version of the original PolarFleece® launched in 1981, and in 1993, the first performance fleece knit from yarn made from recycled plastic bottles.
The Shed Less process works by engineering the lofted fibers that give fleece its soft hand and the ability to resist breaking and rubbing off during home laundering, cited as one contributing factor to the spread of fibers fragments (commonly referred to as microfibers). Polartec® Shed Less Fleece achieves this remarkable outcome while maintaining all of the attributes that continue to make Polartec fleece a staple of midlayer collections – lightweight, breathable and warm, with unmatched softness and hand feel.
KARL MAYER Textile Specialists Develop Symmetrical Chantilly Lace
With clarity and balance in mind, KARL MAYER’s textile specialists have developed a lace last year that is characterized by an extremely precise and distinct appearance. The intricate look is created by a filigree pattern and the utmost symmetry of the design elements. Accordingly, the name of this innovation is Symm-Net.
The new MJ 92/1 B multibar jacquard raschel machine is used to produce Symm-Net. Equipped with a split threaded jacquard bar, this newcomer can work both equal- and counter-lapped patterns, and also has two ground bars at the back operating counter-lapped to complete the symmetry. The possibilities of this set-up were exploited in initial samples last year, where Symm-Net was launched in an elastomeric galloon targeted at lingerie. Here a counter-lapping jacquard movement combined with the two counter-lapped elastane bars created a successful symmetry. Several of the new machines have already been ordered to date. www.karlmayer.com
Dovetail Workwear Partners With CiCLO® Sustainable Textile Technology
Built by, for, and with women, Dovetail
Workwear announced a partnership with CiCLO® technology to reduce the environmental impact of fugitive synthetic microfiber pollution caused by textiles, the most prevalent form of microplastic found throughout the globe.
Debuting in the new Shop Pant for Spring 2023, Dovetail integrates CiCLO ® nylon fibers woven into cotton to create a durable and long-lasting garment with materials that will reabsorb back into the environment post-consumer use.
The Shop Pant offers a stylish, higher waist design with ten pockets and panel-free leg face for women who prefer a pant without reinforced front panels. The durability and added strength of CiCLO-infused nylon in the warp yarns eliminates the need for panels and rivets, allowing mechanics and makers alike to not scratch or ding their handiwork. CiCLO® technology is non-toxic to marine life, fully traceable, and ECO Passport Certified by OEKO-TEX.® www.dovetailworkwear.com
ISSUE 2 2023 ifj.com 13
Lenzing and NFW Partner to Provide Sustainable Leather Alternatives for Fashion
Milliken & Company’s Textile Business Eliminates PFAS
The Textile Business of Milliken & Company announced it has successfully eliminated all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, from its textile fibers and finishes portfolio, becoming the first U.S.-based multi-market textile manufacturer to remove PFAS.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment and tribute to our team who worked around the clock to develop solutions that meet our customers’ performance requirements and reflect our purpose to positively impact the world for future generations,” said David Smith, executive vice president, Milliken & Company, and president, Milliken’s Textile Business.
The manufacturer announced in February 2022 an aggressive plan to eliminate PFAS as an ingredient in its textile portfolio by the end of the year. As of Dec. 31, 2022, the Textile Business at Milliken had removed PFAS-based finishes and fibers, which spans multiple industries including flame-resistant, military, uniform and decor fabrics.
Milliken’s Textile Business began evaluating its portfolio in 2020 and segmented its evaluation efforts between three areas of focus: durable water repellency (DWR), soil release and oil repellency. Alternative DWR solutions were readily available in the market through accredited organizations such as bluesign.® The Milliken research team assessed and implemented appropriate alternatives to maintain the performance and quality standards customers expect for DWR. www.milliken.com
Lenzing has teamed up with NFW (Natural Fiber Welding, Inc.) to offer TENCEL™ branded fibers as another backer option for NFW’s patented plant-based technology, MIRUM.® MIRUM® is a categorically unique material class, perfect for luxury accessories, fashion, footwear, automotive, and home goods. TENCEL™ Lyocell and Modal fibers are derived from sustainable wood sources and produced using environmentally responsible processes. The fibers are identifiable, verifiable and traceable through Lenzing’s Fiber Identification technology which enables a physical identification of fiber origin at different stages of production. This enables full traceability of the fiber materials used during the production process, be it on a piece of fabric or finished product, like garments or footwear. Completely free from plastic, MIRUM® is made from natural rubber, plant and mineral pigments, plant-based oils and waxes, and an all-natural fabric backing. Each MIRUM® recipe is unique, but the commitment to using only natural ingredients is unchanging. Instead of relying on PU binders, a characteristic of most leather alternatives, MIRUM® uses natural rubber and plant oils for binding. NFW’s unique approach incorporates a diversity of natural ingredients like biobased charcoal, clay, cork powder, rice hulls, coconut fibers, recycled denim or seaweed to develop color or add visual interest. At the end of its life cycle, products made with MIRUM® can be recycled into new MIRUM® or ground up and returned to the earth, while TENCEL™ fibers are compostable and biodegradable, enabling complete circularity of finished products. www.lenzing.com
Nassimi Completes Move To Establish A Fully PFAS-Free Portfolio
Nassimi – a leading textile manufacturer and pioneer in sustainable performance upholstery materials – is moving to eradicate per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) from all new production.
Nassimi’s commitment to 100% removal of PFAS is bold, and it was the first textile company to produce phthalate-free faux leather in the early 2010s and remove flame-retardant chemicals from its upholstery materials in 2017. The company has reformulated the last of its textile lines containing PFAS, Resilience TX, to create a fully sustainable product portfolio that still delivers on performance.
While conventionally used PFAS-free alternatives are often less effective in repelling stains, Nassimi’s state-of-the-art proprietary technology in the finishing process offers highly effective stain protection. As an example, Nassimi’s Supreen liquid barrier fabrics use a silicone-based stain repellent that is applied following a patented fabric-purification process. This allows for the silicone to fully embed itself into the textiles’ fiber to create an invisible layer of stain protection.
While many companies are just now beginning to develop PFAS-free alternatives as a response to current legislation in some states, Nassimi has been at the forefront of this, engineering its fabrics to be PFAS-free from the get-go. www.nassimi.com
14 IFJ ISSUE 2 2023
DISCOVER THE LATEST TECHNOLOGIES AND INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS FROM 350+ COMPANIES
Industry’s leading tradeshow - Techtextil North America is set to return in May 2023 with an incredible lineup of exhibitors, enhanced show floor features and educational opportunities that reflect industry trends!
Co-located with Texprocess Americas, this key business event is where the industry will converge to exchange ideas and discover the newest innovations and technologies in technical textiles, nonwovens and sewn products. Over the three day event, you will have access to technical sessions curated by industry leaders, networking activities and complimentary show floor Tech Talks highlighting the latest tech and trends - just to name a few!
Visit our website to learn more: www.TechtextilNA.com
May 10 - 12, 2023 Atlanta, Georgia, USA
PERFORMANCE. FUNCTION. FUTURE. Incorporated with Co-located with
Sparkling Sustainability in Hygiene
Interview by Caryn Smith, Chief Content Officer & Publisher, IFJ
Sparkle makes planet-friendly period care products from renewable plant-based ingredients that do not contain conventional petrochemical-based plastics (such as polypropylene or polyethylene). Recently, IFJ caught up the Sparkle’s CEO and co-founder, Chirag Virani to learn more about the company and the impact it is making on the marketplace.
International Fiber Journal: Please give us an overview of your company, and how it came about.
Chirag Virani: As a male, my knowledge about periods and pads was very limited before I started working with different NGOs. I was aware of the biological process, but I had no idea about the various physiological or socio-economic issues that menstruators faced during their periods when they did not have access to period products.
After completing my grad program at UC Berkeley, I wanted to put my engineering and business skills to some good use while volunteering at different NGOs in Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, South Africa, India, and Costa Rica. I participated in many outreach programs including medi-
IN THIS ISSUE: CHIRAG VIRANI
cal camps, HIV counseling, teaching and feeding programs. Through those experiences, I learned about the problems that millions of girls and women faced during their periods. Girls missed school, and women missed work simply because they did not have access to sanitary napkins.
In fact, many of them used unhygienic
rags, papers, or ash to manage their periods. In many developing countries, menstruating girls and women are still considered 'impure' or 'dirty.’
In 2017, Hetal Virani (Sparkle’s cofounder and my life partner) and I started an NGO, United World Foundation, to donate sanitary pads to menstruators in need. We started purchasing conventional sanitary pads that were available in the market and began donating them to different NGOs that I had personally worked with in the past. During this process, we realized that the more plastic a pad had inside, the cheaper it was.
As an engineer, I began to dig deeper into the different layers and realized that conventional pads contained up to 90% plastic; the top layer was made from polypropylene, the back sheet made from polyethylene, and the absorbent core made from sodium polyacrylate, a crude oil derivative. Since roughly half of the world’s population menstruates, each year, around 300 billion period products are used and discarded across the globe, all of which remain unchanged in landfills for over 500-600 years.
We realized that while we were donating pads, we were solving the problem of accessibility, but we were creating another problem – waste generation from nonbiodegradable sanitary pads made from conventional plastics.
That’s when we started exploring the possibility of making sustainable alternatives to conventional sanitary pads.
The fact that I came from a family of farmers who happened to have a banana plantation was the last missing piece of the puzzle. Banana plants grow in around nine to 12 months, and once these bananas are harvested, their stems become agro-waste. Farmers either burn these stems, or have to pay extra labor to get them removed from their farms.
We realized that banana fibers were
16 IFJ ISSUE 2 2023
CEO and co-founder, Sparkle
naturally absorbent and highly effective at locking away menstrual fluid. We started conducting research on how we could transform this agro-waste into absorbent hygiene products, and that’s how the journey of Sparkle started.
IFJ: Tell us how the decision came about to create a natural and biodegradable sanitary napkin.
Virani: Conventional, single-use, disposable sanitary pads are highly engineered products, and contain up to 90% plastics, artificial fragrances and dyes that may cause skin rashes and irritation. They are designed by keeping both high-speed machine runability as well as low raw material costs in mind. Each layer of the sanitary pad has a very specific function with strict performance and technical requirements that the finished product needs to meet. Made with mass-produced petrochemical by-products, such as polypropylene, polyethylene, sodium polyacrylate, and other synthetic fibers, they are designed to offer a high-performing product at the lowest possible price.
However, they are not designed to keep sustainability or the product's end-of-life scenario in mind; this is a big environmental problem we must address, and one we chose to attempt to tackle.
Globally, around 300 billion period products are used and discarded every year, resulting in millions of tons of sanitary pad waste. In North America alone, around 20 billion period products are disposed of in landfills every year, and around 12 billion of those are menstrual pads. In India, around 15 billion used sanitary pads end up in landfills every year.
We focused on two main aspects:
• Choosing sustainable ingredients that allowed us to develop products that could perform well
• Keeping the entire product lifecycle in mind, including what would happen to the product at the end of its life after its disposal
We started by replacing the conventional plastic from the different layers of the sanitary pad. The top sheet of the Sparkle pad is made from cellulose fibers,
the absorbent core is also made from a porous network of cellulose fibers, and the back film is made using TUV Austria certified home compostable materials.
We have designed the Sparkle pad in such a way that whether it ends up in a landfill, or in an incinerator, or in a compost pit, it offers a more sustainable alternative when compared to its conventional counterpart.
IFJ: Describe the product and its benefits for the environment and the consumer.
Virani: Since Sparkle pads are made from sustainable plant-based materials and do not contain conventional plastics, artificial fragrances, or dyes, they are better for the environment as well as the consumers’ health.
Sparkle pads are USDA-certified biobased products with 86% biobased content, which means we use ingredients that reduce our dependence on fossil based re-
sources. In order to evaluate the emission profiles of Sparkle pads vs. conventional pads, our products were tested by an independent third-party organization. Sparkle products are also vegan approved by the UK’s Vegetarian Society, and dermatologist-tested in the U.S. as hypoallergenic.
It was observed that incinerating “Sparkle Sanitary Pads” resulted in significantly lower air emissions compared to incinerating “Other Plastic Pads.” More specifically, incinerating “Other Plastic Pads” at 900 degrees C resulted in 520% more sulfur dioxide (S02), 615% more carbon monoxide (C0), 743% more methane content (CH4), and 75% more nitrogen dioxide (NO2) than that of “Sparkle Sanitary Pads.”
When tested under ASTM D5511 conditions (high-solids, mesophilic, anaerobic conditions that simulate and accelerate the biodegradation process that takes place in a stationary landfill), Sparkle pads reached relative biodegradation of 73.8% when compared to positive reference,
ISSUE 2 2023 ifj.com 17
We realized that banana fibers were naturally absorbent and highly effective at locking away menstrual fluid. We started conducting research on how we could transform this agro-waste into absorbent hygiene products, and that’s how the journey of Sparkle started.
cellulose, and absolute biodegradation of 57.8% ± 2.4% after 15 days of incubation, which represents around one year in a landfill.
Sparkle pads are made using biodegradable and compostable ingredients, which makes them commercially compostable according to EN 13242, which means that they are capable of breaking down into organic matter in around four to six months under industrial composting conditions, and going back to nature without leaving any toxic residue.
Made with a cellulose-based top sheet, cellulose-based absorbent core, home compostable back film, and wrapper, Sparkle pads can also break down into organic matter and return to the soil when composted in a backyard home compost bin.
When considering the consumer, the problem with plastic is that it’s not breathable, which can create a sweaty and humid environment near your most intimate areas. In fact, perforated polyethylene (PE), also known as “Dry Net,” makes the conventional pad last longer; due to this, you may not feel the need to change your pad as frequently as you should, which can unhygienically promote the growth of unwanted bacteria. In addition, artificial fragrances added to conventional pads can make your sensitive skin feel itchy and uncomfortable.
Sparkle pads are made using a porous network of sustainable and renewable cellulose fibers and do not contain harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, or dyes.
IFJ: Tell us about your partnership with Hetal Virani in product development?
Virani: Sparkle’s co-founder, Hetal Virani, and I have known each other since we were five years old. We met in kindergarten, went to the same school, and were in the same class until grade 9. We have seen each other grow up and go through many ups and downs in life.
When we decided to start Sparkle, we found something we were both passionate about. With over 10 years of experience, Hetal is responsible for day-to-day planning, implementation, and the management of all financial and operational-
related activities of the company. Her passion for promoting equal opportunities for all, and expertise as a chartered accountant and cost accountant allows us to manufacture superior-quality Sparkle products while keeping the overhead costs as low as possible.
IFJ: How much of the pad is biodegradable and how did you test it as such?
Virani: The biodegradability and compostability of Sparkle pads are tested according to ISO 14855 (determination of the ultimate aerobic biodegradability of plastic materials under controlled composting conditions). According to the standard, the test sample must reach 90% biodegradation in 180 days to pass the test. Sparkle pads reached 90% biodegradation in less than 90 days.
The physical disintegration of Sparkle pads in compost is tested according to ISO 16929 (determination of the degree of disintegration of plastic material under defined composting conditions in a pilot-
scale test). According to the standard, 90% of test material should disintegrate and break down into pieces smaller than 2 mm in size after a 12-week period. Sparkle pads reached a disintegration percentage of 100% in less than eight weeks.
IFJ: What is your research and development center currently working on?
Virani: When we were designing our product, we wanted to focus on developing innovative ingredients that could be used to make different layers of a sanitary pad from both a sustainability as well as an end-of-life point of view, while ensuring that we did not compromise on the overall product performance.
At our R&D center (https://sparkle.life/ pages/innovations), we are conducting groundbreaking research in several areas. We are working on utilizing a number of different renewable resources that can also biodegrade without leaving any microplastics or toxic residue behind. We are focusing on utilizing natural cellulosic
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fibers such as jute, banana fiber, hemp, etc. that can offer a sustainable alternative to conventional, synthetic, and nonbiodegradable fibers.
Besides focusing our efforts on upcycling banana fiber which is used in many of our products, we are also studying several other non-wood, agro-based materials such as bagasse fibers (sugar cane fiber that is a by-product of sugar production) which can be a truly circular alternative source of fiber for absorbent hygiene products.
Our Biopolymers Department focuses on developing sustainable and biodegradable superabsorbent hydrogels using various naturally-occurring polymers such as cellulose and starch, which can provide a sustainable alternative to conventional, synthetic, and non-biodegradable superabsorbent polymers such as sodium polyacrylate.
At our Bioplastics Department, we are conducting research on the compounding of biodegradable and compostable granules suitable for film extrusion, which can provide a sustainable alternative for the back film of a sanitary pad.
As we grow, we are also aiming to establish a more cost-effective and fully vertically-integrated supply chain that can not only allow us to manufacture highquality sustainable raw materials that go into making our finished products, but also help us reduce our dependence on a highly-volatile supply chain and periodic price fluctuations.
IFJ: Tell us about your manufacturing plant.
Virani: Equipped with a fully automatic Italian production line, Sparkle’s 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility can produce over one million pads per day, making our company India’s largest manufacturer of sustainable sanitary pads.
We follow strict hygiene and manufacturing process controls at every step of our production process. As a result, our production area has epoxy flooring and central air conditioning with positive pressure to maintain unparalleled quality. It is U.S. FDA registered, as well as ISO 13485, ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001 certified.
With hand sanitizer installed at every entry point, compulsory hair net, uniform, and safety shoes, all our technicians, engineers, and operators also follow strict hygiene controls. Our dust-free production area is equipped with an advanced heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
To ensure that our products meet the highest-quality standards consistently, we have implemented a rigorous internal quality management system. During every production run, we conduct an online quality inspection on the production floor as well as periodic samples testing of in-depth product quality analysis in our quality assurance lab.
We carefully document all performance parameters such as absorbency, rewet, and adhesive strength with individual batch codes. Our standardized operating procedures allow us to effectively identify any manufacturing defects or errors so that we can quickly take corrective actions.
paths for the sustainable disposal of our products – the first one is establishing decentralized industrial composting units, and the second one is setting up decentralized biochar production units.
As a first step for making the large-scale composting of absorbent hygiene products a reality, we have started our GreenCycle pilot project in Surat, Gujarat, India. With this pilot project, we aim to not only reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, but also prove that industrial composting of absorbent hygiene products is possible.
Once a month, we collected used sanitary pads and transported them to our industrial composting unit, picked up from 100 participating menstruators. At our pilot plant, we use in-vessel hot composting machines that optimize composting conditions such as temperature, turning aeration, etc. to allow microorganisms to thrive and accelerate the natural process of decomposition.
Virani: We launched the GreenCycle program to ensure that our plant-based products could go back to nature in a sustainable way instead of ending up in landfills or incinerators.
We have explored two very different
As another alternative to composting, we have also successfully converted our plant-based sanitary pads into biochar, where we heat the material at high temperatures, with little to no oxygen, in a process called pyrolysis. This thermochemically transforms the biomass into a stable charcoal-like residue in just a few hours.
This biochar is highly porous and provides ideal conditions for microorganisms
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IFJ: Tell us about the GreenCycle Pilot Project.
Equipped with a fully automatic Italian production line, Sparkle’s 50,000-square-foot manufacturing facility can produce over one million pads per day, making it India’s largest manufacturer of sustainable sanitary pads.
to thrive. It can be used as a soil amendment, it increases the water-holding capacity of the soil, it reduces the need for fertilizer, and it also captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
We are working on collaborating with many different organizations that provide reverse logistics services as well as composting services in different geographic regions to close the loop.
Once the decentralized infrastructure of local reverse logistics partners and nearby composting units is established, we aim to utilize this network to compost all of our future products such as baby diapers, incontinence pads, maternity pads, adult diapers, etc.
IFJ: How has the product line been embraced by consumers?
Virani: We have been getting overwhelmingly positive responses from our customers, and we are extremely grateful to them for always supporting our endeavors and products.
Sparkle products are currently available in India through almost all major online channels. In India, through online D2C channels, we are growing with doubledigit month-over-month growth.
With regard to offline retail stores, Sparkle pads are available at over 100 stores across 10 states. By 2023 Q3, we plan to be available in over 1,000 stores across India.
Besides India, we have exported our products to Australia, Europe, and Vietnam, and we are entering the U.S. market in March 2023.
IFJ: What advice would you give other innovators who are working to create something new in the hygiene industry?
Virani: The hygiene industry is massive and so are the challenges we need to address. However, we can also look at these challenges as opportunities.
There are multiple challenges present at different stages of the supply chain, for example, developing sustainable raw materials that are more affordable, optimizing product performance by focusing on product design, or developing solutions that focus on end-of-life scenarios so that the products can be disposed of sustainably.
Today’s health-conscious and ecoconscious consumer is willing to go the extra mile to make sustainable choices and to avoid products that contribute to plastic pollution. However, in addition to developing and offering a sustainable product, it is equally important to educate customers about how their choices are beneficial for the environment in the long run so that they can make informed purchasing decisions.
Once customers see your core values and recognize the genuine efforts being made by your brand towards making the world a better place, I feel that they would proudly become your brand ambassadors and help you spread the word.
Another important message I would like to share is to be as transparent and authentic as you can be, and to stay away from “greenwashing.” If your product is not 100% biobased, just say it is only 70% or 80% biobased, or whatever % biobased
content you get from an independent third-party lab. Your customer will appreciate your transparency more than you falsely claiming that your product is 100% of something.
IFJ: Is there anything else you want people to know about your journey?
Virani: As a male co-founder selling period products, I have come across many instances that have allowed me to learn and grow as a human being and see social and cultural issues with a lot more clarity, ones that I didn’t know existed before I started the Sparkle journey. I have personally experienced a number of incidents that have made me realize just how much stigma is still there surrounding period products and menstruation in general, especially if a male individual is speaking about these topics.
When I’ve been passionately talking about our innovative plant-based products, I have been told, “No vagina, no opinion. How can you tell me what I should use and should not use if you don’t even know what it is like to get periods?”
There was a potential investor who told me, “If you were a woman, pitching your idea about your revolutionary period products, I would be throwing my money at you.”
At the end of the day, we’re after all trying to create a product that is beneficial for both the environment and for consumers – these kind of comments hit you hard, and of course, it hurts to hear things like this, especially when you’re invested in trying to make a difference for menstruators across the world.
Also, these types of instances reflect the current reality of our society and show how much work we all need to do to break the stigma surrounding menstruation as getting a period is a normal bodily function that is as natural as sleeping, eating, or breathing. Ultimately, we need everyone to come together and collectively work towards solving these multi-dimensional issues.
You can see Sparkle pads in production at www.youtube.com/@SparkleLifeOfficial.
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The hygiene industry is massive and so are the challenges we need to address. We can also look at these challenges as opportunities.
Chase Machine and Engineering Designs and Builds Custom Converting Equipment Specifically for Your Application
For over 68 years Chase Machine and Engineering has been designing and building a variety of standard and custom converting machinery for WovenNonwoven fabrics, Films and Foils. From integrating independent modules to supplying Full-Scale Production Lines, we offer a comprehensive range of machinery that play an essential role in the success of wellknown brands and products worldwide.
As one of the premier design and manufacturing companies for custom web handling machinery, Chase serves a wide range of customers in the Textile, Medical, Nonwoven, Converting, Geotextile, Extrusion, Filtration, and Packaging Industries. We partner with leading manufacturers to produce application-specific equipment ranging from Festooners, Accumulators, Inspection Machines, Unwinds/Rewinds and Traverse Winders, to Ultrasonic Slitters, Laminators, and CutTo-Length Machines.
Chase specializes in the integration of technologies such as Ultrasonics, Impulse Welding, RF Welding, Band Sealing, Hot Air Welding, Glue Dispensing, Hot Knives and Conventional Blade Slitters as well as Vision and Marking Systems.
Chase is a vertically integrated company, utilizing State-Of-The-Art 3D Solid Modeling Software for our machine designs. Within our 28,000 sq. foot facility, located in West Warwick RI, we program our PLC’s and HMI’s, build our Electrical Control Panels and Machine, Weld/Fabricate, Paint and Assembly our Equipment while maintaining tight control of quality and delivery.
We place a high priority on customer and product confidentiality, and constant-
Chase Specializes in the Integration of Technologies such as Ultrasonics, Impulse Welding, RF Welding, Band Sealing, Hot Air Welding and Glue Dispensing
ly seek to improve our quality and process controls as we help our customers improve their products and processes. Working together with our customers, Chase will deliver equipment that is Newer, Faster, more Efficient, and more Reliable for a timely return on your investment.
For those interested in product development, the Chase Materials Application Lab exists to help your team take their ideas to the next level. Whether creating new products or improving existing ones, Chase can determine the optimum method for manufacturing.
Lab capabilities include web handling systems with ultrasonic technology for laminating, embossing, welding, slitting as well as impulse welding machines.
ISSUE 2 2023 ifj.com 21 ADVERTORIAL | SHOWFLOOR SHOWCASE: TECHTEXTIL NA
Visit our website www.chasemachine. com and see why Chase Machine and Engineering has adopted the tagline “EXPECT TO BE IMPRESSED.” www.chasemachine.com
Visit us at Techtextil NA: Booth #2803
Chase 144” Unwind / Accumulator / Autosplice.
Chase Ultrasonic Laminators.
Dynamic Fabric Coating at Your Service
Your ability to support European and North American marketplace customers in a high-demand environment is about being adaptable at every stage. Consistent quality, industry credibility, and addressing different substrates for diverse applications is a daily endeavor. This versatility also encompasses evolving end product characteristics, global economic conditions, and sustainability goals. With so much in play, how can you achieve a balanced approach committed to value without compromising potential growth?
We believe the answer lies in building a solid foundation with market-leading technology. Value-added benefits such as automation, quick changes, and reduced waste will guide you toward an equipment platform that aligns industry expectations with your business objectives, today and in the future.
Davis-Standard offers a fabric coating platform with engineering that applies an
integrated approach to your operation by answering your market questions. Where is the market now and where is it going? How does this align with my business today and how will it address my plans down the road? Regardless of response, we know the marketplace is strong for products such as roofing underlayment, house wrap, lumber wrap, pond liners and industrial packaging; and you’re in the driver’s seat to elevate your competitive advantage!
Merging your innovation with DavisStandard’s proven solutions will provide you with flexibility for equipment addons for a faster return on investment. You can build upon a reliable platform with various levels of automation based on your selection of unwind, winder, extrusion station and configuration (mono or tandem). A single position winder or unwind may suit your current needs, but full automation for faster speeds is on the table. The good news is, you don’t have to decide today because it’s all upgradeable.
We‘ll also work with your teams to identify extruders, controls, feedscrews and web handling equipment that is well-
matched for your process. In all cases, helping you attain reliable adhesion, desired speeds, and consistent coating for one or both sides of the web is our priority. This includes additional capabilities such as in-line primer application depending on your high-volume fabric coating or engineered textile specifications.
We also know you need reliable support after the sale. Being able to order spare parts with a timely delivery and having access 24/7 customer service is important. Our aftermarket department prioritizes these services on a regional level with a menu of upgrade options as you expand your operation. Constructive feedback via periodic equipment audits is available to ensure best performance, adding longevity to your equipment investment. You can also take advantage of Davis-Standard’s commitment to R&D and in-house laboratory facilities for testing and validation of your products on our equipment.
Many possibilities await. We look forward to discussing them with you at Techtextil North America, May 10-12, at
ADVERTORIAL | SHOWFLOOR SHOWCASE: TECHTEXTIL NA ®
Fabric coating line – performance technology for quality textiles.
Visit us at Techtextil NA: Booth #2203
Fi-Tech – Your global connection to the top equipment suppliers for fiber, nonwoven & technical textile production
For over 50 years Fi-Tech has connected the fiber, nonwoven and technical textile industries to the leading suppliers of machinery and technical components. Since our founding in 1972, Fi-Tech has grown to be the preferred manufacturer’s rep and distribution firm for the
Our principals include:
most well-known fiber, nonwoven and textile machinery manufacturers worldwide. 2023 is setting up to be an exciting year with several major exhibitions.
Fi-Tech will exhibit front and center at Techtextil North America in Atlanta. Our Team will be on hand at the Fi-Tech stand #1903 just inside the main show en-
trance to meet you and update you on all the latest innovations. Our Team will also be present in Milan, Italy for ITMA 2023, June 8-14. We look forward to meeting with you at these key industry events.
ISSUE 2 2023 ifj.com 23 ADVERTORIAL | SHOWFLOOR SHOWCASE: TECHTEXTIL NA
Visit us at Techtextil NA: Booth #1903 by Spoolex
Gehring is STILL American-Made!
Gehring Tricot Corporation is a leading US manufacturer of warp knit, circular knit and stretch woven fabrics. Founded as Gehring Textiles, Inc. in 1946, Gehring has remained a family-owned and operated business through three generations; with the fourth generation entering training (some might say the best generation).
GTC is a vertical operation with manufacturing in New York and Massachusetts that emphasizes quality control, innovation, precision manufacturing, handson technical assistance and customer service while providing an ethical, familystyle, safe work environment.
GTC has been supplying custom engineered solutions to meet a variety of industry needs including those in the medical, sports, safety, aerospace, apparel and defense industries.
Through a steady process of growth, powered by adaptation and acquisitions, GTC’s third-generation family ownership has afforded the leadership and vision needed to survive and thrive in the challenging arena of domestic textiles.
Over the past couple of years, we have been living through a global pandemic. GTC chose to cease all nonessential fabric production and committed themselves to the manufacture of fabrics for medical supplies, medical and nonmedical masks, hospital gowns, medical bandages and hospital curtains. Gehring had already been producing these products but fine-tuned their focus to accommodate increased demand due to that global crisis.
The crisis also really highlighted one huge downfall we have as a country: how dependent we are upon outside supply chains.
But, as we are now three years hence,
we are provided a great opportunity to redirect the global supply chain back to the United States. Our country can go through a metamorphosis and rebuilding unseen since the Industrial Revolution by bringing back manufacturing to this country. And, there is no better
24 IFJ ISSUE 2 2023 ADVERTORIAL | SHOWFLOOR SHOWCASE: TECHTEXTIL NA
way than with Gehring Tricot Corporation!
Visit us at Techtextil NA: Booth #2817
Factory locations in MA and NY. Finishing machine
Gehring Sales and Development Team at
Your First Choice in Digital Cutting
und America with headquarters in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, is the sister company of Zünd Systemtechnik AG, the familyowned Swiss manufacturer of multi-functional digital cutting and routing systems. Engaged in developing and manufacturing digital cutters for nearly four decades, Zünd has gained a worldwide reputation for being the leading manufacturer of highquality automated cutting solutions. Zünd systems are widely used in textile/technical textile, composites, leather, graphics, packaging, and many other industrial applications. Built for 24/7 operation and powered by application-specific control software, Zünd cutters offer an extensive selection of modular, specialized tool options and workflow automation that make digital cutting of textiles—and many other flexible or rigid materials— simple, productive, and profitable.
Zünd multifunctional digital cutting systems are known for their modularity, their quality build and longevity, and especially for their productivity. Several different lines of cutting systems are available, including the S3/G3 and the dual-beam D3, with active cutting areas ranging from 52x32 inches to 10x10 feet. Because of the modularity typical of all Zünd cutter series, customers can pick and choose the tooling and the level of material-handling and workflow automation that make sense for their particular production environments. Typical production scenarios may range from custom fabrication or prototyping to high-volume, fully automated non-stop operation.
With a wide range of tool options for cutting, routing, punching and even labeling & marking, Zünd cutters can handle flexible and/or rigid materials up to 2-inch or, with extended beam height, up to 4-inch thick. Common applications in the industrial space involve composites, tech textiles, various types of foams, plastics,
rubber, leather, and more. Zünd Cut Center, Zünd Precut Center, and Mind software offer extremely versatile, user-friendly interface options with all the necessary system components for parts nesting, material capture, pattern-matching, as well as meta-data based, projection-assisted picking & sorting and parts tracking/identification throughout the production process.
At Texprocess 2023, Booth 1319, Zund America will be exhibiting a dual-beam D3 L-3200 system demonstrating a variety of highly efficient digital cutting workflows that facilitate cutting & kitting processes with nesting, picking & sorting, pattern-
matching, and so much more. The focus will be on demonstrating how to make single-ply cutting much more productive than multi-ply and how quickly, easily, and accurately e.g. printed fabric can be processed by combining dual-beam cutting capabilities with a cradle-feeder, overcutter camera registration, and the Zünd DRT high-speed rotary cutting tool. Visit the Zund booth to discuss your specific cutting-room and production needs, and #LetsTalkWorkflow!
Make Zünd your first choice in digital cutting. www.zund.com
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Zünd High-Performance Rotary Cutting Tool
Visit us at Texprocess Americas: Booth #1319
Zünd Dual-Beam D3 Fabric Cutting
Zünd automated feeding/spreading with Cradle Feeder option
Brave New World of E-Textiles: Automotive, Robotics and Beyond
By Madison Maxey with Mary Vogt
When I first entered the smart textiles industry, there was little knowledge of electronic textiles (e-textiles). People had this skeptical kind of curiosity, like they were something out of a science fiction movie. Or, more popularly, that they are just another fashion trend. Over the last nine years, I have been working hard to prove that e-textiles are not just a thing of the runway, but an impactful “ingredient” that can provide a range of useful functionality to cars, medical devices, and other essential items. To put it simply: Etextiles are a foundational technology that allows us to merge soft goods and electronics. And I believe they will one day be the basis for human-machine interfaces and devices.
While many view e-textiles as lab technology, our team at Loomia views e-textiles as a solution for engineers and designers who need the right blend of electrical and mechanical properties for their products. Current solutions on the market today are not flexible enough and/or have poor electrical performance. Engineers and designers needed something with a higher bend radius limitation, less pesky wires, and that could be easily integrated into several materials. Many e-textiles, like the Loomia Electronic Layer (LEL), can achieve this in a cost-effective and scalable manner.
E-textiles are useful for many other reasons, as well. They are not only lightweight (due to reduced conductor weight) and robust, but they offer a clean finish and there is less manual work needed in manufacturing. E-textiles may sound complicated, but the idea is simple –e-textiles make integration easier for soft goods that require electrical function.
A t-shirt that requires charging for power is one example of a project we worked on with Analog Devices. (You can learn more about the Stitch garment on their website.)
Many people inside and outside of the industry have asked me, “Well, if we’re not talking about using e-textiles in fashionable frocks, what can they be used for?”
My response is that the use cases for etextiles are broader than you could imagine. This technology can be used in a wide variety of application areas: automotive interiors, robotics, and medical wearables, to name a few. They can be used to provide heating, lighting, and sensing capabilities to so many products; the list would be too exhaustive for this article. For example, in automotive and airplane interiors, e-tex-
tiles could be implemented for seat heating, human-machine interfaces (such as backlit buttons) and soft sensors.
Projects That Prove Concept
To cite a couple of projects, we have worked with Covestro, Hyundai and Festo on various projects.
For Covestro and Hyundai we were tasked to create solutions for automotive interiors. For the Covestro project, the project was to design a heating and lighting system that was thin enough to be integrated into a roll-up top shade for a sunroof. Prior to working with the company,
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A new roll-up shade demonstrator was developed by Covestro and Loomia Technologies, showcasing the integration of lighting and heating into the shade. This idea is more relevant now, considering the rapid adoption of electric vehicles. Since you will no longer have an internal combustion engine to generate heat, smart surfaces will be needed to bring comfort into the interior. Loomia/Convestro
they were on the hunt for technology that could add function to their films and bring heating and lighting capabilities to the car interior, specifically for an electric vehicle. It was determined that our LEL technology was both flexible enough and possessed the features needed.
Prior to our work with Covestro, we were approached by Hyundai to provide their door panels with heating and lighting. They were seeking innovative concepts for a spec vehicle and wanted to implement smart surfaces. The LEL was integrated directly under the door trim and created a smart surface with minimal tooling. These two case studies are an example of how e-textiles can bring dimension to something we use every day.
Robotics are a whole other area that can incorporate e-textiles – something we did not even realize until we began experimenting and researching possible use cases. In robotics, e-textile technology is typically used for sensing, industrial climate control, and data and power cables for wearables. They are mechanically designed for an elevated level of performance, so they are ideal for an application
that requires a lot of seamless motion –like robotics.
We worked with Festo, a leader in robotics, to develop a 113-point pressure matrix, glove design, backlit logo, and PCB integration for a robotic arm. The Bionic Mobile Assistant moves autonomously in three directions, can independently detect objects, adapt its grip depending on the object, and work collaboratively with humans. While some people may be afraid of the increase in robotics, this is an example of one that can improve human lives by making tasks easier.
Charting the Way
Working in a new field always involves some uncharted territory and challenges. Some of our biggest challenges and hiccups have come from a lack of testing and stan-
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Loomia Electronic Layer (LEL) is sewable, bondable, pre-cut, drapable, creasable, and washable (on specific settings with degradation). The thin form factor of our circuits has earned us a place in the Material Connexion library, giving us a certificate of material excellence. It is adaptable for electronic or designer purposes. Loomia
E-textiles are a foundational technology that allows us to merge soft goods and electronics. And I believe they will one day be the basis for human-machine interfaces and devices.
Festo and Loomia developed a 113-point pressure matrix, glove design, backlit logo, and PCB integration for a robotic arm.
dards in the industry. For many developments, we have run into roadblocks where we just simply don’t know how to evaluate something and we often have to grab from other industries in order to create our own standards. I think that having a hybrid design and engineering mindset is critical – sometimes the solution comes from the design field and sometimes it comes from the engineering field. Our biggest learning is that it’s important to be empirical and to be persistent and somewhere between those two, we’ll find a solution.
We are always thinking up new ideas for our technology, and we like to develop ideas that solve real problems. For example, those who have dementia: We concepted a blanket with our e-textile pressure sensor prototyping parts and heating units. This blanket can be used for both patient monitoring and patient comfort. Keeping dementia patients safe and warm are two big pain points, and we felt this could be an easy way to solve both.
Like most designers and engineers, we were antsy during the pandemic and eager to create new things. As we were tinkering around at home, we brainstormed some ways the LEL could potentially kill the coronavirus on high touchpoint services – such as in medical and home settings. The LEL technology would either be integrated into a glove or a mat. One of our key findings while developing this concept was that the temperature needed to kill the virus could be met by our technology. Additionally, our technology can be easily integrated into any textile-based products – making it the ideal solution for personal protective equipment. While we have not finished developing this idea, we do have the groundwork
laid and data points ready to go should another mass pandemic strike again.
IDTechEx says we are in touch with textiles 97% of our lives, so what if these textiles did more than just drape our body?
E-textiles are more than just a fashion statement, and if the industry is going to grow, we need to look beyond light up pants. This technology has the potential to solve large, real-world problems and make lives easier. And it can do so with more ease than the current technological solutions we use now.
While a lack of industry standardization and a clear-cut commercialization plan might be preventing this technology from being widely utilized; that is more incentive for us to develop these standards, so it is easier to bring the technology to market. This is the true next step. My call to the industry is: Let’s make more next-generation products possible with the help of electronic textiles.
Madison Maxey is passionate about working at the intersection of design and engineering to create useful products. She is currently focused on bringing soft, flexible circuits (e-textiles) to scale through her company, Loomia. Throughout the course of her work at Loomia, she has developed e-textile prototypes and workshops for companies like North Face, Google, PVH, Flextronics, Adidas and Corning. Her work has built the foundation for 5 granted patents and has led to invited lectures at Universities such as Columbia University, Parsons School of Design, NYU and University of Illinois Champagne Urbana. She holds a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University.
Mary Vogt is a marketing consultant for Loomia, and has worked with many startups in the tech and fashion industry through her consultancy, Verve Creative Communications. Companies and organizations she has worked with include, but are not limited to: Adafruit, Sparkfun, Smart Textile Alliance, Techtextil, and Accenture. She holds a B.A. in Journalism from University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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Hyundai sought innovative concepts for a spec vehicle and wanted to implement smart surfaces in a project with Loomia. Loomia
THE WORLD’S LEADING NONWOVENS EXHIBITION
ALL LEADERS INVOLVED IN THE DYNAMIC FIELD OF NONWOVENS
ALL THE APPLICATION SECTORS OF THE INDUSTRY UNITED
ALL THE SUPPLY CHAIN ACTORS IN ONE VENUE
ALL THE GEOGRAPHICAL REGIONS TOGETHER IN ONE SITE
new horizons with nonwovens plore
APRIL 2023 PALEXPO, GENEVA
Fibers for FHE
Driving Forces of Flexible Hybrid Electronics
By Marie O’Mahony
The global smart textile market estimated to be worth $2.82 billion in 2022 and projected to rise to $17.94 billion by 2031, showing a growth rate of 22.8% CAGR over the forecast period according to a report by Straits Research. Fibers in this field have two related but distinct forms. The first are fibers that act as a substrate for printed electronics, the second are e-fibers and yarns, where the fiber is itself or as part of a hybrid yarn conductive or sensing. In this column we concentrate on the first group [returning to e-fibers in a later column], and specifically examining the role of fibers in Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) for the transport market.
The term Flexible Hybrid Electronics is used to refer to materials that are hybrid in nature, with the characteristics of having electronic capabilities while being flexible and/or conformable and/ or stretchable. Discussions for this column with key figures from the FHE and
printed electronics industry, points to strong potential for fiber producers. Barriers to market development for the transport sector center on cost and reliability. Reliability not a reflection on fibers themselves, but in doing something new in electronics. Much of the performance evaluation needed to being FHEs to market is use-case dependent because of the emerging and the unique nature of many of the applications in the transport market. This in turn requires specially designed tests and protocols all of which comes at a cost. In terms of market opportunity, the FHE market size was estimated at $128 million in 2021 and expected to reach $342 million by 2030 with a CAGR of 11.54% according to Precedence Research.
Until now much of the substrates for printed electronics have been plastic. However, market trends, transport in particular, is starting to see a shift in focus to fiber as an alternative substrate. One reason for this is the increasing use of
composites in transport with weight and energy proving important considerations for cost, environmental and consumer reasons. Polyester is common in composites, with carbon fiber also used for its good strength to weight ratio. However natural fibers such as flax and hemp are starting to be used in applications where a lower level of strength is needed such as glove compartment doors. For FHE it is the carbon fiber or alternatively, a polyester reinforced composite that is of most interest at present. Strength and durability are one reason, but the smooth fiber surface is another factor. FHE applications in the vehicle center on the communication of data and information so that lighting or displays are often needed.
PolyIC GmbH & Co KG have been bringing composites, including carbon fiber, together with printed electronics adding sensors, lighting and decorative elements. These are suited for use as Human Machine Interface (HMI) interface panels in the transport sector. The HMI
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PolyIC GmbH & Co KG’s Human Machine Interface (HMI) interface panels bring together layers of responsive functionality for the transport market. Images showing front view (above) and reverse (right). Marie O’Mahony
instrument panel comes with an integrated LCD Touch Screen and PolyTC sensors to create a smart panel with a durable surface and backlighting to allow for day-night visuals. Decorative elements ware applied to a carbon fiber prepeg that doubles as a substrate for the printed electronics using the company’s In-Mould Decoration process. The sensors for the multi-touch panel are added using an In-Mold Labelling process, all taking place in a single step. The proximity sensors in the instrument panel have been laminated in place. The sensors for the light and color-regulating touch controls are integrated with a Functional Foil Bonding (FFB) process.
a smart aircraft FHE composite. The core material is a functionally integrated carbon fiber reinforced plastic (FRP). Printed onto the surface are an array of temperature and capacitive sensors with heating, UHF antenna and LEDs integrated onto the fabric layer structure. The electronics need to be protected so that a layer of insulation is placed between the carbon fiber, the ink and the LEDs, these are then covered with a protective resin before the structure is then formed in its 3D mould. The result is a complex and sophisticated composite that marries sensing capability with the physical performance requirements of the aircraft wing.
In terms of fiber use, while synthetics are most commonly used at present, it is technically possible to use natural fibers as the basis for a material substrate for flexible printed electronics. The structure of textiles gives them flexibility, stretch and formability the degree depending on the fiber selection. Fibers, because of their porous nature, can be challenging to work for FHE. New manufacturing technologies such as mass component transfer using laser or stamping techniques, as well as 3D printing are set to usher in a new era of stretchable electronics, while the utilisation of platforms such as hydrogels will enable flexible, formable and stretchable devices not previously possible. The growth in electric cars, as well as the market for land and airborne autonomous vehicles will all contribute to the demand for FHE, driving innovation and growth. The predicted FHE market value of $342 million by 2030 may prove to be conservative.
The driver or pilot are not always seated in the same area as the sensing technology. At LOPEC 2023, the annual printed electronics conference and trade show in Munich, Fraunhofer IFAM showcased
Dr. Marie O’Mahony is an industry consultant, author and academic. She the author of several books on advanced and smart textiles published by Thames and Hudson.
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While synthetics are most commonly used at present, it is technically possible to use natural fibers as the basis for a material substrate for flexible printed electronics.
Smart aircraft wing from Fraunhofer IFAM using a functionally integrated fiber reinforced plastic (FRP), with printed sensors, heating structure, UHF antenna and LEDs all integrated into the fabric layer of the composite structure. Marie O’Mahony
Scandinavia on the Path to Circularity
With the Climate and Biodiversity Clocks Ticking, Scandinavian and Nordic Companies are Pioneering Innovation Toward Low-Impact, Circular Textile Production
By Geoff Fisher, European Editor, IFJ
As fiber producers search for new ways to transition the textile industry away from petroleum-based raw materials, a lot of effort is taking place in Finland.
Geographically a Nordic nation, but culturally Scandinavian, this northern European country with a strong heritage in the forestry and paper industries has, along with neighboring Sweden, been quietly helping to further integrate recycling and to close the loop within the textile industry.
While some clothing and home textile items are reused by family and friends, sold through online marketplaces or in second-hand shops, or donated to charities or non-profit organizations, the vast
majority end up as waste and either incinerated or sent or landfill.
Of the textiles that are collected separately, most are exported for sorting and reuse – only a tiny fraction of end-of-life textile waste is fiber-to-fiber recycled, which represents a major loss of materials and resources.
Although as yet there is no organized collection system for recyclables, several initiatives are happening in the Nordic countries, where automated sorting and recycling facilities are beginning to emerge.
At the same time, a number of start-ups across the region have secured major investment capital to demonstrate that recycling textiles can be both achievable and profitable, as well as ethically responsible.
Spinnova Starts Production
Finland-headquartered sustainable fiber manufacturer Spinnova has announced that its first commercial factory is now in production and that it has already drawn up business plans for a second plant.
Founded in 2015, the company produces fibers from wood and waste, including leather, textiles and food, without the use of harmful chemicals.
Compared with cotton, which requires large amounts of water and pesticides to grow, Spinnova’s wood fibers are sourced from sustainably managed forests and are said to require 99.5% less water to produce than traditional cotton.
Further, Spinnova fibers are 100% biodegradable and compostable, eliminat-
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ing the need for disposal and therefore reducing the impact on the environment. Moreover, the fibers can be recycled in the production process without any loss of quality.
Spinnova’s first production-scale factory, at Jyväskylä, Finland, was built in partnership with pulp producer Suzano and aims to be making one million tonnes of fiber annually within 10 to 12 years.
Construction of the 2,000-m2 Woodspin joint-venture spinning facility began in June 2022 with an investment of around €2.2 million, with Switzerlandbased Rieter chosen as the technology supplier.
The facility will produce yarn made of Spinnova fiber for use in product development projects with brand partners –several high-profile fashion brands are already integrating the fiber into their fabrics.
For example, the first commercial product with Adidas – the Adidas Terrex HS1 mid-layer hoodie – was available for consumers online and in select retail outlets from last July.
Marimekko launched a capsule collection of three products made with Spinnova fiber – the first time the fiber was used in a fabric with a printed pattern – while Bestseller’s Jack & Jones brand launched trousers made from a blend of Spinnova fiber and cotton.
With Halti, Spinnova announced the launch of a water-resistant and wind-
proof parka, which is expected to go on sale at retail stores this spring. The parka is dyed with Imogo’s sustainable dyeing technology. In addition, Spinnova has continued its cooperation with The North Face, Bergans and Icebreaker among others.
The new Woodspin factory started producing fiber in February and production will gradually increase throughout this year. Spinnova’s textile development work is continuing, and the company plans to launch its first products using Suzano micro-fibrillated cellulose (MFC) from wood pulp as the raw material.
The fiber used in the 2022 product launches was produced on Spinnova’s pilot line using MFC from Scandinavia. At the same time, Suzano has been ramping up its own MFC production for the Woodspin factory launch.
Meanwhile, new brownfield and greenfield sites are currently under evaluation and, once further investment is finalized, Spinnova expects that the next Woodspin plant will be completed after 2024.
At the end of 2022, the Respin pilot line built by Spinnova produced fiber from leather waste raw material. Following the success of pilot trials, Spinnova and shoe and leather goods producer Ecco have agreed to proceed towards commercializing the product and to commence a feasibility study and pre-engineering of the first commercial factory, which is planned to be located in the Netherlands.
Spinnova is also continuing to develop other raw material sources and to evaluate applications beyond apparel, such as durable textiles for home furnishings and automotive upholstery.
Earlier, Spinnova announced it had received a grant of up to €1.6 million for
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Black fabric made with 100% Infinna created out of 100% post-consumer textile waste.
Marimekko overshirt and trousers. Marimekko
Spinnova’s wood fibers are sourced from sustainably managed forests and are said to require 99.5% less water to produce than traditional cotton.
Halti jacket. Spinnova
Infinited Fiber Company/Fanny Haga
its research and development work from Business Finland from October 2022 to December 2024. The grant amount represents 50% of the project’s total cost estimate of €3.2 million.
The development project focuses on follow-up research of Spinnova technology and fiber, targeting new application areas and product segments, such as composites and nonwovens.
For example, the project includes continuous natural filament development, which will allow Spinnova to be used in new types of textile products and to explore the composites sector.
In addition, the project includes the development of scalable, environmentally friendly dope-dye technology where the Spinnova fiber is dyed before yarn production. Compared with conventional dyeing, the dope-dye method significantly reduces the use of water, energy and chemicals, said the company. The utilization of nontoxic natural dyes in textile dyeing is also being explored in the project.
Infinna Roll-Out Delayed
Work to build Infinited Fiber’s first commercial-scale Infinna fiber factory in Kemi, in northern Finland’s Lapland region, is continuing since the site, at a discontinued paper mill at Stora Enso’s Veitsiluoto industrial site, was announced last June.
The company expects construction work to be at full speed later this year,
with the main equipment contracts also signed in 2023.
Total investment for the facility has been estimated at around €400 million, with the creation of 270 jobs. However, limited component availability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have prolonged delivery times for some of the key equipment and machinery needed for the factory. As a result, the first commercial Infinna deliveries from Kemi are now expected to begin in January 2026.
Infinited’s technology turns cellulosebased raw materials, such as cotton-rich
textiles, used cardboard or rice or wheat straw, into Infinna, a premium textile fiber with the natural, soft look and feel of cotton. The fibers can be used in a wide range of woven and nonwoven textiles, from jeans to t-shirts and wipes.
During fiber spinning, Infinited uses urea and water to transform waste pulp into fibers. Like Spinnova, its process avoids the chemical solvent carbon disulfide, which is typically used in man-made cellulosic fiber production and known to be neurotoxic. But unlike Spinnova, which uses wood pulp, Infinited generates its own pulp from waste textiles.
Infinited currently operates pilot facilities in Espoo and Valkeakoski, Finland, with a combined nominal capacity of 150 tonnes per annum. The planned flagship factory will have an annual capacity of 30,000 tonnes – equivalent to the fiber needed for about 100 million t-shirts –and will use textile waste as feedstock.
Infinited estimates that annual demand for cotton-like recycled fiber will exceed 4.5 million tonnes by 2030, with the currently announced capacity commitments indicating demand significantly exceeding supply.
To tackle this imbalance, the company is aiming to accelerate Infinna capacity build-up by shifting from a pure licensor position towards actively advancing the next Infinna factories through partnerships, targeting an annual production capacity of 500,000 tonnes of fiber by the end of the decade.
The company has now initiated a site search for the next two Infinna factories. It expects one of these to be in Europe and the other in Asia.
Sustainable Plant-Based Fiber
Six months after the first wet-spinning experiments with Nordic Bioproducts Group’s cellulose dissolution method, the Finnish start-up has successfully spun a new plant-based textile fiber at the University of Tampere.
The company is a spin-off from Finland’s Aalto University and the proprietor of the patented AaltoCell technology. Its new fiber, called Norratex, is manufactured from forest industry
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Wet-spinning Infinna fiber. Infinited Fiber Company
Garments made with Infinna created from 100% regenerated post-consumer textile waste. From left to right: Jeans – 50% Infinna/50% cotton; red T-shirt – 50% Infinna/50% cotton; orange T-shirt – 100% Infinna; orange hoodie – 75% Infinna/25% cotton. Infinited Fiber Company/Satu Mali
by-products, textile waste and paper pulp, but without any toxic chemicals or expensive solvents.
Nordic Bioproducts has also announced the launch of a collaboration with CMPC Ventures, the corporate venture arm of CMPC, one of the world’s largest producers of pulp.
In Nordic Bioproducts’ method, the cellulose is first hydrolyzed in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner, after which the fiber is further processed into a viscose-like textile fiber.
Nordic Bioproducts began to develop a cost-effective and scalable textile fiber manufacturing process in 2020 in collaboration with the University of Tampere.
The Norratex method can utilize a wide range of raw material sources, including forest industry by-products, textile waste and ordinary paper pulp. This represents a significant advantage over traditional viscose, which is made from dissolving pulp that can cost up to 30% more than paper pulp, says the company.
Wet-spinning Norratex fiber.
Photino Science/Pentti Pällijeff
Norratex fiber can be made from forest industry by-products, textile waste and ordinary paper pulp. Knitted Norratex sample.
The fiber’s properties have been described as “close to viscose, with cottonlike properties,” but with the longer-term potential to become a replacement for polyester.
As well as offering a drop-in solution for existing viscose plants, the new fiber also offers a route to the recycling of mixed material textiles because, on a laboratory scale at least, natural fibers can be neatly separated from plastics into clean fractions.
A €30 million pilot production plant will now be built in Lappeenranta in south-east Finland, close to six existing
pulp manufacturing plants, with an annual capacity of around 10,000 tonnes of Norratex fiber.
Renewcell Signs Agreements
Based in neighboring Sweden, Renewcell is converting an abandoned wood pulp mill into a textile pulp factory, with plans to recycle the equivalent of more than 1.4 billion t-shirts a year by 2030.
The company’s product is Circulose – a recycled dissolving pulp made from 100% high-cellulosic content textiles sourced from both post-consumer and post-industrial waste, using patented industrial-scale process technology developed at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
Circulose is a direct replacement for the wood pulp currently used by fiber producers to make staple fiber or filament viscose, lyocell, modal, acetate or other man-made cellulosic fibers, which can then be spun into yarns or woven or knitted into fabrics.
Renewcell started up its commercialscale textile-to-textile recycling plant for the production of Circulose in Kristinehamn, Sweden, in August 2022. With a current annual capacity of 60,000 tonnes, the company is expanding this to 120,000 tonnes by the end of 2023/early 2024.
Further ahead, it has operational targets of 250,000 tonnes in 2026 and 360,000 tonnes in 2030 – around 7% of projected viscose demand – when it aims to have 30 global clothing brands launching products with fibers manufactured from Circulose pulp.
Austria-based specialty fiber producer Lenzing recently signed a multi-year supply agreement, which includes the sale of 80,000–100,000 tonnes of Renewcell’s Circulose dissolving pulp to Lenzing over a five-year period for use in the production of cellulosic fibers for fashion and other textile applications.
Renewcell has also signed a letter of intent with U.S. cellulosic acetate fiber producer Eastman for a collaboration to develop Naia Renew ES yarns sourced from Circulose, and has announced a partnership with Swiss innovator HeiQ AeoniQ to develop a commercial Circulose-based yarn as a replacement for the polyester and polyamide markets.
As part of their strategic partnership to promote circularity in fashion, Lenzing and Swedish pulp producer Södra, together with Portuguese yarn and fabric manufacturer Riopele, are developing textiles made from recycled and sustainably produced materials. These will be used for key pieces of fashion brand
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Shredded denim and Circulose pulp. Renewcell
Bales of Circulose sheets. Renewcell/Alexander Donka
Lenzing viscose bale warehouse. Lenzing AG/Christian Leopold
Filippa K’s spring/summer 2024 collection, which will be presented this autumn.
This is the first fashion collection worldwide to contain Tencel x Refibra lyocell fibers based on the OnceMore pulp brand, which was jointly developed by Lenzing and Södra for the large-scale recycling of textile waste from blended fabrics. The lyocell fibers are produced by Lenzing using its Refibra technology in a closed-loop manufacturing process.
Market Demand Growing
The demand for environmentally responsible textile fibers is constantly growing, and the market for sustainable man-made cellulosic fibers is expected to increase by more than 10% over the next decade. Competition in this field
is accelerating and these first industrial players are already commercializing their products and moving towards industrialscale production.
Initially, fibers for fashion applications will be the main target, but nonwovens and technical textile end uses are also on the horizon, as Spinnova’s recent grant for R&D indicates. Many more innovators will be needed, however, to meet the growing market demand.
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 email@example.com or +44 1603 308158.
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– Customizable, application-specific workflow automation – Single/dual-beam productivity, complete specialized tooling #LetsTalkWorkflow @ Booth 1319 TPA/TTA2023, May 10-12, Atlanta, GA Efficiency beyond the cut. www.zund.com firstname.lastname@example.org T: 414 433 0700
Södra OnceMore. Södra
The Cutting Edge
By Chris Plotz
The cutting of short industrial fibers, like seen below, is a crucial step in the production of various industrial products, such as composite materials, non-woven fabrics, and other highperformance materials. Over the years, various fiber cutting or chopping technologies have been developed, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. However, with advances in technology, the future of cutting short industrial fibers is expected to be shaped by new innovations and developments.
There are many processes leading up to the formation of a fiber – whether it’s a man-man or natural fiber – to prepare it for precision cutting. While there many different types of equipment necessary to form and further process fibers, the two types of equipment that are essential to the process of cutting industrial fibers are crimping and cutting.
The crimping process is commonly utilized in the production of industrial fibers. This process involves creating a permanent crimp or wave in a fiber, which enhances its properties for use in various applications. Crimping can be applied to various types of fibers, including natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and composite fibers, and the process can be performed using different methods, including mechanical crimping, chemical crimping, and thermal crimping in a tow format. A similar crimping effect can also be accomplished on an individual fiber through the use of two different polymers extruded into a single bicomponent fiber. When the bicomponent fiber is drawn, the two polymers extend to different degrees, producing a helical crimp when the strain is relaxed.
The quality of the crimped fibers is influenced by several factors, including fiber composition, crimp pattern, and crimp frequency. The fiber composition affects
the properties of the crimped fiber, as different fibers have different melting points, moduli, and tensile strengths. For example, synthetic fibers tend to have a melting point and higher modulus than natural fibers, which do not melt, and they are more resistant to shrinkage and abrasion in the process.
The cutting process involves cutting long continuous fibers into shorter lengths 2mm to 100mm, depending on the final application. The primary objective of cutting fibers is to create a homogenous fiber distribution, which enhances the properties of the final product. During the process, the speed, volume and cutting load are optimized cutting parameters.
History of the Fiber Cutting Category
The evolution of the fiber cutting category over the last decade has seen advancements in machine speed and scale. The largest manufacturing plants have capacities of up to 300 tons per day of highquality commodity PET cotton-type fibers. These integrated facilities are highly energy efficient due primarily to the scale. Crimping is one of the essential steps in the production of staple fibers. Stufferbox crimping, which is one of several crimping methods, has created new application possibilities and has made it possible to advance man-made staple fibers in textiles and nonwovens.
Stuffer box crimping is a process in which yarn coming from the supply package is pressed in a zig-zag form into a heated box (the stuffer box, usually with wet steam) in which tow or filament yarn is jammed against itself, causing a permanent crimp. Natural fibers aren’t typically straight. They have an inherent texture and crimp so crimping is not needed to facilitate further handling. Processing of manmade and natural fibers both have
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innate issues. Processing either fiber imparts high stress on the material and the activity is very sensitive to heat, humidity, and tension. It is essential to have a uniform distribution of incoming tow fibers to assure quality and consistency.
Advantages of Different Technologies
There are several different technologies employed in processing industrial fibers. The best technologies to employ will depend on the specific application and the end requirements. It is important to choose the current technology to ensure that the fibers are cut accurately and cleanly, and that the cut fibers are suitable for the intended application.
Guillotine cutters are great for cutting soft materials as well as specialty fibers. These machines are versatile as they can be used to cut tow as well as cut shorter noncontinuous fibers. They are adjustable in the following working parameters: cutting length, cutting speed and feeding speeds and can typically be modified while the machine is running in modern equipment.
Rotary cutters require a continuous fiber with the proper tow presentation. These cutting devices are great for highspeed and high-volume cutting. This type of cutting devise can be integrated into a comprehensive fiber manufacturing line with melt preparation, spinning, quenching, drawing, and crimping or simply crimped and cut offline when nonintegrated. The size of the tow and correct tension are critical to consistent and precision cut fibers.
Some materials are not crimped prior to cutting. These would include composite reinforcement materials such as glass, carbon and aramids. These materials do not lend themselves to crimping technologies, however they can be cut with shear cutting or rotor methods.
When cutting fiber, there are several key technical considerations based on the fiber chemistries. The type of fiber material, such as carbon fiber, hemp or polyester will determine the type of cutting tool and method that is most appropriate. The
diameter of the fiber will impact the cutting process and type of tools required. For example, a smaller fiber may require specialized tooling to avoid damaging the fiber. Tensile strength of the fiber will also determine the amount of force that can be applied during the cutting process. If too much force is applied, the fiber may break, become damaged or not be in tolerance. The hardness of the fiber will impact the type of cutting tool that can be used and the amount of force that can be applied. Lastly, the presence of a coating on the fiber will also impact the cutting process. Some coatings can be easily damaged while others may aid in a cleaner cut.
Trends Going Forward
The future precision fiber processing is exciting and looking ahead, developing trends could yield some amazing advancements in the next 10 to 15 years. Automation is expected to play a significant role in the future of fiber processing, both in crimping and cutting. The use of robotic systems and automation technologies will improve the efficiency and accuracy of these processes, reducing labor costs, and minimizing the risk of injury or equipment damage.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies are expected to become increasingly prevalent in the future of precision fiber processing. These technologies will allow for real-time monitoring and analysis of the process, as well as the optimization of crimping and cutting parameters to improve precision and efficiency.
Non-contact crimping and cutting technologies also look to be a potential area for innovation. Nontraditional crimping and cutting utilizing ultrasonics technologies offer several advantages, including higher precision and reduced ma-
terial waste. Laser and water-jet cutting do not utilize a mechanical cutting blade to function, thus reducing heat build-up due to the cutting tool. These technologies are expected to become increasing popular in the years to come.
Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in all industries including precision fiber processing. The development of environmentally friendly fiber crimping and cutting technologies and the use of renewable energy sources are expected to play a significant role in the future of precision short cut and staple fiber production.
The cutting of short industrial fibers is a crucial step in the production of various industrial products, and advances in technology are expected to continue to shape the future of this process. From automation and artificial intelligence to non-contact cutting and sustainability, the trends and developments that are happening now are expected to drive the future of precision fiber cutting and improve the efficiency of the process. As demand for high-performance materials continues to grow, it is expected that the precision cutting industry will continue to evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of its customers.
Chris Plotz is the Director of Technical and Business Development at Minifibers Inc. in Johnson City, TN. Plotz is a business leader with 25 years of technical product and business development in a number of industries. He is responsible for leading and supporting all segments of growth of Minifibers’ markets including C.A.S.E., nonwovens, composites and textiles of both synthetic and natural fibers. He can be reached at cplotz@ minifibers.com or +1 423.616.2171.
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The development of environmentally friendly fiber crimping and cutting technologies and the use of renewable energy sources are expected to play a significant role in the future of precision short cut and staple fiber production.
BUILT for Sustainability
By Caryn Smith, Chief Content Officer and Publisher, IFJ
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Vision for Heartland Polymers
new PP Plant
is fully operational.
in Alberta, Canada
ustainability is at the heart of the Heartland Polymers story. Being only the second polypropylene plant to come online in a decade, they have a lot to say about it as they initiate production. Owned by parent company Inter Pipeline, the company began construction in early 2018 on the Heartland Complex, which was completed mid-2022. The operation just announced in March 2023 that they have entered full commercial production and are the first integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene complex in North America built on a single site.
“Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our operations team, I am proud to report that our propane dehydrogenation plant has been providing a reliable on-site source of feedstock to our polypropylene production since the end of 2022. Heartland is responsibly producing and shipping polypropylene to customers daily, and we continue to focus on optimizing our service,” said Todd Karran, CEO at Heartland Polymers.
The facility was designed with environmental stewardship as a core value since its inception and is expected to be the lowest emitting operation of its kind. Verified by an independent third party, the company reports that it expects the Heartland Complex to emit 65% lower greenhouse gas emissions than similar operations around the world. The plant uses hydrogen produced as a by-product at the propane dehydrogenation facility as fuel for HPC to reduce GHG emissions by approximately 130,000 tonnes per year. “This sets us apart and delivers on our promise of something new and different to serve the needs of our customers,” Karran said.
With a workforce of approximately 300, and centrally located in the stable climate of Alberta, Canada on 220 acres, and direct access to a vast railway system, the plant production capacity is expected to be 525,000 metric tonnes per year or 1.16 billion pounds per year – enough to fill 16 rail cars per day.
With the project since 2011, we caught up with Amelie Delisle, Vice President, Petrochemical Commercial at Inter Pipe-
line. Inter Pipeline is the parent company to Heartland Polymers. She has spent the last 10 years seeing the vision for this plant come to life and shares its evolution with International Fiber Journal
IFJ: Tell us about the beginnings of Heartland Polymers.
Amelie Delisle: I am currently the Vice President of Petrochemical Commercial, but my role in Heartland started many years ago when we first began looking at the PDH project in late 2011, early 2012. At that time, I was working for Williams Canada, in oil and gas, and I’ve been with the project since the conception stage. It is special to be with it from very early on, so I consider myself lucky to have had that privilege; not everyone that gets that chance in their career.
The project grew organically over time. Williams was a producer of both propane and polymer grade propylene (PGP). As the only PGP producer in Canada, it gave us a unique position to identify the opportunity and to contemplate a project of this scale. Over several years, the propane project grew to also include a polypropylene plant. Initially, we looked at bringing on partners, and after the 2016 Inter Pipeline Ltd. acquisition of Williams’ natural gasliquids businesses, we decided to pursue it ourselves.
For anyone who’s gone through acquisition, sometimes that can introduce a little bit of uncertainty – but for our project it was actually a great opportunity as Inter Pipeline stepped up and moved the project forward, including the plans for the polypropylene plant.
Fast forward to 2023, and we’re now producing polypropylene from Alberta propane.
IFJ: What are some of the challenges you overcame getting to where you are today?
Delisle: This was a very exciting, but challenging, project to enter the polypropylene market. It was also a step up for Inter Pipeline, as that was not a current market for them. We identified any gaps in experience and hired qualified people to join our team to fill them.
With construction starting in 2018, another challenge that I’d be remiss not to mention is the COVID pandemic that hit at the height of our construction when we were having peak workforce at the site.
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The facility was designed with environmental stewardship as a core value since its inception and is expected to be the lowest emitting operation of its kind.
Our site is a relatively small footprint, so having thousands of people on a site while we were trying to social distance and keep everyone safe, that introduced many logistical challenges.
IFJ: Share the vision and the implementation of the sustainability aspect, such as recyclability, that is a core theme for Heartland Polymers.
Delisle: Decisions along the way from a design perspective allowed us to kind of organically get to that point of sustainability. I’ll give you a few examples. Our pellets are 35% less carbon intensive than the average North American pellet and 65% less than the international average and it is verified by an independent thirdparty study. We’re very proud of this.
Furthermore, our sustainability comes from three elements. The first is scale. We are a relatively large-scale plant, so that always helps on a per unit basis. Next, our power and steam are generated or produced by an on-site cogeneration plant which provides much lower carbon than other power sources or grids in the world right. And, finally, because we are co-located with our PDH plant, one of the PDH byproducts is hydrogen. We use that to fuel the plant. Hydrogen is kind of the darling fuel right now as a zero-carbon fuel. I’m grateful that our team had foresight many years ago to design that into the plant, without knowing that industry would be where it is today.
Another example of sustainability is water conservation. Traditionally, plants like this use water for cooling. We made the decision very early on utilize A-frame condensers and glycol systems to minimize water consumption. Carbon gets all the attention right now, but water conservation is right behind it.
IFJ: This is only the second PP plant to come online in the last ten years. How is your plant positioned to serve your customers?
Delisle: First, I think our location provides an advantage to our customers. As you know, resin production is somewhat concentrated in North America. With Heartland being north of that base, we offer the diversity of sourcing, so if ever there is a
weather event that impacts a region, typically it will not also impact our facility at the same time, offering a diversification. Also, we can provide security of feedstock. We’re an integrated plant – meaning the entire operation is based on a single-site, from feedstock to shipping – and propane is very abundant in Western Canada, especially here in Alberta, therefore we don’t foresee ever being feedstock constrained.
We were very deliberate in developing our market entry strategy, evaluating customer needs with market research, and combined with a fresh energy. We wanted to understand what customers wanted and what they were not seeing in the market and provide a continuous feedback loop in our approach to market to continue improving and evolving along with our customers.
Currently, Heartland is focused on the film and sheet extrusion sector as a point of market entry, then fibers, obviously, is one of our target markets, as well as injection molding. Those are the high-level market segments.
We offer technology to provide the customer with communication. With our new fleet, GPS is attached to each vehicle for better tracking by customers of all shipments. We have a robust customer portal to bring transparency to our customer, keeping those open lines of communication open so that they can plan for delivery.
We just announced that our PDH/PP has entered full commercial production,
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Our pellets are 35% less carbon intensive than the average North American pellet and 65% less than the international average and it is verified by an independent thirdparty study. We’re very proud of this.
Women at Heartland: Taylor Enders, a graduate of the Women Building Futures (WBF) program.
Amelie Delisle, Vice President of Petrochemical Commercial, Heartland Polymers.
as the only single-site propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and polypropylene (PP) complex in North America. This sets us apart and delivers on our promise of something new and different to serve the needs of our customers.
IFJ: During construction, you partnered with the Women Building Futures program. How did that work? What attracted you to this industry?
Delisle: We’re very proud of our work with their program that seeks to bring women into the trades, providing education and opportunities. It was a very successful program during construction, and we had over 25 students working and being mentored on site. We are looking at opportunities to grow more programs with WBF.
As a woman in the industry, my background is engineering and physics. Working in Canada as an engineer looking for opportunity here early- to mid-2000, the energy industry was a strong pool for engineers. I think my evolution and the fact that I stayed with the industry is what is most unique. It happened organically and I was lucky to be with Williams which had a smaller footprint in Canada and provided me great opportunities to learn. Initially, we were working on projects that recovered offgas from oil sands upgraders, and we were effectively reducing their oil carbon footprint, which was some-
thing relatively new at the time. Then, the excitement that this project brought was really what got me to stay with it and to grow alongside it in my career.
IFJ: What are Heartland’s future strategic goals?
Delisle: Heartland will continue to evolve with our customers, and to keep improving in the emissions and the sustainability space. We are also looking at a blue ammonia and blue methanol projects. The industry is talking about a lot about hydrogen, and the this project that our parent company, Inter Pipeline is evaluating would be a really a great way to bring
hydrogen to market. It is another exciting opportunity. Finally, there’s also always the question to explore if we have capacity for a second PDH plant. We don’t have plans today, but it’s certainly an opportunity that we will keep a close eye on.
IFJ: How did you develop your product with recyclability in mind and providing the customer what they have come to expect from PP?
Delisle: We began by looking at the market research and the technology we selected to ensure that we could offer a wide range of products. On the recyclability side, this is evolving, and we recognize that, but we have some great partnerships in place. I’ll point to our work with Plastics Research in Action (PRIA), working with them on potential uses for plastics at the end of their lifecycle. We work to honor its Responsible Care Mandate, to “do the right thing and be seen to do the right thing.” For instance, we are working with them to help develop methodology to measure microplastics in water streams and really excited about the research and the opportunities it brings.
At this point, Heartland Polymers is really getting off the ground, we are fully open for business and we are committed to working with the customers to optimize and tailor our business to suit their needs for today and for the future.
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Heartland quality control lab.
Polymer pellets production.
BIOCHEMICALS: A Future Path for Textiles Production?
By Martin Ledwon
In a world where 96% of products – including textiles – rely on chemical intermediates for their manufacture, the chemical industry urgently needs to find alternatives to fossil-based feedstocks to help tackle the climate crisis. In contrast to oil or natural gas, the use of renewable carbon from wood to produce bio-based products will have a crucial role – alongside carbon from direct CO2 utilization and carbon from recycling of existing materials – in delivering a net zero future, argues Martin Ledwon, Vice President Sustainability, UPM Biorefining.
The risks of climate change now need little introduction.
We are already starting to live with the impacts of a changing climate on the environment, communities, businesses and supply chains. The ambition to limit global warming to 1.5°C is now hanging by a thread, with voices challenging whether keeping within the 1.5°C trajectory is even still feasible – now making each 0.1°C rise above 1.5°C hugely significant.
With an increasingly narrow window to stabilize climate, it is now incumbent upon major primary industries to take a broader approach to sustainability than solely through decarbonizing of energy sources. In addition to championing a truly circular economy, due to its immense responsibility to supply intermediate products to downstream manufacturers, the chemicals industry needs to curb its high dependency on fossil fuel completely.
Specifically, this means finding alternative, renewable feedstocks to replace current petroleum-based ones in the production of chemical intermediates.
Often referred to as “renewable carbon,” the alternative feedstock sources available today are from biomass (typically wood, crops, manure, algae, etc.), from carbon capture or from the recycling of materials already used. For the purposes of this discussion, we are focusing on wood. Not only is it one of the most widely available feedstock sources – and, operationally speaking, one of the easiest to directly replace fossil-based sources – its chemical make-up allows for similar or even enhanced performance characteristics to their fossil-based counterparts.
At the Root of the Problem
Only two years ago, textile consumption in Europe ranked fourth with regard to
the highest impact on the environment and climate change globally. It also had the third highest impact on water and land use – and the fifth highest in terms of raw material use and greenhouse gas emissions.1 And if that wasn’t damning enough, approximately 60% of all materials used by the fashion industry2 and 70% used in homeware textiles,3 are made from fossil-based polymers.
It is evident that industries relying on textiles – from fashion to homewares – are facing a major challenge to align themselves with sustainability strategies of other industries. But we need to look back through the textile production value chain to find the real root of the problem. The chemicals industry – which is largely responsible for the vast number of fossilbased materials – has been slow in its ambition to develop innovative, less CO2intensive feedstocks for textile materials.
The Chemicals System: Beginning of the Story
The global chemical industry is responsible for a vast number of man-made textiles which form a significant part of our modern consumer world – everything from clothing, footwear and bedding to furnishings, carpeting, car interiors and much more.
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Producing synthetic fibers or a mix of natural and synthetic materials, the industry generates over $3.5 trillion in revenues annually, representing around 4% of global GDP – roughly equal to the output of Russia, the world’s fourth largest emitting country – and directly employing over 11 million people.4 But it also accounts for 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions,5 of which the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates 75% is from the production of large-volume chemical intermediates (e.g., ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, ammonia, and methanol).6 And this does not include the emissions from the vast array of allied industries which rely on chemical intermediates essential to almost all sectors of the economy. These chemicals are present in the healthcare, personal hygiene, packaging, agriculture, textiles, automotive, construction and many other systems, with 96% of manufactured goods depending on their use.7
Replacing fossil-based feedstocks – such as oil and natural gas – with renewable sources will lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), even under the
most conservative assumptions (i.e., 25% conversion and high separation energy), biochemicals can reduce GHG emissions by up to 88% – and up to 94% under the most optimistic conditions (i.e., 75% conversion and easy separation).8
However, the chemical industry has so far lagged behind other sectors in transitioning their operations to sustainable models of operation – and until it does, it is impossible for other sectors reliant on chemical products to be truly sustainable.
Today, the global chemical value chain is predominantly linear, with low reuse and recycling rates and significant waste generation. For a transition to a more environmentally-friendly mode of operating to become a reality, the chemical industry needs to take a broader approach to sustainability than solely abating climate impacts through decarbonizing
of energy sources. It needs to curb its high dependency on fossil fuel completely. Specifically, this means finding alternative carbon sources to petroleum-based feedstocks for its chemical intermediates. In order for the industry to seriously play its part in becoming more sustainable, it is estimated that at least 59% of its feedstock (and up to 93%) should come from sustainable sources by 2050 – up from less than 5% in 2020.9
While most countries now have an unambiguous strategy towards transitioning to 100% renewable energy systems by 2050 or 2060 based on solar, wind, hydrogen and other renewable energies, there are few corresponding policies or strategies which demand the same of material feedstocks. This means we are largely reliant on the demands by downstream industries – and their consumers – for more
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Beechwood can be used in the production of bio-based chemicals to create man-made fibers.
Renewable wood-based biochemicals are one of the most innovative and practical alternatives to fossil-based feedstocks.
sustainable products. Plus, the foresight and sustainability ambitions of innovative chemical producers.
But with almost the entire carbon feedstock used in the chemical system currently from virgin fossil sources, the transition to alternative feedstocks represents an enormous challenge. However, one bio-chemical innovator that has risen to the challenge – Finnish company, UPM Biochemicals – will be the first to produce wood-based biochemicals on a large scale, with its €750 million biorefinery at Leuna in the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. Renewable wood-based biochemicals are one of the most innovative, yet practical solutions to the fossilbased feedstock transition, offering brand owners and material producers exciting new opportunities for improving their environmental performance.
And UPM has ensured its wood-based feedstocks have sustainability built into each and every part of its value chain. All the wood used is fully traceable and supported by a verified third-party chain of custody, either FSC®- or PEFC-certified, and sourced from regional forests. Up to 60%, by far largest part of the wood harvested in Germany, is currently used for
energy generation. It is burned. However, its use in long-life and recyclable products would make the best of the renewable carbon provided by wood and have a bigger impact in mitigating climate change. Valuing wood, using it wisely in the postfossil world means we need to reduce the amount of wood used for fuel and energetic use and increase its material use to foster a circular economy and work towards zero virgin fossil feedstock.
Look to the Forest
Trees are composed of 20-30% of lignin, a complex polymer found in the wood cell walls and giving wood its stiffness and resistance to degradation. This valuable compound can serve as raw materials in the production of bio-based chemicals which can be used in the manufacture of man-made fibers, among many other products. Lignin also offers UV and temperature stability, and even enhances moisture resistance, so helping to prevent bacterial and fungal attack. It is these properties that make lignin an ideal biobased substitute for various petroleumbased products used today. Lignin has already found its way into a rapidly growing number of industrial applications
such as resins, adhesives, bio-plastics, and polyurethanes. And not only do trees provide an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil-based feedstocks, they also absorb large amounts of CO2 during their growing phase and currently represent the only scalable “negative emissions” strategy. And trees of all varieties contribute significantly to improving biodiversity and wildlife habitats.
Not only is lignin bio-based, but the chemical intermediates that can be produced from it have the same chemical properties and performance as fossilbased chemicals and require no operational changes or retrofitting of existing manufacturing facilities. And its direct substitution for fossil-based feedstocks has a vast array of applications – particularly for the textile industry.
And the benefit of wood-based feedstock reaches far beyond just reducing emissions from the chemical production process. In addition to reducing the carbon footprint of an end product during the manufacturing phase, the carbon sequestered from the atmosphere by the trees is retained throughout the whole manufacturing process – so within the wood feedstock, the subsequent biochemical intermediate and even into the end product where it remains locked-in for life.
For our new state-of-the-art biorefinery, which is due to become operational in 2024, UPM will primarily use beechwood feedstock, from which it will produce 220,000 tonnes of biochemical intermediates annually. Beech trees are native
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Valuing wood, using it wisely in the post-fossil world means we need to reduce the amount of wood used for fuel and energetic use and increase its material use to foster a circular economy and work towards zero virgin fossil feedstock.
Textile consumption in Europe was ranked fourth as having the highest impact on climate change globally.
to Germany and, as a species considered central to the country’s long-term strategy to become more resilient to climate change. Forests in Central Europe are being rebuilt to become more diverse and climate resilient and a mix of species, nature protection and biodiversity standards are central to these regeneration efforts. This also means that new economical end uses must emerge which we provide as part of a push towards de-fossilizing chemical and material value streams.
Beech has long been in demand in the furniture sector, but because manufacturers only want the trunks, the branches and forest management by-products have typically been incinerated, resulting in both a waste of high-quality, usable raw material and contributing further to CO2 emissions.
UPM’s beechwood, including branches and off-cuts, are sourced from certified (FSC/PEFC), locally managed local forests, so neither competes for land for food production, nor requires fertilizers – two of the biggest criticisms of some other biofeedstocks such as sugarcane. UPM also oversees the responsible planting, growing, harvesting and collection of beech trees, plus the residues and so-called thinnings from sawmill operations – of which around 70% normally ends up being incinerated.
It’s from this fully sustainable source that UPM Biochemicals has developed a new generation of renewable bio-based “drop-in” glycols. Mono-ethylene glycols (MEG), polyurethanes (PU) and polyethylene terephthalate (better known as PET or polyester) are vital ingredients in the production of man-made fibers and materials used in the manufacture of countless types of textiles.
Integration into existing manufacture can be easily implemented because UPM’s bio-glycol, BioPura™ is a molecular likefor-like substitute, enabling a much more sustainably sourced, virgin bio-polyester to be manufactured. Ideally, this biopolyester will be mechanically recycled at the end of life, just as fossil-based polyester should be. If the polyester can’t be mechanically recycled anymore, it can be chemically recycled using ‘glycolysis’. This process requires additional MEG to create new recycled polyester and using BioPura™ here will create a holistic circular economy in the polyester value chain.
A Case in Point
UPM Biochemicals and Dongsung Chemical, headquartered in South Korea, recently announced a partnership to accelerate the introduction of renewable, sustainable forest-sourced materials into the Asian market in order to reduce fossil resource consumption. With manufacturing of textiles heavily concentrated in countries across Asia – including 88% of all footwear – the collaboration represents a milestone in the development a renewable polyurethane product based on UPM Biochemicals’ biobased mono-ethylene glycols (MEG), UPM BioPura.™ Initially Dongsung will use the new bio-based MEG to develop renewable polyurethane (PU) – for which glycol is a primary constituent – for the footwear market. Mid soles – particularly for athletic footwear – are usually manufactured from fossilbased PU, and while some fossil materials will still be present, the addition of the bio-based PU will be a major advancement in Dongsung’s ambitions to develop more eco-friendly materials. Indeed, there are
already plans to expand the field of application to automotive interior materials and adhesives.
Wood is one of humanity’s most ancient raw materials but it can also take us into the future.
UPM Biochemicals is at the vanguard of the transition to a circular bioeconomy – where sustainable, renewable production and consumption is the new normal. It is pioneering sustainable chemistry –innovating in chemical processes, scaling biorefining and unlocking the potential of biomass to transform industries.
Replacing fossil and mineral-based materials with wood-based biochemical ingredients will also lock-in carbon sequestered from the atmosphere for the life of the product. This enables us to radically reduce the carbon footprint of materials and provide better, more sustainable choices to consumers.
1. European Environment Agency; Textiles and the environment: the role of design in Europe’s circular economy; February 10, 2022
2. UN Environment Program; Fashion’s Tiny Hidden Secret; March 13, 2019
3. As per reference 1 above
4. Systemiq; Planet Positive Chemicals: A Pathway for the Chemical Industry to Enable a Sustainable Global Economy; September 2022; page 9
5. As above
6. Greenhouse Gas Emission Mitigation Potential of Chemicals Produced from Biomass; October 20, 2021; American Chemical Society; Kefeng Huang et al
7. American Chemistry Council; The Business of Chemistry by the Numbers
8. As per reference 5 above
9. As per 3 above; page 40
Martin Ledwon is the Vice President Stakeholder Relations for UPM Biorefining. He leads Sustainability and Market Development, Marketing and Communications for UPM’s innovative biorefining businesses - advanced biofuels and biochemicals derived from wood and wood residues. UPM Biorefining is building a new category for renewable, wood-based materials in textile, packaging and automotive applications. Before joining UPM in 2017, he held marketing and government affairs leadership roles at Siemens and Tetrapak after spending eight years in public affairs consulting.
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The chemical industry’s production of synthetic fibres and other materials account for 4% of greenhouse gases.
By Seshadri Ramkumar, Ph.D.
Nonwovens and Advanced Materials Laboratory, Texas Tech University
Seshadri Ramkumar, Ph.D., is professor of nonwovens and advanced materials at Texas Tech University. He is a member of Technical Advisory Board at INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. He was the immediate past chair of the Nonwovens Engineers & Technologists (NET) Division of TAPPI, and he publishes a column called TexSnips. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Size Matters: Opportunities for Tech Textiles
Manipulating materials and functionalization at the bottom of the size scale are two important tools that the textiles sector has at its disposal to develop advanced textiles. For six decades, there has been growing interest in exploring and exploiting the science at the bottom of the material size range. Professor Richard Feynman is credited with re-discovering this aspect of science and technology and the field is enabling amazing developments in materials science, medicine, energy harvesting and storage. The textiles sector has been exploiting this field since the 1990s, focusing on the electrospinning of nanofibers. Nanofiber spinning, nanomaterials for textile functionalization and nano surface finishing are some disciplines which have gained considerable attention and has resulted in commercial products such as water repellant clothing, air filters, etc.
Outlook for the nano sector by many agencies indicate that this sector will have an annual growth rate of 10-15% during this decade. Many governments have national missions such as the National Nanoscience Initiative in the United States and the
National Mission on Technical Textiles in India, which are enabling the growth in advanced textiles that involve different aspects of nanoscience.
Disruptive vs. Incremental Developments
Scaled-up production of nanofibers has enabled commercialization of nanofiber-based filters and myriad advanced textiles. While the development of nanofibers and nanocoating was considered as disruptive when it occurred three decades back, subsequent developments have been incremental. These days, there are commercial scale electrospinning units and allied technologies that help with the mass production of nanofibers. However, the production levels are not at normal levels common in commodity textiles. Leading filtration and advanced textiles manufacturers have been using nanofiber and submicron substrates for developing high efficiency filters, high-end wipes and clean room products.
The need for high surface area and high adsorbent/absorbent substrates has heightened with the aerosolized mode of transport of viruses and other microbes since the COVID-19 pandemic. Research and surveys have shown that nanofiber embedded high efficiency Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFRs) are good at filtering aerosolized submicron-sized particleswith size less than or equal to 0.03 micron, such as SARS-CoV-2. During the COVID-19 period, there have been many incremental developments involving coatings and functionalization of nanosubstrates.
Functionalization Using Nanoparticles
Fine sized particles such as nano metaloxides offer high surface area and reactive sites, which add value to nanofiber-based substrates. Nanoparticle functionalized materials degrade penetrating particles and toxic chemicals in addition to filtration. United States Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) recognized the impor-
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EnviroKlenz Mobile Air System at-home filtration; and EnviroKlenz’s HVAC Filter (inset). EnviroKlenz is the brand from Timilon Corporation who manufactures high surface area micron and submicron powders, mostly metaloxides that can be incorporated with fibrous substrates. EnviroKlenz
tance of this field by funding projects at academic institutes like Kansas State University. Early stage support resulted in start-ups, which have resulted in the commercialization of nano filter and wipes.
A recent research project at Texas Tech University has effectively utilized the in-situ functionalization of nanofibers with nanoparticles while spinning the fibers. Functionalized poly(vinylidene fluoride) [PVDF] fibers were able to catalytically degrade toxic dyes such as Rhodamine B at visible light range. Such filters were able to perform at visible light range instead at UV-range providing more efficiency.
Timilon Corporation manufactures high surface area micron and submicron powders, mostly metaloxides that can be incorporated with fibrous substrates, which can be made into pleated filters and different functionalized industrial textiles. Functional nanoparticles help to diversify products and applications. “Although the Timilon nanoparticle technology was originally designed for chemical decontamination applications, bringing the technology to the air purification market in the forms of our EnviroKlenz air purifiers, filters, and cartridges has been rewarding and a good fit for the capabilities of the compounds, especially the past few years as air quality and pollution has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind,” stated Kyle Knappenberger, Director of Technology Support and Quality Assurance at Timilon Corporation.
Next Phase of Nanomaterials
The advanced textiles sector can harness the enormous potential of the nano science field by paying attention to three aspects: 1) Scalability; 2) Environmental issues; and 3) Cost points with respect to the environmental aspect, some concerns that still persist pertain to understanding toxicity, solvent recovery and micro/ nano level pollution.
Research laboratories can work with regulatory bodies through research funding mechanisms to evaluate environmental concerns. Knowledge generated with public support will be valuable for the industry to address the safety concerns and move forward with commercialization. Industry can collaborate with academic research laboratories for translating research from laboratory to market space through Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. These days, national governments are interested in supporting such activities in burgeoning areas such as nanoscience, green energy harvesting and nano medicine. Nanofibrous substrates find applications in areas such as tissue engineering, battery separation, high efficiency filters, PPEs, etc.
Many governments have national missions such as the National Nanoscience Initiative in the United States and the National Mission on Technical Textiles in India, which are enabling the growth in advanced textiles that involve different aspects of nanoscience.
The advanced textiles sector involving nano products need to take sustainability seriously with the use of earth friendly materials and exploiting green chemicals and processes. The nano sector is lagging in these areas, which provide enormous opportunities for government supported research activities. Chennai, India-based Asthagiri Herbal Foundation is involved in research on nano formulations for antimicrobial applications from herbal and natural products. Such research efforts are promising and offer new opportunities for the textile sector to find replacements for fossil fuel-based monomers. By utilizing cotton fibers which are finer compared to base range fibers can help with developing high absorbent wipes. The textiles sector should concentrate on understanding the effect of size. For example, considering the fineness of fibers or manipulating the micro and nano surface layers to have different surface finishing effects.
In summary, nano field provides fertile platform for the SMEs in the manufacturing sector to diversify and expand into advanced and functionalized materials fields. “Startups in nano areas are important for pushing new opportunities that may not be looked at by bigger companies,” stated Kyle Knappenberger. The nanotextile sector needs to focus on new knowledge generation, work on safety concerns and undertake wider outreach to stakeholders such as policy makers and consumers.
The manufacturing sector is getting due attention in developed economies and nano manufacturing has its due role in the growth of the manufacturing sector and economy.
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By Andreas Engelhardt President, The Fiber Year GmbH
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
TFY 2023 –From Optimism to Recession in 2022
Work for The Fiber Year
2023 still is in full swing but recognizable is a similar development to 2020 with natural fiber supply expanding and manmade fibers output shrinking. Declaring a pandemic in March 2020 has caught the world off guard just like the outbreak of the war in Ukraine in February last year. IMF world economic outlook projected economic growth of 4.4% in 2022 before Russia’s war of aggression and downgraded its projection to 3.4% a year later.
The development of textile and apparel exports for major industries delivers an impactful reflection of slowing demand as well as worsening industry and consumer sentiment.
Cumulative Export Value Exceeding US$500 Billion
The chart includes export dynamics of a dozen Asian industries with a cumulative value worth US$520 billion, up almost 3% (see Fig. 1). This summary delivers quite a representative image of last year’s trend in demand. The next chart will specifically refer to Bangladesh and Mexico.
The first quarter was strong in both manufacturing and exports with all major industries recording significant gains ranging from 5% to 28% versus the same quarter a year ago.
The second quarter was characterized by weaker manufacturing and exports but still at a reasonable
level with the Korean export industry first entering negative growth territory.
Third quarter did not bring recovery after a summer vacation everybody hoped for, but led to further slowing with negative export growth additionally from India, Indonesia and Türkiye despite Turkish CPI at 80% plus.
The final quarter was a disaster with rolling shutdowns of manufacturing units, further slowing retail sales and extended year-end holidays. The group of industries suffering from negative export growth can be enlarged by Cambodia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and China, partly due to the strict zero-COVID policy before it was lifted early December
Steady Increases in Exports From Bangladesh and Mexico
Bangladesh and Mexico were the only top exporting industries with steady increases in quarterly shipments by value through the last year. Joint shipments, accounting for US$55 billion, expanded by 26% (see Fig. 2).
Bangladesh’s dynamics into the United States recorded the third-fastest growth rate among the top 10 suppliers and achieved into the European Union even the second position after surging deliveries from Myanmar. The comparison in value terms in times of high inflation runs the risk of distorting the real situation. Thus, to give an example, Bangladeshi shipments into EU soared 52% in local currency terms but just advanced 19% in volume terms thanks to faster expansion of woven garment articles than knitwear.
Mexican textile and primarily apparel
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THE FIBER YEAR
industry benefited from near-shoring driven by the trade situation between the United States and China and from companies‘ need for reliable supply chains that facilitated openness for sourcing in Mexico and Central America as alternatives rather than depending entirely on the Chinese industry.
It is well enough known that the apparel business is extremely price-sensitive. It is like a traveling circus moving from one place with low wages to another with even lower wages. Hence, we cannot deny that everything is driven by pricing – leading to the crucial question of “how long will the region’s attractiveness last?”
Will regions’ appeal fade with normalcy returning to the global supply chain after shipping costs sharply fell already during last year, after the Chinese government lifted strict COVID-19 restrictions and after apparel makers aggressively offered steep discounts?
According to the National Council of Textile Organisations (NCTO), over US$1 billion of new textile and apparel investments have been announced in Central America and the United States over the last year. However, only time will tell whether the return to nearshoring and reduced movement of goods will remain in place. If so, it would additionally contribute to ambitious sustainability targets.
Natural Fiber Supply to Recover
The group of natural fibers is expected to have seen some growth last year, primarily driven by enlarged cotton harvesting. The cotton season ending July last year is projected to have
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The final quarter was a disaster with rolling shutdowns of manufacturing units, further slowing retail sales and extended year-end holidays.
lifted production by about 5% while use was tolerably stable. The sentiment in the current season running through July has clearly worsened with both production and use being a number of times downgraded with the latest projection revealing 3% reduced output and 10% lower use compared with last season. The lower production forecast was essentially affected by extreme weather events in Australia, Pakistan and the United States.
7th Decline of Manmade Fibers in 60 years
The chart shows more than 60 years of manmade fiber history, starting at a time when manmade fiber output was about 3 million tonnes with 80% cellulosics and synthetics still in its infancy with threequarter of a million tonnes supply. Their share in the global fiber market amounted to around 15% before the breathtaking development brought them into the dominant position to occupy about three quarters of the world fiber supply by now. Nevertheless, the development was occasionally interrupted by negative
growth in times of recession and oil price surge (see Fig. 3).
It started with the first oil crisis when OPEC proclaimed a six-month oil embargo and cut oil deliveries, which raised the oil price fourfold. Manmade fiber production fell in two years in a row by 2% in 1974 and by 6% the year after.
The second oil crisis was essentially caused by the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and resulted in the most severe post-war recession with the steepest contraction in manmade fiber production by -7%.
Manmade fiber output again entered negative growth territory during the global financial crisis and fell around 5% in 2008.
The manmade fiber industry was surprisingly strong when the once-in-a-hundred-years event – at least I hope so – hit the world after declaring a pandemic in March 2020. Output was just marginally sub-zero. However, it was a two-speed development with the Chinese industry lifting manufacturing while the rest of the world suffered from 10% contraction.
Not all data are yet confirmed for the previous year but it very much looks like
another decrease with not even a handful of industries achieving positive growth. A slowing is expected for both wood-based cellulosics and oil-based synthetics, affecting all mainstream fiber types. Digging a bit deeper reveals expansions just in some smaller-scale sectors such as lyocell, aramid and carbon fibers.
Lyocell fibers benefit from outstanding wearing properties and perfectly match with global requirements for sustainability. Increase of aramid fibers was triggered by high demand in optical fiber cable markets, growing automotive consumption and increasing need for protective clothing (see Fig. 4). Carbon fibers were pushed by surging demand for wind energy, faster than expected improvement in air traffic, fleet replenishment and the launch of composite-rich freighters and business jets.
The full picture of latest market developments will be available in The Fiber Year 2023 from May, including a wealth of information from feedstocks to fibers, yarns, nonwovens and trade data.
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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Composite Industry to Focus on Sustainability
ustainability will be an important focus when the global composites community gathers at JEC World 2023 in Paris, April 25-27. The event will feature an entire conference segment on sustainability – a key growth driver – for the industry.
Last year’s event drew more than 32,000 professional visitors both in person and online from more than 115 countries. There were 1,201 exhibitors and 26 pavilions solidifying JEC World as the leading gathering place for the global composite industry.
Among the several conferences running parallel to the exhibition this year, Sustainability is by far the biggest, with four main topics:
Green is the New Black: Natural Fibers & Bio-Based Polymers for Bio-composites. Speakers are Marc Tometschek, CEO –Beologic NV; Burcu Karaca Ugural, CoFounder & CTO – BPREG; Karim Behlouli, Managing Director – Eco-technilin; Tom Claessen, Business Development Humins – Avantium Renewable Polymers BV; Adam Thomson, Director – Vehicle Concepts & Body Engineering – Volta Trucks, and Wridzer Bakker, CEO – Plantics B.V.
Less is Better: Reducing Waste, Costs, Energy & Time for Sustainable Composites Manufacturing. Speakers are Merlin Theodore, Advanced Fibers Manufacturing Group Lead – UT-Battelle; Marcus Kremers, CTO – AIRBORNE; Cyrille Camus, Sales Director Machine Tools Systems and dedicated Verticals Aerospace & Power Manufacturing – Siemens SAS; Julie Vaudour, Deputy Head of Research & Development – DAHER, and Alexandre Hamlyn, Chief Innovation Officer, Coriolis.
Lightweight Made in Europe: Challenges & Opportunities. Rene Adam, Director Research and Technology – FACC Operations GmbH; Thomas Hipke, Head of main
division – Fraunhofer IWU; Cecilia Ramberg, Director of LIGHTer – RISE; Pedro Mimoso, Director of Business Development – PIEP – Centre for Innovation in Polymer Engineering; Dirk Vogel, Dipl.-Ing. Managing Director – RKW Sachsen GmbH; and Martin ZOTTLER, Project Manager – Business Upper Austria are the featured speakers.
4 Rs (Recycling, Reusing, Repurposing, Repairing): Composites in a Circular Economy. Speakers are Raphaël Pleynet, Managing Director – EuCIA; Nicolas Derrien, Co-founder & CEO – Continuum Group Aps; Stefan Caba, Head of Innovation Area Sustainable Vehicle Engineering – EDAG Engineering GmbH; Amael Cohades, CEO –CompPair Technologies Ltd.; Tim Rademacer, Director Sales Composites EMEA – Mitsubishi Chemical Group, and John Busel, VP, Composites Growth Initiative – American Composites Manufacturers Association.
Keynotes and Business
There are three keynotes to be delivered during the three-day event, starting with Composite Innovations in Architecture by Greg Lynn, CEO & Professor Architecture – Piaggio Fast Forward, followed by Roland Jourdain’s Success in the Route du Rhum on the We Explore Flax Fiber Composite Boat, and Advanced Lightweight Materials – A European Commission Perspective by George Kotsikos, Project Officer – European Commission – Health and Digital Executive Agency.
There are also three business conferences covering Composites in Construction, Aerospace, and the Future in Ground Transportation with Composites.
As always, there is the JEC Composites Innovation Awards that over the last quarter of a century has been given out to 214 companies and 527 partners, and
this year there are 11 winners that were announced in March:
Aerospace – Parts
FRAUNHOFER ICT (Germany): Hybrid seating structure
Aerospace – Process
CETIM (France): Manufacture a Krueger wing flap in thermoplastic.
Automotive & Road Transportation –Design Part
DR. ING. H.C. F. PORSCHE AG
(Germany): World’s first carbon roll cage for production cars
Automotive & Road Transportation –Process
AUDI AG (Germany): BEV battery protection plate in composite design
Building & Civil Engineering
NANOTURES (Spain): A Composite
Roof for The Stadium of Real Madrid
Circularity & Recycling
TOYOTA INDUSTRIES CORPORATION
(Japan): 100% Recycled Cf Spun Yarn and Applied Products
Digital, AI & Data
NIAR WSU (United States): In-Process Afp Manufacturing Inspection System
Equipment, Machinery & Heavy Industries
ISOTRUSS, INC (United States):
Isotruss® Carbon Fiber Tower
Maritime Transportation & Shipbuilding
CHANTIERS DE L’ATLANTIQUE
(France): Solid Sail Mast
HUNTSMAN Advanced Materials
(Switzerland): New Acrylic Adhesives for A Better World
Sports, Leisure & Recreation
SWANCOR HOLDING CO., LTD
(Taiwan): Recyclable Thermoset Cfrp Composite Bike
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Exhibitors from all around the world will showcase their latest innovations and products at JEC World 2023 in Paris in April. JEC World
Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas to Spotlight Education, Training and Innovation
s a leading business platform, Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas will bring decision makers from all of the major industries that touch technical textiles, nonwovens, sewn products, equipment and technology together in one place to experience the latest innovations. The unified platform will host more than 350 companies from over 30 countries and take place in Atlanta, Georgia from May 10-12, 2023.
A key feature of these co-located shows is the breadth of knowledge and experience coalesced in this single location.
“The industry is rapidly evolving, and we’re excited for attendees and exhibitors of Techtextil North America and Texprocess Americas to have a front row seat to the action,” said Kristy Meade, Vice President of Technical Textiles & Technology Shows for Messe Frankfurt, Inc. “Our team is dedicated to ensuring that this year’s show offers meaningful exhibitor and attendee experiences through a host of new show features. We continue to track new trends, technologies, and developments
across the industry and bring them to the forefront through comprehensive education and programs.”
“For the first time in more than two decades, we’re witnessing an exciting rebirth for the sewn products industry in the Western Hemisphere,” said Michael McDonald, President of SPESA (Sewn Products Equipment & Suppliers of the Americas). “Attending Texprocess Americas – the largest show of its kind in North, Central, and South America – is the first step for industry players to be a part of this massive movement in reshoring, nearshoring, and regional collaboration. The event aims to elevate attendee experience with new components that foster learning, networking, and professional growth. I’m confident this is going to be the best show yet.”
Some highlights include:
• Tech Talks will feature a line-up of complimentary presentations on sustainability, empowering and growing workforces with technology, the next generation of technical designers and more.
• The highly acclaimed Symposium gives visitors the opportunity to listen and learn from industry leaders and subject matter experts as they discuss some of the most pivotal advancements in research and technology.
• The new Career and Training Center is where representatives from the Textile Technology Center at Gaston College who will share valuable resources related to the industry’s career landscape, networking tips, and more. Serving as a gathering spot, attendees can view job openings posted by exhibiting companies, meet prospective employers, and craft the perfect resume. They can also get their headshot taken by a professional photographer.
• Also in the Career and Training Center, SPESA will be launching a new train-
Tech Talks are complimentary presentations, demonstrations, and discussions covering groundbreaking technical advancements and highlighting the latest in textile testing for applications across industries.
ing program – “Training Takes Time” – to boost manufacturing in the Americas. This program will be brought to life by Merrow Sewing Machine Company and the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center (ISAIC), and will focus on training for mechanics, operators, and facility owners. Participants will have the opportunity to learn from Merrow’s experienced team. In addition to hands-on demonstrations, the training will also utilize augmented reality tools from ISAIC to illustrate how these training methods can help scale the industry and support growth in the Americas.
• The Student Research Poster Program returns to feature the latest scientific developments in sewn product design and manufacturing, attracting students in both undergraduate and graduate-level research and textile innovation.
• New Innovation Awards aims to honor outstanding performance in the fields of research, new materials, products, and technologies.
Visitors at both Techtextil North America & Texprocess Americas can explore the show floor to see these innovations on display and learn how these exhibitors are driving thought-leadership and positively influencing the industry.
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A SHOW PREVIEW
Messe Frankfurt GmbH
Thousands of industry professionals are expected to convene on Atlanta, Georgia, for the Techtextil North America/Texprocess Americas show in May. More than 350 exhibitors from 30 countries will be showcasing their latest products and technologies.
Messe Frankfurt GmbH
ITMA 2023 Exhibition Space Fully Booked
Innovator Xchange to Offer Innovation Insights From Industry Experts
The stage is set for ITMA 2023 to host a highly anticipated showcase of trendsetting textile and garment technologies when it opens in Milan, Italy, June 8. Exhibition space grossing 200,000 square meters of the Fiera Milano Rho exhibition center was fully booked as early as February.
“Since the last ITMA exhibition in Barcelona in 2019, the world has changed drastically due to the coronavirus pandemic and geopolitical situation. Despite various disruptions, we are glad that space in ITMA 2023 is fully booked. Companies are buoyant about the outlook of the market with most borders now fully open,” said Charles Beauduin, Chairman of ITMA Services.
The upcoming exhibition will feature over 1,600 exhibitors from 44 countries and a list of 100 companies are still waiting to be allocated space in their preferred sectors. There is a total of 20 product sectors covering the entire textile and garment manufacturing value chain, including textile composites.
Ernesto Maurer, President of CEMATEX, said: “Sustainability is no longer just a buzzword; the industry has to move faster to adopt the sustainability agenda to secure the future of their business. During the pandemic, many of our members channeled their resources into R&D activities. ITMA 2023 is perfectly timed to offer our exhibitors an opportunity to showcase these new products and cutting-edge
technology. If and when R&D is paired with sustainability efforts, this will be the formula for success.
“Our visitors can look forward to ITMA 2023 to preview the latest innovation. We hope that textile and garment manufacturers, brands and retailers will take this opportunity to meet at ITMA to source and collaborate with leading members of the textile industry. In addition, they can also gain insights into industry trends and developments at various complementary events.”
ITMA 2023 will be accompanied by several activities spotlighting industry innovation. Among the highlights is the Innovator Xchange which offers participants unique opportunities to gain
insights from the winners and finalists of the ITMA Award, as well as exhibitors and industry experts.
An industry expert has been invited for each of the four featured topics: automation and digital future, advanced materials, sustainability and circularity, and innovative technologies. The invited speakers are:
• German Garcia Ibañez, Head of Sustainable Raw Materials Circularity, Inditex (Sustainability & Circularity)
• Dr. Jesse S. Jur, Director of Ecosystem Technology, Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (Innovative Technologies)
• Kevin McCoy, Vice President made, New Balance Athletics (Automation & Digital Future)
• Professor Parikshit Goswami, Professor of Technical Textiles, The University of Huddersfield (Advanced Materials)
The Innovator Xchange will be held June 9-13. Other highlights held alongside ITMA 2023, are the ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award, Innovation Video Showcase, ITMA forums and partner events.
Online ITMA 2023 visitor registration is open. Visitors can enjoy early bird badge rates until May 7, 2023 when they register online.
CEMATEX & ITMA
The European Committee of Textile Machinery Manufacturers (CEMATEX) comprises national textile machinery associations from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It is the owner of ITMA and ITMA ASIA. ITMA has a 73-year history of displaying the latest technology for every single work process of textile and garment making. It is held every four years in Europe. www.itma.com/events
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ITMA 2023 exhibition space grossing 200,000 square meters of the Fiera Milano Rho exhibition center was fully booked as early as February.
There will be four featured topics at the Innovator Xchange forum, covering automation and digital future, advanced materials, sustainability and innovation.
Photos courtesy of ITMA
How Do You Define Ordinary Course of Business?
By Len LaPorta Managing Director of Investment
Banking, Wiley Bros.-Aintree Capital, LLC
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 sell-side 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. email@example.com or (615) 782-4107.
As March Madness of bank rescues continues across the financial community, the impact on the business community is far from understood. This unexpected March Madness just added another business obstacle to the existing and challenging global headwinds of 2023.
What is considered “ordinary” in 2023?
Let’s look at one example. The business owner walks down the hall to congratulate the new electronic technician for passing her licensing exam. This owner is “old school” and understands that a firm handshake, heartfelt congratulations and providing a $250 bonus leads to building a trusting and loyal business culture. Over the course of the year, nearly 50 employees are congratulated in a similar manner (the award differs among recipients) and everyone’s W-2 reflects this personal touch and generosity of the owner.
Many of you believe in different motivational practices for your employees and perhaps some subscribe to the practice utilized in this example. It
is the responsibility of your M&A banker to understand your culture, to listen to your method and to relay these key pieces of information in discussions with the potential buyers of your business.
Continuing with our example. It turns out that the business owner adopted this motivational practice over a decade ago and his method has long since become entrenched in the culture and ultimately the success of the business. The employees have no idea when they will be rewarded, but they know good work does not go unnoticed and therefore there is no retention issue at this firm. This is simply another part of the overall benefits package.
In fact, this model was so successful, the new buyer “adopted” the business practice.
Would you consider this “ordinary course of business”? Maybe you would and maybe you would not, but I am certain you have some of your own unique touches, within your “ordinary course of business” that make your business and employees thrive.
Purchase Agreement – Ensuring Ordinary Course of Business Remains
The Buyer’s legal team will ensure the section in the Purchase Agreement (absence of certain changes and events) will protect and enforce that your company’s core and cultural business practices will re-
56 IFJ ISSUE 2 2023
The term “ordinary course of business” seems straight-forward; however “ordinary course of business” looks different to almost every business owner.
provided courtesy of TeleChart®, www.worden.com. Past performance is not indicative of future returns. Returns are
main in place following the closing transaction. A typical definition is below:
Since the date of the Balance Sheet, Seller has conducted its business only in the ordinary course of business and there has not been any:
(a) change in the identity of Seller’s equity owners or the proportion of shares in Seller owned by them, grant of any option or right to purchase shares of Seller or issuance of any security convertible into such shares;
(b) amendment to the Governing Documents of Seller;
(c) payment (except in the ordinary course of business) or increase by Seller of any bonuses, salaries or other compensation to any current or former shareholder, director, officer, general partner, limited partner or employee or entry into any employment, severance or similar Contract with any current or former director, officer or employee;
(d) adoption of, termination of, amendment to or increase in the payments to or benefits under, any Employee Plan or grant of any equity or equitybased awards;
(e) damage to or destruction or loss of any Asset, whether or not covered by insurance;
(f) entry into, termination of or receipt of notice of termination of (i) any license, distributorship, dealer, sales representative, joint venture, credit or similar Contract to which Seller is a party, or (ii) any other Contract or transaction involving a total remaining commitment by Seller of at least $50,000;
(g) sale (other than sales of Inventories in the ordinary course of business), lease or other disposition of any Asset or property of Seller (including the Intellectual Property Assets) or the creation of any Encumbrance on any Asset;
(h) cancellation or waiver of any claims or other rights with a value to Seller in excess of $50,000;
(i) indication by any customer or supplier of an intention to discontinue or change the terms of its relationship with Seller;
(j) change in the financial accounting methods used by Seller;
(k) entry into any loan arrangement, credit facility or other indebtedness by Seller;
(l) entry into any guarantee, indemnity or other agreement to secure any obligation of a third party by Seller;
(m) waiver or compromise of any indebtedness of Seller;
(n) (i) election (other than in a manner consistent with the past practice of Seller) or rescission of or modification of any election, or change in accounting method, by or with respect to Seller, the Assets or the Business relating to Taxes, (ii) closing agreement (pursuant to Code Section 7121 or any similar provision of state, local or foreign law) entered into with respect to Seller, the Assets or the Business (iii) amended, refiled or otherwise modified Tax Return filed by or with respect to Seller, the Assets or the Business; or
(o) Contract by Seller to do any of the foregoing.
Closing the M&A Transaction in 2023 Among Current Economic Challenges
The Chicago Board Options Exchange’s Volatility Index (VIX) measures market expectation of nearterm volatility conveyed by stock index option prices. It signals the level of fear or stress in the stock market and is widely known as the “Fear Index.”
The higher the VIX, the greater the level of fear and uncertainty in the market. Note the March 2020 levels when the VIX topped out around 82.
Keep an eye on this index to gauge volatility in the markets that could impact your transaction.
Good luck closing your transaction!
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.
ISSUE 2 2023 ifj.com 57
It is the responsibility of your M&A banker to understand your culture, to listen to your method and to relay these key pieces of information in discussions with the potential buyers of your business.
RadiciGroup Launches 100% Naturally Sourced Yarn
Biofeel ® Eleven is a naturalsourced yarn born of a story that begins in India. In Hindi, “Eranda” is a small bean from which the perfect oil is extracted for the biopolymer from which everything begins. And it is castor oil that is the source of these new 100% sustainable yarns, which can be used for fabrics and fine garments in many sectors, from fashion to sports, from automotive to home textiles.
RadiciGroup, the only European producer of this material, has chosen the “Performance days” trade fair that took place in Munich in March to unveil this yarn with excellent technical and environmental performance.
Today, 80% of the world’s castor oil plantations are in India, particularly in the Gujarat region, due to its favorable climatic conditions. In this area, local people can earn an additional income by cultivating semi-arid land that does not compete with food production, and by applying the skills they have acquired over time to this
work. Over the years, thanks to research, development and innovation in the value chain, the seeds from which the oil is produced have been selected and certified to ensure the finest quality, also in terms of end uses.
Castor beans contain around 45% oil, rich in ricinolein, from which the bio-polymer polyamide 11 is derived. This is the polymer RadiciGroup uses for its Biofeel® Eleven yarn. What remains after the first pressing is a highly effective bio-fertiliser that is returned to the soil. In short, a true example of circularity and “zero waste.” www.radicigroup.com
Cone Denim Establishes a Certified Supply Chain for Recycled Cotton in Mexico
Cone Denim® has established a certified supply chain for recycled cotton in Mexico. The company’s Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) certification now includes a closed-loop process for recycled cotton, providing customers with verification and documentation of recycled cotton used in the manufacturing of Cone Denim fabrics in the Western Hemisphere.
“While both of our mills in Mexico are already RCS certified for fabrics, we went a step further in having our fiber supplier certified,” said Cone Denim President Steve Maggard.
Cone Denim identified and engaged with a third-party supplier in Mexico to certify their process for recycled cotton. The supplier was required to meet the certification standards established by Textile Exchange and certified by Control Union.
Cone Denim received RCS certification with this new process in March and will undergo a yearly audit to maintain its standing. www.conedenim.com
Trützschler Marks 75 Years in Mönchengladbach
It’s time to celebrate for Trützschler: 75 years ago, the family business founded its headquarters in Mönchengladbach-Odenkirchen, Germany.
Now, it looks back on a long tradition of training young people. The site in Mönchengladbach is officially threequarters of a century old – and is still a dynamic place to work. To keep it that way, Trützschler is looking for motivated young employees.
Trützschler is what one might call a hidden champion. Experts from the textile sector know the company as the world’s market leader for spinning preparation. However, people outside this industry are often unaware of what happens behind the walls of the headquarters in Mönchengladbach. And those people include school and university students, as well as young professionals.
Trützschler textile machines don’t make jeans or T-shirts. Instead, they play a key role at the beginning of the textile value chain. Their goal is to clean, blend and structure raw materials like cotton to make a uniform sliver that is then spun to create a yarn.
The company’s main customers include spinning mills from all over the world who use Trützschler technologies in a wide range of different applications. Trützschler supports its customers with recycling textiles and producing sustainable yarns from production waste or old textiles. The company also provides its customers with advantages when it comes to digitalization, which plays a central role in global markets. Examples include intelligent and self-optimizing machines, as well as digital platforms for optimizing processes and saving resources.
58 IFJ ISSUE 2 2023
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Celliant with Repreve Earns Prestigious Recognition
Materials science company Hologenix announced that CELLIANT® with REPREVE®, a performance fiber made from recycled materials and enhanced with IR technology, has been shortlisted in the Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2023 Awards.
Introduced with global textile solutions provider UNIFI® makers of REPREVE®, CELLIANT with REPREVE is honored in the Sustainable Textile Innovation Category of the awards. The Drapers Awards recognize the strides that are being made in reducing the industry’s environmental impact and creating fairer working conditions across the supply chain. Drapers, which is a leading authority on fashion retailing since 1887, said the quality and quantity of entries were higher than ever this year. Judging was underpinned by the UN-backed Sustainable Development Goals. Winners will be announced at a ceremony on May 25 at The Brewery in London.
This recognition is the second award for CELLIANT with REPREVE since its launch in the fall of 2022. Previously it was named a Selection in the Fibers & Insulation Category of ISPO Textrends Fall/Winter 2024/25. This is also the second year in a row that a Hologenix innovation has been shortlisted in the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards.
U.S. Producers to Plant 17% Less Cotton Than Last Year
The producers of U.S. cotton intend to plant 11.4 million cotton acres this spring, down 17.0 percent from 2022, according to the National Cotton Council’s 42nd Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey.
Upland cotton intentions are 11.2 million acres, down 17.3 percent from 2022, while extra-long staple (ELS) intentions of 184,000 acres represent a 0.5 percent increase. The detailed survey results were announced today during the 2023 National Cotton Council Annual Meeting.
Dr. Jody Campiche, the NCC’s vice president, Economics & Policy Analysis, said, “Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed. Ultimately, weather and agronomic conditions are among the factors that play a significant role in determining crop size.”
Using five-year average abandonment rates along with a few state-level adjustments to account for current dry conditions, Cotton Belt harvested area totals 8.8 million acres for 2023 with a U.S. abandonment rate of 22.6 percent. Using the five-year aver-
Purecare Launches Premium Celliant Viscose Bedding
Purecare, the wellness-focused bedding essentials manufacturer and category leader, has launched sheets and pillowcases with CELLIANT® Viscose, the first time the fiber has used been in luxury bedding products in a new offering aptly named the “Recovery Collection.” CELLIANT Viscose, which converts body heat into infrared energy, promotes local circulation and helps regulate body temperature so you sleep more comfortably and wake up refreshed and rejuvenated. It is also a unique combination of nature and performance, as the CELLIANT bio-responsive minerals are embedded into plantbased fibers.
Developed by materials science innovator Hologenix®, creators of CELLIANT, and Kelheim Fibres, the leading manufacturer of viscose specialty fibers, CELLIANT Viscose is the first in-fiber sustainable infrared viscose. This sustainable solution provides all the benefits of being a viscose fiber – lightweight, soft, highly breathable, excellent moisture management — as well as the fiber enhancements from CELLIANT infrared technology. CELLIANT has been clinically demonstrated to promote faster recovery and restful sleep, as it improves local circulation and cell oxygenation, enhancing thermoregulation and comfort.
Offered at retailers across the nation and online, the collection is available in five popular colors: dove gray, ivory, clay, moss, and sage in Queen through Split California King sizing and Queen and King pillowcases. The Precision-Fit® corners on the fitted sheets have a one-inch elastic cuff to ensure that they stay securely on the bed. The sheets are also compatible with adjustable base mattresses. The Recovery Collection sheets and pillowcases are also treated with Antimicrobial Silver Product Protection (AgCI).
age state-level yield per harvested acre generates a cotton crop of 15.7 million bales, with 15.2 million upland bales and 466,000 ELS bales.
The NCC questionnaire, mailed in mid-December 2022 to producers across the 17-state Cotton Belt, asked producers for the number of acres devoted to cotton and other crops in 2022 and the acres planned for the coming season. Survey responses were collected through mid-January.
ISSUE 2 2023 ifj.com 59
INDA Announces Vibrant Program for World of Wipes
NDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry has announced the program for the World of Wipes (WOW) International Conference, July 17-20, Atlanta, Georgia. Key topics include: Plastics policy: closing the ‘intention-action’ gap, sustainable manufacturing practices, what consumers think about sustainability and how they are driving cultural change, supply chain transparency, wipes advancements, flushability developments, and a special CEO panel sharing their organizations’ approach to inflation, supply chain challenges, and capacity/ demand balance.
Among the leading organizations presenting at this year’s event are: Berry Global, Birla Cellulose, Bringabouts, Bureau Veritas, Diamond Wipes, Freudenberg Performance Materials, Glatfelter, Goodwipes, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, National Cotton Council, Mango Consulting, Plastics Industry Association, Rockline Industries, Sharon Laboratories, and Trützschler Nonwovens. Program and speaker details are available on the WOW website.
Two new features at WOW this year are Lightning Talks and Lunch Around. Lightning Talks are an opportunity for tabletop exhibitors to highlight their innovations in “supersized elevator
speeches” to WOW participants. Lightning Talks will take place before the tabletop exhibits open Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. The Lunch Around opportunity connects participants and thought leaders from the wipes industry at select downtown Atlanta restaurants on Tuesday and Wednesday. Space is limited and is first-come, first-served.
WOW kicks off with the Wipes Academy, a comprehensive course including elements of market research, materials, chemistry, converting, and regulatory filing. This course has been redeveloped to include all aspects of wipes development from concept to commercialization.
The Wipes Academy is led by Heidi Beatty, chief executive officer, and Paul Davies, Ph.D., Consultant, Crown Abbey LLC. Ms. Beatty and Mr. Davies bring decades of practical experience to give participants real-world solutions for product development challenges and tools to improve processes.
Registrations and tabletop exhibit reservations are open with early registration discounts offered until June 5. Nominations will be accepted for the World of Wipes Innovation Award until May 5, 2023. For more information or to nominate, visit: www.worldofwipes.org
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Tracking Fiber Trends & Innovation, Material Science, & Supply Chain Impacts You Need to Know
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