Functional textiles take centre stage at TTNA
The fifth edition of Techtextil North America, held in Atlanta's Cobb Galleria Center earlier this month, offered several glimpses of interesting functional textiles and apparel. Another evident trend among exhibitors was continuing attention to environmentally friendly products, as John W McCurry reports.
An innovation attracting considerable attention was on display in the Biodevices stand, which was part of the Portugal pavilion. Biodevices is a spin-off from IEETA (Institute of Electronics and Telematics Engineering) at the University of Aveiro in Porto, Portugal. The company featured its VitalJacket HWM (Heart Wave Monitor), an intelligent wearable garment able to continuously monitor electrocardiogram waves and heart rates for different fitness, high performance sports and security applications. Luis Meireles, general manager of Biodevices, wore a T - shirt equipped with the HWM mobile device and displayed his heart rate on a projection screen in the company's stand. He says the shirts have been available to the sports market in Europe since January. Biodevices is currently awaiting approval of the shirts for medical purposes, but several doctors are already testing them. "The shirts can be used in sports or as a medical device," Meireles said. "Doctors are using them in Portugal and are very excited about them. For now, they are only approved for sports applications." Meireles says the shirts, which are made of knit fabric by Portuguese textile company Petratex and bonded through Petratex's no-sew process rather than traditional sewing, are very comfortable. A T-shirt can monitor heart rate continuously for 72 hours before its battery needs charging. Meireles says he exhibited at TTNA to look for potential US distributors of the shirts. That effort paid off he said, as he had discussions with several companies interested in becoming distribution partners. Low-voltage heating element Taiwan's Everest Textile, a relative newcomer to the North American market, is promoting its Ever Soft Heat products, which incorporate a low-voltage heating element into outdoor apparel and other textile products to provide warmth. Everest specialises in the high-tech performance apparel market. "Ever Soft Heat is the safest electric heating product in the market and heats up quickly and evenly. It is as light as ordinary textile and can be folded at will, easy to take outside," said Chao-Chuan Cheng, of the Everest Technology Research Center. "Even after machine sewing, drilling holes or water washing the heating up function will not be affected. It is light and convenient, flexible and portable, safe, comfortable and durable." EcoRich fabrics Apex Mills is an Inwood, NY-based knitter that specialises in the manufacture and supply of industrial knits. These include mesh, netting, tricot knits and spacer fabrics. Apex specialises in working with customers to develop customised fabrics for their needs. End-use markets include aerospace, healthcare, environmental applications, safety and transportation, footwear, military apparel and recreational and sporting markets. Apex featured its EcoRich family of fabrics at TTNA, which have been on the market since November 2007. The fabrics originated when leading athletic shoe company New_Balance approached Apex about helping them develop a greener running shoe. New Balance wanted Apex to develop ecologically friendly upper and lining fabrics. Working closely with the shoe company, Apex designed and developed the first of its EcoRich line of fabrics. Jonathan A Kurz, chief operating officer at Apex, says the EcoRich fabrics have been well received, but there has been some resistance to their higher price. Visitors to the Apex stand expressed interest in the fabric line as well as in Apex's ability to develop custom fabrics. "We are moving away from being a vendor to being a development company," Kurz says. "We have more than 70 years of expertise and everything we are featuring is a result of a company coming to us with a problem. We are looking for companies with problems so we can provide solutions." Annual event This year's exhibition featured 310 companies from around the globe. Exhibitors were generally pleased with the interest shown from visitors. Michael Jaeneke, head of Techtextil shows worldwide for organiser Messe Frankfurt, was genuinely pleased with this year's exhibition. "It was very busy with the sounds on the show floor we all like to hear," Janecke says. "The quality of visitors was good. Overall, it is a good show and it could be the best show so far. It's bigger than two years ago. The quality seems to be as good as in 2006." A few days before TTNA 2008 opened, Messe Frankfurt announced that TTNA would become an annual event and be held in Las Vegas in 2009. It will return to Atlanta in 2010 and then alternate between the two cities. Janecke says Messe Frankfurt studied the issue carefully and came to the conclusion that there are a significant number of potential exhibitors and visitors based in the western half of the US that are not coming to the Atlanta shows. He anticipates that the Las Vegas show will attract 200 exhibitors and 3,000 visitors.
April 2008 |Source: just-style.com