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IFAI's safety & protective division undergoes name change
Jan '11
Industrial Fabrics Association International - IFAI's Safety and Protective Products Division has announced a strategic name change to better position it in the world of technical products made with specialty fabrics--an industry that is seeing tremendous diversification and growth worldwide.

The new name and logo, Safety and Technical Products (S+TP), represents members from a new, much wider technical marketplace. According to Managing Director Ruth Stephens, “Frankly we had outgrown our original name and mission. The division will continue to include technical fabric applications for safety, since that is its history.”

Stephens says that there are no other exclusively textile-based safety organizations, but the traditional safety market has evolved to include many other aspects of technical textiles. The phrase “technical products” has a broad definition and can cover technologies and products involved in the entire market chain, including products for medical, recreation, aerospace, and interactive textiles--areas which may not consider themselves as safety or protective products.

“The mission of Safety and Technical Products is to be the preeminent resource for personal and property protection, for interactive and medical textile markets,” Stephens says, adding that the commonality for this broader membership base will be highly engineered technical textile solutions for hazard mitigation, monitoring, and healthcare.

“By emphasizing textile attributes such as IR reflectance, EMI shielding, or conductivity,” she says, “the focus of the division will incorporate many different market areas. For example, EMI is an attribute utilized in aerospace, medical and safety.”

Stephens points out that current trends in the safety and protective area include fabrics that provide comfort and manage moisture, yet remain lightweight and flexible. “In the past, safety and protective apparel has often been bulky, confining and uncomfortable,” Stephens said, “And many of the fibers, fabrics and technologies developed for the military/law enforcement textile markets are also being applied to other safety and protective clothing market segments, such as specialty sports and motorcycle gear.

“This includes the use of smart/responsive materials and nanotechnology to improve and add performance. These technologies allow fabrics to thermoregulate, and regulate the atmospheric comfort zone next to the skin, controlling temperature and dryness,” she said.

Safety and Textile Products also serves as a conduit for national and international linkages and emerging market areas such as interactive textiles, and e-textiles which represent a $2.1B market for systems which sense/monitor, warm or cool, illuminate, and conduct. The medical textile market in the U.S. alone is about $8B, with 75% of this nonwovens and 25% knits or wovens.

Safety and Textile Products recently held its biennial conference, “The 7th International Conference on Safety and Protective Fabrics - Textiles for Extreme Applications,” at IFAI Expo Americas 2010 in Orlando.

Safety and Textile Products also announced the winners of its “7th Annual Safety and Protective Student Design Challenge.”

Industrial Fabrics Association International - IFAI

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