Innovation would be at the heart of the Techtextil trade event that will be held in Frankfurt, Germany later this month. As exhibitors showcase their latest and the futuristic and buyers queue up to see what lies in store for the future, Subir Ghosh presents an overview of the industry.

Close to half a lakh people from across the world would be converging in Frankfurt, Germany in mid-May. They would be flocking to the Techtextil event for a reason- leading international exhibitors will be presenting the entire spectrum of technical textiles, functional apparel textiles and textile technologies at the Messe Frankfurt event. Texprocess, the leading trade fair for the garment manufacturing and textile processing industry, will take place concurrently with Techtextil.

Visitors will be making a beeline to the sprawling exhibition area with a purpose-see and feel for themselves what innovations and inventions are set to roll out in the premier technical textiles theatre. At a simplistic level, it will be an intermingling of buyers/visitors and sellers/exhibitors. But a technical textiles event like Techtextil is much more than that-it is as much a convergence of cutting-edge ideas, as it is about the interplay between textiles and technology.

Better still, it will be futuristic in disposition.

Dominant Strides

The future of textiles, many believe, is technical. As apparel becomes more functional and textiles become more technological by the day, this is the aspect that could well dominate the next decade.

It would, therefore, be natural that the technical textiles sector should be driven by innovation. And as, Michael Jaenecke, director for brand management (technical textiles and textile processing) at Messe Frankfurt, underlines, "It is a fact that the technical textiles market is one of the most innovative in the world. It is reported to be among the top five technology-intensive markets with a great potential for advancement. The industry accounts for about 30 per cent of global textile production and it is expected to expand at an annual growth rate of more than 4 per cent to $198 billion by 2022. The positive development of the industry is reflected by the large number of exhibitors and visitors at Techtextil and Texprocess, the leading events for technical textiles and nonwovens and the processing of textile and flexible materials.

Already, technical textiles can be found in every field of our daily life. Jaenecke has an example: about 30 per cent of the Airbus A380 is made of fibre-based materials. So, as he points out, "Techtextil and Texprocess will feature a special event 'Urban Living-City of the Future' spotlighting some of the most relevant application areas for technical textiles. In collaboration with Creative Holland, the Dutch creative industries, Techtextil and Texprocess are focusing on life in the city of the future with the special event. Select examples will show how textile innovations can improve the way people live together in an urban setting today."

But before delving into the many applications of technical textiles, the global market development manager for US-headquartered Michelman, Timothy Davis, asserts that his company uses the Textile Institute definition :