By  on October 17, 2011

BARCELONA — The 16th edition of ITMA launched cutting-edge technology and a range of product lines aimed at reduced energy use and process sustainability.

Considered the world’s largest textile and apparel technology fair, ITMA ran Sept. 22 to 29 in the GranVia fairgrounds here, with 1,350 exhibitors from 45 countries. The fair drew about 100,000 visitors from 138 countries. ITMA stretched over 971,000 square feet in eight halls with major vendor participation from Europe, led by Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Spain, as well as from major machinery manufacturing countries in Asia, including Turkey, India, Japan and China.

Despite Europe’s challenging times, the mood was decidedly upbeat. Echoing other exhibitors, Hermann Selker, marketing manager of Trützschler Spinning, said, “Business at the fair is surprisingly excellent. There is a good mood here. Our customers are optimistic and they are paying money for the future. After two bad years, 2011 will be the company’s best because customers are investing again. They’re spending the money they held on to in 2008 and 2009.”

Selker reported visitors from India, “the number-one group,” followed by Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Brazil “and, of course, Turkey.”

“We sell more to Turkey than all of the European countries combined,” he said. “Cotton and energy are available there. It’s a very strong market.”

At ITMA, the German company launched a new carding machine with a larger working width for a 40 percent increase in productivity and lower costs because “as everybody knows, today’s big question is what is the price to produce it,” Selker added.

Additional launches included Alliance’s yarn-and-piece-dyeing machine designed to save 70 percent on water, as well as energy consumption and pollution. But the main advantage, according to Pierre Tonnel, head engineer for the French company, is to obtain “absolutely the same color for garments combining yarn and fabric.”

Comex presented a grouping of electronic crochet machines, including its newest initiative, a crochet-jacquard knitting machine with 16 weft pattern bars and a jacquard device for the production of a broad range of complex laces.

“The advantage is versatility and wider pattern variety,” said Carlos Reyes, director of Comex North America Ltd., headquartered in Hickory, N.C. With a production figure of 1,200 meters an hour on a one-inch-wide tape, the Italian company claims to control 70 percent of the crochet market. Reyes said attendance at the fair was “better than previous editions, especially from the U.S. and Mexico, but mainly what we’re seeing here are visitors from India, China and Brazil.”

Buddy Humphrey, vice president of sales at Morrison Textile, a dyeing and finishing machine producer based in Fort Lawn, S.C., said, “We’ve had a lot of quality customers and interesting new projects from clients that know our reputation.”

Morrison featured a compressive shrinkage process called SanforTrol.

“It’s the first instrument that accurately measures shrinkage online by shooting invisible ink on the fabric with an optical sensor to measure the marks,” said Christopher Clickner, vice president of technical at Permashrink Co., in Charlotte, N.C., which manufactures and markets the SanforTrol technology employed by Morrison.

In addition, the new control system is the first innovation in Sanforization since 1938. Mills can save money by not having excessive fabric losses or customer returns due to shrinkage, he pointed out.

Clickner reported “a fantastic reaction here” to the initiative, especially from India, Turkey, Pakistan and Brazil. While China and India are today’s largest textile consumers and exporters, Brazil is a hot new market, he added.

James Berry, director of customer service at Epic Enterprises, a spare parts manufacturer for yarn preparation machines, headquartered in Southern Pines, N.C., said, “Mainly because of our [trade] benefit programs which other countries don’t have, the U.S. has lost its competitive edge [in the international labor market]. Business may come back but slowly. There are smaller, more specific lots in the U.S. now. Yarn and fabric producers are willing to stick with what they’ve got rather than mess with the hassle of import duties and quality control.

“There is a really good turnout at this show, but it’s low on U.S. and Canadian visitors,” Berry added.

Nick Hahn, chief executive officer of Alpaca United, the textile fiber company that represents North American alpaca breeders and processors, said, “The fair is a good deal for us. We’re showing here for the first time to expose our fiber to the commercial side of the business and to make it important to the industry. Alpaca has yet to take its rightful place alongside cashmere and mohair.”

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