Texprocess: an obligatory date for the apparel industry Focus on the trend themes of automation, individualisation and sustainability

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Texprocess (14-17 May in Frankfurt am Main) is heading for an exhibitor record with the largest range of technology in its history. The focal points this year: the effects of trends such as automation, individualisation and sustainability on the processing of textile and flexible materials.

‘While others are still talking about Industry 4.0, Texprocess is already analysing Impact 4.0’, says Olaf Schmidt, Vice President Textiles & Textile Technologies at Messe Frankfurt. This means the influences and effects of digitalisation on the manufacture and processing of textiles. So: what changes triggered by Industry 4.0 are already part of the value creation chain? ‘Even today, machine data can be read in real time, robot and gripper systems work on cutting tables, and manufacturers of sewing and clothing technology network machines and factories across national borders for the processing of technical textiles’, says Elgar Straub, Managing Director of VDMA Textile Care, Fabric and Leather Technologies.

Micro factories showcase macro trends
At the last Texprocess, trade visitors were given an insight into the fully networked manufacture of customised clothing thanks to the “Digital Textile Micro Factory”. The Micro Factory, which was realised jointly with sister trade fair Techtextil, the leading international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens, was so well received by trade visitors that this year will see no less than five Micro Factories showcase the opportunities and potential afforded by macro trends such as digitalisation, individualisation and sustainability.

The German Institutes of Textile and Fibre Research Denkendorf (DITF), for example, will be relaunching their Digital Textile Micro Factory (Hall 4.1) with partners from the industry. This time, three production lines will be shown at once on a surface area of 500 square metres: one for the manufacture of clothing, one for the production of shoe uppers and another for the robot-controlled sorting of technical textiles. One of the goals is to illustrate the growing importance of a digital twin as a starting point for custom-fit and individualised clothing. ‘The digital twin has arrived in the textile industry; as a virtual representative of the customer, it will change real development and production processes in a sustainable way’, says DITF researcher Alexander Artschwager, who helped develop the Digital Textile Micro Factory.

Series production of smart textiles
An additional Micro Factory will be dedicated to smart textiles. The global market volume for smart textiles was estimated at 1.3 billion euros in 2017. By 2022 it could grow to five billion euros. In Germany alone, a potential sales volume of 4.2 billion euros is predicted by 2030. This forecast is based on a brief study by the Centre for European Economic Research on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics. The figures make it clear: linking fabric and electronics has enormous potential for the textile and clothing industry, mainly in areas of application such as fashion and sport, automotive and medicine.

But before this happens, there are still a number of issues on the textile agenda to consider: what is the washability of smart textiles like? What about their drape? Is it economically viable to put them into series production? The Institute of Textile Technology at RWTH Aachen University (ITA), along with its partners from industry and research, aims to show that great progress is being made on this last point by way of the “Smart Textiles Micro Factory” (halls 4.1/5.1) at Texprocess and Techtextil: ‘Thanks to the latest machine technology, automation and digitalisation, series production is no longer a dream for the future’, says ITA researcher Dr Volker Lutz. Using the example of a bright cushion from the design to the finished product, the Micro Factory will present a complete solution for series production of smart textiles. ‘We want to showcase industry-oriented production using standard production technologies for the first time’, says Lutz.

Sustainability and customising

The key words customising, sustainability and production management are also at the heart of the upcoming Texprocess. The companies Efka and Gemini will present the production of an individually customisable football shirt that incorporates resource-saving and sustainable manufacture. ‘Tailored manufacture according to customer wishes is much more environmentally-friendly because it of course saves energy, water and materials if you only produce what will be bought’, says Sebastian Feges, sales manager at Efka. With its drives for sewing technology, the company’s customers include not only automotive suppliers such as Adient, Dräxlmeier and Magna, but also fashion labels such as Hugo Boss, Hermes and Louis Vuitton.

For the first time, the Texprocess Forum (hall 4.1) will include a separate presentation block from the Messe Frankfurt conference “Fashionsustain”, which takes place twice a year as part of Berlin Fashion Week. The aim is to link the sustainable production and processing of textiles more closely with the end products. The Texprocess Innovation Award, which is being awarded for the fifth time, will also honour sustainable textile innovations and approaches to processing this year.

Exhibitors from over 30 countries will be showcasing the entire spectrum of textile processing technologies at the leading trade fair, from design, cutting, making, trimming, digital textile printing, refining and finishing to textile logistics and recycling. In 2017 the event attracted over 25,000 visitors from 109 nations, a figure that also includes visitors to Techtextil. They were presented with the latest industry developments by 312 exhibitors from 35 countries. Current booking figures indicate that Texprocess will once again surpass the results of the previous event. +++


Impact 4.0

How has Industry 4.0 changed the manufacture and processing of textiles? What effects will artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, automation and digitalisation have on the textile value creation chain? If you ask about the influences of Industry 4.0, you also have to talk about Impact 4.0: real-time analysis of machine data, networking of factories beyond country borders, robot and gripping systems on cutting tables, real-time monitoring of machines, batch sizes of 1 upwards with “start of production” beginning with the customer (customising) – all this has long been in use.

Author: Michael Jänecke, Director Brand Management Technical Textiles and Textile Processing, Messe Frankfurt

Bron: Fashion United