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7th Smart Textiles Symposium 2018

[Publisher Note: The following is a report on the 7th Smart Textiles Sumposium 2018 written by Dr. Isa Hofmann, owner and manager of iHofmann, a public relations firm.]

Posted October 2, 2018


The jointly organized 7th Smart Textiles Symposium 2018 (September 12-13)

held at Messequartier Dornbirn, Austria and the 57th Dornbirn-GFC attracted

around 700 experts from industry and research from 30 different countries.


Day 1:


The former Federal chancellor from Austria, Werner Faymann, urged industry

representatives in his opening words to be always one step ahead in the

competition and to take advantage of recent market opportunities.


Keynote speaker James Holbery from the $90 billion Microsoft,

based in Redmond, Wash., USA, gave an insight in Microsoft’s recent activities in printed textile and flexible electronics and the current focus on creating new user

experiences through soft electronics. “We always have to reinvent ourselves in

these days of rapid change. We want to bring personal computing to a new level

and address the young generation in particular. Interesting about computing is

the rapid change we are facing and when we think about IoT and increasing

digitization there is a lot more to come.” Following the recent cooperation

between Google and Levi’s another gatekeeper is now taking a deeper interest in

textiles. James Holbery has been responsible for building up the new Microsoft

lab for printed, textile and flexible electronics (PTFE).


Dr. Isa Hofmann, moderator of the first day and managing director of a

specialized communication agency based in Wiesbaden, Germany, gave a

lecture on new opportunities in customer communication through artificial

intelligence – from social bots to chatbots. “The use of artificial intelligence is the

next big thing”, she predicts. According to EU commission statistics the growth of

this market will climb up to $38.8 billion in 2025. Artificial intelligence allows

machines to behave as if they were intelligent and supplies them with the ability

to always learn more and something new. “This is the big difference with regards

to conventional software. Chatbots allow an automated communication with

customers in real time,” says Hofmann. They are an appropriate tool to relieve

staff members and generate an added value in customer relationship.

Communication in real time without any waiting loops. Isa Hofmann presented

the results of a recent study from business school Cologne and the agency

morefire, that tried for the first time to classify existing chatbot types.


Unni Krishnan, Co-Founder of LongWealth GmbH with offices in Vienna and

Bangalore is consulting large groups like Tata and Taj in India. He remembers a

famous encounter between the Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda and Jamsetji

Tata on a boat trip from Yokohama to Vancouver. Impressed by Vivekanada’s

views on science, the very first idea of establishing a research institute in India

came up by the end of the 19th century. Vivekananda commented this idea with

the following words: “How wonderful it would be if we could combine the

scientific and technological achievements of the West with the asceticism and

humanism of India!” India offers multiple opportunities for innovative Austrian

companies to enter the market, according to Unni Krishnan.


Stefan Rohringer, Vice President Development Center Graz, Infineon

Technologies Austria AG, pointed out the very first examples of electronics

integrated into textiles that Infineon presented in 2003. Researchers at Infineon

had discovered a way to make large textile surfaces such as carpeting or tent

cloth “intelligent”. Woven into fabrics, a self-organizing network of chips was able

to monitor temperatures, pressures or vibrations. “This shows that you also

might introduce things too early to the market”, Rohringer comments. He

presented the next generation of quantum computers that provide the necessary

security in times of cashless payment and IoT. With 28 billion connected devices

already in 2021 internet security plays an important role.


Interesting lectures from start-ups presented successful business models like

smart inlay soles from the company stAPPtronics that help wearers to control

their body posture. The start-up Texible is a think tank for interesting new

applications of smart textiles for the elderly. The demographic change creates

new requirements. One example is smart bed inserts for humidity control.

Florence Bost, French designer based in Paris demonstrated how the appropriate

design may enhance news and tangible services in products.


Day 2:


Sabine Gimpel from TITV Greiz, Germany, was moderator of the morning session

and gave a lecture on industry 4.0. Günter Grabher, CEO of Grabher-Group &

Smart-Textiles Platform, Austria, presented some of the new technologies that

his companies are working on in various clusters. Two examples were an office

chair, optimizing the user’s posture while seated as well as a textile reinforced

concrete, that is used to repair ramshackle bridges.


Marcus Kottinger, solution architect at Axians IBM, Germany, and Prof.

Enrico Putzke, Technical University Chemnitz, Germany, explained in their

lectures how smart textiles are used for monitoring both material and humans

and thus, help to avoid accidents in heavy industry.


Sven Böhmer, head of sales, Statex Produktions- und Vertriebs GmbH, Germany,

explained the advantages of textile electrodes and their conductivity due to silver

incorporated into yarns or fabrics. Textile electrodes play an important role in a

variety of medical applications like muscle and nerve stimulation or monitoring of

vital parameters.


The focus of the last three lectures was on Cradle to cradle®.  Vera Gratzl, product

development, Werner & Mertz GmbH, Germany, showcased some innovative

products from their brand Frosch, equipped with a fluorine-free hydrophobic

treatment. Andreas Röhrich, director product development, Wolford AG, Austria,

introduced the new collection of sweaters and leggings, entirely manufactured

according to the cradle to cradle® standard.


Albin Kälin, CEO EPEA Switzerland GmbH, Switzerland, a pioneer of the cradle to

cradle® concept gave his vision on the future of production with cradle to cradle®

and how it is contributing to reduce the human footprint on earth.


Günter Grabher, initiator and CEO of the Smart Textiles Platform Austria,

summarizes and gives his future vision: “The future of smart textiles is a true

interdisciplinary collaboration between various industries, to benefit from the

enormous potential of this growing market.”


For more information:


Press Contacts:


Dr. Isa Hofmann, Owner and managing director

Niederwaldstraße 4, D-65187 Wiesbaden

Telefon +49 611 890 59 640


Smart-Textiles Platform Austria

Günter Grabher, CEO

Schwefelbadstr 2

A-6850 Hohenems

Telefon +43 676 843771100

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Coming Events

  • October 8-10: 2018 AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition, Washington, D.C., USA

  • October 9-12: Nonwoven Fabric Property Development and Characterization, Raleigh, N.C., USA

  • October 10-11: 4th International Conference on Nonwovens for High-Performance Applications, Cannes, France

  • October 15-19: ITMA Asia + CITME 2018, Shanghai, China

  • October 15-19: CAMX, Composites and Advanced Materials Expo, Dallas, Texas, USA

  • October 16-17: GeoDallas 2018, Dallas, Texas, USA

  • October 16-18: IFAI Expo 2018, Dallas, Texas, USA

Click here to view the complete technical textiles events calendar that includes show information links.

NAFTA Replacement Agreement Negotiated. On October 1, President Donald Trump announced the US, Mexico and Canada had reached an agreement whichreplaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that went into effect in 1994. The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) contains provisions and language that has an impact on the technical textiles industry; the most important are 1) a special section covering textiles and apparel and 2) rules of origin that will require 75% of automotive content (under NAFTA 62.5%) be made in North America. Mexico and Canada are the two largest importers of US made technical textiles and the automotive industry is the largest intended end market of these technical textiles. Click here to go to the United States Trade Representative's website and read the "Textiles and Apparel Goods" chapter. Posted October 3, 2018

Fiber Publication Acquired. INDA, the Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, today announced the acquisition of two leading industry publications: International Filtration News and International Fiber News.  The association purchased the publications from International Media Group, Inc., based in Tempe, Az., USA. The purchase price and terms were not disclosed. The publications each have circulations of 8,000-plus domestic and international readers and have served their readers for over three decades. Both are published six times a year in print and digital formats. The acquisitions will expand INDA’s reach and relevance in the key markets the print and digital publications serve with a particular emphasis on the filtration and separation segment as INDA launches its new FiltXpo event to be held in Chicago every 18 months starting February 26-28, 2020.  Click here to read the INDA press release on the purchase. Posted October 2, 2018

Rhode Island Organizes Textile Innovation Network

Lori Urso, Director of Slater Mill Museum and US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

On September 24, 2018, US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and the University of Rhode Island Business Engagement Center helped to launch the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network (RITIN). The event was held in Pawtucket, R.I., US, at the Slater Mill Museum. RITIN is a trade group formed with the objective to guide the growth of the state's textile industry in the 21st century. "The Rhode Island Textiles Innovation Network is an innovative business partnership to help Rhode Island stay at the forefront of advanced textile manufacturing," said US Congressman David Cicilline. 14 companies of the state's textile industry participated in the meeting including American Cord & Webbing, Cooley Group, and Kenyon Industries. Click here to view a video of the opening address by Lori Urso, Director of Slater Mill Museum. [Note: The original post reported an incorrect the date of the meeting.] Posted September 28, 2018

New Trade Deal with Mexico is Good News for US Textile Industry

Automotive Manufacturing Leading End Market for Technical Textiles Shipped to Mexico. 


The United States and Mexico have reached a preliminary agreement that covers a substantial revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); specifically, the rules of origin for automotive parts. It is expected to incentivize billions annually in additional US vehicle and auto parts production. 


To qualify for zero tariffs under NAFTA, the current rule of origin requires 62.5% of the automotive parts must be made in NAFTA countries (Mexico, Canada and US). The new agreement increases to 75% for the parts to avoid the tariff. What's intriguing is that we don't know if the countries still include Canada, a substantial manufacturer of vehicles and automotive parts. Regardless, this will most certainly be a boon for US technical textile manufacturers as almost 50% of US technical textiles exports goes to Mexico and automotive fabrics are the leading destination end-product segment in making products such as airbags, headliners and seating.


Sobering Thought. Despite the "first glance" optimism, there may well be concern this revision could backfire on the US and Mexico. As I previously noted in my 2018 State of the US Technical Textiles Industry (March/April 2018, Textile World), increasing the percentage of automotive component parts (plus a new requirement that 40-45% of the auto content be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour) could end up pricing Mexican-made vehicles out of the very competitive global marketplace. Mexico currently makes 3.4 million cars annually for the world market.


Mea Culpa.  In my same article noted above, I honestly thought revisions to NAFTA would not get done in 2018 because of the elections going on in Mexico, Canada and the US. I underestimated the dodged determination of the Trump Administration to push this trade issue forward. Why Mexico has acted on it without Canada's input is still to be understood.


Click here to read the entire statement posted by the US Trade Representative. 


Steve Warner


Posted August 28, 2018

Frédérique Mutel Stepping Down as JEC President

Frederique Mutel

In a message to BeaverLake6 Report, JEC Group President Frédérique Mutel has confirmed she has stepped down at the leader of the composite trade organization that she has led since 1997. At the head of JEC since its creation, Ms. Frederique Mutel fully committed to the expansion of composites, was instrumental in the establishment of JEC as provider of high value knowledge and networking services. At the same time, conducting a strong international development. No replace has been announced.


On July 13, 2018, Ms. Mutel was promoted to the rank of Officer in the Order of the Legion of Honour by decree of the President of the France. A very deserving honor for a key leader in the development of the composites industry. Posted July 25, 2018

State of the Chinese Technical Textiles Markets in 2017

Are you looking for a quick understanding of the China technical textiles industry? Through our special relationship with China Nonwovens & Industrial Textiles Association (CNITA) and their China Textile publication, BeaverLake6 Report is pleased to post the English-translation of the recently issued "Status Quo of China's Nonwovens and Industrial Textiles Industry, 2017." The report covers the different levels of the industry, geographic export demographics, and forecast the needs in the major end market applications. Click here to read the report in our China Textile website section. Posted June 18, 2018

Report Published on the US Technical Textiles Industry

I am pleased to announce the second part of my report 2018 State of the U.S.Technical Textiles Industry has been published by Textile World magazine. 


This first part features a general industry overview, plus an evaluation of the status and impact of US trade positions.


The second part, featured in the April/May issue will cover major end markets for technical textiles such as automotive and military.


Click here to go to the Textile World website to download a copy. 


Steve Warner, Publisher

New Dates for ITMA Asia + CITME 2018 Textile Machinery Show

The joint owners of the ITMA Asia + CITME 2018 textile machinery exhibition have announced new dates for the 6th combined showcase to be held at the National Exhibition and Convention Centre in Shanghai, China. The new dates are October 15-19, 2018. According to show owners CEMATEX and Chinese partners, the Sub-Council of Textile Industry, CCPIT (CCPIT-Tex), China Textile Machinery Association (CTMA) and China Exhibition Centre Group Corporation (CIEC), the shift in the exhibition dates is due to a new national initiative, which affected the scheduling of all events at the exhibition center in October. [Note: BeaverLake6 Report is an industry media partner for the show.] Posted February 11, 2018

New Glen Raven CEO Interviewed for Textile World Magazine

CEO Leib Oehmig

In October at the IFAI Expo 2017, I had the opportunity to sit down with -- at the time -- incoming Glen Raven CEO Leib Oehmig for an interview that has now been posted on the Textile World website and will also be in their printed November/December issue.


I've known Mr. Oehmig for probably more than 20 years and have watched his steady management progression within the Glen Raven organization. During the interview, he was very gracious with his time at a busy show and transparent in answering questions on a far-ranging number of topics including the management transition from Alan Gant, Jr., to Mr. Oehmig, the first non-Gant family member to lead Glen Raven. Click here to read the interview and learn more about the thoughts of one of our industry leaders.


Steve Warner


"Buy American" Amendments Needed in US FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act

As the saying goes "Politics make strange bedfellows." Today we find more than one-third of the Senate Democrats urging the inclusion of key amendments in the US FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (2018 NDAA) that would strengthen the US government's "Buy American" policies.


Versions of the NDAA were recently passed by both the Senate and House and a joint committee is working out a single bill. The submitted Senate version, however, left out proposed key amendments designed to prevent the weakening of domestic sourcing for the US military. One amendment included the prevention for lifting of the restrictions in place for domestic sourcing of wearable electronic products and another amendment prevents certain exceptions to the Berry Amendment which would allow non-domestic sourcing through memoranda of agreement with foreign governments.


What's the "strange bedfellows" aspect? Well, "Buy American" is also one of the key positions taken by the Trump administration. So, we have both the Democrats and the Trump administration on the same side, trying to keep strong the US domestic capability for supplying the military. Strange bedfellows given the current political animosity in Washington...but still the cooperation is vital for the US domestic textile industry. 


Steve Warner


Posted November 3, 2017

Is Saving the US Navy's Peacoat a Matter of National Security?

Since last August, the US Navy has been planning to phase out its iconic traditional wool peacoat in favor of a less expensive, synthetic cold weather parka which is lighter in weight and more versatile in types of inclement weather. It actually replaces two types of coats and the seabag the wool coat is stored.


The wool coat, however, has some powerful friends in the US Congress. Companies such as Northwest Woolen Mills in Woonsocket, R.I. and Sterlingware in Boston, Mass. Altogether, the supply chain involved in the manufacture of these woolen peacoats -- including sheep farmers -- is estimated to account for 400 jobs in the Northeast. Add to the drama that the new parka, made by the long-time military supplier Propper, is expected to be manufactured in Puerto Rico, a perceived feeling the new coat will be made by non-American workers.


Steve Warner


June 29. 2017

President Trump's Reveals 2017 Trade Policy Agenda

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has released President Trump's 2017 Trade Policy Agenda. The document, officially called 2017 Trade Policy Agenda and 2016 Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Program, outlines the new Administration’s four trade priorities:

  • Defending the US National Sovereignty over Trade Policy
  • Strictly Enforcing US Trade Laws
  • Using Leverage to Open Foreign Markets
  • Negotiating New and Better Trade Deals

​BeaverLake6 Report has created a special page within this website and placed the first chapter of the 336-page document which summarizes the policy. Click here to read it. Posted March 2, 2017

What's the NCTO Game Plan for the Post-TPP Era?

Back on March 24, 2016, I was one of the first to predict the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement was a dead deal. In fact, I said that I wouldn’t be surprised that, if Donald Trump became President, the agreement is shredded on day one of his new administration. Well, I was off by three days. Yesterday, President Trump signed an Executive Order, officially withdrawing the United States from the TPP agreement. Now the question is can the National Council of Textile Organizations put together a comprehensive plan for the domestic textile industry in a post-TPP era? Click here to read the rest. Posted January 25, 2017

Media Partners

In My Opinion

In 2015, I posted more than 425 items of interest for our industry on the BeaverLake6 Report website. In reviewing it all last week, it got me to thinking about putting together a list of influential events, news and trends that I observed during the past year. I have focused primarily on the US marketplace but each of “the things that mattered” to me has global implications.


So, here go my thoughts in no particular order of importance. Let me know if you agree or if I have missed some. Click here to read the list.


Steve Warner


Posted January 17, 2016

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Secretary Gary Locke, US Dept. of Commerce, and Steve Warner Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Steve Warner

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