Themed ‘Innovating the World of Textiles’, the 18th edition of ITMA, the world’s most established textile and garment technology exhibition, concluded successfully in Barcelona, Spain. The global textile and garment manufacturing industry converged at ITMA 2019, chalking up new records for the exhibition which has been held every four years since 1951. It featured many exciting new product launches and innovative technologies and products, including those that leverage the Internet of Things, by 1717 exhibitors from 45 countries.

CEMATEX, the European Committee of Textile Machinery Manufacturers, and owner of ITMA and ITMA ASIA, reported that the industry support from visitors and exhibitors was tremendous, resulting in record-breaking number of exhibitors since its inception.

Fritz P Mayer, President of CEMATEX said, “The digital transformation of the textile and garment manufacturing value chain and sustainability concerns of the industry have driven up visitor interests in ITMA 2019. We had a strong turnout, despite trade tensions and poor business sentiments. Many of our exhibitors were pleasantly surprised with the large number of serious buyers attending the exhibition.

>“They were also impressed with presence of new visitor segments, such as bigger numbers of fashion and sports brands. Considering that for this ITMA edition, the exhibition duration has been shortened from 8 to 7 days, we still enjoyed good visitorship.” ITMA 2019 attracted visitorship of over 105,000 from 137 countries. The top 5 countries where visitors came from were Spain (11 per cent), Italy (10 per cent), India (8 per cent), Turkey and Germany (7 per cent). They were followed by France, United States, Portugal, Brazil, Pakistan, China and the United Kingdom.

One of the exhibitors who was pleased with the visitor quality was Johan Verstraete, Vice-President Weaving Machines of Picanol. He explained, “Overall, it has been a good ITMA for us. We came with low expectations, but they have been considerably exceeded. Although we did not get a large number of visitors, the quality was very high. We had many conversations and negotiations, which was somewhat contradictory to the ongoing negative market sentiments.”

An excited Paolo Milini, President & CEO of MS Printing Solutions, agreed: “We are very satisfied with the show. The positive results of ITMA 2019 were made possible thanks to a large number of visitors who came to our stand. We have had over 600 contacts a day, and they come from over 90 countries!”

Launched as a dedicated sector at ITMA 2019, the printing and inks chapter had grown by 40 per cent compared with ITMA 2015, and featured many established and new exhibitors who were keen to exploit the digital printing sector.

VDMA Textile Machinery Association members were also happy with the visitor quality. Regina Brückner, CEO of Brückner Group and Chairperson of the Association, enthused: “A VDMA survey conducted at ITMA 2019 showed that almost 90 per cent of our exhibiting member companies considered both the quantity and quality of visitors as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Visitors from all over the world came to ITMA Barcelona to discuss new projects.”

ITMA 2019 also provided the platform for the announcement of a comprehensive modernisation programme for Egypt’s textile industry valued at around 1 bn euro from exhibitors including Benninger, Brückner, EFI Reggiani, Itema, Karl Mayer, Rieter, Savio and Thies.

The innovation place

Many new technologies were launched, ranging from 3D weaving and knitting to hi-tech nonwovens processes, sustainable chemicals and state-of-the-art garmentmaking technologies, and wide range of software-powered automation solutions.

“I missed the last ITMA in Milan. After eight years, I find there is a big jump in technology. There are many interesting new developments, such as digitalisation and automation, as well as more eco-friendly products. I came here to also buy equipment for my factories, so this has been a fruitful trip for me,” said Kihak Sung, Founder of Youngone Corporation and President of International Textile Manufacturers Federation.

Another leading industry player, RakhiI Hirdaramani, Director of Hirdaramani and the Manufacturers Committee Chair of the World Federation of Sporting Goods International, said: “ITMA is a meeting of the minds. As much as it is a machinery fair, it’s also about understanding new technologies; meeting with your peers and colleagues from various sectors of the industry to understand the challenges and how to address them. One of the key trends we’ve seen this year, is about sustainability and Industry 4.0.”

Hirdaramani participated in a panel discussion held at the Speakers Platform, one of the components of the ITMA Innovation Lab which was launched at this year’s exhibition. The Platform drew strong interest and participation. It featured about 60 presentations, and was attended by over 900 participants.

In addition, a number of ITMA and co-located events drew over 1,000 delegates. Among the events were the ITMAEDANA Nonwovens Forum, Textile Colourant and Chemical Leaders Forum, Better Cotton Initiative Seminar, European Digital Textile Conference, Tex- Summit Global, Planet Textiles, SAC & ZDHC Manufacturer Forum and Texmeeting by TEXFOR.

ITMA collaborated with supporting organisations, many of which sent visiting delegations from Central Asia, South Asia, Turkey and the Mediterranean countries. Among the high-level government delegations that were at ITMA included Catalan Minister of Business and Knowledge Ángels Chacon i Feixás; Governor of West Flanders Carl Decaluwé who led a press delegation from Flanders, Belgium; and the Uzbekistan Vice Minister of Silk Jumaev Olimjon and Vice Minister of Textile Jumaniyazov Fahriddin who led a delegation of 40 people.

Charles Beauduin, Chairman of ITMA Services, which organises ITMA 2019, said: “We are extremely glad that many industry stakeholders see ITMA as an excellent platform for collaboration and sharing of ideas to make the industry more competitive in the face of digital transformation and to explore cutting-edge solutions to future proof their business.”

Alex Zucchi, President of ACIMIT also shares Beauduin’s view. He said, “This Barcelona edition has confirmed ITMA as the main B2B platform in the textile industry. The many innovations seen here, especially in the field of sustainability and digitalisation, have increased the interest of visitors. It is essential to focus on these issues also for the next edition of ITMA to be held in Milan in 2023.” The next ITMA will be held in Fiera Milano, Milan, Italy, from 8 to 14 June 2023. Some exhibitors, happy with their participation, have already started making plans for the next show.

ITMA sustainable innovation award

One of Europe’s largest denim producers, Candiani SpA has won the ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award, held in conjunction with ITMA 2019. Its innovative product, Candiani Re-Gen is a ‘circular denim’ fabric created from regenerated and recycled raw materials. Fifty per cent of the Re-Gen fabric comprises Tencel x Refibra Lyocell made of pulp from cotton scraps and wood pulp using Lenzing’s efficient closed-loop process; the other 50 per cent consists of post-industrial recycled Candiani fibres. Candiani’s fabrics are also dyed using green technologies, resulting in substantial reduction in the use of water and chemicals in the fabric production and jean washing process.

According to Alberto Candiani, President of Candiani SpA, the fabric was created to commemorate Candiani’s 80th anniversary. He said, “We are a strong believer in sustainability. In creating the Re-Gen fabric, we leveraged Lenzing’s Tencel Lyocell fibres with Refibra technology, and combined it with our inhouse expertise to create an innovative product that is fashionable and environmentally friendly at the same time.”

Nominated for the award by ITMA 2019 exhibitor Lenzing Ag, Candiani SpA received the trophy from CEMATEX President Fritz P Mayer, at a presentation ceremony on the opening day of ITMA 2019.

Mayer said, “We would like to congratulate both Candiani and Lenzing for their excellent collaboration. CEMATEX launched the ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award in 2015 as we would like to encourage greater industry collaboration and synergies, as well as spur more research and development efforts. Ultimately, we need innovation to drive our business and contribute to a more circular economy.”

The two other finalists of the ITMA Industry Excellence Award – Levi Strauss & Co, and Lee – were also praised for their efforts to introduce green innovations into their products and processes. Winner of the first ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award in 2015, Levi Strauss & Co launched FLX Customisation Studio which revolutionalises in-store customisation by allowing customers to pick their denim finish and create a unique pair of jeans in less than two hours. The mobile studio uses sustainable garment finishing technologies and operates on 100 per cent recycled water. It leverages ITMA exhibitor Jeanologia’s water recycling system, H2Zero.

Established denim jeans brand Lee leverages Tonello’s innovative garment finishing system for its denim jeans. The All-in-One System combines four technologies that drastically reduces the water needed in the finishing stages of jean manufacturing thus reducing processing time and total production cost.

Research & Innovation Excellence Award

Fritz P Mayer, President of CEMATEX and the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), handed over the prize money of 10,000 euro with certificate to the lucky winner at ITMA 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. The 3D braiding machine consists of an existing conventional mechanical system. It has now been digitised and rebuilt according to industry 4.0 standard. With the help of the digital control, e.g. three-dimensionally reinforced ceramic turbine components can be manufactured as prototypes and subsequently produced in series. Together with the company ark industrie AG, Aachen, Germany, and 2CComposites GmbH & Co. KG, Heinsberg, Germany, the control system was completely redesigned so that the machine can be monitored and operated from anywhere.

“Every machine manufacturer is looking for ways to update its existing machinery before replacing it. We provide him with a good solution in the field of digitisation and Industry 4.0,” says Professor Dr Thomas Gries, Head of ITA. At ITMA 2015, ITA doctoral candidate Jan Jordan had already won the R&I Excellence Award for his master thesis “Development & assembly of a test bench for the analysis of magnetic weft insertion.”

The ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award was created by CEMATEX to recognize the joint efforts of the global textile industry to promote corporate sustainability through innovative solutions and outstanding industry-specific research. The award comprises two categories: An Industry Excellence Award for textile and apparel manufacturers and a Research & Innovation Excellence Award open to Master’s students.