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Techtextil 2009: Messe Frankfurt organises International Natural Fibres Congress

The United Nations have declared 2009 to be the International Year of Natural Fibres. Therefore, Techtextil will also be spotlighting products such as cotton, flax and cellulose and drawing attention to their potential for use in technical applications. From 16 to 18 June, exhibitors at the International Trade Fair for Technical Textiles and Non-wovens will present the results of their research activities, and new products including, for example, a technology for the production of functional fibres, a composite based on flax and a yarn made of organic cotton. Moreover, the International Natural Fibres Congress will be held parallel to the fair.

International Natural Fibre Congress to be held parallel to Techtextil 2009

Millions of people in the poorest countries of the world earn a living by cultivating and processing natural fibres. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the aim of the International Year of Natural Fibres is to increase and develop the effectiveness and sustainability of this branch of agriculture.

Messe Frankfurt has taken up this idea and will hold the International Natural Fibre Congress parallel to Techtextil on 17 and 18 June. The Congress will focus on the subject of natural fibres in connection with ‘Innovative Functions’ and their use in the ‘Mobility’ and ‘Construction’ fields.

This event enjoys the support of important associations including the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) from Switzerland whose Director General, Dr. Christian Schindler, says, “I would like to thank Messe Frankfurt for having taken the initiative to organ-ise the ‘Natural Fibre Congress’ during the official ‘International Year of Natural Fibres’.

To hold such a congress in conjunction with the renowned Techtextil fair will certainly help to increase the awareness of the broad range of applications of natural fibres outside their traditional applications in the apparel and home textile segments. Since sustainability and ecology will continue to play an increasingly important role in the future, it is important to showcase the potential of natural fibres in the segment of technical textiles as well.” The Managing Director of the Bremen Cotton Exchange, Jan Wellmann, says, “The Natural Fibre Congress during Techtextil will offer good information from the latest research projects on the use of natural fibres.”

Research Award for Technology for the Production of Functional Textile Fibres
Reliable protection against mosquitoes and ticks can be integrated into cellulose-based textile fibres. A contribution to this will be made by Germany’s Thüringisches Institut für Textil- und Kunststoff-Forschung (TITK), which will present, inter alia, the latest results of its research and development activities in the field of functional-fibre materials.

The main topic covered will be the technology for the permanent integration of meltable or liquid functional additives in cellulose-based fibre matrixes, which received the 2008 Research Award of the Free State of Thuringia TITK succeeded in developing a technology for the production of textile functional fibres with integrated protection against vectors, which remains effective throughout the entire life-cycle of the material. This eliminates the time-consuming and expansive follow-up treatments necessary to repel insects that suck blood and transmit diseases, such as mosquitoes and ticks. As Dr. Frank Meister, Head of the Chemical Research Department, says: “The active substances required are integrated in the fibre-spinning process. At the core of this new process is the use of nano-technological principles for binding the active substance into the cellulose-fibre matrix.”

The starting point of this research work is the idea to use aspectless nano particles to seal liquid or meltable substances inside a cellulose fibre so they cannot be washed out of the fibre. “Now that we have succeeded embedding phase-change substances with a concentration of up to 40 percent in a cellulose fibre, we want to insert slowly vaporisable substances into the centre of the fibre in the same way”, says Meister.

In this connection, the concentration of the active substances must be selected to ensure that an adequate amount can be released over the entire life cycle of the textiles. “Given a successful conclusion to this project, we can well imagine a variety of other functional fibres able to release special fragrances or active substances from inside the fibres to the wearer of the textile products. This would make it possible to de-velop the first ‘cosmetotextiles’ that really live up to their name”, adds Meister elaborating the Institute’s plans for the future.

Procotex launches a new composite based on natural fibres
“At this year’s Techtextil, we will present a new composite based on flax”, says Bruno Douchy, Procotex Sales Director. The Belgian com-pany has its head office in the heart of a European flax-growing re-gion. More than 120,000 tonnes of long flax fibres are produced every year in Northern France, The Netherlands and Belgium and exported throughout the world to be spun or woven for use in the fashion and upholstery industries.

Flax is a natural fibre distinguished by elasticity and flexural strength. It can be processed easily and inexpensively, softening and steam treatments are unnecessary. Even that part of the flax produced during brushing, the tow, is used for making ropes and as cellulose in the paper industry. In particular, this waste product is gaining rapidly in significance as reinforcement for composites containing plastics, e.g., in the furniture and automobile industries. An important point in this connection is that flax is cheaper than glass fibre. Other advantages of biological composites are that they can be recycled and incinerated with no residue.

In Frankfurt, Procotex will show ways of binding flax with plastics to create materials with different degrees of hardness. New in this connection is preblending natural fibres with polypropylene or BioPECs, a polyester fibre, which makes moulding possible at the compara-tively low temperature of 240°C. Depending on the blend, the finished product will be more or less hard, e.g., a combination of 50 percent flax and 50 percent polypropylene produces a relatively hard product that can be used, inter alia, in car doors. A felt is created during the manufacturing process and heating melts the polypropylene. The final shape is achieved by subsequent cold pressing. The result is a light-weight material with specific gravity as low as 1.2.

Procotex points out that the material is not inflammable, does not chip and has no sharp edges. According to the manufacturer, it is also resistant to acids and alkaline substances.

"Procotex is not only active in the field of developing new materials on the basis of natural fibres, but we recycle these fibres as they can be used more than once. As natural fibres are healthy, comfortable, renewable and possess high tech as well as natural characteristics, we are committed to develop and promote them further and that not only in 2009, the International Year of Natural Fibres", says Douchy.

New yarn made of organic cotton to be launched shortly
The Amann Group is one of the world’s leading producers of yarns for sewing and embroidery. Based in the Southwest German town of Bönnigheim, the company’s top priorities include the optimisation of its ecological balance sheet. Besides optimised production processes, such as the reduction of fresh-water consumption for dyeing, the company’s products also offer a chance to exploit existing room for manoeuvre, e.g., yarns made under the ‘Amann Lifecycle Threads’ label. On the one hand, they consist of two texturised sewing threads, a multifilament twist and an embroidery yarn made of 100 % recycled polyester. On the other hand, of a product made of organic cotton. All products are due to be launched in the very near future.

“Our organic-cotton product – Lifecycle Cotton – will be available in count numbers 25, 50 and 75”, says Johannes Ibach, Head of the Marketing Department. “Thus, we will be able to cover the main stitching categories.” According to the manufacturer, the sewability and technical values are comparable to those of ‘normal’ cotton. However, the Amann Group acknowledges that the prices of Lifecycle Cotton will be slightly higher than conventional cotton products.

“We are currently in a test phase to discover the exact requirements of our customers because their needs still diverge significantly”, explains Ibach. In this way, the Amann Group plans to react to the needs of the market. To what extent the International Year of Natural Fibres will have an influence on the sewing yarns segment remains to be seen.

“At present, natural fibres, especially cotton, are of subordinate significance compared to synthetic raw materials due to their inferior technological values”, adds Ibach and points out that the Amann Group is carrying out extensive tests on other naturally renewable raw materials and bio-polymers in relation to the company’s high qualitative expectations.

Background information on Messe Frankfurt:

With annual revenues of EUR 436 million (November 2008) and over 1,400 employees around the world, Messe Frankfurt is Germany's biggest fair and exhibition company. The corporate group has a global network of 29 subsidiaries, five branch offices and 48 international sales partners, which represent Messe Frankfurt in over 150 countries of the world. Events 'made by Messe Frankfurt' are held at over 30 venues worldwide. In 2008, the Messe Frankfurt group organised over 100 fairs, more than half of them outside Germany.
At present, the Exhibition Centre can boast 322,000 square metres of exhibition space with nine exhibition halls and a congress centre. The company is publicly owned with 60 percent being held by the City of Frankfurt and 40 by the State of Hesse.

Further information: www.messefrankfurt.com

Messe Frankfurt Exhibition GmbH
Ludwig-Erhard-Anlage 1
D-60327 Frankfurt a. M.

Telefon +49 69 75 75-0
Telefax +49 69 75 75-64 33
info@messefrankfurt.com
www.messefrankfurt.com

Contact:
Kerstin Riemann
Tel. +49 69 7575-6738
Fax +49 69 7575-6099
kerstin.riemann@messefrankfurt.com

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