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Raleigh - The 2021 edition of Techtextil North America took place last month in Raleigh, North Carolina with organisers hailing the success of the event, which, exceeding expectations, served as the ideal platform to reunite the industry.

After nearly a year and a half of virtual business dealings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US textile industry gathered together in-person for this highly anticipated reunion.

Despite several obstacles including the re-emergence of COVID-19 via the Delta variant and Tropical Storm Henri that battered the Northeast in the days leading up to the show, Techtextil North America 2021 saw strong attendance, with many exhibitors noting the high quality of visitors throughout the three days. Decision makers from all of the major industries that touch technical textiles and nonwovens attended the event to conduct business, reunite with industry pals, and discover the latest technological developments and trends shaping the industry as we approach a post-pandemic world.

This year, visitors included top industry executives, buyers, engineers, technical directors, plant managers, product development managers, and more from the world’s leading brands including Gildan, Honeywell, Lear Corporation, Patagonia, Procter and Gamble, Milliken and Company, Courtland Biomedical and Bluewater Defense Inc, among others.

Educational Features

Symposium ticketholders attended sessions covering hot topics on new levels of innovation, disruptions brought on by COVID-19, and how the global textile industry continues to thrive and find new solutions. Many sessions nearly sold out during the last weeks of pre-registration; sessions including “Sustainability, Traceability and Supply-Chain Disruptions”, “Digital Transformation Strategy and “Manufacturing, Managing and Regulating PPE- Now and into the Future” proved to be in high demand.

Student Research Poster Program

The Poster Program returned to Techtextil North America again in 2021. Participants included undergraduate research students and those pursuing their Master’s or Ph.D. from the top textile engineering programs in the Southeast region. Participants had the opportunity to share their research findings with peers and potential employers on the show floor each day, and a handful were given the opportunity to present their research at The Academy in front of a captive audience throughout the three days.

The Academy

A must-see show floor attraction area, The Academy combined the previously named Tech Talks and The Lab for three days of free show floor education. Featuring the latest scientific developments in technical textiles and nonwovens, the Academy features students from the Poster Program and speakers from companies like AATCC, American Truetzchler, The Hohenstein Institute, Manufacturing Solutions Center, and Microban. Sessions covering antiviral and antimicrobial textiles and textile treatments proved to be in high demand, and “Testing Water Resistance of PPE Fabrics” proved to be a hot topic as well.

Expectations

The show’s return since the COVID-19 pandemic proved to have met or exceeded expectations for visitors and exhibitors alike, and many were more than happy to share their thoughts on the value of in-person events after such a long hiatus:

"It's been great to be out and about again," said Ernest Sumner of A.B. Carter. "We've been able to see and meet a lot of people that we hadn't been able to catch up with or wouldn't have known about had we not been here in Raleigh. We didn't know who we needed to see until we saw them!"

“Shows are a pain in the neck, but so worth it," said Steve Aranof of exhibitor Zund America Inc. "As someone who has participated on both sides as an exhibitor and an attendee, it's hard to say which option is best. But we are such social characters. If I didn't wander the show floor, I wouldn't have met certain people to have conversations with and wouldn't have learned what they know without engaging in that conversation."

“It was great to be back in a live setting, talking face to face, seeing new developments as well as older, tested solutions,” said Keith Hoover, President of Black Swan Textiles and featured speaker in the Techtextil North America Symposium. “I saw firsthand several instances of unintended connections and serendipitous introductions between people - all of which led to unforeseen opportunities. There is no substitute for being there. Video conferences have their place, but, if that's all we have, then there will be a downturn in innovation and ultimately, prosperity. Thanks to Techtextil North America for leading the way back to personal interaction and real networking. It's time to get back to work.”

The Atlanta edition of Techtextil North America will take place May 17-19, 2022, once again co-located with Texprocess Americas, the leading sourcing event for sewn products manufacturing.

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