Specialty fabrics industry gathers at IFAI Expo Americas 2010

The industry's Main Event focused on advanced textiles and sustainable design

(Roseville, MN - Dec. 3, 2010)—IFAI Expo Americas continues its reign as the specialty fabric industry's top-performing trade event in the Americas. More than 5,100 registered participants from 55 countries gathered in Orlando for the industry's largest showcase of products, knowledge and accomplishments. 

IFAI Expo Americas 2010, held 27-29 Oct. at the Orange County Convention Center, proved to be the strategic "must-attend" event of the year for an industry slowly emerging from a tumultuous economy.

No "tire-kickers" were on the show floor. Manufacturers and end-product fabricators came to buy. Exhibiting companies were overwhelmed on the first day with leads and confirmed purchases. Speakers were swamped with questions in crowded educational seminars and workshops.

The trade show is a natural buyer's magnet because the top companies in fabrics, fiber, films and chemicals, end products, components, equipment, and technology services were represented. IFAI Expo Americas' breadth enables connections to be made throughout the industry's value chain. Buyers were able to visit 354 exhibiting companies, attended cutting-edge symposiums, and learned about the winning innovative products in the International Achivement Awards (IAA) competition.

Jaime Parker, President of Shadys, a supplier of products to the golf industry, confirmed that saying: "We attended our first IFAI Expo last year in San Diego at the suggestion of one of our manufacturers as a 'must-attend' trade show to finalize our materials and parts selection. They said, 'If you can't find it at this show, then it doesn't exist...especially if you are searching for specialty or hard-to-find items.' We attended the show and immediately found all the parts and materials we needed. In fact, we were exposed to so many new parts and materials that it stimulated our imagination and we have since developed new drawings and designs for future products we never thought possible."

 IFAI Expo's reputation and unique benefits as the specialty fabrics industry's top North American trade event were affirmed by Alan Prelutsky, Vice President Sales and Marketing for MarChem CFI, which manufactures coated, laminated, and solution dyed polyester fabrics for use in a wide range of applications: "MarChem CFI was overwhelmed with traffic at IFAI Expo Americas 2010, far exceeding our expectations. We had more viable customers visit with us in the booth this year than ever before. Even though we had most of our sales staff off the road, the benefit of being at Expo was worth it. It allowed us to reach customers in a way we can't otherwise. We were able to meet with both current and prospective customers and see what trends are appearing in our market."

Morgan Blue, Account Executive with UL DQS, Inc., one of the leading certification bodies for management systems worldwide, said that the majority of attendee traffic was at the executive level: "The IFAI Expo crowd was all business. The decision makers were there! It was refreshing to meet COOs, CEOs and quality directors-people who know what they're doing."

Despite all the economic and market challenges in the headlines, there was lively traffic in the exhibit hall according to Nick Rivera, Production Manager for MMI Textiles, Inc., a fabric converter and general component supplier. Rivera explained that IFAI Expo is not only a selling event, but also a customer relationship strategy: "MMI enjoyed 105 qualified leads the first day! This is the show to go to--the most popular show. In addition to new contacts, exhibiting gave us the opportunity to network with other exhibitors and reminisce with hundreds of customers and suppliers. We bring employees to the show that may otherwise never get the opportunity to meet our customers and vendors, so it's great for them and MMI because it helps in customer service to meet the people you deal with on a daily basis."

Symposiums show off new research, technology and the next generation of products

One of the keys to IFAI Expo Americas' prominence," explains IFAI President and CEO Stephen Warner, "is the balance we have developed between trade show, educational symposiums, and achievement recognition. As a result, we are able to attract not only those in the industry, but also those who influence the industry such as military procurement officers, architects and code specifiers."

Within IFAI Expo Americas were two major cutting-edge symposiums: IFAI's Advanced Textiles (AT) and the 7th International Conference on Safety and Protective Fabrics. A lineup of well-known international experts drew eager audiences, demonstrating that even in an economic downturn, companies are still investing in learning and innovation.

Demanding conditions require highly-engineered textile solutions, and this biennial conference showcased the latest research and applications surrounding "Textiles for Extreme Applications." Presenters included experts from Patagonia, Textronics/ Adidas, Fabrikology, Oeko-Tex US, Anvil Knitwear, Aspen Aerogel, AR Tech, Hologenics, ArmorWorks, Advanced Fabric Technologies, Sky/Dex, T-PACC, North Carolina State University, and Radiation Shield Technologies.

One of the hottest topic symposiums was "The Future of Nanotechnology on Advanced Textiles," an overview of how nanotechnology is becoming an integral part of textile manufacturing systems for advanced textiles. This is very exciting for the industry because this technology makes it possible to manipulate materials and systems at the atomic and molecular levels, which will add functionality to textile products never dreamed of--a new vista that will drive new business. Distinguished speakers included Prof. Dr. Roshan Shishoo, Director, Shishoo Consulting AB; Professor Satish Kumar, Georgia Tech; Prof. Brian Korgel PhD, University of Texas at Austin, and Dr. Stephen Coulson, Chief Technical Officer, P2i.

Another cutting edge symposium was "Advanced Applications in Battle and Military Medical Fields," which outlined materials research for wound healing, body monitoring, mobility enhancement, chem-bio threat solutions and other research projects. Products and processes based on research theories which are being launched into battlefield and military medical fields were introduced.  View speaker Lynne Rose talking about the advances in silver technologies and the uses in different textile applications and military applications.

The Advanced Textiles conference Keynote Speaker was Dr. Stan Swallow, Intelligent Textiles, who provided valuable insights on "E-textiles for the Future Dismounted Soldier." For over five years Dr. Swallow has been researching and developing e-textiles for defense applications, predominantly as a replacement for conventional cables in soldier systems, where he offers a radical solution to some of the burden problems facing today's dismounted soldier and marine. He described the development of electrically conductive textiles and the significant advantages that they promise.

Additional sessions covering the latest research and new technologies that are being developed and brought to market included:

  • Extreme Textiles for Sustainability, Wellness, Insulation and Force Mitigation
  • Advances in Multi-Functional Nonwovens
  • Sustainability and Innovation
  • Composite Material Applications
  • Architectural Opportunities--Exploring Fabric Structures
  • How to Design Green Roofs and Landscapes, co-organized with IFAI's Geosynthetic Materials Association
  • Fabric Structures Symposium

IFAI's 2010 International Achievement Awards Recognized Fabric Design Excellence Across the World

A simple product like the kiwi fruit spurred a specialty fabrics Award of Excellence solution from W A Coppins Ltd. that has saved the New Zealand kiwi industry $30-$35 million in damaged fruit each year. This was just one example of the amazing creativity and ingenuity shown by the winners of IFAI's International Achivement Awards (IAA) competition each year at IFAI Expo Americas.

The specialty fabrics industry has a very prominent role in the global marketplace and is one of the most exciting arenas for innovation. The recipients of IFAI's 2010 International Achievement Awards (IAA), the industry's premier awards program for 62 years, were announced at the IFAI Expo Chairman's Gala, hosted by IFAI Board Chairman Peter McKernan, President of Herculite Products, Inc. This year there were 386 entries from 14 countries.

The IAA program showcases design excellence (in 28 market areas) among hundreds of participating projects from all over the world each year. Designers, manufacturers and subcontractors of specialty fabric end products qualify for the annual competition which included such high-profile projects as a retractable roof system for Wimbledon Center Court created by Hitex Group. Another major event--The Shanghai World Expo 2010, attended by over 68 million people, featured The Future Pavilion constructed by IAA Outstanding Achievement Winner Shanghai Taiyo Kogyo Co. Ltd.  View all the winning IAA projects and descriptions on the Specialty Fabrics Review website or the IAA website.

Stephen Warner recalled that throughout his 34 years at IFAI, he has seen many economic highs and lows. "One thing I know is that this is a resilient industry, and the economic pendulum swings back again. The demand for quality and product integrity will never disappear. The specialty fabrics industry sets high standards for itself. For example, IFAI provides certification programs and engages in training workshops and government code work to ensure the best end results with our member companies and their customers."

Warner said that IFAI is part of the equation for getting through the economic downturn. "These are tough times, but it was never a better time to belong to an association like IFAI. We invest our membership dollars, publication and event revenue back into benefits for our worldwide membership. If there was ever a time when companies needed the services we provide it is now. When IFAI Expo is over, we continue to support our members with referrals, business contacts, market intelligence, and year-round support for both end product manufacturers and suppliers to the industry. Our trade events bring market segments together in a global marketplace, but our member services drive success year-round."

That explains what makes IFAI and its Expo Americas great, and why the association is going into its 100th anniversary in 2012. It has staying power, and supports its members to make sure they have it, too.

Read the complete IFAI Expo Americas 2010 show recap in the December issue of Specialty Fabrics Review magazine.

About the organizer...

IFAI Expo Americas 2010 was organized by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), the largest textile trade organization in the world. IFAI publishes seven market-specific magazines in print and online, organizes major industry events, and through hundreds of activities supports the success of nearly 2,000 member companies located in 54 countries. For more information visit www.ifai.com.  

Important Links - Photos and Videos from IFAI Expo Americas 2010

Read the feature story on the winning projects in the 2010 International Achievement Awards

View the IAA Winning Project Photo Gallery

Exhibit / Call for Papers at IFAI Expo Americas 2011

Plan now to Exhibit at IFAI Expo Americas 2010 in Baltimore

An International Buyer Program supported by the U.S. Department of Commerce

IFAI is proud to announce that IFAI Expo Americas 2011 has been designated for the third time by the U.S. Department of Commerce as an "International Buyer Program."  How does this designation help you?  Your chances of finding the right international business partner greatly increases at a trade show that's part of the IBP. You'll not only meet more buyers, representatives and distributors, but your products and services can be listed in the Export Interest Directory and distributed to all international visitors.

You'll also benefit from:

  • Access to hundreds of current international trade leads in your industry
  • Hands-on export counseling, marketing analysis, and matchmaking services by country and industry experts from the U.S. Commercial Service
  • Use of an on-site International Business Center, where your company can meet privately with prospective international buyers, prospective sales representatives, and business partners and obtain assistance from our experienced U.S. Commercial Service staff.

IFAI Expo Americas 2011 - Leading the way in specialty fabrics