I learned something new writing this month’s features. (Well, I always learn something new preparing copy for this publication.) But this revelation helped me see innovation in a new light.
Our topic this month is coatings and finishes, and the feature will run in two parts. I talked to coaters as well as the suppliers who make the products that coaters used. As most textile industry participants know by now, the end of C8-based solutions (as of 2015) has removed a product from the marketplace that did a dandy job repelling water and was equally good at repelling oil-based substances.
Manufacturers of materials used in coatings have come up with new chemistries to replace C8 (solvent)-based solutions, but research is very much still in process, too. It’s a time of active change and innovation.
That much I knew. But when I interviewed sources for the article, I asked them if the coatings business had been impacted by the development of more fabrics with inherent properties; FR, in particular comes to mind. It hasn’t. At least not very much, or not necessarily in a negative way.
In fact, inherent qualities may mean more opportunities for coaters and finishers, because those new fabrics may be able to accept coatings when other fabrics didn’t, for even better performance capabilities. It’s always been a symbiotic relationship between fabrics and coatings. Why should innovation by one (or the other) remove it?
The companies that will remain strong —whether they’re supplying the coaters, doing the finishing, or providing the fabric—are the ones that see change as growth and challenges as new opportunities.