The American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) held its annual international conference in Wilmington, N.C., March 28–30. It was the largest gathering in ten years with 280 attendees. Enthusiasm was evident during the daytime proceedings and at receptions held in the evenings, which had 20 exhibitors involving testing instrument makers, and chemical and dye manufacturers.
The conference was divided into three tracks: chemical applications, concept 2 consumers and materials. The highlight of the event was the keynote presentation by Joe Quinn, senior director, Public Affairs and Government Relations at Walmart. To a standing-room-only crowd in the grand ballroom of the Hilton Riverside Hotel, Quinn emphasized the importance of rejuvenating domestic manufacturing in a cost-effective manner.
A talented next-generation work force will determine advanced manufacturing in the United States. Quinn was optimistic about the domestic manufacturing sector, pointing out that mothers in the U.S. prefer made-in-USA goods; this factor is second only to price.
Retailers such as Walmart are constantly reinventing themselves with improvements in supply chain management and meeting consumer requirements, which is evident in Walmart’s grocery pick-up concept. Quinn acknowledged the challenges of bringing businesses back entirely to our shores, reiterating the importance of technology and talent.
Cody Reynolds, the recipient of the Young Entrepreneur Award provided lessons for start-ups in the technical textiles sector based on his personal experience while founding Additive Drug Delivering Devices Inc. Reynolds provided a strong list of take-home messages: perceive the need for new products, gauge investors’ expectations and sentiments, and, above all, gain thorough knowledge of what drives consumers to new products and services. Acknowledging failure is also a must for businesses, he said.
This year’s conference featured a number of innovations spanning dye chemistry, sustainable dye colors, use of nanotechnology in building advanced products using nanocellulose, and designing fashion and activewear garments.
Professor Gang Sun, Olney Medal recipient from the University of California, Davis, presented a review of his three decades of research in utilizing organic chemistry to develop functional textile products, such as antimicrobial cotton textiles, and clothing to resist chemical and biological agents.
Archroma’s presentation focused on coloring textiles using earth colors. Archroma in partnership with Cotton Inc. has come up with a concept for dyeing cotton with cotton plant byproducts. Sulphur dyes were created from cotton wastes and were used to dye cotton denims. This concept features a disruptive technology for dyeing cellulosics.
Flame retardancy is still a challenge in the textiles and technical textiles sectors, and industries are striving to move away from halogens in FR treatments. FRX Polymers Inc. is developing one solution to this problem with its large molecule polymeric flame retardants.
Research and development in cotton-based activewear fabrics created a lot of buzz among the conference participants. Rembert (Bert) Truesdale. president of AATCC, said the conference made clear that the textile field is changing every week, and new ideas that disrupt the field are evolving.
According to Jack Daniels, AATCC executive vice president, excellent talks, enhanced participation from students, international participation from countries like Bangladesh, China and India, and industry exhibits made this conference a great success.
Seshadri Ramkumar, Ph.D., is a professor in the Nonwovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory, Texas Tech University.