IFAI Expo 2019 just closed in Orlando last Friday. It was a busy week! Dozens of educational opportunities in advanced textiles markets were dispersed over three days, in additional to a full afternoon as part of the pre-show events. More than 300 exhibitors – many of them with products I would consider part of the advanced textiles industry – gave me plenty to see on the show floor.
There’s a lot to talk about, but it’s also a good opportunity for me to tell you about Advanced Textiles Products (ATP), a division of IFAI, which always holds an open meeting at Expo for anybody who wishes to attend, learn more about the division, offer suggestions and get to know others in the advanced textiles industry.
The division’s purpose is keep members informed about trends, innovations and opportunities through education and member programming throughout the year. In addition to focused programming at IFAI Expo, the Smart Fabrics Summit, in partnership with the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, offers an intensive conference on emerging trends in research, technology and public policy. The next event will be in Washington D.C., April 16-17, 2020. (See www.smartfabricssummit.com)
This year’s meeting was led by its new chair, Chris Semonelli, vice president, sales and marketing for E-Squared, based in Newport, R.I. Semonelli expressed a particular interest in reaching young people to engage them at an early age and interest them in the business of textiles. “We have a lack of a pipeline in our industry,” he said. ATP has 200 members “and people from all facets of the industry,” and as such it offers real opportunities for young people as they prepare for their future work lives.
There was also discussion about helping connect those who develop and manufacture medical devices with the medical community, possibly by offering continuing education or other means of outreach.
One of the areas that falls under the ATP umbrella is e-textiles. A consortium of volunteers working on standards for almost three years has reported progress that actually beat the three-year timeline established to release its first standard. “We did it in two-and-a-half years,” said Stephanie Rodgers, who co-chairs a standards committee.
Chris Jorgensen, the IPC (Association Connecting Electronics Industries) D-70 E-Textiles Committee Staff Liaison, led a presentation with updates on the progress of standards for e-textiles. Work on IPC-8921, Requirements for Woven and Knitted Electronic Textiles (E-Textiles) Integrated With, Conductive Fibers, Conductive Yarns and/or Wires began in summer 2017, a standard passed a ballot in September, and will be published this fall. Work continues on additional standards.
If you haven’t attended the Advanced Textiles Conference and IFAI’s Expo you really should give it some serious thought for next year, scheduled Nov. 3–6 in Indianapolis, Ind. If you have attended, keep in mind that every Expo offers something you couldn’t have seen before. I should know, since I’ve been covering them for 11 years in a row. That’s why I say this every year: If you don’t go, you won’t know.
I look forward to meeting you in Indianapolis!