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Little fish at big ITMA.

Little Fish At Big ITMA

Since it was so big and so important to the nonwovens industry, it is only proper that we spend a few minutes discussing the relative importance of the recent ITMA '91 in Hannover, Germany.

Besides testing the mettle and stamina of exhibitors forced to stay in the huge Hannover Fair Grounds complex for the 10 days the show was open - plus set-up and dismantling time - ITMA '91 brought home two distinct points for the nonwovens industry. Both are lessons that should be learned and remembered whenever we discuss our industry internally or with those who view us from the outside.

First of all, it can't be ignored that ITMA '91, although by no means exciting or glamorous, was about 20 times the size of an INDEX show, the European nonwovens exhibition that has historically been the largest nonwovens industry gathering. The record size of the ITMA was primarily because the entire worldwide textile machinery industry brought its wares to Hannover. The fact that an INDEX or an IDEA show could fit into just one of the 20 exhibition halls in Hannover puts things in perspective, especially the debate (now resolved) concerning the timing of the U.S. and European nonwovens trade shows.

The second lesson is that the nonwovens industry certainly does not have a monopoly on new technology in the textile industry. Viewed from the myopia of a small segment that has been outpacing its older relatives for the past decade or so, we sometimes forget our roots and realize that we are not alone in striving for the new technology that will gain us the technological advantage as we head into the 21st century.

ITMA '91 provided perhaps the best opportunity ever to see the role nonwovens plays in the grand scheme of the worldwide textile business. While our industry and its suppliers were dwarfed by the suppliers to the conventional woven and knitting industries, some of the most novel and advanced equipment developments on the floor of the show involved nonwovens. These ranged from the very high speed looms introduced by Dilo and Fehrer to the production equipment of Fleissner, Hollingsworth, Schlumberger and the consortium of Autefa, Dilo, Temafa and Spinnbau.

The point here is that we remain a very small nonwoven fish in a very big textile pond. Nowhere do the roots of the nonwovens industry show more than at an ITMA or ATME gathering, where the conventional textile developments are sometimes just as enlightening as the new equipment targeted at nonwovens.

We are very comfortable with the small fish/big pond scenario. The relative intimacy of the nonwovens industry and its willingness to accept new ideas and fresh concepts are what drew many of us to it in the first place. Although a week immersed in the textile machinery business at ITMA '91 brought that feeling a little closer to the surface, it also makes us appreciate the special flavor of our "little" nonwovens industry.
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Title Annotation:International Exhibition of Textile Machinery
Author:Jacobsen, Michael A.
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Nov 1, 1991
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