This is a challenging year for global nonwovens and technical textile industries and everyone is scrambling for a position in the global market during an economic downturn. The New York Times reported that the competitive edge of the U.S. economy has eroded sharply over the last decade, mostly due to a reduction in U.S. research and development, according to a new study by a nonpartisan research group. While this may be temporarily true, it does not have to be permanent and we can easily change it through new research and development programs created in part by economic stimulus programs. The new administration’s economic recovery package includes added spending for areas favored by innovation policy advocates, including higher research and development spending and funds for high-technology fields like electronic health records and scientific research. INDA and TAPPI are doing their part to promote new research and development initiatives in the nonwovens industry by changing the way they conduct technical conferences and trade fairs. The International Nonwovens Technical Conference (INTC) has been transformed to include a full-day “Technology Innovations and New Business Opportunities” session,which will focus on forward-thinking opportunities that don’t necessarily include nonwovens…that is, not YET.This session and the entire conference is designed to inspire thinking outside of the nonwovens box, promoting new R&D efforts and creating new uses for nonwoven materials. The Innovations session is comprised of individuals and companies that have created products or processes that can easily be adapted to nonwovens. Several new products will be highlighted, for example, radiation-blocking nanocomposite materials used in place of the traditional lead vests for radiology laboratories and also for emergency first responders, light activated nanoparticles that become anti-bacterial, new flame resistant nonwovens, nonwoven fabrics that contain bio-sensors for sports and medical applications and a multitude of other breakthrough technologies that can be adapted to improve an unlimited number of product possibilities.
The Technology Innovations Session(s) at INTC will start with Dr. Al Teich, director of the American Association of Applied Science, who will present a keynote to highlight new government incentive programs that will fund U.S. R&D initiatives. His presentation, “We Will Show You the Money,” will highlight the latest U.S. government programs and explain how to acquire development dollars. The American Association of Applied Science is devoted to the promotion of U.S. scientific initiatives. AAAS’ affiliates include 262 societies and academies of science, serving more than 10 million members. In addition to publishing Science magazine as well as other science-related publications, hosting scientific conferences and meetings, and helping scientists advance their careers, AAAS undertakes numerous activities that promote science to the public and monitors issues that affect the scientific community. Today, AAAS is the world’s largest federation of scientific and engineering societies.
After Dr. Teich’s insightful presentation, Dr. Ronald DeMeo, president and CEO of Radshield, will speak about new and novel ways to use nonwoven materials. His new product “Demron” replaces lead-based radiation protection garments with a lighter and more diverse nonwoven counterpart. Demron, the world’s first-of-its-kind fabric, is providing our military and first responders the best protection against nuclear, radiological and biological agents and is currently the world’s first and only full-body, radiation-protection fabric that shields against X-ray and low-energy Gamma emissions while providing complete anti-chemical and biological protection.
Chris Price, president and CEO of LammScience, Inc., will introduce new technology for the medical sector in his presentation,“Light Activated Anti Microbial Coatings.” His company, LaamScience is focused on the commercialization of durable surface treatments that,when subjected to any kind of light, inactivates many viruses and kills most bacteria. The technology, invented at North Carolina State University’s College of Textiles, does not require customized formulations for broad spectrum antimicrobial effectiveness.
Also supporting the medical development business sector is David Koenig, Research Technical Leader for Kimberly-Clark, with his presentation titled, “Rational Control of Microbial Pathogens on Skin.” Jaime Grunlan of Texas A&M University will complete the “Innovations” morning session with his presentation, “Flame Resistance via 3-D Composite Coatings.”
Dr. Juan Hinnestrosa, assistant professor of Fiber Science at Cornell University, opens the afternoon “Innovations” session with his presentation, “Surface Functionalization of Nonwoven Nanoarrays with Metal Nanoparticles.” Introducing his space-age product innovations will be Mark Pedley, CEO of SmartLife Technologies. Ltd., with his speech on “Cool Sensors for a Freer Lifestyle.”Imagine fabrics that contain bio-sensors capable of communicating vital signs of the wearer for any number of medical or sports-related purposes.
Frank Ko, AMPEL, Department of Materials Engineering, University of British Columbia, will speak about “Functional Composite Nanofibers for Nonwovens” and Patrick Mack, chief technologist at Polynova Composites, enhances the program with “Keeping it Green–Advances in Closed-Mold Processing.” Jeff Dugan of Fiber Innovation Technology, Inc. ties in sustainable nonwovens developments with his presentation on “Thermal Bonding of PLA for Fiber Applications.” Laura Keck, R&E Technical Leader, Kimberly-Clark, provides the finale with “Luxurious Personal Care—New Nonwoven Materials for Personal Spa Products.”
The INTC Conference has traditionally offered a “call for papers” to solicit speakers from all corners of the nonwovens industry, however, this year, the INTC committee decided to focus on a new approach to foster future business opportunities. This year, INTC session leaders invited speakers to the forum instead of conducting public solicitations and, as a result, have landed a variety of new and interesting participants. This new approach offers fresh perspectives for conference attendees. In addition to the changes in conference design and management, the INTC commercialization guidelines have been modified to offer participation incentives for companies outside of typical nonwovens channels.
rnAdditional INTC Sessions and Highlights: INTC 2009 will also offer papers and presentations to support specific business segments, including Sustainability, Building Sciences, Binders and Additives, Functional Nonwovens and Filtration. INTC will also host a Graduate Research Competition and Industry Showcase, setting the standard for innovation and creative thinking. There will also be the always well-attended, tabletop reception on Wednesday, September 23 where attendees can meet with specific companies or individuals to discuss new products and ideas.
U.S. Research and Development needs to pick up the pace to maintain their “think-tank” heritage. Innovation has always been an American standard, let’s not forget great names like Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. In this challenging economic climate, this is the time to innovate, strategize and prepare for new market opportunities. Global business will improve and we need to be prepared to meet the demands of the future when the upturn occurs.Research and development complemented by innovation and creative thinking “outside of the nonwovens box” is the answer.
More information: visit www.inda.org/events/intc09.
This year INDA and TAPPI, with SJA support, will host a special full-day “Technology Innovations and New Business Opportunities” session at the INTC Conference to be held in Denver, CO September 21-24, 2009. SJA provides consulting services for the nonwovens industry including: Product Development, New Business Development, Capital Equipment Strategy, Intellectual Property, Technology Assessment, Analysis & Forecasting, Sourcing of Specialty Materials, Marketing & Advertising.