A Growing Exhibition Reflects Nonwovens Industry Trends

March 27, 2017

INDEX will provide an overview of the worldwide nonwovens industry and will highlight major growth sectors including automoti

INDEX 17, the world’s leading nonwovens exhibition, will take place from April 4-7 at the Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland. The nonwovens and related industries will converge to show innovative solutions from the dynamic world of nonwovens. From raw material producers to nonwovens manufacturers and finishers and converters, and from machinery companies to measuring and testing equipment manufacturers, the key players will be once again participating at INDEX.

Many global companies with facilities in several countries and regions of the world are registered at INDEX. In terms of headquarter locations, European-based exhibitors dominate INDEX. In fact, more than half of the exhibitors are based Greater Europe, which includes Russia and Turkey. There has also been a surge in exhibitors coming from the Asia-Pacific region during the past couple of exhibitions.

On a long-term basis, INDEX’s evolution can be correlated with the overall developments of the global nonwovens industry, both in terms of total output and by regional trends. The worldwide production of roll goods continues to grow in the single digits in developed areas such as North America and Western Europe, and this rate is even higher in developing regions like Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. A key evolution of INDEX has been the growing number of exhibitors coming from Turkey and China. Both countries have shown impressive growth rates of their own production of nonwovens since 2001. Due to this rocketing local production, Turkey and China became net exporters of roll goods, respectively since 2012 and 2005. The main trade partners of Turkey are countries from the European Union, the former Soviet Union and the MENA. Chinese exports have multiplied by 10 since 2001 and China has a positive trade balance in nonwovens with almost all the other regions of the world.

Therefore, considering these continuously growing trade flows of nonwovens, it is crucial to keep a close eye on trade conditions, according to EDANA’s position on free and fair trade.

INDEX will also feature a rich four-day program including, amongst others, a seminar program highlighting target sectors of application for nonwovens, including transportation, medical and healthcare, geotextiles and filtration, the latter in the form of the Filtrex conference, taking place in parallel with INDEX 17 for the first time.

Each of the four sector-specific sessions will be opened by keynote speeches, which will be freely accessible to all INDEX 17 visitors. These will discuss the ‘Big Picture’ environment and identify the key challenges that will shape the future of each particular field.

Keynote Speakers
  • Dominique Taffin, senior manager Industrial Design, Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, will discuss future trends in the automotive industry, the mobility of the future, and how trends will impact the development of materials for the transportation industry.
  • Sebastian Probst, professor of Tissue Viability and Wound Care, Haute école de santé (HEdS), will address current and future challenges in wound care.
  • Russell Jones, director, Golder Associates, president of the International Geosynthetics Society, will speak about the contribution of geotextiles to the global sustainability agenda.
  • Nino Kunzli, professor for Public Health, dean of the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), deputy director Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), will discuss health effects due to air pollution and more specifically, particulate matter, during the free opening session of partner conference and exhibition Filtrex.
Künzli will discuss the health effects of air pollution and the implications for policy makers, citizens and the industry. “The global scientific community has made enormous progress in understanding the health effects of complex air pollutant mixtures and the methods to quantify the public health impact are now widely used both globally and locally,” says Künzli. “However, lining up policy actions with science to protect public health remains a challenge to be addressed by the global community of researchers, industry and policy makers.”

INDEX will take place in parallel to partner filtration conference and exhibition Filtrex for the first time this year. The free opening session of the conference on April 5 will feature the keynote from Künzli, who will put forward the key challenges and opportunities faced by the filtration industry, and renowned experts in the field will then discuss how these are being addressed, including through the use of nonwovens.

Auto Focus
Nonwovens applications in automotive will also be highlighted during INDEX week. Nonwoven materials are used in many parts of a vehicle including interior head liners, hood liners, doors and side panels, instrument panels and dash board, engine compartments, seating construction, and sound and thermal insulation. Moreover, they can help reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Visitors and exhibitors at INDEX will hear from Dominique Taffin, senior manager Industrial Design at Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, the world’s leading supplier of automotive interiors, on how autonomous driving will change vehicle interiors in the future. “Increasingly digital and advanced technology, the high penetration of smart devices as well as an interest in electric vehicles, are presenting numerous possibilities for innovative interiors with increased space and comfort for the driver and passengers,”Taffin comments. “Consumers will also dictate the way autonomous driven cars are used, depending on whether they want to work or relax, sit or stand, eat or sleep. Everything is yet to be discovered, once we see how people behave when these vehicles are on the road.”

Another trend that will be widely reported at INDEX is sustainability. The world is experiencing unprecedented change with a burgeoning population expected to reach nine billion by 2050. Global temperatures are rising and resources are being depleted as a result of unsustainable development. The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders in 2015, established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to serve as a roadmap for countries and organizations over the next decade. In addition to this, leaders signed a global agreement to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, at the UN Climate Conference (COP21) in Paris last year. If aims are to be delivered, there remains much more to be done by businesses, governments, civil society and people around the world.

Russell Jones, International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) president, will speak on the contribution of nonwoven geotextile materials to the global sustainability agenda. Some of the UN sustainable development goals to be achieved by 2030 include: ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; building resilient infrastructure to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization; making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; and ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

The International Geosynthetics Society maintains that up to 50% of current CO2 emissions in the world are related to infrastructure development. Were you aware that nonwoven geotextile materials are playing a key role in reducing the sector’s carbon footprint?

“Nonwoven geotextiles used in infrastructure help achieve longer road lives, protect the environment, control surface erosion, and enable improved water conservation,” Jones says.

Absorbents Continue Strength
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) maintains that people aged 60 and older currently make up 12.3% of the global population, and that number will rise to almost 22% by 2050. This has driven growth in the market for adult incontinence products such as adult diapers, underpads, absorbent underwear and other products, with personal hygiene manufacturers delivering new and customized products to satisfy a range of new consumer needs.

There has also increasingly been a drive for sustainability in the hygiene sector. Although products currently marketed as “green alternatives” account for a minor share of the market, environmental issues are pervasive throughout the whole supply chain, from raw material extraction and manufacturing to disposal.

“Recent innovations in nonwovens for the hygiene sector require more sustainable solutions, with raw materials supplied increasingly needing certification to prove the chain of custody,” maintains Pieter Meijer, sales director at McAirlaids.

INDEX 17 will showcase developments in the hygiene segment, which is seeing a need for softer substrate technology, better fitting and highly stretchable products and thinner cores than ever seen before. From nonwovens producers to raw material and equipment suppliers, companies throughout the hygiene market supply chain have adapted their products lines—and their thought processes—to meet these demands, and the new product lineup at INDEX is expected to be more impressive than ever before.

In addition, newcomers to the industry will have the chance to attend a free, hour-long Absorbent Hygiene Products Tutorial on April 6, aimed at showing how nonwoven materials function in single-use hygiene products.

INDEX 17 Finalists Announced
Winners to be named on day one of the exhibition.

INDEX 17, the largest global meeting place between the players in the nonwovens supply chain and their customers, will again showcase the INDEX 17 Awards for “Excellence in the nonwovens and related industries.”

The awards ceremony will take place on the EDANA stand at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 4, the opening day of the exhibition.

EDANA’s INDEX 17 Awards are the highest accolade for the best examples of excellence in the industry, highlighting creativity and innovations from businesses of all sizes, and from all parts of the nonwovens supply chain.

The INDEX 17 awards jury, comprised of a former senior nonwovens entrepreneur and manager, a representative of the nonwovens industry trade press, an international independent consultant and two top academic nonwovens R&D experts, met in January to select the nominees in each of the eight awards categories, and to choose, from this group, the winner which will remain undisclosed until the April 4 awards ceremony.

Companies could submit only one product or process application per category, and products must have been commercially available as of January 31, 2017. Additionally, products or campaigns must not have been commercially launched before April 2014.

In view of the number of eligible applications, the task of the jury has been particularly long, and, in keeping up with the highly demanding selection criteria, it has decided to nominate candidates in only six of the eight awards categories.

Nominees for each of these, in alphabetic order, are as follows:

Nonwoven Roll Goods           
•    Atex – 3D Scrubbing Spunbond
•    Berry Plastics - NuviSoft
•    Jacob Holm & Sons - SoftFlush   

Finished or composite products made from, or incorporating nonwovens
•    Glatfelter - Dreamweaver Gold 20 microns
•    Nonwovens Innovation & Research Institute - Surfaceskins
•    TWE Group - Amphibia

Raw materials or components (e.g. fiber, binder, polymer, tape), of special relevance to the nonwovens industry and related converted products
•    H.B. Fuller - Conforma
•    Henkel - Technomelt
•    Magic – Spongel

Innovation in machinery of special relevance to the nonwovens industry
•    Autefa Solutions – V-Jet Injector  
•    GDM - Rear Wing Zero Waste

Sustainable Product
•    Hassan Group - Self Sufficient Relief Tents

Sustainable process or management practice
•    Mobi-Air – Mobi-Chill
•    Suominen Corporation - Blind Hiring recruitment process

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