SuperExpo 2013 in Australia combined the knowledge and communities of two similar associations.
By Nicola Card
Held June 5–7 on the Gold Coast, Queensland, the co-location of the Specialised Textiles Association (STA) and the Blind Manufacturers’ Association of Australia (BMAA) showcased 113 exhibitors and hosted more than 4,500 visitors.
The show was the largest the industry had seen—product launches, industry milestones, company celebrations and an expansive expo hall. Adding more flavor was the range of speakers and topics with a real, everyday impact on the industry and its members.
Local expertise on display
Presentations kicked off with Trevor Scott of Light Weight Structures, who covered designing tensile structures with Formfinder. With a few simple clicks of the mouse, he demonstrated how this design tool enhances creativity and innovation in the design and planning of all types of structures.
The user-friendly software was developed by high-tech professionals who are experts in design and tension. Scott also demonstrated the ease of presenting two overlapping sails and how line contours can be drawn for water run-off. To facilitate the design process, jpeg images can be imported into Formfinder. The smart software also accommodates the sun’s movements for shading.
Another prominent local innovator, design engineer John Clark of Aeronaut, introduced SiliconEye machine vision. Everyone loves the “Eureka” concept, and that’s how Clark described the moment that he comprehended the potential speed and simplicity of a process tapping into low-cost digital cameras mounted above a cutting table. Properly configured, the system streamlines previously complex and time-consuming fabrication processes.
How fast is fast? “The machine vision system process takes just 20 seconds … about the same as that needed to locate a tape measure!” Clark said. “You can move objects and nest stuff onto fabric without any need for measuring; it provides resolution and accuracy. Tracing paper or card templates, matching patterned fabric, positioning cut profiles on scrap or printed material, nesting around faults; all these processes can now take seconds instead of hours.”
Raising standards for fabric structures was the essence of Beatrice Moonen’s address. As chairperson of the Fabric Structures Committee of STA, she presented “Everything you ever wanted to know about fabric structures but were afraid to ask.”
The Fabric Structures Committee pooled their extensive resources to produce an invaluable tool: a USB stick containing advice in 10,000 words and 25 pages, including a how-to guide for installers, a consumer checklist facilitating informed choices, a handy summary of all state licensing requirements, information on public safety and vandalism and more.
The international picture
“Control solutions as essential future building technology” was the title of the presentation by Peter Winters, director of shading and building solutions with Dickson Constant and current president of ES-SO (European Solar-Shading Association).
The focus of ES-SO lies in energy reduction and savings, and solar shading plays an integral role in essential building technology. Properly installed, it can significantly reduce energy demand while boosting personal comfort and liveability, Winters said. Working under daylight (as opposed to electric lighting) is believed to stimulate the brain.
Winters outlined the EU Commission’s push for renewable energy. The EU2 20-20-20 plans to deliver 20 percent less energy and 20 percent less CO2 with 20 percent more renewable energy—and in the process save €370 billion.
Statistics tell the sinister story: transport consumes 33 percent of energy produced and industry 26 percent—while 41 percent of energy is consumed by buildings, two-thirds of which is used for heating and cooling.
“Solar shading is a key element for improving the energy efficiency and daylight management of existing buildings … and must be taken into account in the very early design phase of the building or at renovation stage,” Winters said.
Jules Duguay, general manager, Mermet USA, presented “Latest technological advancements and global trends in fabrics.” Touching on energy efficiency, sustainable design and the growth of green buildings, much of his U.S.-based material echoed that of Peter Winters’ European outline.
“While energy is ubiquitous and in constant demand, future supplies are cause for concern. Increased energy consumption is not sustainable for the ecosystem or in the financial context. The U.S. government wants to constrain energy use, and there is a drive toward carbon-neutral buildings by 2025,” Duguay said. “The green economy is helping drive solar protection—solar shade for windows/doors/skylights, given that 30 percent of warmth and cooling is lost through windows.”
Henrik Svensson, international product manager of awnings, Turnils, Sweden, addressed emerging trends in European awning designs. A modular approach is popular: a base model with added components for more functionality. More color options for frames and fabrics are available, including a return to stripes.
An evening celebration
A glittering night for STA members combined superb entertainment with both a warm farewell and inviting hello. Taking the podium for the last time, outgoing president Laurie St. Hill described himself as “Johnny-on-the-spot” for STA initiatives that had come to fruition during the past year. Incoming president Tom Gastin highlighted the importance of mentoring and training and concluded with a Tibetan proverb: “To the man who helps another up the mountain—he scales it himself.”