Making connections in smart textiles

September 29, 2017

When E.M. Forster wrote the words “only connect” in his Victorian novel Howards End, he was linking poetry and prose. But the phrase was given new meaning at IFAI Expo’s Advanced Textiles Conference Smart Fabrics Track on Tuesday by presenters who encouraged better connectivity between the textile and electronics industries. One company working to bridge …

Best business practices for working with engineers

Mike Sullaway, principal engineer, president and owner of Sullaway Engineering Inc. in San Diego, Calif., presented a campfire session “Working with Engineers” at IFAI Expo 2017 in New Orleans, La. Throughout the presentation, Sullaway offered tips and advice on the best ways to go about working on a project with an engineer. How to find …

First annual Greater Good Award given to Scott Massey of Awning Cleaning Industries

Scott Massey, owner of Awning Cleaning Industries, was awarded the first annual Greater Good Award at the IFAI Expo 2017 in New Orleans, La. Massey’s business is based in New Haven, Conn. The Greater Good Award focuses on an IFAI member company that does good business—and strives to be a good neighbor, good citizen, and …

Manufacturing for Good Booth volunteers sew bags for Raintree Children and Family Services

Christine Gerard (left), IFAI division supervisor, and Whitney Armentor (right), Raintree Development Coordinator, are pictured at IFAI Expo 2017 in the Manufacturing for Good Booth. Several companies contributed supplies, equipment and labor to sew 70 large tote bags for young people who receive services at Raintree Children and Family Services. Raintree is a nonprofit that …

How to inspire the next generation

A critical issue in the textile industry is how to attract and inspire the next generation. North Carolina State University in Raleigh may have an answer: develop student/industry partnerships that solve real-life open-ended problems. During a presentation at EXPO, co-directors Jesse S. Jur and Russell E. Gorga, from the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and …

Sewing a quality product depends on asking lots of questions

September 28, 2017

Getting a contract sewing job is great, but making sure a customer’s needs align with one’s business capabilities is a key consideration. “Company fit” is all important, according to Chad Miller, director of contracting at American National Manufacturing. American National Manufacturing was started by Miller’s father in the 1970s. What began as a water bed …

2017 Student Design Challenge Winners: Fabric Structures

The Fabric Structures Association (FSA), a division of IFAI, announced the winners of the 2017 Fabric Structures Student Design Challenge at IFAI Expo in New Orleans on Sept. 28. First Place: Ahmad Nouraldeen, from Anhalt Hochschule, took the top prize for his project “Tenso Refugee Shelter,” a non-permanent structure to be used as a weather-protected …

Tips for navigating social media madness

“Post with a purpose,” says Sam Armijos of Fabric Architect LLC. “Understand that you’ll be wasting someone else’s time if you don’t have a purpose for posting.” Armijos presented a campfire session on “Social Media Madness” during IFAI Expo 2017 in New Orleans, La. Armijos shared some tips and tricks to help navigate social media …

2017 Student Design Challenge Winners: Fabric Graphics

The Fabric Graphics Association (FGA), a division of IFAI, announced the winners of the 2017 Fabric Graphics Student Design Challenge at IFAI Expo in New Orleans on Sept. 28. Tied for First Place: Valentina Ramirez from Parsons School of Design (The New School) won for her project “Paloquemao the Colombian Fruit Markets.” Also awarded first …

Student fabric graphic award winners wow at EXPO

The two first-place recipients of the 2017 Fabric Graphics Student Design Challenge presented their projects at EXPO and described their design processes, challenges and takeaways. Valentina Ramirez from Parsons the New School in New York won first place for her project “Paloquemao the Columbian Fruit Markets.” Ramirez, a native of Bogota, Columbia, says she wanted …

2017 Student Design Challenge Winners: Awnings and Canopies

The Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (PAMA), a division of IFAI, announced the winners of the 2017 Awning and Canopy Student Design Challenge at IFAI Expo in New Orleans on Sept. 28. First Place: Gabriel Ramon Galeano Carcamo, from Anhalt University in Germany, won the top prize for his project “Eternal Sailboat,” a retractable shading structure. …

Understanding ITAR and export controls

IFAI’s Advanced Textiles Conference in New Orleans began Tuesday in New Orleans with presentations organized into four tracks: Medical, Military, Testing and Smart Fabrics. The Military track covered a range of topics from protective materials to the DoD budget. It also addressed a critical topic for any company that exports beyond U.S. borders, or is …

E-textiles experts field questions at IFAI Expo

A group of trainblazers in the world of e-textiles offered ideas and fielded questions in a casual setting on IFAI’s EXPO show floor yesterday. Many of the audience were experts themselves, so the discussion was, one might say, among colleagues in this segment. Standards for smart textiles was on the minds of many. One audience …

2017 Student Design Challenge Winners: Advanced Textiles

Advanced Textile Products (ATP) and the Narrow Fabrics Institute (NFI), both divisions of IFAI, announced the winners of the 2017 Advanced Textiles Student Design Challenge during the IFAI Expo Awards Ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 28. This year’s challenge was to use textiles as a major component to design aerospace, medical, military, safety/protective or other wearable …

Advanced Textiles Division membership growing

The Advanced Textiles Division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) held an open meeting Tuesday at IFAI Expo. The division leadership announced that it is the fastest growing division at IFAI and has increased to 219 members – a significant jump in just the last year, said incoming chairman, Amit Kapoor. He credited the …

2017 IFF Innovation Award winner announced at IFAI Expo

The Industrial Fabrics Foundation (IFF) has announced the winner of the 2017 Innovation Award: UltraTech International Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., won this year in the category of “Chemicals, Coatings and Compounds” with the EverShield® C6 water-based fabric treatment. The company was awarded a prize of $5,000. EverShield was developed under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) …

This year’s Show Stopper winners

All the best from New Orleans: Thursday morning at IFAI Expo led off with lists of winners for the year, including the most popular products on the show floor. The sixth annual Show Stopper competition was designed to showcase the best of the best in the industry, from fabrics, equipment and chemicals to services and …

2017 International Achievement Award winners announced at IFAI Expo

This year’s winners in IFAI’s global International Achievement Awards (IAA) competition, recognizing design excellence in specialty fabrics applications, were announced on Sept. 28 at the organization’s annual meeting at IFAI Expo 2017 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. For more than 70 years, IAA has acknowledged innovation and excellence in design …

Keeping employees engaged

According to Barry Adams, President of Peach Tree Awnings in Norcross, Ga., “The reason people separate from their company is because they feel their contribution is not valued and they feel what they do isn’t making a difference.” Adams’ session, “How to Keep Talented Employees Engaged,” presented at IFAI Expo 2017, focused on ways to …

Ooblecks and smart textiles

September 27, 2017

What is an “oobleck”—and what does it have to do with smart textiles? According to children’s author Dr. Seuss, an oobleck is a mysterious sticky substance which threatened the kingdom in his 1949 book Bartholomew and the Oobleck. But as smart textile engineer, Connie Huffa of Fabdesigns told her audience at IFAI’s Advanced Textiles Conference …

Biomimicry inspires medical textiles

With much of the discussion of smart textiles focusing on e-textiles at present, it is good to be reminded that there are innovative developments emerging in non-digital yarns also. MedTextra is a filtration and health-giving yarn that uses a unique moisturizing process to deliver active ingredients to the body based on biomimicry principles. The brainchild …

Building relationships with architects can improve fabric structure businesses

Want to do more business with architects? Mary Gilmore, AIA, NCIDQ, and Mark Shellshear, Structure Fabrics, Value Vinyls Inc., have many ideas. Gilmore and Shellshear shared those ideas Sept. 26 at IFAI Expo 2017. Gilmore noted, “Architects are very busy. Cold calls don’t work. They are very visual; they need pictures.” A good website with …

Expo panel discusses diversification

A panel of three successful company leaders illuminated the keynote luncheon September 26 at IFAI Expo 2017. The theme of the panel was “Path of Diversification,” featuring Meredith Boyd, Unifi Manufacturing Inc.; Ben Cooper, IoClothes; and John Neely, Berry Global. The panelists shared ideas on how their companies leverage regionalization in the U.S. Cooper mentioned …

Cutting room automation makes sense for many

If automating your cutting room seems either too expensive or too difficult, you may want to think again. Panelists of the IFAI EXPO session on “Optimizing Your Cutting Room” gave a long list of potential benefits for why you might want to consider using an automated cutter. “Everyone’s ROI is slightly different,” says Thomas Carlson, …

Outdoor graphics: bold statements and sustainability

During their joint presentation “Outdoor Graphics—Design to Installation” at IFAI Expo 2017, Valerie Cuchna, material resource liaison at Fabric Images Inc., and Mike VonWachenfeldt, technical service manager at Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, addressed the benefits of using outdoor graphics and offered tips to keep the graphics protected from weather elements. “Outdoor graphics can create an …

Choosing the right sewing machine

Among the many sewing machines options for your shop, how do you choose? The panelists at the EXPO presentation “Selecting a Sewing Machine for Your Application,” agree that nearly any project can at least be partially fabricated using a single-needle walking foot machine. “But for wide material for tents, awnings, covers, sails and the like,” …

Business success across markets

September 26, 2017

Whether you’re a fabricator for the marine, automobile, commercial or residential markets, Steven Wayne, owner of Southern Stitch Canvas and Upholstery LLC in Gulfport, Mississippi, says many of the same rules apply. According to Wayne, business success comes down to four basic things: skills mastery, excellent communication, judicious customization and customer education. Wayne’s shop works …

Sophisticated, simple succession strategies protect your business

Larry Oxenham, senior advisor with the American Society for Asset Protection, says small business owners should ask themselves one question: If something were to happen to me today, what would happen to my company? “Every small business will pass on eventually,” says Oxenham, “either voluntarily or involuntarily.” He says that most successful businesses are built …

Government contracts offer great opportunities for textile companies

Business owners who want to pursue government contracts shouldn’t be discouraged, says Mary Lynn Langraf, senior international trade specialist for the U.S. Department of Commerce/OTEXA. Langraf presented a detailed discussion Sept. 26 at IFAI Expo 2017, emphasizing that the textile industry is a robust area of interest for government procurements. The first step in securing …

Shade sails add usability to outdoor spaces

“Shade Sails 2.0” was one of the opening presentations Sept. 26 at IFAI Expo 2017. The presentation featured Tim Koehler, Lawrence Fabric and Metal Structures Inc., and Tim Akes, MPanel Software Solutions, who discussed two projects that could handle wind and snow loads. The first project at Southwest Illinois Community College was an outside study …