We are asked a variety of questions about the industry. Here, we will attempt to answer a few of those. If you have questions, let us know; but not all can/will be answered on the site. We will post those we think would be of greatest interest.
1) Is Industrial Textile Associates a trade association?
No, but it is a mistake frequently made -- we get a number of calls from folks thinking we are. We are an independent consulting firm specializing in marketing and product/market development in industrial/technical textiles. Our company name has "Associates" in its title, not "Association." If necessary, we refer inquirers to the IFAI, the Industrial Fabrics Association International, the primary industry trade group.
2) What are industrial textiles - - and do they differ from technical textiles?
A good questions and one more difficult to answer than one might think.
One casual definition says that "if we dont wear it as clothing, if we dont use it to decorate our homes, then it is industrial." While that may be a bit imprecise, it is functional enough to show perspective. And it is not too far removed from the "actual" definition -- as best we have been able to define IT.
The venerable Textile Institute (Manchester, UK) probably does the best job. TI says Industrial Textiles are: "1) Textile materials and products intended for end uses other than clothing, household furnishing, and floor covering, where the fabric or fibrous component is selected principally, but not exclusively, for its performance and properties as opposed to aesthetic or decorative characteristics, and 2) A category of technical textiles used either as part of an industrial process or incorporated into final products."
Sounds a little like the casual definition, doesn't it?
They go further by saying that Technical Textiles are: "Technical materials and products manufactured primarily for their technical performance and functional properties rather than their aesthetic or decorative characteristics, a non-exhaustive list of end uses include: aerospace, industrial, marine, medical, military, safety, transport textiles, and geotextiles."
3) What are the segments that make up the industry?
Take your pick. The industry is like leaves on a tree, where the trunk could be industrial textiles; the branches the major segments, and they may vary with each "tree" or person doing the defining; and the smaller branches and the leaves representing the various subsegments. Yet we have to start somewhere. Messe Frankfurt, the sponsor of Techtextil, the international trade show for industrial textiles, has long broken out the industray into 11 segments (or 12 depending on how you count environmental fabrics) . Those are a good place to start.
1. Agrotech - Fabrics used in agricultural applications such as horticulture, forestry, animal husbandry, fencing, landscaping, etc.
2. Buildtech - Materials used in construction, civil engineering, interior construction, lightweight and/or temporary buildings, etc.
3. Clothtech -- Technical components of clothing such as breathable membranes, shoe reinforcement and construction, rainwear.
4. Geotech -- Geotextiles and geosynthetics -- materials for soil erosion control, ground isolation, landfill liners, drainage systems.
5. Hometech -- Technical components of home furnishings: carpet backing, furniture supporting materials, wall covering substrates.
6. Indutech -- "Industrial" items not categorized elsewhere, such as filtration, mechanical rubber goods, sound absorption, etc.
7. Medtech -- Textiles for medical use (bandages, operating gowns, curtains), hygiene products, rescue equipment, etc.
8. Mobiltech - Automobile, truck, airplane decorative and "working" fabrics, aerospace, even bicycles.
9. Oekotech - Environmental fabrics; can be from many other segments, such as filtration, erosion fencing, and landfill lining.
10. Packtech -- Materials for packaging (lumber wrap, for one), protective covering systems, sacks, large bulk storage bags, etc..
11. Protech -- Protection of persons or property -- firemen's garments, chemical hazmat garments, clean room garments.
12. Sportech -- Sports and leisure active wear, outdoors and sports equipment, sports shoes.
We might call them agriculture, building/construction, technical clothing components, geotextiles, technical home furnishings components, industrial textiles, medical, transportation, environmental, protective, and technical fabrics used in sports.
4) What segments do you consider the growth areas?
The industry as a whole seems healthy from an end user perspective -- the main question is who is making the fabric. Which segments present areas of opportunity? Normally, we'd say that is how we make our living providing that kind of information. But, truthfully, each of the areas above have growth potential and opportunities within them. It depends on the individual or company to recognize those and to effectively participate. It is a good idea, though, to get market research done by consultant(s) like ITA before committing significant capital (time and money). The medical area, for instance, certainly represents growth potential -- but which segment?
5) What is the typical cost to utilize a consultant?
There is a wide spread. The real cost depends on what needs to be done - and the time involved and who does the work. See the "How we work" section of the website. There are all kinds of consultants out there, some with experience in one area (nonwovens, product development, high performance fibers, etc.) and there are those who cover a broad spectrum. Some have no industry experience, others are well grounded. And, yes, some are more expensive than others. The real key is how the consultant listens to you, evaluates your situation, determines what they feel you really need (it many not be what you think you want - needs and wants are not the same), and tailors a program for you. ITA takes the approach that if you cannot/will not pay a fair price for the consultant's expertise, experience, time, expenses, and recommendations, you are not likely to accept recommendations and do what is necessary to achieve your goal. We prefer not to take that kind of client.
6) Do you charge for the evaluation?
Yes, we do. Bear in mind, time and expertise is what we have to offer and is the way we make our living, and have for 21 years. IF your request and we agree to travel to your place of business and spend time with you to best determine what you need and what needs to be done, then you will be charged a fee of a minimum of one day's consulting, often two, plus direct expenses. Most often, depending on your request, we would prepare and submit a report of our findings and opinions and recommendations for further study - a roadmap, if you will. If you choose to use our services for that, fine, if not, you are free to take the document to someone else and/or implement it yourself. IF you wish to make an appointment and come to our office for an hour or two to discuss your situation, we do not charge for that. But, do not expect us to provide you with market or other information we had to do substantial work to obtain, or in-depth recommendations based on our 45+ years experience. Bear in mind what we said in another part of the website, we only want to work with companies that can use our services in an effective manner -- if we don't think we can help, we will not accept the assignment, but will be happy to help you find someone else.