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The Warsaw Voice » Other » September 30, 2009
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Textile Revolution
September 30, 2009   
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Under pressure from cheap Chinese and Indian imports, European textile and clothing manufacturers are working hard to introduce new types of products to maintain their position on the market. In Poland, a research and development consortium called the Polish Technology Platform for the Textile Industry (PPTPT) aims to develop the production of specialist textiles and clothing.

The Polish Technology Platform for the Textile Industry was established on Dec. 14, 2004 by a group of institutions and companies led by the Technical University of £ód¼'s Department of Textile Engineering and Marketing. The department's dean Prof. Izabella Kruciñska chairs the platform.

The platform aims to develop Polish advanced textile technologies and "build bridges" between science and the textile industry. This involves initiating and conducting industrial research and fostering rapid application of research results. The platform's members seek to increase the sector's competitive edge and are working to promote innovation and new technology in the textile industry.

Cross-border ties
The Polish Technology Platform for the Textile Industry works with the European Apparel and Textile Organization (Euratex), which aims is to increase the role of the EU's textile and clothing industry internationally.

The Polish Technology Platform for the Textile Industry also works with another EU organization called the Textile Technology Transfer Network (Textranet). The organization brings together research institutions working in the field of textiles.

In 2004, an organization called the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing was established under the EU's Lisbon Strategy to create a "road map" for the sector. The organization has defined the key goals of research and development in the EU textile sector. These include a focus on the production of specialist textiles and clothing with a high added value; a gradual strengthening of research and development in the textile industry; and a shift from mass production to customized and highly specialized products. The organization's members have developed standards for monitoring the global textile and clothing market, the aim being to facilitate early identification of dubious practices on the part of non-EU countries serving to improve their balance of trade through exports of cheap textiles, and to make sure that the liberalization of trade on the textile market does not harm the position of EU manufacturers.

Poland's textile and clothing industry, which has been strongly affected by an inflow of cheap imported textiles from China and India, remains a regional leader in the EU. The Polish textile and clothing sector comprises about 18,000 companies, including 22 large state-run companies.

Most textile and clothing companies in Poland are flexible and capable of rapid change. Many provide outward processing and packaging services for manufacturers from Western Europe and are capable of competing with their counterparts in other EU countries. Despite a shrinking cost advantage, Polish textile exports to other EU countries continue to grow. This is largely because Polish textile producers have extensive experience and a good reputation abroad, according to experts. Moreover, many European clothing companies prefer to place orders in Poland instead of Southeast Asia because Polish textiles and clothing meet EU quality, consumer-safety and environmental standards.

The ProHumanoTex Center for Advanced Technologies, one of the members of the Polish Technology Platform for the Textile Industry, has carried out joint projects with the Association of Universities for Textiles (AUTEX), which coordinates the work of European research centers and universities concerned with textile science and technology.

Action plan
The goals of the Polish Technology Platform for the Textile Industry include developing textronic products, developing nano- and microtechnologies in textile goods, designing fiber products from biodegradable polymers and developing technologies for recycling textile waste in Poland.

The first of these tasks is related to textiles, electronics and computer science, involving the development and implementation of textronic products such as fiber sensors (FS), fiber actuators (FA), miniature integrated measuring systems (IMS), fiber feedback control systems (FFCS), safety monitoring and control systems (SMCS), fibrous power supplies (FPS), textile technology for textronics (3T), freely available electronics (FAE), and fiber electronics (FE).

In the consortium's research programs, textronic products have military and security applications but they can also be used in medicine and in building complex remote-controlled IT and measuring systems.

Textronics involves miniaturization and the use of new materials to develop specialist textiles. Such textiles will contain ceramic nanoparticles, metallic nanopowders, fullerenes and fullerene tubes (nanotubes) to ensure greater durability, flexibility and resistance. The consortium wants to help develop completely new materials, including textiles with high internal electric conductivity.

Fibrous products made from biopolymers are expected to replace traditional plastic products used in mass-produced textile goods. Such plastics are not biodegradable and difficult to recycle. The new products will rival natural fibers in properties such as penetrability.

Moreover, the platform aims to develop new methods for recycling textile industry waste to make the industry more environmentally friendly.
According to experts, Poland's textile sector is destined for rapid growth. A range of new textile materials has been developed, with the production technology provided by domestic businesses. Some of the new industrial fabrics contain wood, plastic and even metals. Polish companies are also taking part in research programs involving textronic fabrics. The first textronic fabrics and fabrics containing nanomaterials should soon be available to buyers from different sectors of the economy.

Marek Mejssner

EU Programs

The Polish Technology Platform for the Textile Industry is carrying out projects under the EU's Framework Programs, especially FP 6 and 7. The consortium's members plan to pursue joint research and development programs together with partners from Western Europe. These include:

1. Protection and Textiles: Micronanostructured Fiber Systems for Emergency-Disaster Wear-Proetex
2. Multifunctionalized Medical Textiles for Wound (e.g. Decubitus) Prevention and Improved Wound Healing-Lidwine
3. Intelligent Multireactive Textiles Integrating Nanofiller-Based CPC Fibers-Inteltex
4. Electrospun Biocompatible Nanostructures for Health Care and Protection-Elbiona
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