Speakers and delegates from around the world gathered on 5-6 February 2020 at the Jaguar Experience Centre in the heart of the UK car manufacturing industry in Birmingham, UK, for the first edition of Textile Opportunities in a Changing Automotive Industry (TOAI).
Keynote speaker Amy Frascella of Land Rover Design emphasized the ncreased consideration of the provenance of the materials used and the whole life-cycle impact. With natural fibres and new materials come new benefits such as higher tensile strength, inherent heating/cooling, moisture wicking properties and anti- soiling solutions. In addition, the perception of luxury is changing, and sustainability is becoming an ever-more important factor in consumer-purchasing decisions.
The presentations given over the two-day conference confirmed that textiles and nonwovens can and will contribute to the new mobility era by providing, for example, textile interiors with high levels of comfort for the occupant while reducing the impact of manufacturing on the environment, and new processes that offer textile interiors with high levels of comfort for waste-free recycled lightweight materials for interiors.
New concepts and techniques were described, which sparked informative discussion during the forum sessions. There were ample networking opportunities for all participants during the breaks in and around the exhibition area and at the evening reception.
Participants agreed that TOAI offered valuable and interesting content and praised the high quality of the individual presentations in a well-structured programme.
“An inspiring and informative conference, which showcased the best innovations and collaborative action from automotive brand leaders and their supply chain to dramatically reduce material, production energy and process water waste,” said Christine Modla-Thomas of UK precision digital materials application company Alchemie Technology.
Another highlight of the event was a manufacturing tour of the Castle Bromwich plant, which delegates found both interesting and informative.
The new conference was devised and organised by publisher International Newsletters Ltd, and the conference chair was industry specialist and writer Adrian Wilson.
“I think the conference programme successfully illustrated the sheer diversity of end-use applications for textiles in the automotive industry that already exist, and the potential for further growth, both through car manufacturers seeking to lower weight to reduce CO2 emissions and the push to develop alternatives to the internal combustion engine,” Wilson said.
Event sponsors were 3-D and spacer fabric specialist Müller Textil GmbH (Germany); members of the UCMTF French Textile Equipment, and fabric coater IMA srl/Solacon (Italy/Belgium).