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Nonwovens / Technical Textiles

IFAI Expo Doubles Down On Vegas

IFAI Expo 2007 will deliver the latest in specialty fabrics innovations.

Textile World Special Report

vegasT he Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), Roseville, Minn., will welcome more than 450 exhibitors and 8,000 anticipated visitors to the Las Vegas Convention Center for IFAI Expo 2007, to be held October 3-5 in Las Vegas.

The annual event showcases the latest research, product developments and technologies for a wide array of specialty fabrics markets that include air and tension structures; awnings and canopies; composites; contract sewing and sealing; geotextiles; health care and medical; marine tops, covers and upholstery; packaging; safety and protective; and signage; to name a few. This year, the expo will comprise a trade show, symposiums, workshops, seminars, meetings and a number of special events. (See Table 1 for a comprehensive event schedule.)

IFAI Exhibitors Keep Coming Back
“It looks at this point that our retention rate of 2006 exhibitors for IFAI Expo 2007 will be about 80 percent,” said Stephen M. Warner, president, IFAI. “I believe this is the highest retention rate amongst textile-oriented shows in the United States.

“Exhibitors make decisions based upon past performance … not just promises by the show organizers. Exhibitors may try a show once, but they won’t be back if they don’t get the right audience. Exhibiting has just become too expensive, and companies have to be more selective of the shows in which they participate. So we feel our high exhibitor retention rate reflects the exhibitor’s feeling that IFAI Expo is truly the ‘can’t miss’ event for their company,” Warner explained.

He added that the post-IFAI Expo 2006 survey also revealed that 94 percent of exhibitors found new potential customers; and 76 percent found new potential suppliers, partners and distributors among other exhibitors.

Everything For Everyone
According to IFAI, and in accordance with its high exhibitor retention rate, the expo has become the largest specialty fabrics show in the Americas. Organizers expect visitors to this year’s event to include architects, designers, engineers, equipment users, manufacturers, marketing specialists, procurement specialists, project managers, those involved in research and development, sewers, shop personnel and welders. In short, all those involved in the industry can expect to find something relevant to their place in it.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see more than 30 categories of available products including adhesives; coatings; cordage; cutting, material-handling, rewinding, sealing, sewing, slitting and spreading equipment; fibers and yarns; laminating; nonwovens; testing equipment and services; weaving and knitting; and webbing and narrow fabrics; among others.

“IFAI Expo is well-known as a ‘buyers show,’” Warner said, adding that in the past, the show has received the prestigious International Buyers Program designation from the US Department of Commerce. The program enables thousands of foreign buyers each year to meet with US companies at major trade shows in the United States.


Pre-Show Activities
IFAI Expo 2007 pre-show programs will begin the morning of Tuesday, October 2, with a symposium entitled “Sustainable Design with Fabric,” offered by the Lightweight Structures Association — IFAI’s division representing the lightweight structures industry in the Americas — and Fabric Architecture magazine. The four-session, day-long program is targeted to architects, interior and landscape designers, engineers, and textile and manufacturing specialists, among others.

Warner explained that the symposium’s subject matter is a reflection of the state of the specialty fabrics industry and IFAI members’ interest.

“IFAI Expo has evolved as the industry has evolved. This is a very diverse industry made up of niche markets. Each year we selectively organize special symposiums on the markets and trends that may be emerging within our industry,” he said.

“I just came back from Japan, and the most frequent question I was asked by textile leaders there was whether we are addressing the issue of designing for the environment. It’s a global ‘hot’ topic that crosses geographic regions and many of the niche markets that make up our industry. Sustainable applications range from shade-producing awnings to the use of environmentally friendly geosynthetics to temporary lightweight structures,” he added.

At the symposium, experts in the field will discuss energy-saving ideas and green building resources, as well as sustainable building trends using fabrics. Architects attending the symposium will have the opportunity to earn American Institute of Architects/Continuing Education System credits, and all attendees will have a chance to network during a sponsored lunch and evening reception.

The Industrial Fabrics Foundation (IFF), the charitable research and educational arm of IFAI, will hold its second annual golf tournament Tuesday afternoon at the nearby Revere Golf Club. A percentage of registration fees for the outing will support textile-related scholarships and research.

Symposiums,Workshops And Seminars
The expo will offer more than 90 speakers at 13 symposiums, workshops and seminars alongside the trade show. IFAI’s Professional Awning Manufacturers Association and Industrial Fabric Products Review (IFPR) magazine will partner to offer a four-session symposium on new strategies and solutions for awnings.

E-textiles, or smart textiles, will be covered in a four-session symposium sponsored by IFAI’s Safety & Protective Products Division and IFPR, both of which will also offer a three-session symposium entitled “Sports Gear Innovations.”

IFAI’s Professional Awning Manufacturers Association and IFPR will offer a four-session symposium entitled “Awnings: New Strategies & Solutions.”

IFAI’s Truck Cover & Tarp Association and IFPR will offer a three-session symposium entitled “Load Covering and Cargo Securement.” IFAI’s Tent Rental Division will offer a three-session symposium entitled “Bold Solutions for Today’s Tents,” to be followed by a reception co-sponsored by the division and InTents magazine.

“Battlefield Textiles — A Global Exchange,” will be the topic during a three-session symposium sponsored by the Safety and Protective Products Division, the United States Industrial Fabrics Institute (USIFI) — also a division of IFAI — and IFPR.

“Choose Fabric Graphics — Expand Your Markets,” a four-session symposium dedicated to applying graphics to fabric — sponsored by IFAI’s Fabric Graphics Association and Fabric Graphics magazine — rounds out the symposium schedule.

“None of these symposiums would have been offered 10 years ago,” Warner said, referring to those covering e-textiles, battlefield textiles and fabric graphics. “As a trade association representing this industry, we feel it is our responsibility to continue to introduce these types of programs for our industry … to show new possibilities, new trends, new markets, new opportunities. When you travel home after our show,  you will know that you attended the industry event of the year.”

Workshops will be conducted on a number of topics. Design software sessions will cover banners and exhibit displays, tents and tensioned structures, and awnings and canopies. A fabric-welding workshop will be conducted in four sessions that will provide hands-on fabric-welding demonstrations.

Upholstery Journal magazine, IFAI’s Marine Fabricators Association and the online Professional Upholstery & Soft Furnishings Group will offer “Upholstery Done Right!” — a workshop on upholstery and interior design techniques using group demonstrations with featured IFAI Expo 2007 equipment vendors.

Seminars will cover doing business with the government, and emerging market strategies that will aid businesses in creating excitement about their products and brands.

USIFI and IFPR will sponsor “Gov Biz 101” for attendees who are working with the government. The seminar will cover such topics as military specifications, hub zones and trade legislation. “Emerging Market Strategies” will comprise two sessions presenting new solutions for creating better visibility for a company’s brands and products.

In addition, on Wednesday morning, IFAI will offer certification orientation for industry professionals who wish to learn about testing phases and eligibility requirements of becoming certified.

The "Upholstery Done Right!" workshop will include group demonstrations with featured equipment vendors.

Special Events
In addition to the golf outing on Tuesday, IFF will hold its 5th annual silent auction throughout the show. IFAI will hold its annual meeting late Wednesday afternoon. The association will present an overview of activities conducted over the last year, and elect new officers for the upcoming year. Winners of the 2007 International Achievement Award competition, now in its 60th year, will be announced. Awards are given in 28 categories, and include Awards of Excellence and Outstanding Achievement Awards.

Also at the meeting, in association with IFAI’s ongoing Awnings Today consumer awareness campaign, Rose McKinney, president of Risdall-McKinney Public Relations, New Brighton, Minn., will discuss growing consumer demand for and awareness of awnings.

A welcome reception and high-tech fashion show will be held Wednesday evening. The fashion show will feature 24 apparel pieces that incorporate high-tech, high-performance textiles.

Philip Lempert — an industry expert on consumer behavior, market trends, new products and the retail environment; noted author and columnist; and founder and editor of Xtreme Retail23 and Facts, Figures & the Future; among other distinctions — will deliver the expo’s key-note address Thursday morning.

The IFAI International Reception will be held Thursday evening. The Chairman’s Gala Reception and Dinner will conclude the expo Thursday evening. The event will recognize accomplishments of the past year, recipients of professional certifications, and new and retiring board members. A slide show of the Achievement Award winners also will be presented.

Other meetings also will be held during the expo. The Safety & Protective Products Division will hold its annual meeting Wednesday afternoon, while the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association will hold its annual meeting Thursday afternoon. The Truck Cover & Tarp Association and USIFI will conduct business meetings Thursday afternoon, and the Fabric Graphics Association will conduct its annual meeting Friday afternoon.

For more information about IFAI Expo, visit www.ifaiexpo.com. To register for the trade show, contact Tracie Coopet (651) 225-6947; tkcoopet@ifai.com. To register for symposiums and workshops, contact Jill Rutledge (651) 225-6981; jmrutledge@ifai.com; or Barbara Connett (651) 225-6914; bjconnett@ifai.com.

September/October 2007