Three weeks after ITMA 2023, Account Manager Rachelle Harry reflects on what she learnt at the event about the textile printing industry.

Author: Rachelle Harry

I’m no stranger to trade exhibitions, I’ve been to dozens of them over the years, but this was a first for me. I’d never been to major textiles show before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Over the two days I was there, there were plenty of surprises and I learned a lot.

  1. ITMA sets the tone

With more than 1,709 exhibitors from 47 countries, it was evident, on arriving at the busy ITMA halls that the textiles printing industry is more than ready to show how it’s bounced back from challenges such as the supply chain crisis and energy crises, the Russia-Ukraine war and, of course, the pandemic.

Exhibitors informed me that with ITMA taking place once every four years, it sets the tone for the industry by highlighting the latest trends and pioneering technologies.

This year, as a result of the aforementioned challenges, there was a huge focus on digital advancements, which are helping stakeholders to save time and resources.

  1. Textiles machinery is noisy!

This one speaks for itself, but still, I was surprised.

When I arrived on day one, I immediately set off to look for my clients’ stands. However, I got lost and the first room I ended up in was the Machinery Hall. Aside from the large, dormant, yet imposing machines – looms, dying machines, cutters and spinners – the room seemed fairly ordinary. Then, after a warning beep noise, all of the machines on various stands switched on simultaneously.

The noise was loud and intense, and initially I was startled. Yet, after looking closer, I soon became mesmerised by speed and robustness of the machines – and I was wowed by autonomous features I didn’t know existed.

  1. This important industry supports… the whole world!

Having worked at AD Communications for 18 months, I consider myself to be very clued up on digital, wide format and commercial printing. With regards to textile printing, ITMA was the perfect place to expand my knowledge.

Most places I go to – be it a supermarket or a restaurant where there are menus – I think to myself: ‘This has been printed on and it looks great’. Yet, strangely, this hadn’t crossed my mind when buying clothes and upholstery. ITMA showcased diverse textile printing technologies and it got me thinking about the pivotal role they play in the production of clothing and upholstery across the world. The show gave me a huge appreciation for the behind-the-scenes magic (and tech) driving the sector forward.

  1. Sustainability leads the way

Sustainable technologies took centre stage, demonstrating how the textile printing industry is adapting to collective goals of reduced energy and waste.

Stakeholders in the industry are prioritising more environmentally responsible operations, and they are taking steps to make each point of the supply chain greener. From nearshoring to more efficient inks to using to raw materials and recyclable designs, the industry’s efforts – which were showcased and discussed at the event – were evident.

  1. Lots to look forward to

With more than 110,000 visitors from 143 countries, ITMA 2023 didn’t disappoint. I can’t help but wonder how the industry will change between now and the next ITMA in 2027. The event is set to take place in Hannover, Germany, and will be first time it’s been hosted in that city since 1991.

Will advancements in technology have led to significantly reduced costs, waste and lead times? What new textile printing machinery have hit the market? Will we be closer to achieving our sustainability goals? Only time will tell. Watch this space.

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