On October 21st and 22nd, 2013 American flock industry leaders gathered in Orlando, Florida for the association’s 28th annual meeting followed by participation in the combined Industrial Fabric Association International’s Specialty Fabrics Expo and the Specialty Graphics Industry Association trade show. Featured at this year’s meeting were presentations from an end user as well as presentations dealing with futuristic opportunities in flock.
Reg Martin, VP of Marketing, Bufkor, a major packaging company, spoke to the rise and fall of flock in his industry. He showed examples of magnificent new designs selling at almost US$200 per unit, but without flock. He then defined the technical needs he would like to see in a flocked fabric to bring it back into the packaging world. By meeting end a team of suppliers and flockers had come together to address the issue.
Tom Witham, Chairman of the AFA, presented an update on the Association sponsored FEAM project underway at the University of Massachusetts. Professor Yong Kim and associates are working on a Flock Energy Absorbing Material to be utilized in helmets to reduce the incidence of concussion. Although in its early stages, preliminary results are very exciting. Patents have been filed and manufacturers are being contacted.
During the past year the AFA sponsored two senior design projects at North Carolina State University school of textiles. Students were challenged with designing a new product using flock that would be good volume and profitable. The two team captains presented a report on their projects. A flocked wound dressing using specially coated fibers was so promising that the AFA sponsored another team this year to continue developing the concept. The biggest reward for the industry is that there are now these bright young people entering into the workplace with an intimate knowledge of the flock process.
An interesting new piece of test equipment was presented by Steve Rosenthal, managing director of the American Flock Association. This hi-tech device, from Lambient Technologies in Massachusetts, has the potential of being used in developing more efficient adhesives as well as testing the quality of a finished piece of flocked goods. Using dielectric energy this instrument can measure how fast an adhesive cures.
During 2013 a major merger of textile organizations in the United States saw the National Textile Association, the parent group of the American Flock Association, suspend operations and arrange for its members to become part of the National Council of Textile Organizations. In April the AFA joined in the merger under the banner of the National Council of Textile Organizations. With offices in Washington, DC and Gastonia, NC, this powerful new organization is actively involved with global policy as well as local textile industry issues. Rounding out the presentations was a talk by the new president of NCTO, Auggie Tantillo. His background in the textile industry and Washington, DC policy making will be a tremendous asset as the AFA looks forward to continue supporting the flock industry in North America.