We Innovate to Meet Real Industry Needs
1. How crucial is the role of dyes and chemicals in the textile industry?
Dyes and chemicals are a key part of the textiles value chain, making it possible for brands and mills to differentiate and capture growth opportunities. For example, consumers today are increasingly interested in environmental sustainability. We are also seeing heightened interest in athleisure and sportswear as people prioritize being healthy, active, and comfortable. Brands are therefore increasingly looking for eco-friendly textiles that offer lasting protection from rain, wind and UV rays and incorporate moisture-management and antimicrobial and odor-control solutions.
Huntsman Textile Effects believes that collaboration is vital to helping mills develop new high-value products and further leverage their sustainability credentials to capture market share in the years ahead.
2. With focus increasingly turning to sustainability, how is the dyes and chemicals industry coping, especially when these are thought by many as the main cause of pollution emitted by the textile industry?
As a trusted partner in the textile value chain, Huntsman is proud to be a change agent that creates solutions to complex challenges. We believe strongly in optimizing the entire ecosystem to create shared value. This is about textiles that are not just free from harmful chemicals and produced in ways that are better for the planet, but that also resist fading, staining and odors, so they need less frequent washing and look good for longer. This is how the industry can make a real difference.
3. What is the size of the global market for textile dyes? At what rate is it growing and in which countries?
Despite the impact of the pandemic on the wider textile sector, we are continuing to see strong and growing demand for our environmentally sustainable textile dyes and chemicals. This demand is global, dominated by China and India where increasing domestic consumption will drive growth in the coming years.
4. Who are your main customers?
Huntsman Textile Effects serves many of the world’s top brands in fashion, sportswear, swimwear, home textiles and protective wear, as well as textile mills around the world. Our innovations and know-how play an important role in helping these mills and brands meet the expectations of governments, NGOs and consumers while remaining economically viable.
5. What makes your products and technologies stand apart from competition?
Huntsman Textile Effects is an innovator. We hold around 750 patents and we have launched more than 200 new products in the past five years. Our focus is on technologies that save water and energy, and promote sustainability and waste management. We are proud of our role in developing products that help mills navigate broad shifts in the industry.
Take perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) for example. Commonly used in durable water repellents, PFCs have been subject to increasing restrictions in recent years. We have been pioneering PFC-free alternatives since 2015, with products like Teflon Eco Dry with Zelan™ R3, which contains 63% plant-based materials, and the PHOBOTEX® range of non-fluorinated durable water repellents.
6. To which sub-sectors of the textile and apparel industry does your company’s products cater to?
We offer end-to-end solutions across all key end-use markets, from performance apparel and casual wear to home and hospitality and specialized technical textiles.
7. Do you also serve the technical textiles sector? Can you share some examples of how and where it is used?
Huntsman develops innovative solutions across the technical textiles sector, including protective clothing for firefighters and medical professionals. Recent years have seen a massive spike in demand for safer, eco-friendly textiles. In particular, the pandemic has taken personal protective equipment (PPE) beyond the medical community and boosted interest in technical fabrics treated with antimicrobial and oil- and water-repellent finishes and anti-static agents to improve the wearer’s safety and comfort.
We are also a key partner to the automotive industry. Our TERATOP® XKS HL inks were the first to meet the high light-fastness standards of auto manufacturers, allowing them to achieve the deepest black shades and a wide spectrum of colors with tone-on-tone color fading. These inks offer excellent reliability, runnability and reproducibility. They are also compatible with Huntsman UV absorbers, and are ideal for outdoor furnishings and home textiles as well as auto interiors.
8. As of today, what is the global presence of your manufacturing units? Any plans for expansion?
In addition to our global headquarters in Singapore, we have manufacturing sites in key textile markets including Germany, Mexico, China, India, Indonesia, and Thailand. We also have a network of well-resourced R&D centers and customer service laboratories supported by technicians with expertise across various applications. This network allows us to stay close to our customers so we can work collaboratively to help them solve their business challenges—whether that’s around reducing environmental impact, improving yield and productivity, ensuring compliance, or developing new higher-value products.
9. Any new products in the pipeline?
We innovate to meet real industry needs. For example, demand for man-made and recycled fibers is growing worldwide as well-known clothing brands move towards circular economy business models. Indeed, many of the world’s top apparel brands have committed to eliminating virgin polyester from their supply chains. However, there are challenges in working with recycled polyester (rPET), especially in achieving full whites and consistent shades. Huntsman Textile Effects helps mills compete in this new space with innovative rPET processing solutions that include pre-treatment chemicals, fluorescent whitening agents, state-of-the-art washfast dyes, and finishing solutions.
Another growth area for mills in a post-COVID landscape is the production of safer and more eco-friendly textiles. Last year, we collaborated with Sciessent to help mills use revolutionary antimicrobial and odor-control solutions to produce high-value activewear, outerwear, home textiles and more. With the support of Huntsman and Sciessent, manufacturers are able to develop and deliver innovative products with long-lasting protection against microbial growth and odor for a world that is increasingly interested in health and hygiene.
10. Do you see Digital Textile Printing as an opportunity for more product innovations? What percentage of your customers are currently engaged into Digital Textile Printing?
Sustainability, both environmental and economic, is key to survival in today’s apparel and textile industry. With steady innovation in digital inks, digital textile printing contributes to both. Based on high-quality dyes, today’s inks are high-performing and can match the print quality of most traditional print methods. With better quality inks, less ink is consumed, and less machine maintenance is required, making digital printing methods an increasingly viable solution.
This article first appeared on Fibre2Fashion.
Lutfu Okman, Vice President of Global Revenue, Huntsman Textile Effects