I know most folks find going to conferences to be rather tedious and boring but I have always found it to be stimulating and motivating. After hopping a plane to Orlando, FL, I attended the Industrial Fabrics Association International EXPO for the first time. IFAI is a trade association meant to promote and educate members about specialty fabrics. I went to see what cool new textile “stuff” might be out there that we could incorporate into the exhibit.

There were several highlights for me. On my first day at lunch, I had the good fortune to sit at a table with students from Central Michigan University. They were attending the conference to accept an award for winning the Safety Products Student Design Challenge sponsored each year by the IFAI. I eagerly attended their presentation the following day and learned about the innovative LED sleeves they had incorporated into an aircraft marshaller’s safety jacket. This improvement to the jacket would eliminate the need for the current heavy batons used to signal planes. Since this is an annual competition, I’m hoping ATHM can work with IFAI to showcase student designs each year.

I also had great fun at the Chameleon International booth. Not only was their ChromoMyx waterproof, temperature sensitive, color changing film really cool, it had a great story, too (and you know how I love a story!). About ten years ago the owner’s daughter had a dream that she had a raincoat that changed colors. After sharing the dream with her mother, the mother set out to make it possible. Nine years later Chameleon was born. They were very enthusiastic to work with ATHM to create a kid’s interactive, so keep your eyes out for further news.

I also learned about North Carolina State University’s work to make a new-and-improved fire fighter’s glove by increasing finger dexterity, and that silver-infused textiles help in wound care (I saw some gory pictures to prove this). Some day in the not-too-distant future, ATHM hopes to bring visitor highlights of some of these specialty fabrics to our Textile Revolution exhibition.

Karen Herbaugh

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