The ITMA Blog


Technology pioneers: The 1st ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award

by Adrian Wilson | 14 Oct, 2015

One of three leading textile manufacturing companies who have all worked closely with their technology suppliers will be presented with the first ITMA Sustainable Innovation Award at a special gala dinner to be held in La Pelota in Milan on November 12.

The three finalists of the Industry Excellence Award are Berto, based in Bovolenta, in Padua, Italy, Gebrüder Otto, located near Ulm in Germany, and Levi Strauss, the well-known denim manufacturer and clothing brand headquartered in San Francisco, USA.

Coating and colouring


As a supplier of denim to the leading European designer brands – including Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino in Italy alone – Berto was the first in the country to install a Monforts stenter line with an integrated Eco Applicator, with which it has developed a wide range of new coating and colouring concepts.

These include the latest Never Fade solid indigo denims which are guaranteed to retain colour for their lifetime, along with printed denim ranges and coated stretch fabrics in vivid, full colours.

A strategy of continuous investment has been a key to Berto’s success – it began spinning its own open end yarns and adding ring spinning in 2004.

As denim output intensified, the company installed an indigo dyeing plant and later, as part of a major modernisation and expansion programme, took delivery of the Monforts eight-chamber Montex stenter with the Eco Applicator installed in-line.

This has enabled us to increase even further the wide range of differentiated fabrics – primarily denims – we are manufacturing each season,” says Finishing Manager, Sebastiano Antico. “The sensor-controlled Eco Applicator unit is a very efficient method of applying dyes and coatings via a sophisticated roller system.”

“The reliability and accuracy of the Monforts line is excellent,” he adds. “Since we installed it, the percentage of fabrics we’ve had to re-work has fallen substantially. It’s also allowed us to considerably expand the range of special materials we offer, including resin treated and polymerized fabrics. Our latest Never Fade solid indigo denims have been a real success and rely on both a special dyeing technique and the precision finishing made possible by the Eco Applicator.”

Winning combination


With production plants in Dietenheim and Balzheim near Ulm in Germany, Gebrüder Otto is one of Europe’s leading yarn manufacturers.

The family-owned business has been producing top quality yarns and twists for over a century, specialising in the processing of natural fibres.

As such, the company has been an ideal partner in the development of Mayer & Cie’s new spinit technology which was first unveiled in prototype at ITMA 2011 in Barcelona and will be shown as a fully functional and market-ready system at ITMA 2015.

“The spinning and circular knitting processes are uniquely combined in the spinit system, with single knitwear made not from yarn, but directly from rovings, resulting in a much shorter process, with ring spinning, cleaning and rewinding all eliminated,” said Andreas Merkel, CEO of Gebrüder Otto.

“This is a ground breaking technology that will not only make single jersey production much more cost efficient, but will also enable the production of interesting new fabric qualities. I believe the textile industry will quickly realise these advantages and adopt this technology.”

Tests at Gebrüder Otto have verified that based on the production of 255kg of 125gsm single jersey fabrics per hour, an energy reduction of 35% can be achieved. This is a significant cost saving.

The first company using fabric made with the cutting edge technology is hessnatur. Founded in 1976, it is a growing brand specialising in sustainably-produced apparel made from 100% natural fibres. Its unique stores are now established in many of the major cities in Germany.

It is behind the first commercial launch of spinit fabric in a range of women’s pyjamas. For this product, Gebrüder Otto has sourced organically grown medium staple cotton from Turkey and turned it first into fibre rovings and then 155gsm single jersey fabrics, which hessnatur is subsequently finishing and tailoring in-house.



Filling large and expensive washing machines with pumice stones in order to achieve the classic ‘stone washed’ look was never a very practical process. In addition to the instantaneous damage inflicted on the machines themselves, the degree of damage to the fabrics was difficult to effectively control, additional processes were required to remove the dust and fragments from the treated jeans and machines, and the resulting waste water was also difficult to treat.

Alternative treatments have been developed over the years, but some jeanswear brands have felt that the resulting surface effects and fabric softness haven’t been as striking as those achieved by traditional stone washing.

“There are chiefly two key alternatives to stone washing,” explained Alice Tonello, Marketing and R&D Manager for Tonello, based in Sarcedo, Vicenza, Italy. “The first is acid washing, a treatment realised by using a high concentration of chlorine – a toxic and highly corrosive product. Continuous exposure to this substance without proper protection has negative effects on the respiratory tract and irritant effects on sthe kin, eyes and mucous membranes.

“The second alternative is by the use of cellulase, an enzyme produced mainly by fungi and bacteria. This enzyme attacks the textile fibre, consuming it and creating a washed-out effect. Although the technique does not harm the operator, it has several disadvantages from the point of view of the quality of the garment.

An example is back staining, a defect causing the staining of the weft by indigo dyes, requiring several washings to be corrected, with a considerable consumption of water. There is also the risk of creating excessive wear and a thinning of the garment. This treatment is also used in combination with a smaller amounts of pumice stones to obtain an effect more similar to stone wash.”

Tonello’s NoStone process is said to result in authentically stone washed denim without the economic, ecological and mechanical disadvantages of other processes.

It involves covering the entire inside of the washing-machine drum with a stainless steel plate which has an abrasive surface that can be tailored depending on the desired effect.

It produces neither dust nor sludge, and doesn’t damage either the garment or the machine, creating a uniform effect in both sampling and production machines. It can also be combined with other technologies such as Tonello’s ECOfree ozone treatment or enzymes in a single process that cuts production times and costs. The special lining can be easily removed to allow conventional washing or dyeing processes to be carried out.

Recycling water after the NoStone process is very simple and is also ensures big savings in water, being realised at a liquor ratio of 1:5 – a standard for Tonello washing machines – instead of 1:10 which unfortunately is still standard for many laundries all over the world.

Levi Strauss certainly sees Tonello’s new NoStone denim garment washing technology as an effective solution, and is already employing it at its plant in Plock in Poland.

Research and Innovation

The winner of the first ITMA Industry Excellence Award will receive a special trophy and a cash prize of €10,000. At the gala dinner, the ITMA Research and Innovation (R&I) Excellence Award will also be presented with a prize of €4,000 for what is judged the best Master’s Thesis from a textile research institute or university.

The three finalists for the R&I award are:

Jan Vincent Jordan
• Jan Vincent Jordan of RWTH Aachen University: ‘Development and Assembly of a Test Bench for the Analysis of Magnetic Weft Insertion.’

Jenifer Schneidereit
• Jenifer Schneidereit of Hochschule Niederrhein: ‘Sustainable Water Use in Textile Wet Processing: Development of a List of Improvement Measures for a Self-Assessment Tool for Factories.’

Moniruddoza Ashir
• Moniruddoza Ashir, TU Dresden: ‘Development of Hybrid Woven Structures for Lightweight Applications.’