Italian Review

Italian textile machinery expanding technological capacity to meet world demands
by Prof. Dr. Noor Ahmed Memon, Dadabhoy Institute of Higher Education.

The economy of Italy is the 3rd-largest national economy in the Eurozone, the 8th-largest by nominal GDP in the world, and the 12th-largest by GDP (PPP). Italy has a major advanced economy, and is a founding member of the European Union, the Eurozone, the OECD, the G7 and the G20.  Italy is the eighth largest exporter in the world with US$ 546.6 billion exported in 2018.

The Italian economy is driven in large part by the manufacture of high-quality consumer goods produced by small and medium-sized enterprises, many of them family owned. Italy is the second largest manufacturer in Europe behind Germany with the competitive agricultural sector and for its creative and high-quality automobile, naval, industrial, appliance and fashion design. Italy is the largest market for luxury goods in Europe and ranks third in the world.  The main exports of Italy are precision machinery that represents 18% of total exports

Italian Textile Machinery Exports by Segments - 2018

The fashion and apparel industry is growing to be one of the major sectors in the world. With an annual turnover of billions of dollars, apparel industry is the major kingpin of the global economy. However, the apparel industry, like any other sector, depends upon certain back industries and here, the textile manufacturing machine industry takes the cake of being the backbone of this global phenomena.

The textile machine market consists of players that manufacture basic machines for labor intensive textile manufacturing countries and machines for advanced and developed countries producing textile products, where labor is expensive. Automation just like in any other industry helps in bringing down the operation cost and provides better products.

Now Italy is one of main producers and exporters of textile machinery in the world. The Italian textile industry still plays an important role in the fashion sector and in the entire national manufacturing, although deeply resized compared to the first half of the last decade. On European scale, Italy stands on the podium of the main producers with a high level of specialization in the different stages of the value chain. There are approximately 300 companies who produce textile machines and related accessories, for a total of about 12,000 employees.

A majority of Italian manufacturers are actually small to medium-sized enterprises that provide custom-made spinning, weaving, knitting, finishing, laundry and dry cleaning machines to the market. These machines are designed to process natural well as manmade fibres, in order to provide a right solution for its global customers.

According to the Association of Italian Textile Machinery Manufacturers (ACIMIT), creativity, sustainable technology, reliability and quality are the characteristics which have made Italy a leader in the manufacturing of textile machinery. Currently, Italy holds a strong position as one of the main suppliers of textile machinery in the world.

Among the top producers of textile machinery manufacturers in Europe Italy holds second place after Germany and the technological level of its production is considered of the highest standard even by their competitors themselves.

Italy is today one of main producers and exporters of textile machinery in the world. In 2018 the value of Italian production was Euro 2.5 billion, with exports worth Euro 2.1 billion exported in about 130 countries. Italian market share on the world exports of textile machinery is about 12%.

Italian Textile Machinery Exports to Main Countries 2018 (Million Euro)

Source: ACIMIT

The wide supply of Italian textile machinery manufacturers let them face the needs of all the potential customers. Exports represent 83% of total sales. This process of internationalization, together with the vocation for innovation in the sector, allowed Italian companies to consolidate and further improve the leading position held by the Italian textile machinery industry all over the world. The production and exports of Italian textile machinery for the past three years  are given in Table 1.

Table 1: Italian textile machinery sector
Million Euro

  2016 2017 2018 2018-17
 Production 2,372 2,547 2,530 +1%
 Export 2,026 2,144 2,102 -2%
 Domestic Sales 346 403 428 +6%
 Import 521 527 508 -4%
 Domestic Consumption 866 930 936 +1%
      Source: ACIMIT

In 2018 period Italian exports of textile machines was divided as follows: Asia (46%), followed by Europe (36%), North America (7%), Latin America (6%) and Africa (5%). The biggest contribution to the Italian exports of textile machinery came from China.

In 2018 period Italian exports toward Chinese market amounted to a value of Euro 357 million. China is followed by Turkey, India and United States of America.  Other main markets are Bangladesh, Pakistan, Germany, Vietnam, Egypt and France. The exports of Italian textile machinery (Main Countries) are given in Table 2.

Table 2: Italian textile machinery exports
(Main Countries)

                                                Value: Million Euro


2018 2017



308 356 308


172 193 172


135 139 135

  United States

97 97 97


110 103 110


80 87 80


79 94 79
 All others 1,045 1,075 1,121
 Total 2,026 2,144 2,026

 Source: ACIMIT

The wide range of Italian textile machinery manufacturers meets the needs of all the potential customers. This process of internationalization, together with the vocation for innovation in the sector, allowed Italian companies to consolidate and further improve the leading position held by the Italian textile machinery industry all over the world.

Italian sales abroad are divided among these main sectors: 31% dyeing, finishing and printing machines, 24% accessories, 21% spinning machines, 11% knitting machines, 8% weaving machines and 5% other machines.

Key success has to be found in the high level of innovation that characterizes production. The topics of Italian R&D activities are energy saving and machine productivity because the industry knows very well that it is important for textile companies to focus on these topics in order to remain competitive worldwide.

Alessandro Zucchi, President of ACIMIT

ITMA remains a must-see event for the industry, and the primary global stage at which to show new developments in technology. As far as our own country is concerned, the number of Italian exhibitors and visitors bears witness to the vitality of our textile industry. The visibility of Italy’s contingent and presence is the result of the profound commitment, including in economic terms, made by our businesses, along with indispensable support in the realization of significant promotional initiatives for ITMA carried out by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and the Italian Trade Agency.

Solutions for increasingly eco-sustainable textile processes were being proposed by the majority of exhibitors. Here too, Italy proved to be top of its class, with a product offering that provides savings in water, energy and raw materials. Sustainability was also the main focus at the ACIMIT press conference, at which the ACIMIT Green Label Awards were assigned to two Italian machinery manufacturers, Tonello S.r.l and Loptex S.r.l., who have stood out for their outstanding commitment among ACIMIT’s associated members, in reducing the quantity of equivalent emissions of carbon dioxide produced during the operation of their machinery over the last few years.

Italian companies have also been major players in the wide scale modernization project of the textile industry in Egypt, presented at ITMA by representatives of the Egyptian government. Projected investments between 2019 and 2021 will amount to one billion euros, with the first phase including machinery by some notable Italian machinery manufacturers: EFI Reggiani, ITEMA, Marzoli and Savio.

The many innovations we’ve seen in Barcelona, both in the areas of sustainability and digitalization, certainly enhanced the interest of countless visitors. I believe that for a great many machinery manufacturers, the combination of sustainability and innovation will once again represent the key to success at the next edition of ITMA, slated to be held in Milan from 8 to 14 June 2023.

Italian Textile Machinery Exports by Area -2018 (Million Euro)

Source: ACIMIT

Future prospects

The future of the textiles industry is more and more determined by Industry 4.0, which has many dimensions and possible fields of application. In three of them (smart services, operations and factory), key solutions are provided by the machinery industry. The other ones from smart textile products, marketing and sales, employees up to strategy and organisation are specific know-how issues for textiles mills.

Today machinery manufacturers produce textile machinery at competitive prices and sophisticated machines of higher speed and production capacity. The presence of numerous small-scale players also makes the Italian machinery sector more competitive. Along with them, MNCs have also entered the global arena, taking the competition to the next level, driving companies to increase their productivity and innovation.

According Global Textile Machinery Market was valued at US$ 35510 million in 2018 and is projected to increase significantly at a CAGR of 5.71% from 2019 to 2024. In this market study, analysts have estimated the Asian region to account for a market share of more than 90% of the total textile machinery market share by 2022. The prospects for growth in this market are impelled by the domestic demand and exports to countries like the US and Europe.

Italy’s textile machinery industry is, therefore, expanding its technological capacity to meet new demands of its discerning nonwoven customers operating in the various sectors. In recent years, the technical and innovative textiles industry has seen growth in leading markets, especially in Europe. Therefore, advanced technology, sustainability, versatility, flexibility, excellent quality and price ratio are the main characteristics that made the Italian machinery an undisputed leader in the world.

Italian manufacturers take advantage of the evolution of digital technology to further boost production efficiency and competitiveness globally. On the other hand product innovation focused on technical performance of fabrics and yarns in order to extend the application areas. With regard to this issue, in the most recent years, the 4.0 technologies have led to a significant development of the so-called E-Textile.

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