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Cork benefits for automotive interiors

The demand for more environmentally friendly raw materials with greater differentiation from the transportation sector will only increase, company predicts.

29th September 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Pousada de Saramagos, Portugal


Riopele, based in Pousada de Saramagos near Porto in Portugal, has launched a new fabric produced with recycled raw materials from its own yarn and fabric production and cork waste from the production of cork stoppers which are usually incinerated, aimed at the transportation interiors sector.

“Cork is a 100% natural and recyclable resource, being inherently sustainable, biodegradable and renewable and we are looking to escape the linear production system and using only primary raw materials,” says the company’s R&D Director Albertina Reis.

“This new development has very interesting technical characteristics, because in addition to ensuring greater resistance to abrasion, pilling and wear, it also has dimensional stability during construction and the washing and drying processes, as well as  antibacterial properties,” adds design manager João Amaral. “Riopele is diversifying its business into the technical textiles markets and investing in complementary business areas, such as the automotive industry and the professional and military segments.

“We have made visits and taken part in meetings with the world’s leading manufacturers in the automotive sector, for whom we have presented our proposals for conceptual projects and small series production. The mobility sector is facing a process of profound changes and it is expected that the demand for more environmentally friendly raw materials with greater differentiation will only increase.”

The new product is one of the finalists of the iTechStyle Awards within the Fabrics category.

Riopele has this year been singled out as the most attractive textile company to work for in Portugal and is currently investing €3.3 million in further training its staff under the Competitiveness Clusters Capacity Building programme.

The number of Riopele employees has increased by over 20% in the last decade, reaching 1,083.

In terms of human resources, one of the biggest bets has been made on the R&D department. Currently, over a hundred professionals invest in the development of new solutions for international clients. More than 95% of the company’s sales are directed towards these clients.

After two years of frustration due to the pandemic, the Portuguese textile and clothing sector reached an all-time high in international markets in 2021, according to the company.

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