Technical Textiles: An Overview

The market for technical textiles is growing rapidly thanks to increased demand from both developed and developing countries, technological advancements, and government investments. Global production of technical textiles is projected to reach more than 42 million metric tonnes by 2020, growing at a rate of 4.68%.


What are technical textiles?


Technical textiles are manufactured and used for their functionality rather than their aesthetic value. They are used across many industries, including agriculture, automotive, construction, sports and leisure, water treatment, and medical. These textiles are designed to have improved filtration, flexibility, lightness, durability, resistance, and strength properties—amongst other features—depending on their purpose.


The market is segmented based on application and end-user industry, and is mainly comprised of construction textiles (buildtech), clothing textiles (clothtech), geo-textiles (geotech), domestic textiles (hometech), industrial textiles (indutech), medical textiles (meditech), sports textiles (sportech), and protective textiles (protech).


Typically, technical textiles are made from synthetic fibers due to their enhanced flexibility and strength. Synthetic fibers account for roughly 75% of all fibers used for manufacturing technical textiles globally, according to Technavio. High-performance fibers account for just 5% of technical textile manufacturing materials. Woven technical textiles currently dominate the global market with a share of 63%, but non-woven textiles are expected to attain higher growth and popularity in the near future.


Where are technical textiles produced and consumed?


The majority of these textiles come from APAC, which accounts for a share of almost half of the global technical textiles market. China is the largest producer of both woven and non-woven technical textiles in this region, and is currently responsible for 30% of global production. China has a large number of suppliers, access to advanced textile technology, and experiences steady demand from its domestic market, making it a strong competitor. China’s leading position is followed by the Americas with 19% of global production, India with 18%, the EU with 16%, and the rest of the world with 17% of production.


Though it does not currently hold a large share of the market, Europe is the largest consumer of technical textiles, followed by North America. Consumption in developing countries such as China and India is primarily for medical, infrastructure development, and construction purposes. Medical applications are one of the main drivers behind the demand for and consumption of these textiles in the EU and APAC.


What does the future of technical textiles hold?


APAC’s dominance is expected to continue for the foreseeable future due to China’s many advantages and high production capacity. Governments of countries in the EU and APAC are supporting the development and manufacturing of technical textiles, which will allow both regions to increase production and give them access to more advanced machinery, technology, and practices. India is expected to become a more dominant player in the technical textile world, and is estimated to grow steadily to reach USD 32 billion by 2023.


Additionally, the demand for technical textiles for medical purposes is expected to increase, especially for biophysical monitoring systems, patient tracking devices, and medical supplies, and for various industrial applications, including automobile interiors.


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