Technical Textiles: Growth Sector with
(Views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the author)
At the outset, I wish all the readers a safe, healthy and prosperous 2013. We, in the burgeoning technical textiles sector have a lot to thank for and have an optimistic future. Data available on our industry suggest we are in a growth trajectory world over. While the global economy is in the slow recovery phase, industry pundits are predicting good growth numbers for our sector, which can surpass the GDP growth numbers.
Recently, The Freedonia Group predicted the United States' wipes sector will grow at a year rate of 5.1 % and will reach 2.5 billion US$ by 2016. This estimate is a testimony to the growth which the nonwovens and technical textiles will witness globally. In order to understand the significance of this growth estimate, we have to carefully look into the GDP numbers of few nations including China and India. According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States, 2011 GDP estimates are that the US will be about 1.8%, China about 9.2% and India about 6.8 percentage. If we take the United States' wipes sector, it will register a growth which will be at least twice that of its GDP growth in the next few years. Historically, the nonwovens and technical textiles sector has grown above and beyond the GDP growth rates. In the case of emerging nations such as India, the growth of the nonwovens and technical textiles sector will be exponential. In 2008, I had the good fortune to make a bold prediction that India's nonwovens and technical textiles sector will grow in double digits, 13.3% to be precise. This prediction has come true and India is witnessing a growth of about 16-20 percentage. Interestingly, while I was penning this article, a conversation with Mr. Kuldeep Singh Shangari of Mahindra Felts, Panipat boosted my optimism about the technical textiles in India. Within the past three months, Mahindra Felts has invested in two European needle punching lines catering to interlinings and geotextiles. I am sure like Mahindra Felts, investments are happening in many parts of India a good sign indeed!
DEVELOPMENTS IN THIS SECTOR: A GLOBAL GLIMPSE
Two significant developments have taken place recently in Europe, which signals the opportunities in our field. The United Kingdom's government has invested 28 million pounds to enhance the capabilities of National Composites Center in Bristol, UK. A European Center for Innovative Textiles was launched in October in northern France with a Phase I investment of 46 million Euro. This center's initial investment will focus on advanced fiber spinning and nonwovens. In developed economies, major investments are taking place in composites and nonwovens sectors. In my opinion, both these sectors have good growth opportunities in India, which is agreed by Mrs. Shashi Singh of Indian Technical Textiles Association. A noteworthy point with the above two investments is that they emphasize strong industry institute collaboration backed by government funding. Indian Centers of Excellence in technical Textiles should keep this relationship as a high priority and should serve the industry and boost the growth of technical textiles industry. These Centers of Excellence should serve as: 1) knowledge resource for the industry; 2) product development centers and 3) testing laboratories for the Indian industry. In my opinion, the immediate task for these centers is to serve the Indian technical textiles industry by being product development and testing centers.