Technical Textiles: A Growing
Necessity for the Indian Textile Industry
Nonowovens & Advanced Materials Laboratory
Texas Tech University, USA
Technical textiles are value-added textiles, which span the entire spectrum of the textile industry. These products are predominantly used for improving the life-style, protecting the environment and enhancing human life. Simply put, technical textiles are fibrous materials produced and available in different forms and shapes such as mats, yarns, fabrics, composites, made-up goods and converted products which can be used in everyday life and are non-commodity items. Technical textiles can be made using different common, uncommon and combinatorial processes such as weaving, knitting, nonwovens, composite formation, etc. Technical textiles can be even in raw fiber form depending on the end-use applications, need and economics. This sector is a growth segment within the textile industry. Technical textiles sector is one among a very few industrial sectors that is expected to grow on par with the GDP. This has been the case historically and the growth relationship between the GDP in PPP terms and the technical textiles industry has been found to be linear. Therefore, based on historical data, even in the current bleak economic scenario, this sector should witness a growth. The current value of the global technical textiles sector at the fabric level that includes nonwovens, industrial and specialty fabrics is roughly US$ 150 billion. This number does not include the value of converted products at the consumer level and focuses on rollgoods or unconverted fabrics.
According to the latest economic forecasts by PricewaterhouseCoopers, in 2011, the global economy is expected to grow at 3.1%. The U.S., Western Europe, China, India, Brazil and Russia are expected to grow at 2.4, 1.3, 9.4, 8.5, 4.3 and 4.5 percentage respectively. As is evident from the above predictions, high growth is expected in BRIC nations and particularly in China and India. This positive economic forecast will be of immense benefit to India as it endeavors to spearhead the growth of its technical textiles industry. Based on the historical trends, the India technical textiles sector should grow around 8.5 percentage. The current estimate by Government of India is 11%. Our research at Texas Tech University in the recent past has predicted a double-digit growth for the Indian technical textiles sector. This was based on the GDP estimates by the World Bank and this growth estimate has been vindicated by the market survey conducted by ICRA Management Consultancy carried out through a project funded by the Ministry of Textiles, India. This article will highlight the current scenario of the Indian technical textiles sector and will articulate a few steps that are necessary to boost this sector in India.