Global Market and Development Trends of Technical Textile

Textiles are divided into clothing, household fabrics, and technical textiles. Clothing and household fabrics (curtains, textile wallpaper, upholstery fabrics, carpet, and floor coverings) seem to be easily defined. It could therefore be concluded that all other textile products constitute the group of technical textiles.

In other words, technical textiles can be defined as “the textiles in which the performance properties are of greater importance than the aesthetics,”. The use of fibres, yarns and fabrics for applications other than clothing and furnishing is not a new phenomenon. Different natural fibres such as cotton, linen, flax, etc. were used for tents, roping and sacking, etc. Silk was used in surgical sutures.

Technical textiles are flexible fabrics that have applications in multiple industries, including the vehicle, civil engineering and construction, agriculture, healthcare, industrial safety and personal security industries. There are 12 industrial textile categories based on use: agrotech, meditech, buildtech, mobiltech, clothtech, oekotech, geotech, packtech, hometech, protech, indutech and sportech.

The global technical textiles market is highly competitive, characterized by large number of domestic and international players. China and the U.S. held the largest shares of the global market for technical textiles in 2018, and the technical textile sector is continuously developing and growing. The market for technical textiles has grown significantly in recent years. In Europe, the share of technical textiles of the complete textile production was 9% in 1980, 22% in 1990, and today has reached 35%. The global market of technical textile was valued at $201.2 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach $274.1 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 5.1% from 2020 to 2027. Innovative technical textiles are a major driving force for economic growth. At present, around 25% of the annual turnover is achieved with novel products, which is an extremely high value for technical products that is only surpassed by electronics.

Exact data on the world production of technical textiles and the major areas of application are difficult to determine. Fig 1 shows a summary of several sources. The steep growth in recent years is apparent and supported by all surveys.

World production of technical textiles
Fig 1: World production of technical textiles (2015 estimated)
The technical textile market has been segmented into the following submarkets:

Technical Textile Market: By Material
  • Natural fiber
  • Synthetic polymer
  • Regenerated fiber
  • Mineral
  • Metal
  • Specialty fiber
Technical textile market by material
Fig 2: Technical textile market by material
Technical Textile Market: By Process
  • Woven
  • Knitted
  • Non-woven
  • Others (knotted and braided)
Technical textile market by process
Fig 3: Technical textile market by process
Technical Textile Market: By Application
  1. Mobiltech
  2. Indutech
  3. Meditech
  4. Protech
  5. Packtech
  6. Agritech
  7. Hometech
  8. Clothtech
  9. Buildtech
  10. Sportech
  11. Oekotech
  12. Geotech
Technical Textile Market By Application
Fig 4: Technical textile market by application
Technical Textile Market: By Region
  • North America
  • Europe
  • Asia Pacific
  • Middle East & Africa
  • South America
The development tasks are diverse, but generally the following can be expected:
  • Further development of polymer materials for special applications (for example, alkali-resistant glass for reinforcing concrete or absorbable materials for suture threads)
  • Advancement of available and development of new manufacturing methods for special and exactly defined applications
  • Combination and integration of production steps in order to decrease cycle time
A typical example for these development trends is the so-called prepregging. Derived from “preimpregnated,” these textiles are produced in a continuous process where filament rovings are impregnated with resin either unidirectional (UD) or as woven or noncrimp fabric. The matrix materials can be either thermoplastic or duromers.

Prepregs themselves can be produced either in solution processes or using melt resin technologies. In the former process the matrix system is set to the desired viscosity using solvents, the textiles are impregnated, the matrix system forms crosslinks during a subsequent heating process, and the solvent is evaporated at the same time. In the latter process a solvent is not necessary, which greatly improves its acceptance in the market. The process itself comprises two steps. First, the matrix system is applied to a release paper at high temperature using a coating knife. Then, this paper together with the reinforcing fibers and a protective foil is fed into the actual impregnation device as shown in Fig 5.
The impregnation then takes place between two heated rollers, which set the resin system to the required viscosity.

Principle design of a machine for the continuous manufacturing of duroplastic prepregs according to Schneider
Fig 5: Principle design of a machine for the continuous manufacturing of duroplastic prepregs according to Schneider
The main advantages of this process are the exact fiber orientation, which allows the manufacturing of crimp-free components. In addition, owing to the continuous process and the constant fiber-to-resin ratio, the deviation of the mechanical properties is kept to a minimum. Fiber-to-matrix adhesion is also considerably better owing to sizing of the boundary layer between fiber and matrix. Fiber volume content is normally set to 60%.

In order to prevent the resin system from prehardening, the rolled-up prepregs are usually kept cool at deep temperatures and unfrozen only directly before usage. Prepregs can be stored at –18°C for a period of up to one year and at room temperature for about 2–4 weeks. In addition, duromeric resin systems are available that can be stored in an intermediate cross-linked state for several weeks.

  1. Textile Technology, 2nd Edition by Burkhard Wulfhorst and Thomas Gries
  2. Textile Engineering - An Introduction Edited by Yasir Nawab
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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant, entrepreneur, blogger and researcher on online business promotion. He is working as a consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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