21st Century Textiles

or centuries, the raw materials employed in textile production primarily decided the
behavior of the fabric in the finished product, and the need for clothing was the most important
target for every textile fabric manufacturer. However, saturated markets and price pressures from
the big retailers, mainly in the United States and Europe, and the ongoing shift of production
towards Asian countries resulted in a dramatic market change for global fiber consumption. Mainly,
the man-made fiber manufacturers were chasing new markets to sell their ever-increasing production

Then, the first technical textiles appeared on the international textile
stage. This was obviously in the United States and Europe as well as in Japan, because of the
constant development of new man-made fibers with some sensational performance characteristics. In
2010, man-made fibers will have a share of more than 70 percent of the fiber market. For many
years, China and India have been the biggest manufacturers of man-made fibers.

What does this mean for the cotton industry? The global cotton industry is
looking for new ideas. One possibility could be nonwovens for hygiene and medical applications.
Nonwovens are an important aspect of the 21st century textile industry and have an annual growth
rate of at least 4.5 percent. Today, the nonwovens sector is moving away from disposables in the
direction of new and more durable products. Geotextiles, automotive materials and filter media
occupy the limelight along with bicomponent fibers for every conceivable quality of composite.

To be even more successful in these markets, the products must be produced
close to the markets in which they will be sold. Technical textiles are niche and tailor-made
products, mainly developed to customers’ requirements. Proximity to the customers, lower transport
costs and fast deliveries are therefore essential for a flourishing market.

Products such as bulky geotextiles are too expensive to be sent around the
world. That’s why countries such as India have started their own production. More information can
be read in “Textiles For Industrial Applications” on page 22. And the latest developments in
nonwovens machinery can be read about in the ITMA 2007 technology article, “
Implications For The Nonwovens
,” in the January/February 2008 issue of

Textile World Asia

January/February 2008