echnical textiles and nonwovens are two of the most rapidly developing sectors in the
global textile industry, having experienced significant growth over the past decade. Already a
world leader in both textiles and apparel, Turkey is becoming a major player in these promising
sectors as well. According to the Export Promotion Center of Turkey (IGEME), the country has in
recent years experienced an increase in gross domestic product per capita, which has stimulated the
demand for technical textiles and nonwovens such as feminine hygiene products, diapers, medical
textiles and disposable products. Worldwide, the automotive, construction, filtration, agriculture
and chemical industries have been quickly expanding, which also has led to increased demand for
technical textiles and nonwovens.
Turkey produces more than 110,000 metric tons of technical textiles and nonwovens per year,
employing such technologies as meltblown, spunbond, spunlace, thermobond and wetlaid in its
manufacturing facilities, which are based mainly in the cities of Istanbul, Bursa, Gaziantep,
Kocaeli and Tekirdag. The export value of Turkey’s technical textiles and nonwovens was estimated
at more than US$1.2 billion in 2008, according to IGEME. Primary end-use applications include
automotive, construction, packaging, hygiene, medical supplies, home textiles, clothing, military,
agriculture and filtration.
Over the past 10 years, more and more Turkish companies have begun manufacturing technical
textiles and nonwovens because the products are high-value-added and less susceptible to price
fluctuations in the market than traditional textiles. Of the more than 150 Turkish companies
producing technical textiles and nonwovens, nine were among Turkey’s 500 largest companies in 2007,
according to IGEME statistics. There are more than 20 large companies that manufacture nonwoven
roll goods. Many of these technical textile- and nonwovens-producing companies are members of
Brussels-based EDANA, the International Association Serving the Nonwovens and Related Industries.
According to the General Secretariat of Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporter Associations
(ITKIB), Turkey’s exports of technical textiles doubled in the period from 2000 to 2006. In 2006,
technical textile exports were valued at US$847 million. Turkey manufactures a variety of technical
textile products. Flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs, or big bags) are Turkey’s top
exported technical textile product, with an export value reaching US$295 million in 2008. According
to IGEME, Turkey is one of the leading manufacturers globally of big bags, and was the world’s top
exporter of big bags in 2007, with a 28-percent share of the market. Other technical textiles
exported by Turkey include tire cord fabric made from high-tenacity nylon, polyester or viscose
rayon yarn; fabrics that are impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics; glass fibers
and articles; safety seat belts and airbags; carpets and floor coverings; and sewing threads.
Turkey exports its technical textile products predominantly to Germany, France, Spain, Italy,
England, Russia, Romania and the United States.
ITKIB reports Turkey’s imports of technical textiles have been increasing steadily since
2002, reaching a value of US$629 million in 2006. Imported technical textile products include
fabrics that are impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics; glass fibers and
articles; and wadding for textile materials. The leading suppliers to Turkey of technical textiles
include Germany, Italy, China, the United Kingdom (UK), France and the Czech Republic.
Though it is steadily increasing, Turkey’s manufacturing level and consumption of nonwovens
are markedly low when compared to those of Europe’s, according to Turkey’s International Textile
Technology magazine, Tekstil Teknoloji. IGEME reports the country’s exports of nonwovens in 2008
totaled more than US$96 million, with main export markets including Poland, the United States, the
UK, Germany, France, Russia, Italy and Israel. According to data from the Undersecretariat for
Foreign Trade, Turkey’s exports of machinery for the manufacturing or finishing of felts or
nonwovens have increased dramatically: In 2006, nonwovens machinery exports were valued at
US$59,000, and in 2008, that value had increased to US$4.23 million. Ninety-nine percent of
Turkey’s nonwovens machinery is exported to Germany. Turkey has not been unaffected by the global
financial crisis, with textile machinery and related equipment sales dropping in recent years.
However, exports of Turkish textile machinery overall grew by 31 percent to US$312 million in 2008,
and ITM – the International Textile Machinery Exhibition held in Istanbul in June 2009 – reported
(See “ITM 2009: Positive Feedback,” Textile World Asia, July/August/September 2009).
Turkey is an important market for textile machinery manufacturers, and is expected to revive.
Headed For Success
Turkey’s infrastructure for its technical textiles and nonwovens sector is well-developed,
and continues to develop and expand in terms of technology, human resources and expertise. The
Scientific & Technological Research Council of Turkey and its subsidiary organizations, the
Marmara Research Center and the Bursa Test and Analysis Laboratory, offer technical, testing and
scientific support to the sectors. Bilkent University, located in Ankara, has opened NanoTAM, the
National Nanotechnology Research Center. The country’s investments in its technical textiles and
nonwovens sector will ensure that sector remains on a growth path.