Diversification Needed in Technical Textiles

Current cotton and yarn situations in leading textile manufacturing countries like India is compelling the textile industry to focus on diversification.

India has been promoting the technical textiles sector for nearly two decades. The India Committee of the INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry organized its first nonwoven technical workshop in Mumbai in January 2007, followed by a major business event, “Link with India.” This event was likely ahead of its time, as the technical textiles sector was only getting started with widespread awareness then.

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Currently, India is moving quickly to push technical textiles forward because of the stressful situations faced by the spinning sector due to cotton price volatility and supply issues.

“Margin in the spinning sector has been eroding, and today one can say it is non-existent in most of the mills,” stated Prakash Vasudevan, director of The South Indian Textile Research Association. He noted that mills that have invested in wind power and modernization are surviving, but still need to focus on diversification.

Vasudevan added that there is a need to have a specialized converting sector, and that exploring the market and strengthening the marketing aspect should take priority.

I have long emphasized the need to develop a converting sector base for technical textiles. Investing in infrastructure to produce roll goods (fabrics) will be fruitful if there is a base to absorb huge production. In my opinion, there is an immediate need to create a flow channel for technical textiles fabrics (downstream) that can be translated into value-added products used by consumers.

Additionally, creating collaborations between advanced nations in this field such as Germany and the United States will pave the way for growth of this sector – much like the current joint effort between Chennai-based WellGro Innovations and Lubbock-based E Innovate, LLC, which has resulted in the debut of Towelie oil sorbent nonwoven wipe in the U.S. market.

The technical textiles sector is getting attention by entrepreneurs, as well as conventional players. Santhana Thirumalai, an IT expert who returned to Coimbatore from the United States, is exploring the advanced textiles sector to diversify their family-based weaving and agriculture activities. Additional information on the type of products needed and how to go about developing those products must be made available for the new entrants.