Bombay Textile Research Association
Bombay Textile Research Association (BTRA) is a leading name in textile research. Ashok Desai, Director, BTRA explains its work in the field of technical textile research and technical textile as a growing industry in India.
What are the steps that Bombay Textile Research Association (BTRA) has taken to ensure that India emerges as a powerhouse in the field of technical textile?
Bombay Textile Research Association has been working in various fields of technical textiles for the last two decades and more. BTRA started working on nonwovens and products like canal liners where semi-field trials were taken in the early nineties.
Industrial filters and geotextiles were attempted in the late eighties and early nineties. But it was too early for the Indian market, and it did not get the push in spite of organising three international seminars on nonwoven technical textile in 1987, 1991 and 1992.
Now, with the Government of India leading efforts to promote technical textiles, BTRA is pleased to be a part of the movement and is working in various areas including geosynthetics for which BTRA is designated as the Centre of Excellence (COE).
BTRA has set up a state-of-art laboratory for all kinds of geosynthetics to be tested, as a third party, and have a client base from all over India and some from overseas. The lab is accredited to Indian and international accreditation agencies.
What else is BTRA looking at?
BTRA's work is not only in geosynthetics, but in a host of other technical textile areas such as conductive fabrics in which BTRA has developed fabric sensors for medical, security and high altitude clothing requirements. BTRA works on development of multifunctional textiles and antibacterial, UV protective and flame retardant fabrics by plasma-assisted, eco-friendly processes and applications of nano-technology. It has bagged the prestigious DST-Lockheed Martin award from a jury comprising national and international experts. BTRA's work, in general, is focused on new and emerging areas of technology to assist and diversify the conventional textiles industry to technical textile sector.
What was the growth of the technical textile industry in the country in last two years? What is the projected growth for the next two years? How is India placed in the technical textile sector globally?
The technical textile industry has made remarkable progress in the last two years, thanks to the efforts of both the Government of India and industry leaders. Without referring to growth in numbers or statistics, it would suffice to say that the technical textile industry can only move in one direction, and that is upwards. This is partly because the base is still low. Growth may be uneven across different segments of technical textile, but overall growth is well expected. Certain sectors like protective textiles, packing and agrotextiles should grow because of large potential. Sectors like medical textiles and geotextiles have potential, but a lot more awareness from users and policy or decision makers is required. On the whole, India, a toddler in technical textiles in the world, will soon be an adolescent if not an adult.
Which are the core areas where BTRA is promoting use of technical textile in the country?
BTRA is recognised as a COE in geosynthetics and naturally, it is the primary area in which BTRA promotes technical textile. But BTRA's scientists work in a host of other technical textile areas, where advanced technologies like plasma technology, nano-technology etc are used to develop many functional textiles. Another area is conductive fabrics, where BTRA is developing fabric electrodes and sensors.