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The world of geotextiles
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The world of geotextiles

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Geotextiles are an important constituent of technical textiles. They serve several important functions. This article aims at explaining the concept of geotextiles as a whole, including the various uses of geotextiles.

To understand the meaning of geotextiles in entirety, it is necessary to study the meaning of technical textiles.

What are technical textiles?

Technical textiles are textiles that are produced with the intention of serving specific functions, rather than being used for ornamental purposes. Technical textiles can be said to be a combination of traditional textiles, plastics and paper. In case of traditional textiles, fibre is first of all converted into yarn, which is then woven into fabric. However, in case of technical textiles, they can be either woven or nonwoven. In case of nonwoven technical textiles, certain specialized processes are used instead of weaving.

The term that was originally used for technical textiles was ‘Industrial texiles’. The term ‘Technical textiles’ became popular since the 1980s.

Generally, natural as well as manmade fibres are used in technical textiles. This is a growing field, already supporting a large number of functions. The major uses of technical textiles are as under:

1) Geotextiles: Geotextiles are textiles used in construction. They are used for various purposes like road and dam construction as well as in drainage system construction.

2) Protective clothing: One of the most important uses of technical textiles is in protective clothing. Such protective clothing protects people in life-threatening occupations such as welders and firemen from excessive heat and radiation. These textiles are also used in the preparation of bullet-proof jackets. Clothing for astronauts who go into space is also designed in a similar fashion.

3) Medical textiles: Another life-saving use of technical textiles is in the form of medical textiles. The most common uses of medical textiles are in sutures and bandages.

4) Agrotextiles: As the name suggests, agrotextiles are textiles that are used in the field of agriculture. The common uses of agrotextiles are in ground covers, shade nets, insect meshes as well as bird nets.

5) Home textiles: Technical textiles are useful in home furnishings too, which are popularly known as ‘home textiles’. Popular uses are upholstery, carpets and curtains.

6) Smart textiles: Smart textiles or intelligent textiles are a new phenomenon that is emerging in the field of textiles. The use of electronics in textiles is increasingly being made to serve several important functions. Smart textiles can keep the wearer cool in a hot climate and keep him/her warm when the weather is cold. Some designers have come up with the concept of smart textiles that would change color according to changes in the emotions of the wearer. It is for this reason that smart textiles are called ‘Interactive textiles’.

7) Industrial textiles: Technical textiles also play an important role in the industrial field. They are useful in the form of conveyor belts, sacks and containers.

8) Autotextiles: Autotextiles refer to the textiles that are used in automobiles. Common uses of autotextiles are airbags, seatbelts as well as seat covers.

All about geotextiles

As stated above, the textiles used in construction work i.e. the textiles used for work related to the earth are called ‘geotextiles’. They are used for the purpose of strengthening of embankments, in the construction of roads, in building drainage systems and for other similar purposes. They are permeable and rot-proof.

Like any other technical textile, geotextiles can also be either woven or nonwoven. Mostly synthetic fibres such as glass, polypropylene and polyester are used in the production of geotextiles. This contributes to the strength, durability and low moisture absorption of geotextiles, which are their common features.

Geotextiles have been used in construction for decades; however, full-fledged research and development in this field began only in the early 1960s. India is emerging as a major producer and user of geotextiles.

The main uses for which geotextiles are used are as under:

1)Erosion control

Erosion control: Certain areas are prone to soil erosion by water, such as the areas around water bodies. Geotextiles are very useful while undertaking construction in such areas. Geotextiles allow water to permeate, at the same time stopping particles of soil.

Filtration: Geotextiles serve a very significant purpose of filtration in the construction industry. They are used to filter soil and other particles from waste water, allowing the water to flow away.

Separation: Another important function served by geotextiles in construction is separation. Engineers make use of geotextiles to ensure that different layers of soil do not mix together. However, they allow excess water to pass through. This ensures that the roads are strong and durable.

Protection: Protection is one of the most important functions performed by geotextiles. By holding back waste particles, they ensure that ground water is not polluted. In other words, geotextiles protect ground water.

Reinforcement: One of the most important functions that geotextiles serve is that of reinforcement. Geotextiles are used in road, pavement and dam construction. This increases their strength and durability.


Geotextiles are widely used in the field of construction on account of their functionalities and cost effectiveness. Innovations in this area are constantly taking place to increase the performance of geotextiles. According to experts, geotextiles are expected to have a global market of 1% of the total technical textile market, which would amount to around 1.27 billion USD.

The major challenges faced by the producers of technical textiles in general are unavailability of a skilled workforce, lack of funds that hinders research and development, lack of technological upgradation, In order to expand the market for geotextiles, it is necessary to overcome these challenges. However, the real estate boom in the Indian economy offers great opportunities for the growth of the geotextiles sector.

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