I think nanotechnology is an interesting area, creating opportunities to develop new things. There is no question in technical textiles industry that the use of very fine fabrics can give some very interesting effects in areas like filtration. However, the definition of nano fibres is not yet completely clear and it is very hard to say whether they will be really cost effective. So, there is no doubt about growth in the usage and application of fine fibres. There is a lot of hype about ‘nano’ at the moment, but we will have to see what cost effective solutions are possible in this areas.
Areas we are particularly interested include in filtration i.e. of both liquid and air. Here I would like to quote an example of Reemay, our leading material used for filtration in pools and spa applications. We have a bunch of developments in the filtration area which I won’t be able to discuss in detail at this point. I think there are lots of areas where I understand that the application of filtration has expanded very well and then moving to unique technology application, it gives customer an advantage. Another area would be housing where we produce housewraps, which can be very cost effective to improve moisture control and energy efficiency of a residential house. This applies fabric and coatings technology intelligently with appropriate level of strength and protection from radiation of the sun. Another good example would be its application in rail, where we are applying filtration and geotextiles together to produce a new product called ‘HydroTex’ for use to support rail ballast in weak soil areas. Another example would be use of polyester fabric in the production of composites and providing more and more solutions and hi-tech applications such as in construction, where usage of our fabric can provide excellent exterior and additionally strengthen the construction. We can intelligently apply some of the technology asses that we have and provide our customers higher performance materials.
All of them. I think we are into a technology business and this is a relatively young industry particularly on the nonvowens side. Even on the wovens side there are lots of traditionally made products which need to improve particularly taping, lamination, making composites, surface treatments etc. I think there a number of areas for innovations in the technical textiles that needs to be improved. There are many opportunities for further improvement like reducing the environmental damage and increasing the benefit to the customers.
I think we can look at this in two ways. Firstly, I expect the industry to be growing at the rate of 5% to 7% in terms of volume. This has been the growth rate for quite some time and I expect this to continue on a global basis. The development of technical textiles around the globe depends on economic development in a region, population growth and other macro-economic factors. But, I expect over the globe the industry will continue to grow. The second aspect is about the price factor and it will continue to depend on technological development in a region. In a longer time, we will get better fabrics at lower costs and made with less impact on the environment. There will be more advanced fabric continuing to displace materials with better components like metals and composites using technical textiles.
We have a very small presence in Asian markets directly, we are currently present in a JV in Gujarat, India and we export materials to many Asian markets, notably China and Japan. We see that the business opportunities are rising in the Asian markets. I think that is a positive factor for our presence in Asian markets. Given that the source of the products for technical textiles has shifted to products that are made relatively close to the end user, there is a good opportunity. There is a demand for vast quantity of technical textiles around the world especially on the nonwovens side. So, we are exploring the growth opportunities and expansion in Asia and I would expect an upward movement in the growth of this area over the next couple of years.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of technicaltextile.net.