Technical Textile | Application and Milestone of Technical Textile

Posted by Firoz Kabir on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 0

 Technical Textiles: Textile materials & products manufactured primarily for their technical & performance properties rather than their esthetic or decorative characteristics.

A technical textile is a textile product manufactured for non-aesthetic purposes, where function is the primary criterion. Now a days, it is a large and growing sector and supports a vast array of other industries.


According textile terms & definition- Industrial textiles is now more often viewed as a subgroup of wider category of technical textiles, referring specially to those textile products-

   -used in the course of manufacturing operations (e.g. filters, machine clothing, conveyor belts, abrasive substrates)
   -incorporated into other industrial products (e.g. electrical component & cable, flexible seals & acoustic & thermal insulation)

Technical textiles include textiles for automotive applications, medical textile (e.g. implants), geo textiles (e.g. reinforcement of embankments), agrotextiles (textiles for crop protection), industrial textile and protective clothing.

Best alternative name of technical textile-
  • Industrial textile
  • Performance textile
  • Functional textile
  • Engineering textile
  • Hi-Tech textile

Product Group of Technical Textile:

Coated Textiles: Laminated textiles, tent/canvas materials, packaging, materials, sacking, tarpaulin fabric, covering & accessories, awning materials.

Composite Textiles: Reinforcement textiles, fiber reinforced composites, textile reinforced plastic & concrete components.

Bond Tech Textiles: Finishing technologies, including sealing, bonding and coating.


Application Area of Technical Textile:

Summery of technical textile applications:
  • agrotech: agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture and forestry
  • buildtech: building and construction
  • clothtech: technical components of footwear and clothing
  • geotech: geotextiles and civil engineering
  • hometech: technical components of furniture, household textiles and
    floorcoverings
  • indutech: filtration, conveying, cleaning and other industrial uses
  • medtech: hygiene and medical
  • mobiltech: automobiles, shipping, railways and aerospace
  • oekotech: environmental protection
  • packtech: packaging
  • protech: personal and property protection
  • sporttech: sport and leisure.

Transport textiles
Transport applications (cars, lorries, buses, trains, ships and aerospace) represent the largest single end-use area for technical textiles, accounting for some 20% of the total. Products range from carpeting and seating (regarded as technical rather than furnishing textiles because of the very stringent performance characteristics which they must fulfil), through tyre, belt and hose reinforcement, safety belts and air bags, to composite reinforcements for automotive bodies, civil and military aircraft bodies, wings and engine components, and many other uses. The fact that volume and value growth rates in these applications appear to be amongst the lowest of any application area needs to be interpreted with caution. The automotive industry (which accounts for a high proportion of all transport textiles) is certainly one of the most mature in market terms.

Industrial products and components
Set to rival transport textiles for first place by the year 2005 or shortly thereafterm(in volume terms, although not yet in value) is the diverse field of ‘industrial’ textiles. As now more precisely defined, this includes textiles used directly in industrial processes or incorporated into industrial products such as filters, conveyor belts and abrasive belts, as well as reinforcements for printed circuit boards, seals and gaskets, and other industrial equipment.

Growth rates are generally well above average in most areas. Because of the universal nature of many industrial requirements, some large companies have emerged with worldwide manufacturing and distribution to dominate markets for industrial textile products. They include companies such as Scapa (UK) and Albany (US), leaders in papermaking felts and related product areas, Milliken (USA) in textiles for rubber reinforcement and other industrial applications and BWF (Germany) in filtration.

Medical and hygiene textiles
The fact that medical and hygiene textiles are expected to show below average growth in volume but above average growth in value reflects the contrasting prospects of at least two main areas of the market. The largest use of textiles is for hygiene applications such as wipes, babies’ diapers (nappies) and adult sanitary and incontinence products.With the possible exception of the last of these, all are relatively mature markets whose volume growth has peaked. Manufacturers and converters now seek to develop them further by adding value to increasingly sophisticated products. Nonwovens dominate these applications which account for over 23% of all nonwoven use, the largest proportion of any of the 12 major markets for technical textiles.

The other side of the medical and hygiene market is a rather smaller but higher value market for medical and surgical products such as operating gowns and drapes, sterilisation packs, dressings, sutures and orthopaedic pads.At the highest value end of this segment are relatively tiny volumes of extremely sophisticated textiles for uses such as artificial ligaments, veins and arteries, skin replacement, hollow fibres for dialysis machines and so on. Growth prospects in these areas are potentially considerable although the proving and widespread introduction of new life-criticalproducts takes time.

Home textiles
Nonwovens and composite reinforcements, over 35% of the total weight of fibres and textiles in that category, lies in the field of household textiles and furnishing and especially in the use of loose fibres in wadding and fibrefill applications. Hollow fibres with excellent insulating properties are widely used in bedding and sleeping bags.Other types of fibre are increasingly being used to replace foams in furniture because of concern over the fire and health hazards posed by such materials. Woven fabrics are still used to a significant extent as carpet and furniture backings and in some smaller, more specialised areas such as curtain header tapes. However, nonwovens such as spunbondeds have made significant inroads into these larger markets while various drylaid and hydroentangled products are now widely used in household cleaning applications in place of traditional mops and dusters.

Clothing components
This category includes fibres, yarns and textiles used as technical components in the manufacture of clothing such as sewing threads, interlinings, waddings and insulation; it does not include the main outer and lining fabrics of garments, nor does it cover protective clothing. As for home textile applications, this is a major market for fibrefill products.Some of the latest and most sophisticated developments have seen the incorporation of temperature phase change materials into such insulation products to provide an additional degree of control and resistance to sudden extremes of temperature, be they hot or cold.

Agriculture, horticulture and fishing
Textiles have always been used extensively in the course of food production, most notably by the fishing industry in the form of nets, ropes and lines but also by agriculture and horticulture for a variety of covering, protection and containment applications. Although future volume growth rates appear to be relatively modest, this is partly due to the replacement of heavier weight traditional textiles, including jute and sisal sacking and twine, by lighter, longer lasting synthetic substitutes, especially polypropylene.Lightweight spunbonded fleeces are now used for shading, thermal insulation and weed suppression. Heavier nonwoven, knitted and woven constructions are employed for wind and hail protection. Capillary nonwoven matting is used in horticulture to distribute moisture to growing plants.

At sea, fish farming is a growing industry which uses specialised netting and other textile products. High performance fibres such as HMPE (High Modulus Poly Ethylene) are finding their way into the fishing industry for the manufacture of lightweight, ultra-strong lines and nets.

Construction – building and roofing
Textiles are employed in many ways in the construction of buildings, both permanent and temporary, dams, bridges, tunnels and roads.A closely related but distinct area of use is in geotextiles by the civil engineering sector. Temporary structures such as tents, marquees and awnings are some of the most
obvious and visible applications of textiles.Where these used to be exclusively made from proofed heavy cotton, a variety of lighter, stronger, rot-, sunlight- and weatherproof (also often fireproof) synthetic materials are now increasingly required.

A relatively new category of ‘architectural membrane’ is coming to prominence in the construction of semipermanent structures such as sports stadia, exhibition centres and other modern buildings. Nonwoven glass and polyester fabrics are already widely used in roofing applications while other textiles are used as breathable membranes to prevent moisture penetration of walls. Fibres and textiles also have a major role to play in building and equipment insulation.

Packaging and containment
Important uses of textiles include the manufacturing of bags and sacks, traditionally from cotton, flax and jute but increasingly from polypropylene. Tea and coffee bags use wet-laid nonwovens. Meats, vegetables and fruits are now frequently packed with a nonwoven insert to absorb liquids. Other fruits and vegetable products are supplied in knitted net packaging.

Sport and leisure
Even excluding the very considerable use of textiles in performance clothing and footwear, there are plenty of opportunities for the use of technical textiles throughout the sports and leisure market

Geotextiles in civil engineering
The geosynthetics market (comprising geotextiles, geogrids and geomembranes) is nevertheless expected to show some of the highest growth rates of any sector over the foreseeable future. The economic and environmental advantages of using textiles to reinforce, stabilise, separate, drain and filter are already well proven. Geotextiles allow the building of railway and road cuttings and embankments with steeper sides, reducing the land required and disturbance to the local environment. Nonwovens already account for up to 80% of geotextile applications. Current interest is in ‘composite’ fabrics which combine the advantages of different textile constructions such as woven, knitted, nonwoven and membrane materials.To supply the diversity of fabrics needed for the many different applications of geotextiles, leading specialist manufacturers are beginning to assemble a wide range of complementary capabilities by acquisition and other means.

Protective and safety clothing and textiles

Textiles for protective clothing and other related applications are another important growth area which has attracted attention and interest somewhat out of proportion to the size and value of the existing market. As in the case of sports textiles, a number of relatively high value and performance critical product areas have proved to be an ideal launch pad for a new generation of high performance fibres, most notably the aramids, but including many other speciality materials. The variety of protective functions that needs to be provided by different textile products is considerable and diverse. It includes protection against cuts, abrasion, ballistic and other types of severe impact including stab wounds and explosions, fire and extreme heat, hazardous dust and particles, nuclear, biological and chemical hazards, high voltages and static electricity, foul weather, extreme cold and poor visibility.

Ecological protection textiles
Technical textiles can contribute towards the environment in almost every sphere of their use, for example by reducing weight in transport and construction and thereby saving materials and energy. Improved recycleability is becoming an important issue not only for packaging but also for products such as cars.


Milestones of Technical textiles:

Natural Fibers: Cotton, flax, jute, hemp, sisal used for heavy canvas rope with limited resistance to water or fungal attack & poor flame retardency.
Viscose Rayon: Developed in 1910 used as reinforcement to tires and other rubber goods ( drive belt, conveyors and hoses) for their tenacity & modulus and heat resistance. Absorbency led to the use in paper making, non woven for cleaning & hygiene.

Nylon and Polyester: Nylon developed in 1939, high strength & abrasion resistance, good elasticity, excellent energy absorption used for climbing ropes, parachute fabrics, sails and tire cords.- Polyester developed in 1950 which is low cost & used as alternative to viscose & poly-amide in technical applications.

About the Author

Md. Firoz Kabir(M.Sc in Textile Engineering)

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