Non-woven materials offer several opportunities

Textiles are more than everyday clothing. The car upholstery, wipes at restaurants, and personal care products are also a form of textiles. The market potential is huge for these and the Indian industries need to tap it with confidence, says C.K. Wong, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Pacific Nonwovens Industry. He is involved with the non-woven industry for more than three decades and has visited India several times. During his stay in Coimbatore this week, he spoke to M. Soundariya Preetha on the non-woven and technical textiles industry and measures needed to promote its growth in India.

Non-woven is a globally young industry. With its capacity to cater to special applications, it has an exclusive market. Technical textiles, which is made from non-woven materials mainly, is similar to conventional textiles.

But, its functionality is different. Regular textiles are used for clothing, home textiles, decorations, bedding, etc. Technical textiles are used for a special function. Non-wovens are replacing the use of conventional textiles in many areas as these cost less, are more convenient to use, serves the purpose and can be tailor-made. Product ideas for non-wovens come in every day. Yet, no product is phased out. However, this will not reduce the use of regular textiles.

The non-woven industry has a huge market in the U.S., European countries and Japan. These countries also have advanced technology to make these products. Now, China has emerged as the world’s largest producer of non-wovens in terms of quantity.

“I foresee in the future India becoming a major producer of technical textiles and non-wovens, maybe after five or 10 years. It also has a huge market for these products.”

China was searching in the dark when it ventured into the technical textiles industry about two decades ago. India has sources of knowledge all over the world. Not only can India produce large quantities but can focus on quality too.

Over 90 per cent of the production was exported by China when it started. Now, even when domestic consumption is increasing, majority of production is still exported. Though India has domestic consumption, technical textile products are yet to become popular. Apart from the domestic market, Indian companies can export too.

Companies need to be innovative, need research and development to develop in-house technology, and know the market trend. There are no limitations for non-wovens. “If you have an idea and you are innovative, you can make a product.”

To stay for long in the market, manufacturers need to change constantly. Companies should go in for environment-friendly products.

They can look at using bio-degradable materials to produce the non-wovens rather than using oil-based polymers. So, more entrepreneurs in India should be encouraged to diversify to non-woven, he said.


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