Keynote addresses at IFAI’s Advanced Textiles Expo offered an impressive amount of critical information for participants in a variety of advanced textiles markets.
Dr. Behnam Pourdeyhimi of North Carolina State University’s Nonwovens Institute discussed how nonwovens have developed from mostly disposables to more long-life and durable materials. The balance is shifting dramatically; long-life durables are showing significant growth, while the short life nonwovens market growth is slowing down.
Pourdeyhimi sees major opportunities in filtration markets; air filtration, in particular, is impacted by global pollution issues and indoor air quality standards. “Sixty percent of the world will live in cities by 2030.” With “health-sapping air pollution” requiring better pollution control, filtration is poised to be a major emerging market.
He noted also that “the largest markets today are not necessarily the places to go for growth and the best ROI.” Interlinings and carpet backing are an aging market; medical, personal and health care products are mature; filters, wipes, automotive and industrial are growing markets; and durable nonwovens are at the embryonic stage.
Mary Lynn Landgraff from the U.S. Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) told her audience, “We strive to spark innovation. We are a nation of innovators,” in her keynote address on growth sectors in technical textiles. “Technical markets are expanding,” she said, noting outdoor textiles as the fastest growing, and protective clothing also poised for continued profitability.
Growth in the U.S. is driven in part by domestic energy, indicating that the U.S. will be able to be energy self-sufficient by 2035. Burgeoning numbers of “shale gale” workers in the oil and gas industry are producing “incredible demand for clothing and equipment (“Frackwear”) that can withstand the harshest, hottest, most dangerous conditions.” Sales of protective clothing (well-built work boots and fire-resistant clothing) are expected to reach $2.3 billion by 2017, according to Frost & Sullivan data reported in the Wall Street Journal, Landgraff said.
CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) is especially important. “If you’ve got something new in CBRN, let us know,” she said.
In military markets, she singled out the Soldier Enhancement Program (SEP) as “a godsend,” adding, “You can be supplying them now and working on new products for the future.” She also advised producers to consider international military sales. “If our military likes, I can guarantee that other militaries will want it,” she said.