The applications of nonwovens in technical textiles
by Muhammad Kamran Iqbal.
The textile industry is one of the largest consumer supported industries which has played a vital role in worldwide economy. The use of fibers, yarns and fabrics for applications other than clothing and furnishing (conventional textile) is not a new phenomenon. The technical textile defined by the Textile Institute1is ‘textile materials and products manufactured primarily for their technical and performance properties rather than their aesthetic or decorative characteristics’. The importance and economic scope of technical textiles stretches far beyond the textile industry and has an impact upon just about every sphere of human economic and social activity. Technical textiles are not a single coherentindustry market segment. It is developing in many different directions with varying speeds and levels of success. Technical textiles are becoming one of the most important elements of modern technology and lifestyle. It is present everywhere, their end-uses ranges from simple products such as filters to acoustic and thermal insulation for domestic/industrial appliances. In some of the most developedmarkets, technical products already account for as much as 50% of all textile manufacturing activity and output. The technical textiles supply chain is a long and complex one, stretching from the manufacturers of polymers for technical fibers, coating and specialty membranes through to the converters and fabricators, who incorporate technical textiles into finished products or use them as an essentialpart of their industrial operations2. Industrial textiles account for one third of the total textile production in highly industrialized countries such as U.S. and Japan. The global demand and market for technical textiles and products is projected to increase from US$75 billion in 2006 to around US$130 billion in 20103. According to Technical Textile Intelligence report, the fastest growingsegments will be medical and hygiene products and geotextiles. World market of technical textiles is projected towards the annual growth rate of 3.6% during the period of 2000-2010. Asia is expected to account for 45% of the market share in 2010 in terms of the weight and volume growth will average between 4% - 5% per annum to year 20103. The leading international trade exhibition for technicaltextiles, Techtexil by Messe Frankfurt, defines 12 main application areas2; 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 floor coverings. Indutech: filtration, conveying, cleaningand other industrial uses. Medtech: hygiene and medical. Mobiltech: automobiles, shipping, railways and aerospace. Oekotech: environmental protection. Packtech: packaging. Protech: personal and property protection Sporttech: sports and leisure. To improve textile properties, the ongoing advancement in applications of nonwovens technology give both the economy and industry a boost. It has beenestablished in last few years that the characteristics of technical textiles can be enhanced by using nonwoven technology. For example, durability, breathability, water repellency, fire retardancy, antimicrobial properties and barrier properties etc. can be improved. Nonwoven accounts for about 40% of technical textiles in terms of tonnage. Nonwoven is a distinct class of fiber-based material withfabric characteristics and useful properties. ASTM defines Nonwoven as; ‘A textile structure produced by bonding or interlocking of fibers, or both accomplished by mechanical, chemical, thermal or solvent means and combination of there of’. It can also be defined as ‘A fabric made directly from fibers or from the chemicals from which the fibers themselves are made’. Nonwoven for technical textiles...
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