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The Rupp Report
Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

The Indian Textile Industry Is Diversifying

By Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

India is known to be a traditional textile-producing country. For hundreds of years, textiles in general, and cotton in particular, were major industries for this emerging country. India is among the world’s top producers of yarns and fabrics, and the export quality of its products is ever-increasing. Under pressure from neighboring countries, and from the great domestic need for new textile products for various applications, the Indian textile industry is shifting to new areas with textiles for industrial end-uses.

Industrial Fabrics

According to forecasts made by the Indian government, the market for technical textiles in the automotive industry, infrastructure development and medical supplies is growing at an annual rate of 3.5 percent and is anticipated to reach a market volume of $9.15 billion next year.

That’s why technical textiles are an emerging area for investment in India. Though India is the second-largest textile economy in the world after China, its contribution in the global technical textiles industry is still very small. The global market size of technical textiles is estimated to have a volume of 16.71 million metric tons (mmt) with a value of $92.88 billion and is expected to increase to 23.77 mmt with a value of $127 billion by the year 2010. Technical textiles account for more than 25 percent of all fibers consumed and almost 50 percent of the total textile activity in certain industrialized countries. In China, technical textiles accounted for 20 percent of the total textile consumption in the year 2000. On the other hand, the consumption in India is much lower. According to Indian market experts, this may be at least 7 percent, if one considers ropes, tire cords, belting products and tarpaulins to be part of the sector. And for nonwovens, the share is only about 1 percent compared to yarn volumes.

The production of different items for the technical textiles industry has been slowly but steadily increasing in India. However, there is lack of data regarding status of the domestic technical textiles industry. The Indian industry produces items for all segments of the technical textiles industry though, although in varying quantities. Some items are produced in significant quantity, while others are produced in small quantity, with most of the requirement being met through imports. The unorganized, fragmented production of technical textile items on a small scale is also significant.

Techtextil India

The technology used by the small- and medium-scale companies is, by and large, traditional. Not many projects are based on state-of-the-art-technology comparable to that of other global players. The reason for this low level of technology could be attributed to non-availability of indigenous machinery and also a lack of knowledge about the latest machinery available or risk perception in such investment.

This will change rapidly in the future. One step in this direction is the first Techtextil India, International Trade Fair for Technical Textiles and Nonwovens, which will take place October 10-12 in Mumbai. According to organizer Messe Frankfurt GmbH, the debut of Techtextil India has already generated a high degree of interest within the Indian textile industry. Manufacturers and investors looking to widen their product base are planning their visit from all over the country. The response from overseas is similarly high, with international manufacturers looking to take their first steps into the promising Indian market.

Main Regions Of Growth
Though spread over the country, it can be said that the main growth in technical textiles is taking place in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Automotive products manufacturing is positioning itself near the automotive centers, which mainly are Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Pune (Maharashtra), Vapi, Surat (Gujarat), Gurgaona (Haryana) and Noida (Uttar Pradesh).

Medical and hygiene products manufacturing is gaining a foothold in dynamic states such as Gujarat and Maharashtra. To propel technical textiles, especially nonwovens, the Gujarat state government is offering a 10-percent capital subsidy with a cap of Rs 10 million. The Central Government (Ministry of Textiles) is also initiating special incentives for technical textiles within the framework of Technology Upgradation Fund scheme.

Increasing Production
Indian companies such as Grasim, which produces viscose, and Reliance, which produces polyester (PET), are creating market awareness through various seminars and visits to nonwovens manufacturers around the country. Grasim is installing a spunlace showroom pilot line to foster the medical/hygiene/wipes segment.

Cotton, especially bleached cotton, is primarily used to produce cosmetic cotton pads for export. Still, there is not much familiarity of nonwovens within the Indian cotton industry, although the interest is growing, and performance of Ginni Filaments is watched eagerly.

Techtextil will increase the knowledge base for technical textiles and nonwovens. Two conferences, the Techtextil-Symposium India on October 10, and the High-Tex Syposium from Germany will offer more than 20 presentations about the latest developments and prospects of markets, technologies, materials and applications. Textile World’s sister publication, Textile World Asia, will contribute to the seminar with a paper titled, “Industrial Fabrics for Traditional Textile Manufacturers — Opportunities and Obstacles.”

September 5, 2007