The Rupp Report: Successful Technical Textiles (Part II)

The Rupp Report takes a further look at the “Commerzbank Report”, from author Corporate Sector Analyst Jürgen Grebe with the Germany-based Commerzbank. This time, the focus is on more specific European facts and figures.
Modest Growth In Europe
Based on production levels from 2007 to 2013, the European technical textiles sector — including nonwovens and textile-reinforced fiber composites — have grown slightly more strongly than the gross domestic product (GDP). However, said Grebe, “Economic influences clearly had an impact in the crisis years of 2008 and 2009, causing a sharp drop of the production in all three sub-segments. The main factor here was the economic downturn in Europe as a consequence of the European debt crisis, as well as the global economic slowdown.”
Nonwovens A Key Factor
Growth in Europe also has been driven by the nonwovens segment, where production increased by more than 11 percent since 2007. Expected is a further moderate production growth of 2 percent this year. In the other (true) technical textiles segment, even stronger growth was reported up to 2011.
Overall, the report says, the expectation in terms of growth in the technical textiles segment seems to accelerate slightly in the short to medium term. This year, the production index could increase again by 2 percent.
Composites Back On Track
In contrast, the composites segment still has not regained its high level of 2007. Trends in the construction and automotive construction sectors — and particularly in the premium vehicle and truck segments — where lightweight components play a mostly important role and which had already declined sharply in 2008 — are likely to have had a greater impact here than for other technical textiles. For composites too, Grebe expects further moderate growth in Europe in 2014. “Given the progressive recovery in the abovementioned customer sectors, growth could be even higher than for other technical textiles,” he said.
Composites — a lightweight composite material, which consist of a textile reinforcing structure, mainly glass, but also increasingly carbon, aramid or basalt fibers — is embedded in a matrix material — often a duroplastic resin. If this involves pre-impregnated structures, so-called “prepregs”, these are mainly produced as reels and can be finished using various processes to form multilayered structures. A distinction also is made in terms of stability between so-called low and high performance composites. The fiber material and the length of the fiber determine the degree of firmness. Only short fibers are therefore used for low performance composites, while the production of high performance composites is based on the utilization of long or continuous fibers.
Table 1: Global Growth For Composites

Sector (million metric tons) Global Market
Share 2010 (%)
CAGR 05-10
Construction 31 4.4
Vehicle construction, transport 19 4.9
Electrical engineering, electronics 16 5.4
Pipeline and container construction 12 5.2
Consumer goods, e.g. sports equipment 6 3.2
Shipbuilding 6 2.2
Wind energy 3 10.1
Aviation 1 8.9
Other 6 3.8
Total 100 4.4

Sources: Gherzi, estimates Commerzbank
The global market for technical textiles has grown strongly in recent years and the global importance of technical textiles is generally significantly underestimated.
Table 2: Global Market (in General) For Technical Textiles.

2011 Million Metric Tons % Billion USD %
Technical textiles 25.0 61 133 52
Nonwovens 7.6 19 26 10
Composites 8.0 20 94 38
Total 40.6 100 253 100

 Source: Gherzi, estimates Commerzbank
Based on various estimates, global market volume for technical textiles excluding nonwovens and composites amounted to around 22 million metric tons in 2012 or respectively $133 billion. Including nonwovens and composites, global market volume even exceeds $250 billion or 40 million metric tons. Based on fiber consumption in metric tons, the proportion of technical textiles is slightly more than 25 percent of total global textile production. In the last decade, global sales of technical textiles by the narrower definition — excluding nonwovens and composites — have grown by more than 30 percent. The global market volume will probably reach $160 billion by 2018.
Asia, headed by China, dominates the global technical textiles market in terms of volume, by value the picture shifts in favor of the developed markets and producers. China and India account for almost half of global production. Global market shares for technical textiles 2011 are

Region %                 
China 30
European Union 16
India 18
Rest of the world 17

Sources: CIRFS, Edana
Nonwovens have been the fastest growing segment in Europe and also worldwide.
Growth in nonwovens has been even stronger than for other technical textiles; sales and production have more than doubled in the decade before 2012. China also already overtook the United States as the world market leader for nonwovens in 2013, with a volume-related share of 28 percent of the global market and is also the global market leader for nonwovens.
The European composites market has shown only a sideways trend in recent years, although with marked regional differences.
There is a very varied picture for composites, which ultimately reflects the economic recovery in Europe and globally. While Germany-based producers have steadily increased their production following steep downturns in 2008 and 2009, production has declined in the last two years, particularly in Spain and France. Germany also is the European market leader for composites, currently accounting for about a quarter of global market volume. It is striking here that neighboring Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia, viewed in isolation now account for higher production volumes respectively than any other European country – driven by high demand in the construction, tank and pipeline sectors.

Editor’s Note: Frankfurt-based Commerzbank AG would like to mention that “any information in this report is based on data obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but no representations or guarantees are made by Commerzbank Group with regard to the accuracy of the data. The opinions and estimates contained herein constitute our best judgment at this date and time, and are subject to change without notice.”

February 24, 2015