India’s Race to $40 Billion in Technical Textiles: Innovation Holds the Key

In a bid to revolutionize its textile industry, India had set its sights on an audacious target: achieving a staggering turnover of $40 billion in the technical textiles sector by 2024. However, this ambitious goal seems to be slipping away due to a lack of crucial research and development (R&D) efforts and a shortage of innovative breakthroughs.

Despite showcasing a commendable growth rate of 8-12% in recent years, the sector’s overall value amounted to only $21.95 billion in the fiscal year 2021-2022, leaving India far from its lofty aspirations. It’s clear that the nation is facing significant challenges in realizing its potential in the realm of technical textiles.

One particular area where India is falling behind is in the manufacturing of high-performance fibres, which have become vital across various industries, including healthcare. Instead of producing these fibers domestically, India finds itself heavily dependent on imports, while countries like Vietnam, South Korea, and Taiwan have surged ahead, leaving India playing catch-up. Ashwin Thakkar, Vice-President of the Textile Association of India, voiced his concern over this disparity, emphasizing the urgent need for India to bridge the gap.

However, all hope is not lost. PP Raichurkar, the Director of MANTRA, an independent textile research body based in Surat, believes that ongoing research in technical textiles will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the industry. Raichurkar envisions a surge in demand for medical, biodegradable, industrial, sports, healthcare, automobile, and housing textiles in the coming years, ultimately transforming the textile landscape.

The technical textile industry focuses on producing modified textiles and apparels through advanced technological processes, resulting in fabrics with exceptional strength, insulation, and thermal resistance. These cutting-edge materials, including the likes of nomex, kevlar, and spandex, find widespread applications across sectors such as healthcare, automobile manufacturing, industries, housing, and security.

A recent report by the textile ministry revealed that the global technical textile market, valued at $260 billion in 2020, is projected to surpass $300 billion by 2025. The industry’s growth will be driven by factors such as innovative R&D, concerns over climate change, the unique properties of technical textiles, and the global shift from natural to man-made fibers.

Despite India’s prominent position in the global textile market, technical textiles account for a mere 10-12% share in the country’s overall textiles and clothing industry. In contrast, many developed nations allocate a substantial 30-70% of their textile production to technical textiles.

To overcome these challenges and propel the sector’s growth, the National Technical Textile Mission plans to invest a substantial sum of ₹1,480 crore ($204 million). A significant portion of this funding, ₹1,000 crore ($138 million), will be dedicated to bolstering research and development efforts.

Key players in India’s technical textile industry, including Welspun Group, SRF, Garware Technical Fibers, and Arvind, are leading the charge in driving innovation and sustainability in the sector. These industry leaders, with a focus on inclusive and sustainable growth, are harnessing the potential of technical textiles to meet consumer demands and contribute to the nation’s overall development.

The future of India’s textile industry now hinges on its ability to bridge the innovation gap, foster robust R&D initiatives, and seize emerging opportunities in areas such as nanofibers, filtration fabrics, and carbon nanotubes. As the world increasingly recognizes the transformative potential of technical textiles .


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