Non-woven fabrics, precisely called non-wovens, is a term that was lesser known a decade ago. Today, the class of non-wovens is quite familiar across the world, and the industry of non-wovens is one of the most dynamically growing verticals. Unlike traditional woven fabrics, these non-wovens are textiles or sheet products, which do not have yarns but are based on individual fiber webs. The fibers are long and sizeable, and are usually bonded intermittently without rigidity.
While different chemical, thermal, and mechanical processes are used in the manufacturing of non-woven fabrics, they exhibit a host of properties, which are not observed in case of conventional fabrics. A few of the features include elasticity, absorbency and filterability, and flame resistance. From textile to consumer products and automobiles to construction, non-wovens find a wealth of applications in any business vertical. Applications in consumer products, especially in personal care segment, are however among the most prominent ones.
The Global Market Status
Subsequent to the technological advancements in industry practices, the innovation in non-woven fabric making and applications is also gaining new, expanded platform. The global market for non-woven fabrics is currently thriving at a significant rate and is set to surpass US$ 35 Bn in 2016 revenues. Initially, non-wovens were primarily produced as disposable products. However, growing sustainable environmental concerns over the years have revolutionized the world of non-wovens with innovation of a variety of non-disposable and environmentally friendly products.
Although there are multiple trends impacting the non-woven fabrics industry, here are a few key trends that tend to influence the market to a greater extent.
Disposable Non-wovens Continue to Outpace Non-disposables or Durables
Introduction of durable non-woven fabrics certainly created a buzz in the world of non-wovens but the consumption of disposable non-woven fabric products still continues to dominate the global market. The scenario will remain the same in the near future as well. Disposable diapers, wipes, adult incontinence products, medical and healthcare materials, and feminine hygiene products are typically more expensive than other products but consumers prefer them anyway, owing to their reliable quality and high performance. Asia Pacific, especially India, has recently emerged as an attractive market for both, disposable and durable non-wovens.
Stable Supply and Pricing of Raw Materials Persist
The use of a particular raw material for manufacturing non-wovens has always been an uncertain aspect. However, petroleum is one of the top raw materials that most of the non-woven binders, polypropylene polymer and fibre, polyester polymer and fibre, bicomponent fibres, and polyethylene polymer rely on. Although consumer demand, process efficiency, and product performance play a decisive role in selecting the right raw material, price can also be a key factor in several cases. The supply and prices of petroleum and other commonly used raw materials has been stable since the past few years, and will continue the stability in the near future as well.
Novel Applications Continue to Hit the Industry
Discovery of each new end-use technical application of non-wovens has been setting a breakthrough in the industry. Some of the recent applications are no exception. A textile design researcher based in Nottingham Trent University has recently pioneered the development of a non-woven material using yarn. This would be the world’s first yarn-based non-woven, and will be efficiently used in smart textiles, particularly as a space cloth with wearable electronics. In addition to application in clothing, this new yarn-based non-woven fabric may also have potential applications in other products, such as wall coverings.
These are the key trends that have been underpinning the non-wovens industry; some of them positively influence the market while other hold a negative impact on the overall market growth. Despite a few major challenges to its growth, the world of non-wovens is looking forward to several more application findings, which could dramatically boost the market dynamics in the future.
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Summary: The global non-woven fabrics market expected to cross robust revenues of US$ 35 Bn in 2016. Disposables continue to dominate durable non-woven fabrics globally.