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Europe’s Technical Textiles Sector Grew Faster than its Economy

European manufacturers saw stronger growth in technical textiles for the 2007-2013 period than it its overall economy, according to a recently released report from German-based international bank, Commerzbank.

Non-woven fabric production, which has increased 11 percent since 2011, contributed substantially to this growth. In 2015, growth in this area and other technical textiles are expected to see a moderate 2 percent rise.

“Technical textiles are conquering more and more new application areas and are superseding conventional materials,” the report noted. Textile products like reinforcement materials used in concrete construction and artificial arteries for medical technology are aiding in the sector’s advancement.

Germany is regarded as Europe’s market leader in technical textiles—nearly 50 percent of the country’s textile production is in technical textiles. The sector comprises roughly 600 companies with more than 20 employees and an estimated turnover of more than $6 billion euros each, the report noted.

Jürgen Grebe, corporate sector analyst and author of the Commerzbank report said, “The German sector is regarded – also thanks to the excellent networking with the German research sector, which is itself unique worldwide – as the global technology market leader,” adding that, “Looked at that way, the German sector is predominantly the result of a successful structural change on the part of producers of traditional textiles to become highly technical and specialist manufacturers of high-quality textile products,” the report noted.

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The global market for conventional textiles is set to grow from roughly $130 billion to as much as $160 billion through to 2018, according to the report—and sectors like geotextiles (permeable fabrics that when used in association with soil, can separate, filter, reinforce, protect, or drain) and eco textiles are gaining in significance.

Worldwide sales of non-woven fabrics will increase from $33 billion to more than $42 billion by 2017, according to the report. And at present, the global market volume for fiber-reinforced materials is estimated to be just under $100 billion, with the total global market volume for technical textiles at more than $250 billion.

“Viewed regionally the best outlook is attributed to the Asian market, headed by China. Yet other threshold countries are gaining in significance for German manufacturers, whose export quota for technical textiles in 2013 amounted to 62% and to 58% for non-woven fabrics,” the report noted. “In this respect German producers are increasingly worried by a lack of know-how protection and rising administrative costs, for example in the use of origination regulations for primary materials, as well as the development of energy costs.”