20 Introduction to Technical Textiles

S. Amsamani

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The word textile has been a part of mankind since the time eternal. Right from the very first intake of oxygen man has been roll with fabrics. More over even after his last breath fabrics is the only earthly item thrown into the flames along with his lifeless body. Viewing the growth of man from the stone age to this digital era, it is clear that textiles has also move from drapes of leaves, barks, skin to inbuilt electronic chips, gleaming garments. Textiles in the past were looked as material around the body and decorative items in room to increase beauty and comfort. The developments in textiles changed tremendously based upon its function in the nineteen century, which was well supported with the growth in field of science and technology, especially the computers. Slowly and steadily the non-clothing application of textiles in the area of industries started increasing twice the application of clothing. The processes of preparing special fabrics to defined purposes required well trained skilled worker along with modified specially designed sophisticated high end machines. Since they were used mainly in the industry they were rightly called as industrial textiles. Industrial textiles referred to categories used in manufacturing operation like filters, conveyor belts, abrasive substrates, electronic components, cables and insulation materials. Apart from these applications textiles uses are also spread to medical, hygiene, automobiles, sports, building constructions and agricultural field work. This excluded textiles used in the field of clothing and interior and exterior decorations. But many scientists and academics were not satisfied with the sort of terminology, therefore it was also named as “Performance Textiles”. This was further modified and finally in late 1980’s the words technical textile was framed in the biennially International Trade Exhibition for Technical textiles in Germany and also in Osaka, Japan.


At the end of the session the learner will be able to

  •  Develop a holistic understanding of the various sectors in technical textile industry
  •  Enable them to gain knowledge about the significance of technical textile products in human life
  •  Understand about the progress of Indian technical textile industry

Textile materials created chiefly for specific scientific functions and industrial applications than for its look and beauty is describe as technical textiles. It is also explained as non- aesthetic textile products in the free encyclopedia- Wikipedia. In a nut shell technical textiles is any fiber, yarn or fabric produced with a particular process and finish for a well-defined end use. Example –hundred percent cotton plain weave fabrics with antimicrobial finish as medical textiles whereas the same the same hundred percent cotton plain weave fabrics with fragrance finish as cloth textiles.


Based upon the function carried out by each fiber, yarn or fabric technical textiles is grouped in four major categories namely Mechanical, Exchange, Utility for day to day living and Protective. In mechanical functions pliability, resilience, tenacity and resistances are considered. For exchange functions substitute material used for separation, heat transfer and absorption are looked at. Eco systems and health care are wisely pooled together to form utility function Protective functions include shielded against electrical, IR, UV AND chemical harshness. This type of category covered all aspects of textile usage but it was not clearly understood therefore a new set was formulated depending upon the areas where it was used. This was spelled out as agro tech, build tech, cloth tech, geo tech, home tech, indu tech, med tech, mobile tech, oeko tech, pro tech and sports tech.

  • Agro tech is term used to describe the textile materials inclusive of all type of fiber, yarns and fabrics used in the area of farming, gardening, fish rearing, landscaping, indo plant cultivation and forestry. It is represented by the symbol of a single string of wheat. Examples are shade, anti-hail and bird safety nets, weed reduction mats, moisture retain mats, crop and fruit protection covers, fishing string and nets. Some of the common fibers used are cotton, jute, coir, nylon and polypropylene. The fabric construction techniques are weaving, knitting and nonwoven. Garware Wall Ropes, Netlon, Rishi Packers Ltd., Kwality nets, Unimin India Ltd. Malmo Exim Ltd., Fiberweb are some of the leading companies manufacturing agro textiles.
  • Built tech: Woven, nonwoven or knitted structured textile materials applied in the field of structural constructions like ground work, topped out, fitting out, plumbing, electrical work and building operations. It is represented by a house symbol with two windows on either side. Fibre reinforced concrete and foundation systems, woven and nonwoven structures to control acoustics, thin coated film fabrics in sun protection, laminated roof sheets, tinted glass interiors, building and raw material covering sheets, awnings and canopies, nets, floor and wall mounting and covering fabrics, Teflon and silicone coated fabrics for architectural structures. The common fibres used are cotton, jute, coir, nylon and polyester, glass and asbestos. Bharat Textile &Proofing Ltd., Entremonde Polyesters Ltd, Mafatlal Industries Ltd. Jindal Specialty Textiles Limited, Gokak Textiles are some of the leading companies manufacturing built textiles.
  • Cloth tech: This sector comprises of all type of clothing and accessories used for personal grooming like dresses, both basics or intimate wear, casual, formal and party wears, clothing materials and accessories like slippers, handbags and scarf symbolically represented by a picture of a shirt without collars. Freudenberg Non-woven India, Ashima Limited, Ahmedabad, Pasupathi Spinning and weaving Mills, Sky Industries Limited, Vardhaman Yarn Threads Limited are the outstanding producers of cloth textiles.
  • Geo tech can be described as textile material used for prevention of natural calamities and accidents. These specially engineering to solve the problems faced in the fields of marine and environmental safety. This is pictured as triangle with waves indicating river bed. As far as fibre use in this category is natural like jute, coir and other course fibres. Non woven technique is used for the production of geo textiles. The most common geotextiles are grids, nets, membranes, tubes and composites. Supreme Nonwovens Pvt. Ltd, Kusumgar Corporates, Techfab India Ltd, Garware Wall Ropes, Pacific Non-Woven. Strata Geosystems (I) Pvt.Ltd.are the most common industries producing geo textiles.
  • Home tech as the name indicates are the all type of fibre, yarns and fabrics which are used in the decoration of the interiors and exteriors of any civil structure or for the smooth function of various actives. They could be described as textile components in any part of the office, auditorium, malls, theatres and household application like fabrics used in or on furniture, floor coverings and linens used in bed, dinning, kitchen, living or bathroom linens. They are also used in the landscaping of buildings. Home tech is symbolically indicated as a piece of sofa. All type of fibres, fabric construction method and finishes are used in the manufacture of home textiles. Some manufactures of home textiles are Sleepwell Mattresses, Reliance Industreis Ltd. Ginni Filaments, Lakshmi Cotsyn Ltd. Kurlon Ltd, ShamkenMultifab, Riviera Home Furnishing P. Ltd .
  • Indu tech is the textile materials-fibre, yarn and fabric used in the industries. These textile products enhance the manufacturing sector to speed up quality production. It is represented by three moving gears close to each other. Depending on the uses, the fiber ranges from natural cotton to high performance finer like amides. The fabric construction also includes woven, nonwoven and knitted items. MRF Limited, Kusumgar Corporates, KhoslaProfil Pvt. Limited, Saertex India Pvt. Ltd, Owens Corning India Limited are some of the industries manufacturing indu textiles.
  • Medtech also known as medical textiles are the fiber, yarn and fabric used in the every aspect of medicine, health and personal care. These products are wide spread from soft delicate contact eye lens, diapers, and flexible suture threads to heavy and steady artificial limbs. A bandage is used as a symbol to show medtech. Generally the fibers used are natural or synthetic soft fibers. Weaving, knitting and nonwoven structures are used for the development of medtech products. Johnson & Johnson Ltd., Procter & Gamble Hygiene & Healthcare Ltd., Kimberly Clark Lever Ltd. and 3M India are the most popular industries manufacturing medical textiles.
  • Mobil tech is also known as automobile textiles. It includes the textile compounds like nylon wheels, safety seat belt, webbing, airbags, covers of automobiles, upholstery fabric in the vehicles, carpets, felts used for insulations, sun screens and blind found in different vehicles used in the road way, waterway, air way and space craft. Mobil tech is symbolically seen as a hand wheel. All types of fibres and fabric construction methods are used for the making of these textiles. Some of the companies manufacturing mobil tech are SRF, Century Enka and Nirlon, Bhilwara Textile Mills and Shamken, IFB Auto Liv India.
  • Oekotech mainly aims protection of the environmental. It is represented as a tree with a semi-circle indicating a rainbow above. Generally natural fibers are used for the making oeko textiles. All the three type of fabric construction methods are used for the making of these textiles.
  • Protech is the textile fiber, yarn or fabric used for protection especially in the work area. It is also known protective textiles. Generally it includes clothing, accessories and specially engineered items to safe guard the individual from hazardous environment like smoke, heat and chemicals. This group of textiles is indicated by a helmet. These fabrics include small gloves, cold or heat protective cloths, Bullet and boom proof jackets. These are made from high performance fiber with special fabric construction method and finishes. Some of the companies producing these products are Rajasthan Spg. &Wvg. Mills, Digjam Mills, Jayashree Textiles, Kusumgar Corporates, EntremondePolycoater.
  • Pack tech are indicated by the textile materials used for covering any product considering it safe handle and transport. They include heavy to light weight, rigid to flexible packaging textile yarns and fabrics used in the manufacturing of industrial, farming, and consumer use goods like polyolefin, leno woven and non-woven bags, jute sacks, soft dip tea packs. It is symbolically indicated as a cartoon box.Some of the companies making these products are Jai Corp Ltd.,Gloster Jute Mills Ltd. Ganesh Polytex Ltd. Rishi Packers, Bright Packaging Pvt. Ltd., PriyaFil Group.
  • Sport tech is the textile fibre, yarn and fabrics used for the effective conduct of any game played. This includes items like shoes, nets bats, balls, dresses worn for the comfort movement and other sports items. The fibres range from simple natural fibres to high tech fibres like amides. All the methods of fabric constructions are used for the production of sports textiles. Even special finishes are given to increase the feasibility of the playerIt is represented with symbol of a shoe.Adidas India Marketing Pvt. Ltd, SVG Fashions Limited, Lakhani India Ltd, Reebok India Ltd, Action Shoes, Bata India Limited, Cosco India Ltd., Liberty Shoes are the leading companies producing sports textiles.

Though the technical textiles has been framed and used after the nineteenth century, the development of technical textiles dates back the use of fibers for various other applications apart from clothing. The major developments which marked the phases of the growth of technical textiles are as follows:

  •  Production and use of natural fiber materials: Natural fibre like cotton was always looked upon as a clothing fabric. But during the early period of the 20th century cotton was used as an industrial fabric. In many cases it was mixed with jute or other coarse vegetable fibers namely jute, flax, sisal for the production of heavy industrial and transport fabrics like canvas, ropes. These were also finished for special purposes.
  •  The spin ability of coarse hairy fibers (jute) with the application of whale oil, which act as a lubricant. This discovery resulted production of jute fabrics which in turn enhancedpackage material, upholstery, carpentry, felt roofing and linoleum flooring. This also established various end uses like rope making and netting with sisal fibers.
  • Discover of polymer products as correct substitute for natural fiber products like jute sacks. This is reasonable cheap and these polymer products were able to solve the technical problems faced in the use of natural fibers due to strength and resistance against microbial attack.
  • Use of wool fibers for insulating needs especially in industries. Though the application of wool was not economical, it served as the best solution for production of fabrics with inherent flame resistance.
  •  The application of silk for surgical suture was a great leap in the development of technical textiles and medicine. This discovery has been seen even in early 19th century at Japan and Lyons, France. Silk being a natural filament protein fiber could claim to be biodegradable suture. Due to its innovation the healing ability after any open surgery increased.
  • The commercial production of viscose rayon dates to 1910, and by 1920 its industrial application spread manufacture of reinforce materials for tyres. The blend of fiber with rubber also saw a new phase of development resulted in increased strength, modulus, uniformity and resistance against temperature. This development enhanced the production of vehicle parts especially for the making of rubberised goods namely driver safety belts, conveyor belts and water or oil tubes.
  • The introduction of polyamide (1939) displayed as number of new applications like mountaineering/ hiking ropes, parachute and ship sail materials. These fibers are reinforced and are used in vehicles across the world.
  • Production of polyester in 1950’s; an economical fiber to been an alternative to viscose.

The application of polyester fibers was limited to house hold textiles, but later or it expanded to more technical applications.

  •  The introduction of polyolefin in 1960’s was yet another important development in the growth of technical textiles. Polyolefin, a thin film or tape fiber find numerous applications like rope making, netting, package lining and carpet backing. Apart from that it was also re engineered to suit artificial play grounds.
  •  The development of high quality nonwoven fabrics especially developed based on the qualities of polyolefin like hydrophobicity and low resistance to temperature. The non woven technology extended to use of viscose for hygiene applications like diapers. The technology even extended in mass production of spun bonding and melt blowing fabrics.
  •  In the late 1980’s the slow introduction of high performance fibers marked a significant change in the growth of technical textiles. The commercial use of p-aramids and m-aramids for production of clothing to withstand high temperature and bullet proof was a dramatic impulse for the up gradation of technical textiles. The use of high performance fibers extended to other areas like protection garments, filtration fabrics in industries.
  •  Though carbon fiber was available since 1960’s its market value increased with the increase in its application in aero and space textiles. Carbon fibers ranked the first in the war front as reinforced fuel tanks and built textiles as creation of safe earth quake zone.
  • The introduction of glass and ceramic fibers also gained popularity. These fibers layed a strong foundation for the production of light weight, high temperature resistant vehicle parts as a substitute for metal heavy parts.





6.1.1.   Steel


Metallic fibers tend to conduct electricity there by diminish the effect of static shock so they were mixed with other fibers and applied in carpets. Ropes and cords were manufactured with steel wires to produce technical textiles.


6.1.2.    Gold and silver

  • Silver is a proven antimicrobial agent which can inhibit a wide range of microorganisms.
  • Silver and gold nano particles were applied on fabric to give functional finishes.
  • Metallic fibers tend to conduct electricity there by diminish the effect of static shock so they were mixed with other fibers and applied in carpets. Ropes and cords were manufactured with steel wires to produce technical textiles.

6.1.2.    Gold and silver

  • Silver is a proven antimicrobial agent which can inhibit a wide range of microorganisms.
  • Silver and gold nano particles were applied on fabric to give functional finishes.



6.2.1       Glass

Glass fibers have excellent thermal stability, tenacity with less brittleness. It is used as reinforcing fiber along with many polymers.


6.2.1    Ceramic

Resistance to high temperature, resistance to corrosion and shock along greater insulating capacity of 2300oF makes ceramic fiber a superior fiber.


6.2.2     Asbestos

Asbestos absorbs sound and has resistance towards heat and chemicals which made it a material apt for fireproofing and construction.


6.2.3    Graphite

The qualities of graphite fiber are high tensile strength and good chemical resistance with tolerance to temperature.


6.3.Natural Fibers


6.3.1     Bamboo

Bamboo fibers are cellulosic fibers with inhering antimicrobial property, coolness and well-known as green fibre mainly used for hygiene applications.


6.3.2     Coir

Coir fibers are mostly processed into non-woven geo textiles, geo membranes and for stuffing and insulation purposes.


6.3.3     Wool

Wool, the protein fiber with natural flame retardant property can be used as functional textiles. 6.3.4 Cotton Cotton, the chief fiber is noted for its absorbency and coolness is mixed with other fibers and used for medical textiles, cloth tech, home tech etc.


6.3.5     Jute

Jute because of its strength and availability with low cost is applied for making geo textile materials and pack tech material.


  6.3.6     Silk

Silk is one of the strongest natural fibre obtained from silkworms. Silk’s absorbency makes it comfortable to wear in warm weather and is often used for clothing such as shirts, ties, blouses, formal dresses and several other apparels.


6.3.7     Hemp

Hemp is a commonly used term for high growing varieties of cannabis plant refined into products such as oil, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, paper and fuel.


6.3.8     Linen

Linen is made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linumusitatissimum. Though it is laborious to manufacture it is absorbent and valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather. Certain products include aprons, bags, tablecloths, bed spreads, women’s wear and so on.


6.3.9     Mohair


Mohair, a durable and resilient fibre is notable for its high luster and sheen giving it a nickname the “Diamond fibre”. It is usually silk-like made from the hair of Angora goat. Mohair is warm in winter and cool in summer due to its insulating and wicking properties. It is used in variety of apparel applications such as scarves, suits, coats, socks, home furnishings and so on.


 6.4.Regenerated fibers


6.4.1     Rayon


Rayon being regenerated cellulose is made from wood pulp. Rayon is widely claimed to have the same comfort properties as natural fibers. It cotton and linen in feel. They have been considered soft, smooth, cool, absorbent.a versatile fibre and is is similar to silk, wool, comfortable and highly


6.4.2    Lyocell

Lyocell, obtained from bleached wood pulp was first developed as Tencel fabric. Staple fibres of lyocell are used in everyday fabrics such as denim, chino, underwear, casual wear and towels.


6.5.Synthetic polymers


6.5.1      Polyester

Polyester is commonly referred to as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyesters include naturally occurring chemicals. Fabrics woven or knitted from polyester thread are used in apparel and home furnishings.


6.5.2    Nylon

Nylon one of the commonly used thermoplastic polymer was frequently referred as polyamide. Its applications include fabrics, bridal veils, package paper, carpets, musical strings, tents and rope.


6.5.3    Kevlar

Kevlar which is related to aramids was developed by Stephanie in 1965. Because of its high tensile strength to weight ratio, it is used in woven material as mooring lines and other underwater applications.


6.5.4     Spandex

Spandex also known as lycra is a synthetic fiber which is more durable than natural rubber. It is known for its exceptional elasticity. Because of its elasticity and strength, it has been incorporated into wide range of garments especially in skin-tight dresses.




7.1 Metals


Braiding: Braiding is considered as one of the simplest way of fabric formation involving diagonal interlacing of yarns. Braiding does not require shedding, filling, insertion and beat-up.


7.2 Regenerated fibers


7.2.1  Wet laying


A modified paper making process is termed as wet – laid nonwovens. Three main characteristic stages in the manufacture of nonwoven bonded fabrics pertain to swelling and dispersion of the fibre in water, filtration, drying and bonding of the web.


7.2.2   Thermal bonding


Heat is identified to be a main element in thermal bonding which involves heating of the thermoplastic fibres to its melting point in order to resist mechanical deformation. Thermal bonding could be further classified into hot calendaring, belt calendaring, through-air thermal bonding, ultrasonic bonding and radiant-heat bonding.


7.2.3  Chemical bonding


Structural integrity in nonwovens is achieved by the use of chemical binders. The construction of a nonwoven with suitable binders is to achieve improved characteristics such as strength, softness, adhesion, firmness, durability, stiffness, fire retardance, antimicrobial properties, and resistance to wash and acid.


7.2.4 Needle punching


One of the oldest methods of producing non woven products using needle loom is termed as needle punching. Needle punching system is used to bond dry laid and spun laid webs. Needle punched fabrics are produced by entangling some fibres when barbed needles are pushed through a fibrous web. The areas of application include blankets, shoe linings, paper makers, felts, heat and sound insulation, medical fabrics and geotextiles.


7.2.5  Spun lacing


A nonwoven fabric produced by entangling fibres in a preformed web using high pressure, columnar waterjets is termed as spunlacing.


7.2.6  Stitch bonding


Stitch bonding refers to a bonding technique for nonwovens in which the fibers are connected by stitches sewn or knitted through the web.


7.3 Natural fibers


7.3.1 Weaving

The interlacement of warp and weft yarns is called weaving. Different interlacement techniques results in different fabric structure.


7.3.2  Knitting

Interloping of one yarn system into vertical columns and horizontal rows of loops called wales and courses respectively is referred to as knitting. Weft and warp knitting are the main classifications of knitting.




8.1 Rope


Ropes made of steel have high breaking strength and is used for heavy duties such as mining and bridge construction.


8.2 Net


Net is any textile resulting in open spaces between the yarns that are looped or knotted at their intersections. Its usage can vary depending on its characteristics and durability


8.3 Threads


Threads are used in garments, upholstery, air supported fabric structures and geo textiles to join different components by forming a seam.


8.4 Technical Fabrics


Technical textiles are materials designed for specific applications requiring concrete and demanding properties. They are expanding in areas such as reinforcement, drainage, filtration, protective textiles, sports textiles, agro, medi and so on.


8.5 Wadding


Furnishings have been increasingly using fiberfill products and wadding. Fibres used for this purpose are commonly bonded using self-cross linking styrene co-polymers which have good chemical resistance and ageing properties.



   Indian textile industry shows a positive growth rate especially with reference to technical textiles. The market size has increased from Rs. 70,151 Cores in 2012–13 to Rs. 1,09,659 Crores in 2014-15. This is also expected to rise to Rs. 1,58,540 Crores by 2016. The main sectors in which India concentrates is medical, petroleum products, agro, geo, protective, sports textiles and industrial textiles. Indian government has developed many sectors, and established centre of excellence like The South India Textile Research Association (SITRA), Coimbatore for Medtech, The Synthetic & Art Silk Mills’ Research Association (SASMIRA), Mumbai for Agritech, Bombay Textile Research Association (BTRA), Mumbai for Geotech, Northern India Textile Research Association (NITRA) for Protech,


DKTE Society’s Textile and Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, Kolhapur for nonwovens, PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore for Indutech, Ahmedabad Textile


Industry’s  Research  Association  (ATIRA),  Ahmedabad  for  composites  and  Wool Research Association (WRA), Thane for Sportech. Government also has funded projects and subsidies and Technology Up gradation Fund Schemes for tapping the technical textile market.


    Technical Textiles plays a significant role in every aspect of human life. Textiles are humans soul mates by serving our the basic needs like clothing to life saving implants, as protective textiles during war and work, make travelling ease and safety, protects environment, reinforce and strengthen our buildings and constructions, makes sporty life ease and comfort, yielding more crops by shielding and caring our agriculture products, providing us console and safety inside home, laying as membrane protecting land areas, well packing of foods and commodities for increase shelf life and for smoothening the hectic industries for effective production.

you can view video on Introduction to Technical Textiles

Web links

  • http://texmin.nic.in/sector/note_technical_textiles_ammt.pdf
  • http://technotex.gov.in/
  • http://www.ittaindia.org/index.php