The global textiles industry has been struggling to cope with reduced demand
and downward price pressure driven by the current global economic situation.
With no easy fix in sight, the industry is increasingly turning to innovation
in order to maintain margins and open up new markets.
While early commentators predicted major breakthroughs from nanotechnologies
in fields such a medicine and electronics, the textiles industry has been, and
continues to be one of the fastest initial adopters of nanotechnology products
The innovations seen in the textile industry includes both innovations i.e.
the development of recent products to deal with present consumer demand, or
process innovation which leads to lesser unit costs, larger capacity and
better quality. In the near future, the key opening for nanotechnology in the
textiles industry is in product innovation, not process innovation.
In the textile industry, nanotechnologies are more likely to be employed to
produce new materials, or improve the properties of existing materials, than
to trim down the production cost or improve quality. Although still in its
infancy, nanotechnology is already demonstrating to be a helpful tool in
improving the performance of textiles, added value and additional revenue.
Smaller players will find it hard to adopt new technologies due to tight
margins and cost of switching. Larger textile conglomerates with multiple
product sectors are better placed to be winners. The highest growth
opportunities (or rate of adoption) will be in technical textiles and non-cost
sensitive products such as sport or military textiles. Barriers remain high
for the highly cost sensitive clothing market, which makes up 60% of the
market. Nanotechnology will provide incremental improvements to existing
textile sectors, but offer high growth in nonconventional sectors.