EU industry of textile intermediates: the new driving role of technical textiles

One of the sectors that in recent years has experienced dynamic growth in terms of production both worldwide and at a European level is undoubtedly that of non-woven fabrics and fabrics for technical use.

This segment is represented by a wide range of products – whose main assets are non-woven fabrics and impregnated fabrics, or coated – obtained through processes that do not include weaving and knitwear, such as resin-based fabrics, glass fibers, TPU and PVC. The range of application of this category of products is extremely wide, ranging from the automotive industry to geo-textile, from clothing to medical.

World production of non-woven fabrics and fabrics for technical use (1995-2018)

World production increased from around 37 billion euros in 2009 to over 62 billion in 2018, for a total increase of 70%, equal to an average annual growth of 6%. In Europe, on the other hand, production grew over the same period from 14.6 to 22 billion euro, an increase of 50% – corresponding to an annual growth rate of 4.7%.

Focusing on the EU market, in 2018 European production covered more than one third of the world manufacture of non-woven fabrics and fabrics for technical use, compared with an average of 23% for other products of textile intermediates.

Among the countries of the Union, Germany stands out, with a production of 6 billion euros (pre-estimates 2018) and Italy, whose production is estimated to exceed 3 billion euros at year-end. Furthermore, in the European textile intermediates sector, the share of non-woven fabric and technical fabric production is higher than the rest of the world (28% vs. 18%).

EU production 1995-2018 (constant prices)

The graphs above represent the European production of intermediate goods in textiles and leather (left) and non-woven fabrics and fabrics for technical use (right). It is possible to observe how the graph on the right presents a decidedly more marked positive trend than the left one, especially taking into consideration the period 2009-2018.

In contrast to the total category, moreover, production in recent years is higher than in 2009, a sign of a sector that found elements of competitiveness relevant to European companies, such as factors of qualitative differentiation and new fields of application.

The Old Continent appears competitive in the production of these goods, characterized by a significant use in hi-tech supply chains, such as automotive and medical, and in high value-added sectors, such as furniture and technical clothing.

EU exports of non-woven fabrics and fabrics for technical use (2000-2021)

On the basis, finally, of the forecasts formulated by StudiaBo within the Ulysses Information System, we note the continuation of favorable trends regarding the exports from the EU, for which an expected growth of 4% per year is estimated for the next three years, in line with the previous period, with a volume of exports that will increase from 15 to 17 billion euro.

These estimates represent an opportunity for technology suppliers, who will be able to develop their markets in a sector in strong economic and technological development with the European Union among the protagonists.

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