Technical textiles have applications in virtually every field--from making tea bags to protecting river banks.
The Rs340 crore Ginni Filaments Ltd exports most of the so-called non-woven fabric produced at a 12,000-tonne plant that opened in Gujarat in January. Last month, it also started making wound dressings with the material at a unit in Uttarakhand.
Poor demand and the absence of sufficient hygiene awareness means the company has to ship most of the new product line to the US and European markets, but chairman and managing director Shishir Jaipuria is betting that will change and local demand will eventually outpace production.
“India has a big potential because medical tourism is growing and a host of private doctors coming from overseas to work here need the best of hygienic textiles,” says Jaipuria, who invested Rs130 crore to set up the plant in Gujarat.
Textiles, as consumers know them, are used to make clothes, furnishings and kitchen rags. Jaipuria and other entrepreneurs are turning to so-called technical textiles that have applications in virtually every field—from protecting river banks to reinforcing bridges and roads to making face masks, baby diapers, tea bags and even cricket pitch covers.
It’s a growing and potentially lucrative market in India as foreign firms venture into the country and local companies try to get a foothold overseas, experts say.
Companies such as SRF Ltd and Neo Corp International Ltd, which recently diversified into manufacturing specialized fabric for use in civil engineering and agriculture, have acquired overseas firms in recent months.
Big potential:Ginni Filaments’ Ahmedabad plant from where the firm exports most of its non-woven fabric.
The Rs1,615 crore SRF, which makes fabrics for conveyor belts and nylon tyre cord used for reinforcing wheels of heavy vehicles, bought Thai Baroda Industries Ltd of Thailand and Industrial Technical Textiles (Pty) Ltd, based in South Africa.
The company is now investing Rs270 crore in a polyester yarn unit to make high-performance reinforcement fabric for use in radial tyres, said Mukund Trivedi, a company spokesman.
Neo Corp. purchased UK-based Euro Plast Ltd for $2.5 million (Rs12 crore today), and is investing Rs65 crore to expand its plant in Madhya Pradesh, which started last year.
The Rs400 crore Garware-Wall Ropes Ltd, world’s third largest producer of polymer ropes, fish and port nets, is exploring agro textiles.
Finnish company Ahlstrom Corp. is spending €38 million (about Rs250 crore today) to set up a non-woven textile plant in a planned special economic zone in Mundra, Gujarat. The plant will produce 30 million sq. m of cloth a year, which will be used to make medical-related goods from doctors’ gowns to drapes.