Global smart textile market size was USD 350.3 million in 2013. Decreasing manufacturing costs of electronic components as well as fabrics along with miniaturization of electronics is expected to drive the smart fabric market over the forecast period. Rising popularity of sophisticated gadgets with varied technologically advanced functions is anticipated to drive market demand. Components such actuators, controlling, and sensor units are incorporated into these fabrics. Several such fabrics have featured in sophisticated type of clothing, particularly for fashion as well as for protection & safety.
These products have a huge growth potential owing to their applicability across several sectors such as defense, automotive, and entertainment. The Clothing Area Network (CLAN) project is focused on developing technology that allows wireless & wired data and power transfer between the intelligent modules such as sensors processors, user interfaces, and batteries as well.
The rise in demand can be attributed to the introduction of conductive materials and advanced fibers that are used to manufacture such fibers. Nanotechnology has helped in the creation of such smart fabric at microscopic level and also in the development of army uniforms & equipment, is expected to be a key trend in the smart textile market over the forecast period.
Europe smart textile market by end-use, 2012 – 2020 (USD Million)
Smart textile possess the ability to react to stimuli from electrical, thermal, chemical, mechanical, magnetic sources, and sports & fitness activities. These can work in integration with smart electronics devices such as fitness belts and watches to monitor health and body vitals in real time. These fabrics are used in applications such as architecture, fashion & entertainment, transportation, medical, and military & security. Protection and military accounted for over 25% of the overall revenue in 2013.
Integration of fabrics with electronics produces new products to meet the rising demand for equipped materials in the military sector wherein the use of heavy batteries in garments worn by the soldiers are replaced. Demand for integration of electronic components with materials & equipment used by the soldiers is expected to witness significant growth.
In the future, warrior systems are anticipated to be equipped with wireless weapons, heads-up display, chemical and biological threat detectors, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), chemical & biological threat detectors, battery power, combat ID sensors, and personal physiological status sensors to help in increasing awareness and understanding of the soldiers. Moreover, increasing global population has led to the need of improved healthcare and medical facilities to enable faster patient recoveries. Additionally, the need for enhancement of athletic performance is expected to favorably impact the research & development activities in the industry.
North America smart textile market is expected to hold a major share in the global industry over the forecast period. The region generated over 45% of overall revenue in 2013. This can be attributed to the increasing demand in the end-use segments such as transportation and healthcare.
Low raw material cost and labor in Asian countries such as China, Japan and India has transformed it into a manufacturing hub for such technology reducing the production in the European region. Hence key vendors based in the Asia Pacific region are looking for opportunities to add such advanced technology into their product portfolios.
Asia Pacific smart fabric market is anticipated to be the fastest growing regional market with an estimated CAGR of over 25% from 2013 to 2020. However, increasing number R&D activities for such smart fabrics sponsored within EU FP6 and FP7 programs is revitalizing the industry in European countries.
North Carolina State University College of textile, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and Tampere University of Technology are expected to play an important role in development, particularly with the system integration and varied technologies. Moreover, Technology and engineering institute and R&D centers across the globe are involved in product development and testing.
The Center for Nanotechnology and Smart Materials (CeNTI) in Portugal has recently invented an innovative intelligent fabric that generates enough energy to light clothes. Such institutes are focusing on utilizing this energy optimally for various conventional appliances such as charging portable electronics devices with no reliance on traditional electrical networks. Additionally, extensive research activities focused on the commercialization of self-cleaning fabrics aimed at improve the quality of life.
The industry comprises a large number of stakeholders that include textile manufacturers, system integrators, original equipment manufacturers (OEM), along with R&D institutes. System integrators such as Interactive Wear, Fibretronix, Polar, Ohmatex, and Clothing+ are the experts in encapsulation of electronics, integration with textile structures, and electronics & industrial design. Key companies such as Nike, O’Neill and Adidas are expected to hold significant smart textile market share owing to their competencies in performance clothing. Key industry players include Auxetix, Eleksen, Fibretronic Limited, Clothing+, Exo2, Texas Instruments, ThermoSoft International, Gentherm, and Peratech Ltd.
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