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Medical Textiles: Emerging Opportunities


Combination of textile technology and medical sciences has resulted into a new field called Medical Textiles. It is one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the technical textile market. Medical Textiles are the products and constructions used for medical and biological applications and are used primarily for first aid, clinical and hygienic purposes in both consumer and medical markets.

New areas of application for medical textiles have been identified with the development of new fibers and manufacturing technologies for yarns and fabrics. Development in the field of textiles, either natural or manmade textiles, normally aimed at how they enhance the comfort to the users. Development of medical textiles can be considered as one such development, which is really meant for converting the painful days of patients into the comfortable days.

World Market

Technical textiles are one of the faster growing sectors of the global textile industry. Textile materials manufactured primarily for their technical performance and functional properties rather than their aesthetic and decorative values are commonly known as Technical textiles. Medical textiles are found to be in 6th position among technical textiles.

As mentioned by Geoff Fisher in his article on “Developments Trend in Medical Textiles”, the global medical textile market has an estimated value of in excess of US$ 4 Billion ( excluding disposable hygiene products) with a production volume of around 1.65 million tones, which represents almost 12% of the total technical textiles market. Recent developments in more traditional areas of bandages, wound care and operating gowns highlight the close co-operation between textile technology and medical science.

Major global market continue to increase due to the growth in healthcare expenditure. For example, the orthopedics sector, through the introduction of less invasive and longer - lasting surgical techniques and implants, is expanding while technological advances in treating hard - to - heal wounds are driving growth in the active healing sector of the advanced wound management market.

On the basis of DRA’s research, over 1.5mn tons of textile materials, with a value of US$5.4bn, were consumed worldwide in the manufacture of medical and hygiene products in 2000. This is predicted to increase in volume terms by 4.5% per annum to 2010 to reach 2.4mn tons with a value of US$8.2bn. This sector probably offers the greatest scope for the development of the most sophisticated and highest value textiles for niche applications.

European producers are world leaders in the market for technical/industrial textiles and nonwovens, for example industrial filters, hygiene products or in the medical sector.

Medical Textiles in India:

Indian Medical Industry

The Indian healthcare sector growth is expected to be more than 17 % per annum in view of the rising per capita spending on healthcare products, greater exposure to international products in this area, importance and awareness of healthcare insurance and medical tourism. Healthcare industry is fragmented into corporate hospitals, several small hospitals and nursing homes. Healthcare industry is a $ 17 B / year business in India. A study by CII and Mckinsey has projected that India’s healthcare market could touch Rs.3,200 million by 2012.

Market Share: Medical Textiles

The share of Meditech, a part of healthcare sector in Indian technical textiles market is found to be 5%. Among the wide range of medical textile products, healthcare and hygiene products including sanitary napkins (35%), surgical dressings (30%), sutures (20%) and diapers and orthopedic implants were contributing considerably to the meditech market in India. Some of the demanding sectors in India for medical textiles following are shown in table-1.

Sr. No. Products Requirement
1. Single use, lint free surgical garments Very high volume
2. Nonwoven incontinence products High volumes

Implants namely vascular grafts, patches, sewing rings for valves, etc.

High technology and high volume

Medical device for blood filtration like Filters for cardiac surgery such as cardiac reservoir, cardioplegia systems, blood oxygenators, etc and Filters for transfusion such as blood transfusion micro filters, IV fluid transfusion filters, autotransfusors, etc.

High technology and low volume

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