The waterproof breathable textiles (WBT) market is expected to grow from 2016 to 2024 owing to the rising demand for high performance, & comfortable sportswear. Traditional rubber coatings make the fabrics waterproof but render them impermeable to water vapors. This makes them uncomfortable to wear. The waterproof breathable textiles allow the passage of air but restrict the water flow. WBT’s prevent complete absorption and penetration of water. They are actively ventilated as they allow water vapor to diffuse through them. These provide protection from wind, rain and loss of body heat. The textile’s resistance to water depends on the porosity of fabric, nature of the surface and the force behind water spray.
WBT’s are lightweight, durable, dimensionally stable in wet conditions, and possess rapid drying, & absence of damping tendencies. Coated fabrics, membranes, and densely woven fabrics comprise the textile segment of WBT’s. PTFE (Polytetrafluorethylene), ePFE (expanded Polytetrafluorethylene), polyester and nylon are used to prepare membranes. Coated fabrics as the name suggest have a coating which imparts waterproof breathable properties to the material. It is usually composed of two or materials. Densely woven fabrics have little space between molecules which gives them with required properties.
WBT’s are used to prepare footwear, garments, and clothing. Their applications include military, sportswear, industrial wear and safety wear. Innovations such as controlling of pore sizes, customized size and color of fabric and improved solid film have come up in the market segment. Low-cost production processes, change in membrane incorporation techniques, coating methods have evolved over time and are expected to drive the market sales further.
Global awareness of health fitness and training has grown in the recent past and is supposed to carry a similar trend over the next eight years. Need to prevent lifestyle diseases, easily available training facilities, and accessible information are the driving factors. This increasing awareness has caused a surge in demand for sports textiles. Sports textiles use WBT’S as they have high heat and moisture regulation, optimum air and water permeability, and have a soft touch. WBT’s have moisture wicking properties which regulate body temperature, delay exhaustion and improve muscle performance. They come in smart and functional designs which suit the customer requirements. All these factors are expected to contribute a surge in demand for sportswear thus contributing to WBT market growth.
Major industry participants include W. L. Gore & Associates, Jack Wolfskin, Helly Hansen, Columbia Sportswear, General Electric, Toray Industries, Dow Corning, Patagonia Incorporation, The North Face, Clariant, SympaTex Technologies, Mountain Hardwear, Rudolf Group, Polartec, Huntsman Textile Effects HeiQ Materials, Marmot, APT Fabrics, Nike, Heartland Textiles Corporation Limited, and Schoeller Technologies. Companies are trying to develop smart textiles and new design patterns to attract customers.
W. L. Gore & Associates founded in 1958, produces WBT’s for various purposes such as usage by the military, medical professionals, safety, and fire personnel. Gore-Tex is the company’s patented waterproof breathable fiber membrane whose porosity is controlled by unique microstructures. It is lightweight, has all-weather usage properties, and allows water vapor passage but repels water.
SympaTex Technologies provides high functioning materials in footwear, sportswear, protective work wear & clothing and has a presence in more than 20 countries. The company uses recyclable membranes to manufacture its Sympatex brand. It also tries to implement its processes and technologies which are ecologically sensitive and sustainable.
Europe is forecasted to dominate the global WBT market sales due to the presence of a vast number of manufacturers. The high health consciousness among people is a major contributing factor. The U.S is also a major market for WBT due to the stringent government norms regarding sports and safety equipment.
Emerging countries like India, China and Brazil are also anticipated to contribute substantially due to surging demand for footwear and sports clothing. These countries are investing significantly in promoting sports which are driving sales for WBT's. High youth population and their rising disposable income are also expected to contribute to sales growth.
Research Support Specialist, USA