Nonwoven fabrics are the main raw material of medical textiles such as masks and overalls. The increase in demand for medical textiles, especially during the pandemic process, has also increased the interest in nonwoven fabric. Turkey has become an important player in the nonwoven fabric sector both in its region and in the international arena.
Turkish manufacturers, which have met the high demand for medical textiles since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic entered our country, also receive incentives for new investments in this field. Ahmet Öksüz, President of Istanbul Textile and Raw Materials Exporters’ Association (İTHİB), stated that since Turkey has a foreign trade surplus in nonwoven fabric production, it is very easy for mask and protective clothing manufacturers to access raw materials, and the country stands out in this field. Öksüz said, “Companies that speed up investments that require high technology are making exports with added value. In the textile and raw materials sector, the price per kg in exports is 4.2 dollars, while the price of kg in technical textiles can reach up to 20 dollars.”
Nonwoven fabric exports increased by 10 percent in the January-September period
The interest in nonwoven fabric, a sub-product of technical textiles, was also reflected in export figures. Considering Turkey’s technical textile exports, it is observed that 32.3% of the total exports in the January-September period of 2021 are composed of the nonwoven fabric product group. In this period, Turkey’s nonwovens exports increased by 9.9% and reached a value of 571 million dollars.
Looking at the top 10 countries in Turkey’s technical textile exports, it is seen that the biggest export market is Germany. In the January-September period, technical textile exports to Germany, which has a share of 9.1% in Turkey’s total technical textile exports, decreased by 23.2% and amounted to 161 million dollars. In the January-September period, Turkey’s second largest technical textile export was Italy, with a 7.3% share in total exports. The USA, on the other hand, was the third country to which Turkey exports technical textiles.
Nonwoven Use in Medical Applications Will Increase to 255 Million Dollars
Demand for nonwovens in medical applications is expected to increase 3.9% per year to $255 million in 2024. The prediction comes in a new report from the Freedonia Group which also notes that nonwovens used in medical applications accounted for 9% of carded nonwovens sales in 2019.
In the medical market, nonwovens can be used to produce a variety of disposable products, including such products as healthcare wipes, bandages and bedding, among others. Adult incontinence products are included in the consumer market. Demand is dependent on several variables, including the volume of healthcare activity, the number of surgical procedures, demographic patterns, and incidence of diseases and disorders.
The report, Carded Nonwovens, says that the demand to 2024 will be driven by concerns over healthcare-associated infections and the effectiveness of infection prevention protocols, which will support continued growth among products like disinfectant wipes.
There will also be fast growth in the senior population (aged 65+), which will benefit medical nonwovens since the elderly have greater healthcare needs than other parts of the general population.
Other drives include the compatibility of nonwovens with many medical applications, due to their potential for softness and absorbency, and, just as in consumer products, many of the personal hygiene products used in healthcare settings continue to undergo new research and development to improve product performance, safety, and sustainability. This includes developing products with greater strength, low linting, and safer chemical treatments.
The report also notes how the Covid-19 pandemic has spurred demand spikes for a variety of medical supplies as well as those that limit transmission of the virus, such as surface disinfectant wipes. However, the pandemic has also put some limitations on the demand for nonwovens in the medical market. Many hospitals opted to limit elective surgeries as the pandemic spread, both to limit the potential transmission of the virus, but also to focus resources on the treating the disease and protecting healthcare staff.