Technical Textile: Function, Classification and Application

What is Technical Textile?
Textiles are divided into clothing, household fabrics, and technical textiles. Clothing and household fabrics (curtains, textile wallpaper, upholstery fabrics, carpet, and floor coverings) seem to be easily defined. But it is not easy to describe technical textiles.

technical textile
Fig: Technical textile

Technical textiles are textile materials and products that are engineered for specific technical and functional performance, rather than primarily aesthetic or decorative purposes. They are designed to perform specific functions, such as providing strength, durability, insulation, filtration, and protection. Examples of technical textiles include Kevlar for bulletproof vests, fiberglass for insulation, and Gore-Tex for waterproof clothing.

Functions of Technical Textile:
Technical textiles are a specialized type of textile that have specific functions and characteristics. Different functions can be achieved through technical textiles. These can be categorized into four groups.

  1. Mechanical functions: It includes mechanical resistance, reinforcement of the materials, tenacity, elasticity, etc.
  2. Exchange functions: It includes filtration, insulation and conductivity, drainage, permeability, absorption, etc.
  3. Functionalities for living beings: It includes antimicrobial, anti-dust mites, biocompatibility, biodegradability, etc.
  4. Protective functions: It includes protection from fire, chemicals, infrared and ultraviolet rays, electromagnetic fields, environment, etc.

Branches / Categories / Classification of Technical Textile:
Technical textiles can be broadly classified into several categories based on their end-use or application. Some common classifications of technical textiles include:

1. Protective Textiles or Protech: Protech are used to protect individuals or equipment from hazards, such as fire, chemicals, and impact. Examples include bulletproof vests, fire-resistant clothing, and protective gear.

2. Medical and Hygiene Textiles or Medtech: Medical textiles used in medical and healthcare applications, such as surgical gowns, bandages, and implantable materials.

3. Industrial Textiles: Indutech textiles used in industrial settings, such as conveyor belts, filter fabrics, and geotextiles.

4. Transportation Textiles: These textiles are used in transportation, such as in tires, seats, and other vehicle components.

5. Construction Textiles or Buildtech: These are textiles used in construction and civil engineering applications, such as erosion control fabrics, geotextiles, and textile membranes.

6. Sports and Leisure Textiles or Sporttech: Sports textiles used in sports and leisure activities, such as sportswear, ropes, nets, and other sports equipment.

7. Home Furnishing Textiles or Hometech: Hometech textiles used in home furnishings, such as upholstery, curtains, and bed linens.

8. Agricultural Textiles or Agrotech: Agrotech are used in agriculture, such as crop covers, netting, and erosion control fabrics.

9. Eco-Textile or Ecotech: Eco-textile, also known as sustainable textile, is a type of textile that is produced and processed in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. This can include the use of natural, renewable, and biodegradable materials, non-toxic dyes and finishes, and processes that conserve water and energy.

Uses / Application of Technical Textile:
Technical textiles are used in a wide range of industrial and technical applications, each with its own specific set of requirements and functions. Here are some examples of technical textile applications:

1. Automotive textiles: These include textiles used in the automotive industry, such as airbags, seat belts, and tire cords. Airbags are made of technical textile that inflates rapidly upon impact to protect the passengers. The textile used in seat belts is a strong, durable fabric that can withstand the force of a collision and is designed to keep the passengers in their seats during a crash. Tire cords are made of technical textile that is a high-strength, low-stretch fabric that is used to reinforce the radial structure of tires.

2. Medical textiles: Medical and healthcare textiles are  surgical gowns, bandages, wound dressings, and implantable materials. Surgical gowns are made from technical textiles that provide barrier protection against blood and other bodily fluids. Bandages and wound dressings are made from technical textiles that can absorb and retain fluids and keep the wound clean. Implantable materials such as sutures, meshes, and scaffolds are made from technical textiles that can be used to repair or replace damaged tissue.

medical textile

3. Protective clothing textiles: These include textiles used in personal protective equipment (PPE), such as fire-resistant and flame-retardant fabrics, bulletproof vests, and other protective clothing. Fire-resistant and flame-retardant fabrics are made from technical textiles that can withstand high temperatures and prevent the spread of fire. Bulletproof vests are made from technical textiles that can absorb and distribute the energy from bullets, thus providing protection to the wearer.

4. Sports and outdoor: Technical textiles are used in outdoor and sports clothing, such as waterproof, breathable, and UV-protective fabrics, and in sports equipment such as ropes, nets, and safety gear.

5. Geo-textiles: Geo-textiles are used in civil engineering and environmental protection, such as erosion control and drainage fabrics. Erosion control fabrics are made from technical textiles that can be used to stabilize soil and prevent erosion. Drainage fabrics are made from technical textiles that can be used to collect and direct water away from the site.

6. Technical performance fabrics: These include textiles used in outdoor and sports clothing, such as waterproof, breathable, and UV-protective fabrics. Waterproof and breathable fabrics are made from technical textiles that can keep the wearer dry while allowing perspiration to escape. UV-protective fabrics are made from technical textiles that can block harmful UV rays and protect the wearer from sun damage.

7. Agritech textiles: Agrotech are used in crop covers, animal feed bags, and netting. Crop covers are made from technical textiles that can protect crops from frost, wind, and other environmental factors. Animal feed bags are made from technical textiles that can keep the feed fresh and prevent contamination. Netting is made from technical textiles that can be used to protect crops from pests and animals.

8. Smart textiles: These include textiles that have been engineered with advanced materials and technologies to provide additional functionality, such as heat regulation, energy generation, and sensing capabilities. Smart textiles can be used in clothing, medical devices, and other applications.

smart textiles
Fig: Smart textiles

9. Composites textiles: Technical textiles are used in composite materials for aerospace, automotive, construction, and many more applications. Composite textiles are made of high strength fibers such as carbon, glass, aramid and many others. They can be used in combination with resins to make strong and lightweight parts such as boat hulls, aircraft parts, and car parts.

10. Nonwoven textiles: These are fabrics made by bonding fibers together, rather than weaving or knitting them. They have a wide range of uses, including in medical products, industrial filters, and consumer goods.

11. Military textiles: Technical textiles are used in military clothing, tents, camouflage nets, and other equipment.

12. Transport: Technical textiles are used in transportation industry as well such as sailcloth, ship covers, boat covers, and truck tarps.

13. Home textiles: Technical textiles are used in home textiles such as bedding, curtains, and upholstery. They can be used for moisture management, thermal regulation, and flame resistance.

14. Environmental: Technical textiles are used in environmental applications such as water treatment, air filtration, and waste management.

15. Industrial textiles: Technical textiles are used in conveyor belts, filter fabrics, geotextiles, and other industrial applications, such as filters, belting, and packaging.

16. Marine textiles: These include textiles used in ships, boats and other marine applications.

17. Furnishing textiles: These include textiles used in furniture, curtains and other interior decorating items.

18. Electronic textiles: Electronic textiles, also known as e-textiles are textiles that have been integrated with electronic components such as sensors, actuators, and conductive fibers. These components allow the textiles to perform various functions such as sensing, actuation, communication, and energy generation.

Markets of Technical Textile:
The Asia-Pacific region is the largest market for technical textiles, due to the presence of large industrial and manufacturing sectors in countries such as China, India, and Japan. Europe and North America are also significant markets, while the Middle East and Africa are emerging markets with significant growth potential.

The market for technical textiles is large and growing, driven by increasing demand across a range of industries and applications. According to a study by MarketsandMarkets, the global technical textiles market is expected to reach $251.67 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 7.2% during the forecast period (2017-2022).

Future of Technical Textiles:
The future of technical textiles is expected to be shaped by advances in technology, changes in consumer demand, and shifts in global economic and political conditions. Some of the key trends and developments that are likely to shape the future of technical textiles include:

  • Advancements in materials science: New developments in materials science, such as nanotechnology and biotechnology, are expected to enable the creation of more advanced, high-performance technical textiles.
  • Increased demand for sustainable and eco-friendly products: As consumers become more environmentally conscious, there is expected to be a growing demand for technical textiles that are made from sustainable materials and are designed to reduce waste and minimize their environmental impact.
  • Growth in the healthcare sector: The increasing population of elderly people and the growing demand for medical devices and equipment are driving the growth in the healthcare sector, and technical textiles are expected to play a significant role in this sector.
  • Growth in smart textiles: Smart textiles, which integrate electronics and other technology into fabrics, are expected to become more prevalent in the future, with applications in fields such as healthcare, transportation, and manufacturing.
  • Advancements in automation and digitalization: Advances in automation and digitalization are expected to enable more efficient and cost-effective production of technical textiles, making them more accessible to a wider range of customers.


  1. Handbook of Technical Textiles Edited by A R Horrocks and S C Anand
  2. High Performance Technical Textiles Edited by Roshan Paul
  3. Textile Engineering – An Introduction Edited by Yasir Nawab
  4. Fibres to Fabrics by Bev Ashford
  5. Textile Technology: An Introduction, Second Edition  by Thomas Gries, Dieter Veit, and Burkhard Wulfhorst

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