By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA

Marketing knowhow and support are the immediate needs of the Indian technical textiles sector.

Amidst heavy southwest monsoon downpours, my visit to Ichalkaranji in the state of Maharashtra, India resulted in constructive discussions with experts at the DKTE Society’s Textile & Engineering Institute in Ichalkaranji that threw much needed light on the current status of the technical textiles sector in India.

Since 2009, I have been pushing for the need of value-addition to nonwoven roll goods (fabrics) in India, in addition to creating more technical and marketing awareness.

DKTE institute is the home for India’s only Center of Excellence for Nonwovens (CoE-Nonwovens) focusing on nonwovens R & D. Nonwoven offers good opportunity for the conventional textile sector to diversify stated, Professor P. V. Kadole, director of the institute. Products with specific end-use applications have to be conceived say for the Indian set-up and have to be marketed. “Industry can make use of R & D facilities like us to develop new products. Due to the interest from entrepreneurs, our R & D center even functions two shifts when needed,” added Kadole.

R & D is needed and at the same time marketing knowhow needs strengthening stated, Professor U. J. Patil, deputy director of the institute.

Stating that many new nonwoven projects have emerged in the recent two years, marketing support is needed. Industry needs to avail government support schemes to develop a strong technical textile sector base in India, stated Aniket Bhute, technical director of the CoE-Nonwovens.

While in India awareness is there about technical textiles sector, focused efforts are needed to promote and grow the value-addition in this sector. “We need value-addition, not manufacturing nonwoven fabrics only,” stated Rajanna Gotipamul, who teaches technical textiles to students at the institute

Technical textiles should also explore sustainability aspects and focus on heath care and environmental protection products. Agreeing on this aspect, R & D programs and product development should focus on cost-effective greener materials and natural fibers stated M. Y. Gudiyawar, a senior professor at the Ichalkaranji-based institute.

In my travels across the globe for 25-years and dealing with many institutes, it is pleasing to report that the DKTE Institute in Ichalkaranji is one of the finest in undertaking applied research in the textiles field.