Given the strong backup of a supportive regulatory framework, the industrial protective fabrics market is anticipated to progress at an unprecedented pace in the coming years. The increasing cases of industrial and chemical accidents occurring yearly have encouraged governments to enforce strict safety regulations to protect employees in hazardous working environments. One regulation is the use of industrial protective fabrics in personal protective equipment (PPE).
By Vinisha Joshi, Global Market Insights, Inc.
Industrial spaces are infamous for work-related injuries and fatalities.
A recent report by the International Labor Organization cited that nearly 2.3 million people die at work annually from an occupational disease or injury. Out of these, approximately 2 million deaths are due to fatal work-related diseases and about 350,000 deaths are due to fatal accidents.
PPE made using protective fabrics meet the critical requirements of workplace safety and offers substantial growth opportunities to the global industrial protective fabrics industry. As per Global Market Insights Inc., this market is slated to register over USD $8.40 billion by 2028.
Innovative industrial fabrics like polyolefins, polyester, aramid, and cotton fibers, as well as polyamide, help protect workers against a wide range of potential injuries. These include chemical hazards, biohazards, or electric sparks that might be encountered while performing everyday tasks. A fiber with increasing relevancy in the industrial protective fabric market is aramid.
Aramids: Enhancing the Protective Performance in Industrial Apparels
While various alternatives are starting to gain traction in the protective fabrics market, aramid fibers are still standing tall in the sphere. This is mainly due to their growing popularity as high-performance fibers. As they are used in military and industrial applications, the fibers are inherently heat and flame resistant, as well as boasting of mechanical properties. It is worth mentioning that aramid fibers’ tensile strength capable of up to seven times that of steel. Therefore, these fibers are increasingly preferred in firefighter suits and military armor.
Para-aramid Fibers Against Fire Protection
Para-aramid fibers are more durable and produced with a much higher tenacity than meta-aramids, making them highly preferable across military and firefighting applications. Recently, VIKING Life-Saving Equipment introduced two advanced fire suits, IGNIS EN469 and WTR, delivering higher standards in protective performance. The former possesses para-aramid shoulder pads in a design that does not compromise on breathability and delivers optimum protection against fire and smoke.
Electrical Accidents in Oilfields to Spur Demand for Arc Flash Suits
Electrical installations play a prominent role in drilling rigs and operations of oil refineries. It is believed that most of the electrical accidents which generally take place in oil & gas facilities can be attributed to an arc flash. As per an Industrial Safety and Hygiene News report, there are nearly 30,000 arc flash incidents on average every year.
Today, the large scale at which oil companies undertake exploration activities is likely to generate massive demand for arc flash suits and therefore immensely stimulate the industrial protective fabrics market.
In essence, arc flash suits are designed to protect a technician from arc flash heat exposures and reduce any burn injuries sustained, as well as offer valuable time to escape a possible secondary explosion in the area. Considering the amounts of flammable gases and liquids accompanying an oil and gas facility, the occurrence of an arc flash can be catastrophic. Undeniably, arc flash clothing would come as a rescue in a company’s inventory for efficiently protecting its employees and reducing the extent of injury or burns.
With hefty investments made for exploring new oil and gas fields, the industrial protective fabrics market is looking forward to demonstrating a promising future across the vertical.
Increasing Occurrence of Chemical Injuries: A Profitable Ground for Investment in Industrial Protective Fabrics
Chemical injuries are rather commonplace in industrial workspaces. Not only can this chemical exposure contribute to cancers of the lung, heart, and skin, as well as other diseases, they are known to claim more than 50,000 lives annually, as suggested by OSHA. According to facts from the National Safety Council Injury, chemical exposures generally affect 95% of the body systems.
Chemical-defending or chemical-protective clothing are an ideal option to maintain health and safety in work environments where there are potential threats from biological, chemical, radiation, and nuclear hazards. The future growth in the demand for chemical-defending garments will be underpinned by stringent occupational safety regulations, product innovations, the threat of disease outbreaks, and acts of terrorism.
In yet another instance, the Department of Defense, in partnership with the 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, developed a new Uniform Integrated Protective Ensemble Air System at Nellis Air Force Base. The UIPE Air is layered clothing system that offers biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological protection to the air crews in a toxic environment.
Breakthroughs in Industrial Protective Fabrics
New innovations and breakthroughs in industrial protective fabrics may assist the industry in garnering substantial proceeds over the forthcoming years. FLIR Systems, for instance, announced that it had won a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) contract for the development of novel fabrics with embedded catalysts to fight and minimize biological and chemical threats upon contract. As per official sources, the company received USD $11.2 million in initial financing for the potential five year effort worth up to USD $20.5 million.
In the years ahead, advanced fabrics would likely be incorporated into protective suits and other equipment like gloves, eye protection, boots, and others that are worn by professionals in the medical field, healthcare workers, military troops, and more.
Imperatively, the COVID-19 pandemic opened doors to new innovations
in the protective fabrics business.
In 2020, DRDO India developed a bio-suit to protect paramedics and doctors engaged in treating COVID patients. It was reported that scientists at various DRDO laboratories applied their technical knowledge and skills in nanotechnology, textile, and coating to create apparel using this specific type of coated fabric.
Analyzing the Sustainable Approach – What is Next for Industrial Protective Fabrics Industry?
Globally, industries are seeking ways to improve their ecologic footprint. When it comes to workwear, sustainable innovations have become commonplace. To create more sustainable fabrics, industries are shifting towards swapping out virgin fibers for recycled ones. Most of the popular sustainable fabric options available in the protective clothing industry are polyester or cotton blends. Meanwhile, some workwear fabrics are made only of recycled polyester.
Considering the growing demand for cotton blend protective clothing, HanesBrands declared completing the production and commercialization of more than 450 million all-cotton cloth face coverings and supplying approximately 20 million medical gowns to the U.S. government for use during the pandemic.
Moving ahead, Westex – a Milliken Brand and producer of flame-resistant and arc-rated textiles –announced a collaboration with Lenzing via its TENCEL brand to ramp up sustainability efforts within the protective apparel industry. The partnership represents a long-term effort to introduce more sustainable fabric options to the market and add the incorporation of TENCEL Lyocell fiber into Westex DH and DH Air fabric assemblies.
In the coming years, sophisticated product innovations will prove invaluable in enabling a sustainable approach in the industrial protective fabrics market. The ongoing decade will also witness the Asia-Pacific region emerging as a major growth contributor to the industrial protective fabrics market subject to the expansion of the manufacturing sector in the nations like India, China, and Japan.