The Smart Textiles for the Military Market is anticipated to register a CAGR of over 10% during the forecast period.
- The growing need for supportive and performance-enhancing garments has led to the rapid induction of smart textiles in the military sector. Governments across the world are focusing on equipping their soldiers with the latest firearms, including sophisticated military clothing that enhances the soldier’s performance during combat operations.
- Developments in the technology of sensors and actuators have enabled the production of miniaturized products, which can be integrated without significantly increasing the weight of military uniforms or other similar products.
Key Market Trends
Techonological Advancement in Wearable Textiles are Driving the Market Growth
The amalgamation of electronics with clothing has revolutionized the textile industry and became a precursor to the evolution of smart textiles. Traditional smart fabrics, such as metallic silk, organza, stainless steel filament, meta- clad aramid fiber, conductive polymer fiber, conductive polymer coating, and special carbon fibers are used for manufacturing the fabric sensors, while conductive yarn, conductive rubber, and conductive ink have been developed into sensors or used as an interconnection substrate. Researchers have already integrated materials such as metallic, optical fibers, and conductive polymers into the textile structure, thus supplying electrical conductivity, sensing, and data transmission capabilities to smart textiles. Organic polymers may provide a solution to overcome the stiffness of inorganic crystals such as silicon. Researchers are focusing on dual-channel data transfer capable fibers, color-changing fibers, and fibers that can store electricity and are developing the ability to create wearable power sources for military applications. The development of power source textiles and connectors in body armor and similar fabrics are crucial to creating a system with extreme reliability and user-friendliness. Such developments are expected to propel the market growth during the forecast period.
North America to Dominate the Market During the Forecast Period
North America held the largest share in the market in 2019 and is also expected to register the highest CAGR during the forecast period. The US defense forces are deployed in several missions to perform effectively in a diverse geographical environment that exposes them to severe climate changes, such as extreme heat and cold. The US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Centre (NSRDEC) introduced a revolutionary smart textile that uses nanotechnology for body heat retention and moderation of soldiers. The smart fabric uses a coating of silver nanowires to reflect heat back to the wearer and the embedded nanowires can generate temperatures up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit when an electric current is induced through them. The US Army has been exploring commercial exoskeleton technologies for potential military applications, which can be used to support, strengthen, provide endurance, and protect the soldier from strain injury. To this end, the NSRDEC has initiated a 48-month long Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) worth USD 6.9 million in total, in order to develop enough exoskeleton systems to conduct a comprehensive operational evaluation. The frontrunner of the trial is Lockheed Martin’s Onyx system that combines mechanical knee actuators with multiple sensors and artificial intelligence software to improve strength and endurance. The growing emphasis on such technologies are expected to bolster the market prospects of the region during the forecast period.
The Smart Textile for the Military market is fragmented with several smart textile manufacturers vying for a dominant market share. Some of the prominent players in the market are TenCate Fabrics, W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc, Milliken & Company, Schoeller Textile AG, DuPont de Nemours, Inc., amongst others. Since long term association is favored in the market in focus, there is minimal scope for awarding contracts to new market entrants, thereby increasing competition rivalry based on advanced product development life cycle to prevent the product offering from becoming obsolete. The market is emerging, with a lot of scope for technological advancements. Since several countries are now realizing the importance of these smart textiles in the battlefield, significant investments in R&D are anticipated from many countries, which will provide new opportunities for the local players during the forecast period.
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