Flexible electronic textiles and wearable electronic devices are becoming more and more interesting every day. With the increasing interest in wearable electronics, production processes are being developed and their usage is becoming widespread.
“Clothes are our own personal house” (Van Langenhove, 2007) and there are no other devices continuously in contact with the human body like garments. In this way, the combination of smart materials, wearable electronics, and sensors with fabrics opens the doors to many applications, especially in the clinical monitoring field. Textiles and clothes can be produced on fast and productive machinery at a reasonable cost, and the health and beauty industry is also taking advantage of these innovations.
E-Textile growth is significant and the market’s growth momentum will accelerate at a CAGR of 28.74% from 2021 to 2025. The applications are several and e-textile technologies have a direct link with human body monitoring.
The key applications are mounting in Military and Defense, Architecture, Sports and Fitness, Transportation, Fashion and Entertainment, Medical and Healthcare etc.
The market pioneer of the E-textile forecast is USD 10.25 billion during 2021-2025 which is completely untouched by Bangladesh textile garment exporters.
Bangladesh RMG industry has huge opportunities to contribute to global innovational advantages and future market demand. To reach out the market we have to be more tactical not technical because within the short time we can’t develop the technology but we can jointly work with the innovators like AiQ Smart Clothing Inc., BAE Systems Plc, Carré Technologies Inc., DuPont de Nemours Inc., Jabil Inc., Ohmatex AS etc. who have already developed information technology instigation with special materials, production and characterization techniques and application areas of textile based flexible electronics, fabric sensors and wearable intelligent systems.
If we take the initiative to work in this value-added sector that will open a new eye for research, innovation-based production. In this way technology will transfer to our industry and we can contribute to the still remaining problems related to the connectivity, reliability, wash ability and multi-use features of wearable e-textile intelligent systems that have to be solved in order to strengthen e-textiles market and its future applications in the coming years.
The developments in these features will notably pave the way for our mass production and consequently will increase the market share of the e-textiles in the coming future.
The entrepreneurs of Bangladesh apparel industry are investing in green projects which is very much expensive and takes a long time to get ROI (Return of Investment).
On the other hand, the buyer didn’t give a fair price for green infrastructure. But investing in E-Textile production will ensure quick ROI and set up cost not so expensive.
Bangladesh is still popular for few cheap products. Though some factories are producing value added products, but the number is really not so significant.
If Bangladesh wants to change its tag ‘cheap garments producer’ to ‘value added garments producer’ and wants to increase its profit margin then e-textile can be a great choice to go forward. Because product selling price is so standard.
I know a leading platinum factory, it made 18 lines unit spending worth USD $7.5M. But the same set up e-textile manufacturing set up cost will be approximately USD $3M only.
It’s really high time for Bangladesh textile and apparel industry to invest more in technology, collaboration and value addition.
(The author is a textile engineer and business analyst)