In 2019, the global market of smart fabrics saw 4.1 million shipments and it is predicted that, by 2025, this will hit a shipment value of 8.51 million units. This means it will register a CAGR of 14.1% over the period of forecast, i.e., 2022 – 2031.
Fabrics that are produced and designed to combine technologies that provide the wearer with a high level of functionality are defined as smart fabrics. Over the past few years, R&D toward wearable textile-based personal systems, such as protection and safety, health monitoring, and healthy lifestyles, has garnered a huge interest. In fact, MIT developed smart clothing that follows the most important indicators of human health, i.e., heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature, in April 2020. This was done by sewing sensitive sensors that fit the skin, into the fabric.
The market driver is the increase in the wearable electronics industry and the main factor that has boosted the growth of the smart fabric market is the rise in demand for smart wearables across various end-user industries. Besides, the mode of payments of such users has also witnessed a great amount of effort as Mastercard developed a partnership with Timex to combine contactless payments into their watches, while a UK-based CashCufffollowed a similar path with the cufflinks.
The market will most probably shift to accommodate similar trends in smart fabrics when such notable applications become mainstream.
Moreover, miniaturization of electronics and developments across flexible electronics is the growth driver for the segment. The efficiency of smart fabrics is also increasing with the progress in miniaturized electronic items, such as sensors, actuators (for active smart textiles), and controlling units (for advanced smart textiles). Also, there has been great expertise in multifunctional plastics manufacturing, nanoscale manufacturing, and printed electronics. For e.g., UMass Lowell develops flexible electronics and smart textiles. Besides, some of its ongoing research projects are developing high-frequency printed conformal antennas, carbon-based transistors, and photonic devices, and research on wearable antennas for the military.
Wearable triboelectric nanogenerators in the shapes of fibre, yarn, and textile are slated to witness a significant development as well.