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High tech and here to stay

My Take | August 7, 2015 | By:

The growth of advanced technologies in medical and biomedical textiles cannot be denied. A recent report, “Medical Textiles Market: Global Trends, Demand and Forecast 2015-2019” released by, says that the global medical textiles market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.87 percent from 2015-2019. The report also says that the “medical textiles market is one of the fastest growing business-vertical of the technical textiles segment.”

Under the broad “medical textiles” umbrella are a variety of niche markets and products—many highly specialized and custom designed for a specific purpose. A good way to determine just how enduring these technologies, textiles and their products will be is to take a look at consumer acceptance and growth. Far infrared therapy, for example, has been viewed with skepticism, but take another look, and you can start with Marie O’Mahony’s feature, “Directions in medical textiles and their end products.”

There are some clear indicators that many advanced technologies in textile development and their end products have a foothold and will continue to flourish and grow. “Wearables” have created more independence for the patient to monitor his or her own status and smart textiles respond to a patient’s needs—sometimes without the patient even knowing it.

O’Mahony’s article also discusses how designers are using existing technologies to create new products for enhanced treatments for all kinds of medical needs. Not every “breakthrough” has to start at square one. “Advanced textiles—and smart materials in particular—form a significant component in health and wellness products, particularly those designed for the home market rather than hospital care,” O’Mahony says.

I was recently at a conference in California (not textile industry related) and happened to meet a woman at the hotel whose husband had just had heart surgery at a nearby hospital. In the course of the discussion, I learned that a biomedical textile stent discussed in a recent article on this site (see “Smaller, ‘smarter,’ and versatile”) may very well have been used in his procedure. (The doctor showed her the device, and she described it to me perfectly.) I shouldn’t be surprised. In fact, you might think, “So …?” What that tells me is that advanced technologies in medical textiles have “so arrived” that the question has quickly moved on to, “how many more places can these technologies be useful to patients and health care providers?”

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