Coated fabrics are often categorized by their coating type, since coatings typically provide these materials’ primary performance characteristics, including:
resistance to flame, heat, abrasion, chemicals, and other extreme conditions
barriers against moisture, heat, biological contamination, and other hazards
ease of cleaning fabric surfaces
Polymer-coated fabrics account for the largest share of the market in value terms, representing 88% of value demand in 2018.
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This study analyzes supply and demand for the US coated fabric industry. Coated fabrics are defined here as a type of technical textile consisting of substrate (or base) fabrics coated or laminated with polymeric or elastomeric coatings or films.
Fabrics treated with chemical finishes – such as 3M’s
Scotchgard or other stain- or water-repellent finishes – are not coated fabrics as defined here and are therefore not included. Additionally, textiles that are coated or otherwise treated at the fiber level are not included in this study.
Coated fabrics are categorized by type of product:
polymer-coated fabrics (e.g., vinyl-coated, polyurethane-coated, polytetrafluoroethylene-coated, polyethylene-coated, polypropylene-coated, acrylic-coated)
Coated fabrics are also characterized by their substrate fabric (e.g., polyester, nylon, cotton, and others).
The major markets for coated fabrics include:
other transportation equipment
commercial and rental tents
luggage and baggage
awnings and canopies
Historical data are provided at the coated fabric manufacturer level for 2008, 2013, and 2018, with forecasts provided for 2023. Coated fabric demand and shipments are presented in current dollars by type of product. Demand is also presented in square yards for coated fabrics by substrate and by market.
Demand Will Grow Steadily Amid Expansion of Key Markets and Continued Development of Coated Fabrics
US demand for coated fabrics is expected to grow 3.1% per year to $3.2 billion in 2023. Growth opportunities stem primarily from favorable market trends affecting high-value applications such as airbags, upholstery, and industrial conveyor belts. Despite the well-established market for coated fabrics, growth in value terms will nevertheless benefit from continued product developments as suppliers seek to improve performance, end user safety, and sustainability.
Key Findings in the
Coated Fabrics Study:
Airbags, Artificial Leather, and Industrial Equipment Will Drive Gains
Several markets will support strong demand gains for coated fabrics, including motor vehicles and industrial equipment. In particular, the increasing number of airbags per motor vehicle will boost coated fabric sales as side torso airbags, side curtain airbags, and numerous other types become more prevalent. While many vehicles – or at least their airbags – are manufactured outside of the US, domestic production will nevertheless contribute to gains in coated fabric use.
Artificial leather is an important outlet for coated fabrics – not only in motor vehicle upholstery and trim, but also in furniture. Manufacturers like artificial leather for its low cost and its typically realistic appearance and texture. For consumers, the substitute appeals not only as low-cost but often as more responsible. Among many conscientious drivers, concerns persist that the use of natural leather supports under-regulated tanneries in developing countries, which sometimes allow workers and the environment to be exposed to toxic chemicals.
Coated fabrics are also used in a wide variety of industrial equipment, including conveyor belts and heat insulation. Growth in US manufacturing activity will drive sales gains, especially in industries (e.g., mining, food processing) in which coated fabrics offer a range of suitable performance characteristics (e.g., high tensile strength and durability, nonstick properties).
As all of the above applications are relatively high-value outlets for coated fabrics, their increasing use in such markets will also support pricing gains, further boosting demand in value terms.
Ongoing Development of Performance, Safety, and Sustainability Support Further Growth
Coated fabric sales will also benefit from continued product development – particularly since the material faces competition from a number of alternatives (e.g., treated fabrics, textiles engineered with inherent functional properties) and low-cost imports. The most important types of product development will involve improvements to:
performance characteristics (e.g., tensile strength, durability, and aesthetic attributes such as leather-like appearance and texture)
end user safety (e.g., phthalate-free versions of vinyl-coated fabrics)
sustainability (e.g., polyester substrates derived from recycled plastic packaging)
This Freedonia industry study analyzes the $2.75 billion coated fabrics market. It presents historical demand data (2008, 2013, and 2018) and forecasts for 2023 by product (polymer-coated, rubber-coated, fabric-backed wallcoverings), market (motor vehicles, protective clothing, industrial, furniture), and substrate (polyester, nylon, cotton). The study also evaluates company product offerings and competitive strategies for companies including Bradford Industries, Brookwood, Canadian General-Tower, ContiTech (Continental), Haartz, J Josephson, Kuraray, Morbern, Ningbo Joyson Electronic, OMNOVA Solutions, Saint-Gobain, Seaman, Shawmut, Spradling International, Trelleborg, and Uniroyal Global.