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This study covers the United States medical nonwovens industry, defined here to include materials made from fibers, filaments, and films, which are arranged into webs, batts, or sheets, then bonded together using mechanical, thermal, or chemical means.
Nonwovens are categorized by the web formation process used to produce the material:
spunmelt (spunbonded and meltblown)
Historical data for 2009, 2014, and 2019 and forecasts to 2024 and 2029 are provided for nonwovens production (total) and demand (by web formation process and by application) in current dollars (which are not adjusted to account for inflation). Total demand is also shown in square meters and metric tons for products.
Totals for nonwovens presented in this study include nonwovens sold on the merchant market. Nonwoven goods used in captive production are not included in this data. In addition, the study discusses impacts for COVID-19, pricing trends, and competitive products, as well as the global outlook for medical nonwovens.
Key application breakouts include:
medical gowns (surgical and patient)
healthcare wipes (e.g., patient care, hard surface disinfectant, skin disinfectant, medical lab, nondisinfectant cleaning)
other medical products (e.g., staff apparel, bedding, headwear, shoe covers)
Excluded from the scope are adult incontinence products.
How will the COVID-19 coronavirus impact the global economy? The Freedonia Group is tracking recent developments and analyzing their impact in an easy to follow Economic Impact Tracker.
Medical nonwovens demand rose swiftly in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and further growth will be driven by strong demand for end-use products – such as medical gowns, drapes, healthcare wipes, and face masks:
An increasing volume of healthcare activity and surgical procedures, due in part to an increasingly large elderly population, will boost general need for these products.
Consumers and providers are likely to use more of these products per procedure due to increasing concern for healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), particularly in the wake of the pandemic and as the number of antibiotic-resistant germs continues to rise.
Spike in 2020 Demand for Medical Nonwovens Due to COVID-19
Demand for nonwovens used in medical applications spiked in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it was already widely used in medical facilities, personal protective equipment (PPE) made from nonwovens – like masks and gowns – quickly became scarce as hospitals were inundated with patients and employees began adhering to stricter protocols for using these items to decrease their risk of exposure.
Furthermore, consumer demand for products like masks caused stockpiles to be depleted and suppliers to seek ways to ramp up demand. Looking forward, it is expected that demand for these products will remain elevated until the pandemic lessens and emergency stocks are refilled.
Concern for Healthcare-Associated Infections Will Support Gains Through 2024
In addition to efforts to prevent transmission of the coronavirus, healthcare facilities continue to take steps to prevent potential HAIs in their facilities. Nonwovens are able to provide medical products with crucial characteristics – like barriers against fluid and aerosols as well as absorbency – that limit the transmission of pathogens and/or contain bodily fluids.
While annual growth rates are likely to slow between 2020 and 2024, heightened use of PPE and greater adherence to strict hygiene standards is expected to continue for some time, keeping the market for products made from nonwovens elevated. Additionally, innovation of nonwovens to increase the number of available materials that can act as a barrier for healthcare workers and patients will increase value gains.
Opportunities for Well-Established Product Applications Will Arise from Aging US Population
Spurred by the aging baby boomer generation, the population above the age of 65 has grown substantially in the past decade. As such, the number of elderly adults – who are more often in need of healthcare for both acute and long-term problems than younger people – has expanded. Demand for nonwovens used in medical products is expected to increase as this age group grows in size.