The nonwovens used in medical applications accounted for 9% of carded nonwovens sales in 2019. In the medical market, nonwovens can be used to produce a variety of disposable products, including such products as healthcare wipes, bandages, bedding, among others. Adult incontinence products are included in the consumer market. Demand is dependent on several variables, including the volume of healthcare activity, the number of surgical procedures, demographic patterns, and incidence of diseases and disorders.
These and other trends are included in the new Freedonia Group study Carded Nonwovens.
Demand for nonwovens in medical applications is expected to increase 3.9% per year to $255 million in 2024, supported by:
- concerns over healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and the effectiveness of infection prevention protocols, which will support continued growth among products like disinfectant wipes
- fast growth in the senior population (aged 65+), which will benefit medical nonwovens since the elderly have greater healthcare needs than other parts of the general population
- the compatibility of nonwovens with many medical applications, due to their potential for softness and absorbency
In addition, just as in consumer products, many of the personal hygiene products used in healthcare settings continue to undergo new research and development to improve product performance, safety, and sustainability. This includes developing products with greater strength, low linting, and safer chemical treatments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred demand spikes for a variety of medical supplies as well as those that limit transmission of the virus, such as surface disinfectant wipes. However, the pandemic has also put some limitations on the demand for nonwovens in the medical market. Many hospitals opted to limit elective surgeries as the pandemic spread, both to limit the potential transmission of the virus, but also to focus resources on the treating the disease and protecting healthcare staff.