Waterproof breathable textiles (WBT), as the name depicts, are employed in the manufacture of garments that are weather-proof, i.e., which prevent the passage of water and heat from the fabric. These textiles prevent both penetration and absorption of water, unlike water-repellent fabrics that only delay water penetration. These waterproof breathable textiles permit the flow of water vapor (perspiration) from inside the clothing to the outer atmosphere. However, these textiles prevent penetration of heat or water from outside to inside the fabric. The waterproof breathable textiles market can be bifurcated on the basis of product type into densely woven, coated, and membranes. On the basis of end-user industry, the market for waterproof breathable textiles can be segmented into garments, footwear, and gloves.
The densely woven type of waterproof breathable textiles is manufactured by combining and piling up cotton yarns together. When exposed to water, pores of these densely woven fabric are swollen, thus reducing the size of pores in the fabric. This reduction in size of pores requires very high pressure to permit the passage of water through the fabric.
For a highly dense type of waterproof breathable textiles, the standard pore size of is about 10 μm, while that of conventional fabric is 60 μm. The membranes type of water breathable textile is an absolutely thin film made from polymer. It is designed in such way that it prevents passage of liquid water into the fabric and only allows penetration of water vapor through it. This type has a thickness of about 10 μm and possesses lamination coating to impart the necessary physical strength. Materials such as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) polymer and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) are primarily employed during the manufacturing process. These hydrophilic membranes are thin films of chemically modified polyurethane or polyester. One surface is coated with polyurethane in coated waterproof breathable fabrics.
The membranes type of waterproof breathable textile exhibits properties such protection from UV radiation, airborne pollutants, and temperature variations. High demand for membranes type of waterproof breathable textile is expected to propel the market in the near future. Increasing demand for high performance and extremely comfortable fabrics is estimated to drive the global market for waterproof breathable textiles in the next few years. Rising disposable income and increasing awareness regarding fitness are expected to propel demand for waterproof breathable textiles in developing economies such as China and India.
Rising use of recycled PET bottles in the manufacture of waterproof breathable textiles is anticipated to boost growth of the waterproof breathable textiles market globally. Growing need for antimicrobial and stain-resistant fabrics in sportswear garments is likely to fuel demand for waterproof breathable textiles in this application.