Buoyed by strong growth prospects, manufacturers of flame resistant apparel are focusing on developing flame resistant apparel which is comfortable, stylish, sustainable and innovative, according to a report in issue 65 of Performance Apparel Markets from the global business information company Textiles Intelligence. In fact, demand for flame resistant apparel is forecast to grow by 6.5 percent per annum between 2018 and 2027, and healthy growth is also forecast for flame resistant fabrics, fibres and chemicals.
Growth will be due in part to greater demand in the Asia-Pacific region and in South America where a spur in infrastructure projects is set to take place, and in the Middle East where the oil and gas industry is set to grow. At the same time, a number of industries—including motor racing and the power industry—are becoming increasingly concerned about worker safety, reflecting the implementation of stricter safety standards.
Reflecting the potential for growth in these markets, a number of manufacturers are investing in new technologies to enable them to produce high quality flame resistant apparel which is also fashionable, is comfortable, and provides a number of additional performance properties—such as breathability and moisture management. In a bid to take advantage of these growing markets, manufacturers are developing flame resistant denim fabrics, and fabrics which are thinner, lighter and have a soft handle. They are also developing mid-range fabrics which are suitable for flame resistant coveralls. Meanwhile, a number of companies are questioning the environmental sustainability of their products, and are avoiding the use of flame retardant treatments which contain toxic or bioaccumulative chemicals.
Initial investigations are being made into the incorporation of recycled materials in flame resistant fabrics. However, such investigations pose a significant challenge, not least because of the high costs associated with research and development. In many cases, it is difficult to achieve environmental sustainability without sacrificing protection–which must remain paramount.
Market growth aside, the development of comfortable, stylish and sustainable flame resistant apparel is considered to be particularly important as their availability will encourage workers in hazardous conditions to wear the protective apparel they are recommended to wear.