Shin Chuan-Yao said that countries such as the US, Japan, Germany, France and Italy tend to use advanced technology in textile production. "They develop textiles using technologies to create more products with value-added features such as lighter weight, more beautiful colour and lustre, and skin protection," he said.
Asian consumers increasingly seek out products made from multifunctional textiles that can withstand extreme weather, rain and can provide a range of other protection, he said.
This relatively new niche in textiles and clothing is driving a segmentation of the market based on technology.
Shin said that nanotechnology would play an increasingly important role in textile production. Such technology can enhance textile performance and quality by strengthening and modifying fibres. New high-tech fabrics are emerging that can withstand fire, absorb ultraviolet radiation and protect against viruses and bacteria. He estimated that the "nano-fibre" product market could be worth about Bt17.8 billion within the next few years.
However, he emphasised that the Kingdom has to work to keep up with the textile-tech trends.
"Thailand has Thai silk, which is a unique fabric, but to compete with others, there must be some more unique character added to the product which can be done through advanced technology," he said.
Pichai Uttamapinant, chairman of the Textile Testing Centre Committee, Thailand Textile Institute, said that Taiwan is a model for Thailand to follow.
Pichai said the institute has received government support but needs more ability in the area of research and development.
September 11, 2003