In a unique alliance that aims to build on the growing composites and technical textiles sector, Ahmedabad University and Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association (ATIRA) have joined hands to advance education, research, and development, and provide services to the industries in these domains. This cooperation builds on an ongoing collaboration where a Composites Centre of Excellence was established in the year 2022. One of the biggest drivers of this collaboration will be a one-of-its-kind two-year Master of Technology and a PhD Programme in Composites offered at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Ahmedabad University. Through the technical expertise and facilities of both institutions, the MTech in Composites Programme will provide a strong foundation in advanced mechanics, design, manufacturing, and testing related to composite components and structures. These courses will be followed by a year-long industry-based thesis on an allied topic of real-world interest. Industry perspectives and best-in-class practices will be integrated into the curriculum to make the graduates industry-ready. The PhD Programme is aimed to prepare the next generation of researchers in composites and new materials.
“This collaboration will strengthen academics at Ahmedabad University, and with faculty and students participating at ATIRA a robust support system for research, development, and outreach will be created. Ahmedabad University’s incubator, VentureStudio, will facilitate the incubation of composites and technical textiles-based start-ups. The collaboration will also address the need to strengthen workforce skilling for these areas.” says Professor Sunil Kale, Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Ahmedabad University.
Sunrise Industries: Technical Textiles and Composites
Besides composites, which are relevant for aerospace, defence, transportation, and industrial applications, technical textiles encompass 12 different segments classified as Agrotech, Oekotech, Buildtech, Meditech, Geotech, Clothtech, Mobiltech, Hometech, Sportstech, Indutech, Protech, and Packtech based on their functions. Applications include wearable electronics, filters and masks, batteries and fuel cells, extreme weather clothing, and geotextiles, among others. Environmental aspects and recycling and sustainability are also important aspects in these sectors.
In 2020, the Ministry of Textiles launched the National Technical Textiles Mission to position India as a global leader in this domain. Within this segment, composites are showing immense potential. According to a recent report by the FRP Institute, the consumption of the Indian industry will increase from 5,11,900 tonnes of composite materials in 2021 to 7,68,200 tonnes by 2027.
The technical textiles and composites industry stands at an exciting growth phase globally and in India. With the global technical textiles market expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.2 per cent to reach USD 274 billion by 2027. The Indian technical textiles market is advancing formidably, being the fifth largest in the world and expected to grow at 8 to 10 per cent per annum over the last five years.
The major growth drivers for the composites industry will be from sectors like electric vehicles, renewable energy, transportation and construction industries, consumer and white goods, and defence. Government projects like smart cities, hydrocarbon, freshwater transportation, and sewage treatment systems will also aid the growth of composite materials consumption.
Pragnesh Shah, Director, ATIRA, says, “The government is looking at a significant expansion of the technical textiles industry in the country. They are placing a premium on market research, industry experts, and high-quality engineering schools that can manage the requirements of this industry. We need to prepare a skilled workforce to meet this demand. ATIRA, with its unwavering commitment to drive innovation as well as support to the industry in adopting these innovative technologies would bring in crucial Industry connect to academic research at Ahmedabad University. This is the first of its kind partnership in India around composites.”
Joint Research and Development
ATIRA and Ahmedabad University have also initiated joint research and development projects and have ambitious plans to set up state-of-the-art facilities for designing, analysing, manufacturing, and testing composites components and structures, among others. These facilities will supplement the PhD Programme in Composites and Technical Textiles at Ahmedabad University and support internships. The joint teams will also provide technical support to industry and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), work on new product development, and incubate start-ups and innovators. Such facilities will become the basis for offering skill development programmes, and for spreading awareness of technical textiles, in general, and composites, in particular.