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Cover Story | March 2014

A pioneer tells a Tale of Technical Textiles

Yogesh Kusumgar, Chairman of Kusumgar Corporates, can be rightly called a pioneer in technical textiles. He took a fascination for technical textiles in the 1970s when there was no specific name invented to indicate this new breed of textiles. Some called it functional textiles and some others performance textiles, he says.

Yogesh Kusumgar recounted, in an exclusive talk with Samuel Joseph, Editor of The Indian Textile Journal, his journey into technical textiles, right from the 70s and the beginning of a revolution in textiles called Technical Textiles.

"We as a Kusumgar we started our activity in technical textile in the year 1971. It was a time when the word technical textile did not exist, it was commonly known as industrial textile and the main applications were tire cord, etc. But in global scenario there was some sort of a revolution going on. By 1970 technical textile word started being introduced when textiles were used for geotechnical application and aerospace application. For about a decade or so there was a debate as to what should be the right technology given to this type of thing. Some called it as a functional or performance fabric. By and large technical textile is being today accepted as a common technology."

Birth of Technical Textile

"With the development there is a fine history which is related to technical textile and what has fuelled growth of technical textile is the advent of nylon. Nylon very few people must be aware is a history by itself. Synthesis of polyemyl became necessary at the time of second world war where all parachutes were made of silk and silk being animal fibre its availability and quality both were at stake so the project was given to the company to synthesize polyemyl and many people must be knowing that it was Dr Wallace Hume Carothers, who was able to synthesize this particular fibre. There is a little history that in spite of spending millions of dollars he was not able to synthesize and being frustrated he resigned and company did not accept his resignation and within 3 months he was able to synthesize it".

"It so happened that ICI company in UK was also able to synthesize and both ICI and Dupont being joint company decided it is better to take advantage of this research. As a result they jointly patented the fabric. Although it is known as a polyemyl fibre it is mainly known as nylon and name nylon has come from the fact that they have selected NY from New York and LON from London and that is how the name has come. Yes, the basic purpose of nylon was to replace silk but its properties came out to be so emerging that it started replacing cotton and rayon, etc for tire cord application and that was a bad time for developed countries because the technology for producing synthetic yarn was pretty much over the globe and value addition was at stake. So in that case, they decided, why not to think of using textile for unconventional application. That was the birth or a turning point for growth of technical textile in global scenario. People tried textile for variety of purpose, for aerospace application, marine application, etc."

But unfortunately India as a country, I personally believe post independence, our textile industry which prior to independence was considered as a national barometer for economy, suffered multiple injuries. What are those multiple injuries which were difficult to encounter, but there were many including government policy, excise and all. So people started to make money by unfair means. And if that thing happens then technology will always be on last bench and that is what happened till 1990. Nobody knew technical textile. Incidentally I was the President of Sasmira and Satyam who was then Secretary to Ministry of Textile was paying some funds to Sasmira and I dec

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