Deliveries of rapier and projectile shuttleless looms to the world’s textile mills increased by 31 percent in 2009, a year when total loom purchases declined, according to a report from the business information company Textiles Intelligence. More specifically, shipments of rapier and projectile type looms to mills in Asia surged by 47 percent, while deliveries of airjet looms to mills in Asia plunged by 40 percent. As a result of this sudden shift, the share of rapier and projectile looms in total purchases of shuttleless looms by Asian mills increased from 38 percent to 54 percent—the highest level on record.
The sudden surge in rapier and projectile loom purchases implies that the Asian woven fabric industry is moving upmarket in response to the global economic downturn, according to Textiles Intelligence. Rapier and projectile looms tend to be used for weaving fabrics that are more complicated and of higher added value than those made on airjet looms. Markets for such fabrics tend to be more resilient in times of crisis than sales of basic fabrics produced on airjet looms.
Rapier and projectile looms also provide more flexibility in terms of product variety and are better suited to producing shorter runs of different fabric types for a wider range of applications. This capability provides a significant competitive advantage at times when customers are more selective and want smaller amounts of fabrics to be delivered in shorter time frames.