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Textile Fibers – the building blocks of the textile industry

Characteristics of textile fibers and its properties

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Fiber is a hair-like strand of material. It is flexible and can be spun or twisted for weaving, braiding, knitting, crocheting, etc. to make desired products. Fibers can be obtained in natural form from plants and animals as well as in synthetic form. Man-made or synthetic fibers are either made up of chemicals or by processing natural fibers to create new fiber structures/properties.

Properties of Man-Made Fibers

Acetate

  • The first commercial production of acetate fiber in the United States was in 1924 by the Celanese Corporation.
  • In 1952 the Federal Trade Commission made acetate a generic category, separating it from the rayon fiber family.
  • Acetate is a manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is cellulose acetate.

Properties

  • It has a round shape with striations on the surface.

Advantages

  • Acetate is a medium-weight fiber with excellent drape and a luxurious hand.
  • It has fair resiliency and fair absorbency (6.5 % moisture regain).
  • It has no pilling problem and very little static problem, and it is inexpensive

Disadvantages

  • Acetate has poor strength; it becomes about 30 percent weaker when wet, but recovers original strength when dried.
  • It has poor abrasion resistance and poor elasticity. It should be dry cleaned or carefully laundered. Washing by machine should be avoided because the wet strength of acetate is very low, and the garment may be damaged.
  • Acetate is also subject to gas fading from pollutant gases in the air that tend to easily fade or change the color of fabric.
  • This can be a problem particularly for deep blue and navy lining material, which can change to purple and then red from exposure.

End Uses

  • The principal end uses for this fiber include lining fabric, lingerie, graduation gowns, ribbons, backing fabric for bonded materials, and cigarette-filter material.

Acrylic

  • The first commercial production of acrylic fiber in the United States was in 1950 by E. l. DuPont“de Nemours & Company.
  • The fiber soon began to replace wool, initially in sweaters and blankets and then later in other items.
  • Consumers responded well to acrylic because it was less expensive than wool and washable.
  • Acrylic is a manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is any long-chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85 percent by weight of acrylonitrile units.

Properties

  • Acrylic has a round shape with a smooth surface.

Advantages

  • Acrylic is a lightweight fiber with a good drape.
  • It creates fabrics that are warm yet lightweight.
  • It has good resiliency and elasticity and has excellent resistance to sunlight and weathering.
  • It may be washed or dry cleaned.

Disadvantages

  • Acrylic has only fair strength; it becomes about 20 percent weaker when wet, but recovers when dry.
  • It is a hydrophobic fiber (1.5 %moisture regain), and static and pilling are frequent problems.
  • Its abrasion resistance is fair.

End Uses

  • The principal end uses for this fiber include sweaters, blankets, carpeting, children’s garments, and outdoor products, such as awnings, market umbrellas, and tents.

Lyocell

  • The Federal Trade Commission approved the lyocell generic fiber name as a subclass under Rayon in I996.
  • The fiber was developed by Courtaulds Fibers Ltd. (Great Britain) and took ten years and $100 million to produce.
  • Lyocell is a manufactured fiber composed of solvent spun cellulose.
  • The self-contained solvent-spun process used to produce this fiber creates less water and air pollution.
  • The fiber has a round cross-section with a smooth surface.
  • The process used to produce lyocell has a less negative impact on the environment than the process used to produce rayon because a different spinning technique is used.
  • Difficulties relating to environmental standards for air and water pollution have become a concern for most producers in the textile industry

Advantages

  • Lyocell is stronger than all other cellulosic fibers and has less shrinkage.
  • It is launderable with an 11.5 percent moisture regain and is stronger when wet.
  • It is noted for creating fabrics with great luster, soft hands, and good drapes.

Disadvantages

  • Fabric wear and tear may cause the fibers to splinter on the surface.
  • This may result in fuzziness and pilling over the life of the product.
  • Color changes can occur, as well as changes in hand from splintering.
  • It can be washed or dry cleaned, but laundry agitation can accelerate surface change.
  • It is also vulnerable to mildew and some insects.

End Uses

  • End-uses for this fiber include dress slacks, blouses, pajamas, shirts, and dresses.

Nylon

  • The first commercial production of nylon fiber in the United States was in 1939 by the E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Company.
  • It is the second-most-used manufactured fiber in the United States, behind polyester.
  • The two major types of nylon today are nylon 6, 6, and nylon 6.
  • Nylon is a manufactured fiber in which the fibre forming substance is a long-chain synthetic polyamide in which fewer than 85 percent of the amide linkages are attached directly to two aromatic rings.
  • The fiber has a rodlike shape with a smooth surface.

Advantages

  • Nylon is a lightweight fiber with excellent strength and abrasion resistance.
  • It is about 10 percent weaker when wet.
  • It has very good elasticity, good resiliency, and good drape.
  • It can be washed or dry cleaned.

Disadvantages

  • Nylon is a hydrophobic fiber (4.5 % moisture regain).
  • Static and pilling are problems.
  • It has poor resistance to prolonged and continuous exposure to sunlight, thus usually malting this fibre unsatisfactory for use in draperies or outdoor furniture (unless modified to improve its resistance).

End Uses

  • The end uses include a wide range of products in the apparel, interior furnishings, and industrial areas (for example, lingerie, swimwear, exercise wear, hosiery, jackets, bedspreads, carpets, upholstery, tents, fishnets, sleeping bags, rope, parachutes, and luggage).
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Polyester Fiber and its uses

Properties and application of Polyester Fibers and Polyester Yarn

Olefin

  • The first commercial production of olefin fiber in the United States in a textile-grade multifilament form was in 1961.
  • It was a polypropylene type.
  • A polyethylene-type olefin fiber followed and today both are commercially produced.
  • Olefin is a manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is any long-chain synthetic polymer composed at least 85 percent by weight of ethylene, propylene, or other olefin units, except amorphous (noncrystalline) polyolefins that qualify as a rubber fiber.
  • The fiber has a rodlike shape with a smooth surface.

Advantages

  • Olefin is a very lightweight fiber.
  • It has very good strength and abrasion resistance. This fiber also has excellent sunlight resistance and weather ability.
  • Olefin is almost completely hydrophobic (less than 0.1 percent moisture regain).
  • Spills and staining liquids can be readily wiped up, making for favorable use of this fiber in indoor/outdoor carpeting, bathroom and kitchen floor covering, and upholstery.
  • Olefin can be washed and dry cleaned. Although this fiber is hydrophobic, it possesses excellent wicking action when very thin.
  • It also has excellent resiliency.

Disadvantages

  • The almost completely hydrophobic nature of this fiber makes it unfavorable for most clothing.
  • Blended with other fibers, its hydrophobic nature and excellent wicking action make olefin a practical component of fabrics used for running clothes and other high-performance applications.
  • Static occurs and pilling is a problem at times.
  • Ironing, machine laundering, and machine drying must be done at low temperatures (about 150°F = 65°C) because the fiber has a very low softening point.

 End Uses

  • Important end uses are running and cycling clothing along with apparel for diving and surfing because of its excellent wicking action.
  • Significant uses are nonwovens and carpet face yarns.
  • The fiber is also used in upholstery, auditorium seating, industrial fabrics (e.g., filter cloth, bagging, cordage), and geotextiles.

Polyester

  • The first commercial production of polyester fiber in the United States was in 1953 by E. l. DuPont“ de Nemours & Company.
  • It is the most used manufactured fiber in the United States.
  • Polyester is a manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is any long-chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85 percent by weight of an ester of a substituted aromatic carboxylic acid, including, substituted terephthalate units and para-substituted hydroxy-benzoate units.
  • The fiber has a rodlike shape with a smooth surface.

Advantages

  • Polyester is a medium-weight fiber with very good strength and abrasion resistance.
  • It can be washed and dry cleaned.
  • The fiber has excellent resiliency and is the best wash-and-wear fiber.
  • It also possesses good elasticity.

Disadvantages 

  • Polyester is almost completely hydrophobic (0.4 percent moisture regain).
  • It is difficult to get water anti detergent into the fiber to remove stains.
  • Visa finish helps release soil from polyester fibers.
  • Static and pilling are also major problems.
  • In addition, polyester is oleophilic (absorbs oil easily).

End-Use

  • The end uses include a wide range of products in apparel, interior furnishings, and industrial areas.
  • Suits, skirts, career apparel, performance fabrics, curtains, carpeting, sails, tire cord, fibrefill used to stuff pillows, and comforter threads are some examples of its uses.

Rayon

  • The first commercial production of rayon fiber in the United States was in 1910 by the American Viscose Company.
  • It was the first manufactured fiber. Because it is largely cellulose in content, it greatly resembles cotton in its chemical properties.
  • By using different chemicals and manufacturing techniques, two basic types of rayon were developed: viscose rayon and cuprammonium rayon.
  • Cuprammonium rayon is called “cupro”, and viscose rayon have nearly identical physical and chemical properties.
  • Cupro can be produced in much finer (thinner) filaments than viscose, which may then translate to finer, sheerer, and/or to softer, more drapable fabrics than can be achieved with viscose.
  • Fabrics of cupro are most frequently used in higher-priced lines (cupro is more expensive than viscose) for coat linings and sheer, lightweight dresses.
  • Rayon is a manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose, as well as manufactured fibers composed of regenerated cellulose in which substituents have replaced not more than 15 percent of the hydrogens of the hydroxyl groups.
  • Because it is a cellulosic fiber, it shares many of the same properties as other cellulosic fibers, such as cotton and flax.
  • The fiber has a serrated round shape.

Advantages

  • Viscose rayon is a medium-weight fiber with fair to good strength and abrasion resistance.
  • It is hydrophilic (11 % moisture regain).
  • The fiber is washable under proper care conditions and is dry cleanable.
  • There are no static or pilling problems, and it is also inexpensive.

Disadvantages

  • Viscose rayon loses 30 to 50 percent of its strength when wet, thus requiring great caution in laundering.
  • It recovers strength when dry.
  • Rayon has very poor elasticity and resiliency.
  • lt also shrinks appreciably from washing and is attacked by mildew.

End Uses

  • The end uses for viscose rayon include a wide range of products in the apparel, interior furnishings, and industrial areas for example, dresses, shirts, lingerie,
  • Jackets, draperies, medical products, nonwoven fabrics, hygiene products.

Spandex

  • The first commercial production of spandex fiber in the United States was in 1959 by E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Company.
  • It is an elastomeric manufactured fiber (able to stretch at least 100 percent and snap back like natural rubber).
  • Spandex is used in filament form exclusively because elastomeric properties are available only in filament form.
  • Elastane is the generic fiber name used outside the United States and Canada.
  • Spandex is a manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is a long-chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85 percent of segmented polyurethane.
  • The fiber is extruded as a monofilament or in many very fine filaments that immediately fuse together to form a monofilament.

Advantages

  • Spandex is a lightweight fiber with excellent stretch and recovery properties (over 500 percent elongation) and good durability.
  • It can be washed or dry cleaned, although chlorine bleach causes yellowing of the fiber.
  • There are no pilling or static problems.

Disadvantages

  • Spandex has poor strength, but this is not critical because it has so much stretch.
  • It is a hydrophobic fiber (1 % moisture regain).
  • White spandex becomes yellowed from prolonged exposure to air. This is not a problem, however, in covered yarns or in dyed spandex, in which the yellowing effect is masked.
  • Ironing should be done quickly, with a low-temperature setting. Spandex is an expensive fiber; however, as little as 1 percent is needed in fabric to achieve a desirable stretch.

End Uses

  • The principal end uses include denim, undergarment, support products, ski pants, swimwear, athletic apparel, and other articles where stretch is required.

Comparison of Commonly used Fiber Proprties

Fibre Durability Comfort Appearance
Abrasion Resistance Strength Absorbency Resiliency Pilling Resistance
Cellulosic
Acetate Poor Poor Fair Good Good
Viscose Rayon Fair Fair Excellent Poor Good
Lyocell Fair Excellent Excellent Fair Good
Non Cellulosic
Acrylic Fair Fair Poor Good Fair
Nylon Excellent Excellent Poor Excellent Poor
Olefin Excellent Excellent Very Poor Excellent Good
Polyester Excellent Excellent Poor Excellent Very Poor

Glass

  • The first commercial production of glass fibre in the United States was in 1936 by the Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation.
  • Glass is a manufactured fibre in which the fibre forming substance is glass. The fibre has a round, rodlike shape with a very smooth surface.
  • Glass has excellent strength. It is a stiff fibre and requires no ironing.
  • It suffers no effect from exposure to sunlight, even over extended periods, which makes glass an excellent fiber for curtains and drapes.
  • It does not burn, but it melts at 1500°F = 815°C.
  • Glass is a heavy fiber with poor drapability. Its abrasion resistance is extremely poor, which makes it unusable for clothing or other items that involve significant movement of fibers or fabric.
  • The glass fragments would cause skin abrasion on a person who came in direct contact with it. Therefore, it is not used for clothing or carpet.
  • It has very poor elasticity and also has a poor hand. Glass is completely hydrophobic, not absorbing any moisture. It should not be laundered in a washing machine because its poor flexing property causes the fiber to crack or break.
  • The principal end uses of this fibre include draperies, electrical and thermal insulation, tires, and optical fiber for communication, electronic, and medical equipment.

Metallic Fibers

  • The earliest metallic fibers were strips of real gold and silver. These can he seen in ancient saris, carpets, and tapestries. Later, less expensive metals such as steel, copper, and aluminium were used.
  • Metallic fibers are used primarily for decorative effects, although when placed in carpeting the functional effect is to lessen the accumulation of static.
  • These fibers (not completely metal) do not tarnish or cut adjacent yarns.
  • They can be ironed at low temperatures and can also be washed and dry cleaned.
  • Metallic fibers increase fabric stiffness.
  • Metallic fibers are used in a wide variety of items, including draperies, tablecloths, dresses, sweaters, swimwear, shoes, accessories, ribbons and carpet.

 

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