SYNTHETIC FIBRES

Synthetic fabrics, such as nylon and polyester, are produced entirely from chemicals. Natural fabrics, such as cotton, silk, and wool are made of fibres from plants and animals. Synthetic fabrics are useful because they have very different or enhanced (improved) properties in comparison to natural materials. Plastic raincoats, for example, are waterproof, and stretchy

SOME OF THE COMMON TYPES OF SYNTHETIC FIBRES

NYLON

ACRYLIC

POLYESTER

RAYON

NYLON

GENERAL OVERVIEW

• Nylons, or polyamides (PA), are high-performance semi-crystalline thermoplastics with attractive physical and mechanical properties that provide a wide range of end-use performances important in many industrial applications.

• While nylon takes many forms, it made its name as a textile fiber and revolutionized the textile industry. According to Fortune magazine in 1940, nylon was the fifth basic textile development in 4,000 years; the others were mercerized cotton, mechanical mass production, synthetic dyes, and rayon. In turn, nylon led to a host of other fibers and plastics that are integral to an advanced industrial society.

Manufacturing

About 8 billion pounds of nylon are produced each year in the U.S. Nylon is an artificial fiber. It is durable, strong and resists abrasion. In 1939, the DuPont company first manufactured NYLON – it was the first synthetic fiber made in the United States. It was used in nylon stockings during wartime, but even after the war became preferred over silk, and quickly replaced silk in most hosiery. Nylon is made of polymers known as polyamides which contain carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen. Solid chips of these polyamides are melted and forced through a heated spinneret. The spinneret has from one to hundreds of holes. Their size and shape change the characteristics of the resulting fiber. The fiber solidifies as it cools, and can then be spun or woven.

Properties and Uses OF Nylon

Nylon does not absorb water – this is great for some uses, but also means that nylon fabric and movement combine to create static electricity. Nylon has some of the look and feel of silk. It is used in sheer hosiery, sails, parachutes, blouses, gowns and veils, swimsuits, lingerie, and even car tires. Nylon has also replaced wool as the fiber most used in carpets. A process called air-texturing adds bulk to the nylon to make it useful as a floor covering.

Characteristics of Polyester Fibers and Products

  • Resists abrasion (but can “pill”)
  • Very resilient (springs back into shape)
  • Resist wrinkling
  • Very high heat can “melt” the fabric
  • The right amount of heat can be used to permanently “heat set” a crease or pleat
  • Easy to wash and wear
  • Does not absorb water (can be uncomfortable when worn next to the skin in warm weather unless loosely woven)
  • Dries quickly
  • Attracts static electricity which also attracts dirt and lint
  • Although they do NOT absorb water, they DO absorb oil and grease. This means synthetics
  • resist soiling, but once an oil-based stain soaks in, it can be difficult to clean.
  • Strong fiber 
  • Often blended with cotton or even wool to add crease resistance
  • NYLON does not absorb water, but it can be produced in such a way (as in polypropylene and microfibers) as to “wick” water away from the skin

EXAMPLES OF SOME OF THE NYLON USES

NYLON JACKET

NYLON GLOVES

SEATBELT OF CAR SEAT

SLEEPING BAG

BACKPACK

TENT

NYLON MOUNTAIN CLIMBING ROPE

ACRYLIC

GENERAL OVERVIEW

Acrylic fabric is made with plastic threads. The plastic threads are made of a manmade polymer fiber created from fossil fuels through a chemical process. Acrylic fabric is made in a way similar to the production of polyamide fabric (or nylon fabric) and polyester fabric.

Manufacturing

• Acrylic can be thought of as artificial wool. It is made from the unlikely combination of coal, air, water, oil, and limestone. DuPont first made acrylic fibers in 1944 and began commercial production in 1950. It is spun by either dry spinning or wet spinning.

• In dry spinning, the dissolved polymers are extruded into warm air. The fibers solidify by evaporation. In wet spinning, the polymer is dissolved and extruded into a bath and then dried.

Properties and Uses

• In some ways, acrylic imitates wool. It has wool’s warmth and softness but does not absorb water. Instead, acrylic wicks moisture to the surface where it evaporates.

• Acrylic is used in knitted apparels such as fleece, socks, sportswear, and sweaters. It is also used to create fake fur, craft yarns, upholstery fabric, carpet, luggage, awnings, and vehicle covers.

Characteristics of Polyester Fibers and Products

  • Resists abrasion (but can “pill”)
  • Very resilient (springs back into shape)
  • Resist wrinkling
  • Very high heat can “melt” the fabric
  • The right amount of heat can be used to permanently “heat set” a crease or pleat
  • Easy to wash and wear
  • Does not absorb water (can be uncomfortable when worn next to the skin in warm weather unless loosely woven)
  • Dries quickly
  • Attracts static electricity which also attracts dirt and lint
  • Although they do NOT absorb water, they DO absorb oil and grease. This means synthetics
  • resist soiling, but once an oil-based stain soaks in, it can be difficult to clean.
  • Lightweight and fairly strong
  • Acrylic can bulk to look like wool
  • Drapes well and accepts dye easily

EXAMPLES OF SOME OF THE ACRYLIC USES

FACE MASK

SWEATER

GLOVES

SOCKS

SWEATER

WINTER HAT

STRENGTH GRAPH OF SYNTHETIC AND NATURAL FIBRE

POLYESTER

GENERAL OVERVIEW

The fabrics made from polyester fiber have good elasticity, wrinkle resistance, shape retention, excellent wash-and-wear performance and durability, and so on so that it is widely used in all kinds of apparel fabrics. However, because polyester fiber is poor in moisture absorption, its clothing makes the wearer feel hot and sticky, produces static electricity easily which results in clothing absorbing dust and clinging to the body, and has poor comfort.

Manufacturing

• Polyester is the most commonly used synthetic fiber. DuPont introduced its Dacron brand of polyester in 1951, but the material itself was patented earlier in 1941.

• It’s made by reacting dicarboxylic acid with a dihydric alcohol. This base material can be used to make many things, from soda bottles to boats, as well as clothing fibers. Like nylon, polyester is melt-spun – this process allows the fibers to be made in different shapes and sizes for specific applications. Chemists can now alter the size and shape of polyester fibers to look and feel more like natural fibers. Ultra-thin microfibers can give polyester a smoother, softer feel than the polyester of twenty years ago.

Properties and Uses

It can be used for fashionable dresses, but it is most admired for its ability to resist wrinkling and for its easy wash-ability. Its toughness makes it a frequent choice for children’s wear. Polyester is often blended with other fibers like cotton to get the best of both worlds.

Characteristics of Polyester Fibers and Products

  • Resists abrasion (but can “pill”)
  • Very resilient (springs back into shape)
  • Resist wrinkling
  • Very high heat can “melt” the fabric
  • The right amount of heat can be used to permanently “heat set” a crease or pleat
  • Easy to wash and wear
  • Does not absorb water (can be uncomfortable when worn next to the skin in warm weather unless loosely woven)
  • Dries quickly
  • Attracts static electricity which also attracts dirt and lint
  • Although they do NOT absorb water, they DO absorb oil and grease. This means synthetics
  • resist soiling, but once an oil-based stain soaks in, it can be difficult to clean.
  • Strong fiber (but nylon is stronger)
  • Often blended with cotton or even wool to add crease resistance
  • Polyester does not absorb water, but it can be produced in such a way (as in polypropylene and microfibers) as to “wick” water away from the skin

EXAMPLES OF SOME OF THE POLYESTER USES

BLANKETS

UPHOLSTERY

WINDOW SHADES

DOOR CURTAINS

STRENGTH GRAPH OF SYNTHETIC AND NATURAL FIBRE

RAYON

Rayon, artificial textile material composed of regenerated and purified cellulose derived from plant sources. Developed in the late 19th century as a substitute for silk, rayon was the first man-made fibre.

How Rayon is Made

Although the production of rayon involves chemical processing, the components used are all natural. Wood is the primary source from which rayon is extracted. A solution of caustic soda is used for treating the wood and this transforms it into cellulose. Most people are unaware that rayon is a biodegradable fabric and hence more eco-friendly as compared to other textiles. The cellulose formed after the wood treatment is then converted into a unique viscose solution. This solution is forced through a spinning machine and forms filaments that are treated with a sulphuric acid solution. The process leads to the solidification of the viscose and the filaments formed are called ‘regenerated cellulose’.

EXAMPLES OF SOME OF THE RAYON USES

RUG OR CARPET

BLANKETS

CUSHION

WINDOW SHADES OR CURTAINS

STRENGTH GRAPH OF SYNTHETIC AND NATURAL FIBRE