What Are Synthetic Fibers? - Overview

Synthetic fibers are omnipresent in today’s age of modernization. They are everywhere around us, in clothing, furnishings, home appliances etc. A thin thread of an artificial or a natural substance is called a fibre. Synthetic fibres are fibres that are made by man. It is a chain of units put together to form a Polymer. A polymer comprises of these small units put together to form a larger unit. However, some polymers occur freely in nature. Cotton, for instance, consists of a polymer called cellulose, which is in turn made up of a group of glucose units. These fibres are formed at the manufacturing stage during the extrusion process of fibre either by one of these spinning methods – melt, wet or dry. Synthetic fibres are prepared using raw materials such as petroleum after undergoing numerous refinement processes. One of the disadvantages of using this fibre, however, is that these fibres on heating, tend to melt. Some synthetic fibres such as Polyesters and Polyamides are high in strength and are not stretched easily hence, are used in textiles.

Types Of Synthetic Fiber

Rayon

It is a fibre obtained from chemical treatment of wood pulp exhibiting similar properties to that of silk, hence it is also known as artificial silk. Though obtained from wood pulp, it is man-made. Can be woven as silk fiber or dyed in different shades, it is cheaper than silk. It can also be mixed with wool and cotton to make different household items. Example: Carpets, bedsheets

Nylon

The first fully synthetic fibre, nylon, is a man-made fibre. Back in 1931, it was made purely from coal, water, and air. It did not use raw materials from animals and plants. Nylon became popular in cloth making because it was light, strong – stronger than a strand of steel of comparative thickness. Besides having elastic and lustrous properties, it was also easy to wash. Examples: Ropes, tents, bags, curtains, parachute ropes, socks and ropes for rock climbing.

Polyester and Acrylic

Few of the characteristics of this fibre are:

  • Does not get wrinkled easily
  • Remains crisp
  • Easy to wash
  • Used in cloth making widely
  • Terylene, a polyester, can be drawn into a thin fibre, which can be woven like any yarn
  • A polyester called polyethylene terephthalate is used in making films, utensils, wires, bottles etc.

Acrylic is flexible, light and soft, this synthetic fibre is formed using acrylic acids. These are widely used in paints, acrylic paints. Clothes made using acrylic synthetic fibre is comparatively cheaper compared to those made from natural sources like wool. Apart from these benefits, acrylic is obtained in a wide range of colours, they are durable and quite affordable in comparison to other fibers hence are popular.

Characteristics And Advantages Of Synthetic fibre

  • These fibres are filaments that are crystalline in nature
  • Robust and high elasticity
  • Much cheaper compared to natural fiber
  • Stronger than naturally occurring fibre
  • Very durable
  • Dry up quickly hence used in making dress materials
  • Available readily as compared to natural fibres
  • Can be maintained easily
  • Easy to wash
  • Chemically resistant fibres
  • These fibres do not shrink
  • Is consumer-friendly as it provides the following properties – waterproof, stain resistant, stretchable material
  • It has little to no dirt or impurities
  • Very comfortable to use
  • The fabric is not prone to any damage by insects as seen in natural fiber due to it’s man-made nature..

Examples Of Synthetic fiber

Some examples of synthetic fiber are as follows:

  • Nylon
  • Rayon
  • Acrylic
  • Polypropylene
  • Spandex
  • Kevlar
  • Vinyon
  • Orlon
  • Zylon
  • Terylene

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