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As we all know the clothes we are wearing are made of some fabrics. These fabrics are made from some natural or man made sources. We know some natural fibers like cotton, wool, silk, etc.. are produced from plants and animals. On the other hand there are fibers which are produced artificially. These artificially produced fibers are called man made fibers or synthetic fibers.
What is a Synthetic Fiber ?
Synthetic fibers are the fibers which are produced chemically by human beings. A synthetic fiber is a chain of small units join together. These small units are actually Polymers. Monomer the individual unit that makes up each polymer. .The raw materials used for making this fibers is petroleum. Synthetic fibers are obtained by chemical processing of petrochemicals. There are different types of synthetic fibers obtained depending upon the types of chemical substance used during the manufacture of synthetic fiber.
Types of Synthetic Fibers
Depending upon the chemical substance used during the manufacturing process synthetic fibers are classified into four types. They are:
It is a semisynthetic fiber having properties similar to that of silk and is obtained by chemical process of wood pulp. It is also known as artificial silk as it resembles silk and is cheaper than silk. It can be dyed in wide variety of colors. It can also be mixed with cotton to make bedsheets or mixed with wool to make carpets.
Properties Of Rayon
- It is a versatile fiber.
- It is very cool and soft.
- It is used in humid steamy climatic conditions.
- It has very lower elastic recovery of any fiber.
- It is recommended for dry cleaning purpose only.
- It resembles the texture of silk, cotton, linen and wool.
- it has the same comfort property as natural fibers.
Types of Rayon
There are 3 common types of Rayon. They are
- Viscose rayon – is a semi-synthetic type of rayon fabric made from wood pulp that is used as a silk substitute
- Modal – is a semi-synthetic fabric made from beech tree pulp that is used primarily for clothing, such as underwear and pajamas, and household items, like bed sheets and towels.
- Lyocell – is similar to modal in that it is made with beech trees, however the production process uses fewer harsh chemicals, making it more environmentally friendly. Lyocell is similar to cotton or linen and is often blended with those fabrics.
Uses of Rayon
- It is used in clothing
- It is used in food packing.
- It is used in hygiene products.
- It is used to make decorative items
It is the first fully synthetic fiber. It is obtained from coal, water and air. Nylon is so popular for making clothes because this type of fibers are strong elastic and light. They are shiny and easy to wash. It is used in many articles like sock, ropes ,car seatbelts, tents, curtains etc. It is also used for making parachutes and ropes for rock climbing since it is stronger than even a steel wire. Nylons can be used in high temperature environments. Heat stabilised systems allow sustained performance at temperatures up to 185degree celsius (for reinforced systems). One of the main advantage of using nylon is it has high insulation and resistance to corrosion.
Properties of Nylon
- Very strong
- Damage resistant to oil and many chemicals
- Does not absorb water
- Dries quickly
Types of Nylon
There are many types of nylon available. They are Nylon 6 nylon 66, nylon 6/6-6, nylon 6/9, nylon 6/10, nylon 6/12, nylon 11, nylon 12.
Uses of Nylon
- It is first used commercially in a nylon-bristled toothbrush.
- It is used as plastic in manufacturing machine parts.
- It is used for many injection molded parts for vehicles and mechanical equipment.
- It is used in clothing industry.
- It is widely used for mechanical construction and maintenance.
Chemically, polyester is a polymer primarily composed of compounds within the ester (CO-O) functional group. Most synthetic and some plant-based polyester fibers are made from ethylene, which is a constituent of petroleum that can also be derived from other sources. While some forms of polyester are biodegradable, most of them are not, and polyester production and use contribute to pollution around the world. Polyester is a synthetic fabric that’s usually obtained from petroleum. Fabrics made of this fiber do not wrinkled easily and remains crisp and easy to wash. Terylene is a popular polyester fiber. This can also be mixed with natural fibers like cotton and wool to from terry cot and terry wool.
Properties of Polyester fibers
- They are long lasting.
- They are extremely strong.
- They are resistant to most chemicals.
- It is easily washed and dried.
- It retains its shape.
- It is typically non biodegradable
Types of Polyester Fiber
There are 3 types of polyester fiber. They are
1. Ethylene Polyester
It is also known as PET, the most popular type of polyester available on the market. In most contexts, the word “polyester” is synonymous with “PET” even though other types of polyester exist.
2. Plant-Based Polyester
This fabric is biodegradable. They are more expensive to make. They are less durable compared to PET and PCDT.
3. PCDT Polyester
It is not much popular as others. It is more elastic and durable than PET polyesters. It is frequently preferred for heavy-duty applications like upholstery and curtains.
Uses of Polyester Fiber
- It is used in the manufacturing of all kinds of clothes and home appliances.
- It is used to make plastic bottles.
- It is used in manufacturing of balloons.
- They are widely used as a finish on high-quality wood products such as the guitars, the pianos, and the vehicle interiors.
- It is used as a stain-resistant.
- It is used in the packaging of food.
- It is used to make other blended fabrics.
We wear sweaters and use shawls or blankets in winter. Many of these are actually not made from natural wool, though they appear to resemble the wool. These are prepared from another type of synthetic fiber called acrylic. It is a type of synthetic fiber made from a polymer called polyacrylonitrile. It is used as a cheaper alternative to wool.
Properties Of Acrylic
- A warm, soft and lightweight fiber.
- Easy to wash
- It dries quickly.
- Easy to dye in various colors.
- Has excellent color fastness.
- Does not shrink or stretch or wrinkle.
- Resistant to different chemicals and attack of moths.
Types of Acrylic Fiber
There are four types of acrylic: They are :
- Acrylic – are formed from the wet or dry spinning of copolymers containing at least 85% acrylonitrile units. They have been used extensively in applications formerly reserved for wool or other keratin fibers.
- Modacrylic – They possess warm wool-like aesthetics and a generally bright luster. The fiber exhibits fair pilling and abrasion resistance.
- Lastrile – They are fibers formed from copolymers of acrylonitrile and a diene such as butadiene and contain 10%-50% acrylonitrile units.
- Nytril – They are made up of polymers containing at least 85% vinylidene dinitrile units, which appear at least every other unit in the polymer chain.
Uses of Acrylic
- Used in making socks, sportswear.
- Used in woolens like sweater, shawls etc.
- Used in making blankets, awning and rugs.
Advantages of Synthetic Fibers
- Synthetic fibers have good elasticity.
- They don’t wrinkle up easily.
- Fabrics made from these fibers are less expensive, durable and readily available in comparison to natural fibers.
- Synthetic fibers can handle the heavy load without breaking.
- They don’t shrink.
- Synthetic fibers blend with other fibers easily.
- They are very absorbent.
- They are stronger are natural fibers.
- It is cheaper compared to natural fibers.
- They are readily available in the market.
Disadvantages of Synthetic Fibers
- They melt on heating.
- These type of fibers are harmful for skin and may cause allergy.
- They are non biodegradable which causes soil pollution.
- They gets damaged in hot water.
- They are made from petrochemicals and coal, kind of wastage of natural resources.
- They are prone to catch fire easily.