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Potentiality of utilising natural textile materials for engineering composites


Article  in  Materials and Design · July 2014

DOI: 10.1016/j.matdes.2014.03.022


63 5,751

4 authors:

Mohd Iqbal Misnon Mainul Islam

Universiti Teknologi MARA University of Southern Queensland 


Jayantha Epaarachchi Kin tak Lau

University of Southern Queensland  The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


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Materials and Design 59 (2014) 359–368

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Potentiality of utilising natural textile materials for engineering

composites applications
Mohd Iqbal Misnon a,b, Md Mainul Islam a,⇑, Jayantha Ananda Epaarachchi a, Kin-tak Lau a,c
Centre of Excellence in Engineered Fibre Composites (CEEFC), Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba,
Queensland 4350, Australia
Faculty of Applied Sciences, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 40450 Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: This paper gives an overview of utilising natural textile materials as reinforcements for engineering com-
Received 13 December 2013 posites applications. The definition and types of textile materials are addressed to provide readers a
Accepted 7 March 2014 thoughtful view on the role of these materials in a structural composite system. Available material prop-
Available online 15 March 2014
erties of natural textile and their composites are critically reviewed here. In general, these materials are
categorised into fibre, yarn and fabric forms. The load bearing capacity of natural textile fibre reinforced
Keywords: polymer composites is governed by the quantity, alignment and dispersion properties of fibres. It has
Bio-based composite
been found that the natural fibre reinforced composites are limited to use in low to medium load bearing
Natural textile material
applications. However, a limited research work has been performed to date and there is a significant gap
Yarn between the high performance textile fabric and their use as reinforcement in fibre reinforced composite
Fabric materials.
Ó 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction oping, creating and innovating eco-friendly materials [4–7]. Thus,

new terms such as renewable, sustainable and biodegradable
Fibre, yarn and fabric are some of the reinforcement forms that materials have appeared in the material scientists’ vocabulary.
are usually applied to fibre reinforced composites and these forms The factor behind the increase of this search is due to the growing
have been applied since before world-war II [1]. Carbon, glass, ara- interests in reducing the environmental effects by polymers and
mid, high modulus polyethylene, boron fibres are very common composites, limited petroleum resources as it reduces the pressure
for composite reinforcement and they already gained a reputation of the dependence on petroleum products and the availability of
due to their excellent properties such as lightweight, high strength the better understanding about the properties and morphologies
to weight ratio and high thermal stability [2]. They are also known of natural materials such as lignocellulosic fibres. Even in this
as high-performance reinforcement besides they dominate the bio-based composite material, the existence of textile material
aerospace, leisure, automotive, construction and sporting indus- cannot be denied. Most of the reinforcements in composite mate-
tries. Although these fibres/fabrics are excellent in terms of mechan- rial have close relation with textile materials and textile forms
ical properties, they also possess some drawbacks such as high cost, especially when the fibrous reinforcement is concerned. The classi-
non-recyclable, non-biodegradable, high health risk when inhaled, fication of textile fibres itself shows the involvement of textile
high-energy consumption and high density [3]. Some of the applica- material in the bio-based composite field [8].
tions are not meant for structural or load bearing purposes, yet, uti- Earlier classification of textile material as reinforcement was
lising high-performance reinforcement for low and non-load established by Scardino [1]. He divided the textile structures or
bearing are not cost-effective and are over performance. reinforcement forms into four categories; discontinuous chopped
Recently, the search for new high performance materials at fibres, continuous filament yarns, simple fabrics (2-D) and ad-
affordable costs has been expanded which is led from the growth vanced fabrics (3-D) systems. With this classification, he empha-
of environmental awareness. The search has also focused on devel- sized that textile composites can be tailored according to their
end product and how the product will behave when subjected to
⇑ Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 7 4631 1338; fax: +61 7 4631 2110. force. Of course, his classification of textile material is applied for
E-mail addresses: (M.I. Misnon), Mainul.Islam@usq. high-performance fibre such as glass, carbon and aramid but it (M.M. Islam), (J.A. Epaarachchi), Kin-tak. can also be used for natural textile materials to some extent. (K.-t. Lau).
0261-3069/Ó 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
360 M.I. Misnon et al. / Materials and Design 59 (2014) 359–368

Discontinuous chopped fibres are those that are randomly laid fibres [8]. Fig. 1 shows some types of textile fibres and its classifi-
and bonded together through certain methods such as needling, cation while Fig. 2 exhibits some example of fibres.
spun-bonding, thermo-bonding and chemical-bonding (also
known as nonwoven). In the case of continuous filament yarns, 2.3. Yarns
they are laid straight in one direction and usually pre-impregnated
with resin and it is termed as unidirectional prepreg. Common A group of fibres with or without twist is called yarn and it has
method of manufacturing fabrics using high-performance fibres substantial length and relatively small cross-section. Monofila-
is interlacing or interloping of simple 2-D fabric. 2-D fabric is single ment is the yarn containing only one fibre for example, nylon. Un-
plane structures manufactured by weaving or knitting. Woven fab- twisted, thick yarns are termed tows and this term is usually
ric consists of interlacement of warp (length wise) and weft yarn applied for high-performance yarn such as glass, aramid and car-
(width wise). The 3-D fabrics are multi-plane structures and can bon. In twisted yarns, the friction resulting from twist consolidates
be manufactured by weaving, warp knitting, braiding, nonwoven fibres. A twist is introduced to a continuous filament yarn by twist-
and other specially modified techniques. ing. For a twisted yarn made of staple fibres, the process is called
When comparing all reinforcement forms, utilisation of tradi- spinning and involves a long chain of preparatory operations. There
tional high-performance reinforcements is preferred in fabric form is different yarn spinning processes (ring spinning, open-end spin-
rather than fibre and yarn [1,9]. Fabric is easier to handle and could ning, friction spinning) leading to yarns with distinctive internal
maintain its dimensional stability during the composite fabrication distributions of fibres. Fig. 2 shows some example of yarns.
in comparison with other two forms. All fibres in the fabric are de-
signed according to specific arrangements and alignments (also 2.4. Fabrics
known as fabric structure) hence the fibres are interconnected
with each other thus perform some kind of synergistic effect. Un- Next transformation of textile fibres after being a yarn is fabrics.
like fabric, yarn is formed by a group of aligned fibres and then Three distinctive common fabric types are woven, knitted and non-
some twisted until the direction of fibre becomes 10–80° in yarn woven fabrics produced by weaving, knitting and various non-wo-
longitudinal direction, yet, layering yarn for composite fabrication ven processes respectively. Fig. 3 shows different types of fabric
commonly does not connect them with each other [10,11]. Some structure. Woven fabrics generally consist of two sets of yarns that
yarn composites could surpass the strength of fabric composite are interlaced and lie at right angles to each other. The threads that
in longitudinal direction; however, they are weaker in transverse run along the length of the fabric are known as warp ends whilst
or 45° direction [12]. Therefore, the performance of composite the threads run from selvedge to selvedge, that is from one side
reinforced with yarn is depended on how the yarns are layered. to the other side of the fabric, are weft picks. Frequently, they
Based from the discussion, to achieve the optimal performance of are simply referred as ends and picks [14].
composite materials for specific applications, justification should Knitted fabric consists of interloping yarns either weft (weft
be made regarding the selection of textile structures because some knitting) or warp (warp knitting) directions. Warp knitting is a
applications may not need very high strength or superior perfor- method of manufacturing a fabric by standard knitting means, in
mances. However, when seeking for overall performances, fabric which the loops made from each warp are formed substantially
form is the best solution for this requirement. along the length of the fabric while weft knitting is a method of
This paper discusses the basic definition and hierarchical of tex- producing a fabric by normal knitting means, in which the loops
tile and textile materials to establish the understanding on the by each weft thread are formed considerably across the width of
existence of natural textile material in composite material. Since the fabric [15].
the main concern for this paper is the bio-based composites the A nonwoven is a textile structure produced by the bonding or
discussions on the natural fibre properties are also conducted in interlocking of fibres, or both, accomplished by mechanical, chem-
order to relate their chemical composition and mechanical proper- ical, thermal or solvent means and combinations thereof. It has to
ties. Utilisation of natural textile material reinforced composite be admitted that this definition is not very precise, but it has been
based on simple categorisation (fibre, yarn and fabric) is finally dis- chosen because it includes many important fabrics which most
cussed to show the role of textile material in the materials. Some people regard as nonwovens. One of the major advantages of non-
work has also been reviewed to show the current work in research woven manufacture is that it is generally done in one continuous
and industry followed by the authors’ opinion and suggestion re- process directly from the raw material to the finished fabric,
lated to the textile materials’ utilisation. although there are some exceptions to this [16].
Fabric types mentioned are the usual single plane structures
2. Textile materials also known as 2-D fabrics in which high-performance fibres are
available. However beyond that, fabric in multi-plane structures
2.1. Definition or 3-D fabrics can as well be manufactured by weaving, warp knit-
ting, braiding, non-woven and other specially modified techniques.
The term ‘textile’ has a very broad meaning considering its The various techniques on fabric manufacturing allow more flexi-
evolvement over millennia. This term applies to product forms (fi- bility on tailoring the textile material which could be used in di-
bre, yarn and fabric); either they are from natural or synthetic verse of applications.
sources as well as the products derived from them. That includes
all types of yarns or ropes (threads, cords, ropes and braided); all 2.5. Textile materials classification and concept
types of fabrics (woven, knitted and nonwoven); hosiery (knitwear
and garments); household textiles, furnishing and upholstery; The broad definition of textile and various of textile material
industrial and technical textiles (e.g. geotextiles, medical textiles have allowed them not only in apparel and garment but also in
and textile composites). technical industry such as automotive, aeronautic, infrastructure
and composite. Lomov et al. [10] in their work concluded that
2.2. Fibres the definition introduces three important notions. First, it states
that textile are fibrous materials made from fibres which are char-
Fibre is a basic unit in textile material and it can be clustered acterised by flexibility, fineness and high ratio of length (usually
into two big groups which are natural and synthetic/man-made greater than 100 degree of polymerisation). Fibre diameters for
M.I. Misnon et al. / Materials and Design 59 (2014) 359–368 361

Fig. 1. Textile fibre types and their classification [13].

composite reinforcement are purposely varied from 5 lm to 0.01 mm; (2) yarns, repeating unit cells and plies at the micro-
50 lm. Continuous fibres are called filament which are usually scopic scale (0.5–10 mm for yarn diameters and repeating unit
happened with synthetic fibres, while discontinues with length cells) and (3) fabrics at the macroscopic scale (1–10 m and above
from a few millimetres to centimetres long are called staple fibres. for textiles and textile structures). Another usual characterisation
Natural fibres and chopped fibres in synthetic or man-made fibres can also be made by dimensionality, where, fibres and yarns are
are always come with this length. These fibres, regardless their mostly referred as one-dimensional, while fabrics are two or
length, are assembled into yarn and fibrous plies (yarn, roving or three-dimensional.
sliver), and then into textiles (woven, knitted or non-woven). Lastly, textile can be recognized by referring it as structured
The hierarchical nature is the second important features of tex- material. One can consider a textile substance as an entity and
tiles. At this point, distinguishing of textile can be made from three make abstraction of its internal structure, for example, a synthetic
hierarchical on top of associated scales (characterised normally by fibre maybe represented as reinforcement. Someone can study the
a length) which are; (1) fibres at the microscopic scale, say stiffness of a fibre as a reinforcement, provided that the internal
362 M.I. Misnon et al. / Materials and Design 59 (2014) 359–368

(a) (b)
Fig. 2. Example of yarn, (a) carbon tows and (b) dyed cotton yarns [8].

(a) (b) (c)

Fig. 3. Types of common fabric; (a) woven, (b) knitted and (c) non-woven fabrics [14].

structure and as well as its properties must be taken into account. der synthetic which are low, medium and high performances based
This last feature is really important and very useful when utilising on their mechanical and physical properties.
textile material in technical applications. Cotton and wool are the most well-known natural fibres and
The definition of textile is useful in order to determine the clas- they are widely used for producing apparel and garment products.
sification and cluster of textile materials. The notions under its def- The utilisation of this kind of fibres as reinforcement is minimal
inition ease the researchers to deal with textile materials and may be due to their major role in garment and apparel and lower
structures. Nevertheless, one thing to point out, even the scope mechanical properties [18–23]. However, there are numbers of
of textile definition and notions are quite wide, which include nat- publication on using them or their wastes in composite/hybrid
ural and synthetic fibres; their applications on textile composite materials [24–29] and for respecting their role in textile garment
are mostly emphasized and used to work on conventional man- and apparel, they are not going to be discussed throughout this
made fibre [10,17]. This is because traditional man-made and paper.
high-performance fibres have dominated the world since before Table 1 shows the world production of natural fibre to be used
world-war II due to high demand of these materials for battlefield as composite reinforcements. The figures are quite promising to
usage. Unlike high-performance fibres, natural fibres have just
been accepted in the composite field for the last several decades
and the usage of the textile definition, notions and terms for natu-
Table 1
ral fibre reinforced composite can be considered as rare.
World fibres production [30].

Fibre source World production (103 ton)

Bamboo 30,000
3. Bio-based composite reinforcement Jute 2300
Kenaf 970
Flax 830
3.1. Fibres
Sisal 378
Hemp 214
Fibre is the basic unit in fibrous material in textile product. Basi- Coir 100
cally, fibre can be clustered into two categories; synthetic or man- Ramie 100
made and natural. Synthetic or man-made fibres are made chemi- Abaca 70
Sugar cane baggase 75,000
cally usually by polymerisation processes through an extrusion
Grass 700
machine called spinnerets. There are three categories of fibres un-
M.I. Misnon et al. / Materials and Design 59 (2014) 359–368 363

Table 2
Mechanical and physical properties of natural fibres [30–32].

Fibre Density (g/cm3) Tensile strength (MPa) Young’s modulus (GPa) Elongation at break (%) Length (mm) Diameter (lm)
Bamboo 0.6–1.1 140–800 11–32 2.5–3.7 1.5–4 25–40
Jute 1.3–1.49 320–800 8–78 1.5–1.8 1.5–200 20–200
Kenaf 1.4 223–930 14.5–53 1.5–2.7 – –
Flax 1.4–1.5 345–2000 27.6–103 1.2–3.3 5–900 12–600
Sisal 1.33–1.5 363–700 9.0–38 2.0–7.0 900 8–200
Hemp 1.4–1.5 270–900 23.5–90 1.0–3.5 5–55 25–500
Coir 1.15–1.46 95–230 2.8–6 15–51.4 20–150 10–460
Ramie 1.0–1.55 400–1000 24.5–128 1.2–4.0 900–1200 20–80
Abaca 1.5 400–980 6.2–20 1–10 – –
Baggase 1.25 222–290 17–27.1 1.1 10–300 10–34
Cotton 1.5–1.6 287–800 5.5–12.6 3.0–10.0 10–60 10–45
E-glass 2.5–2.59 2000–3500 70 2.5 – –
Aramid 1.4 3000–3150 63.0–67.0 3.3–3.7 – –
Carbon 1.4 4000 230.0–240.0 1.4–1.8 – –

ensure the sustainability of supplies for the bio-based composite jected to the tensile loading mechanical stress. Ouagne et al. [35]
industry. tried to refine the film stacking fabrication method by using flax
Commercial natural fibres used for composite material are flax, reinforced PLLA as his products. He studied the parameters in-
jute, hemp and ramie which have traditionally taken a secondary volved in this processing such as temperature, time, compressibil-
role in terms of consumption, functional and technical require- ity and permeability.
ments. These fibres are considered coarse, durable and tradition- Ma and Joo [36] studied for the effect under different fabrication
ally used for making rope and agricultural packaging fabric conditions, such as fibre content (5%, 10% and 15%), processing
except for flax which is smoother and usually used for producing temperatures (200°, 210° and 220°) and alkali treatment (6%, 8%,
linen. In comparison with other cellulose fibres in Table 2, these 10% and 12%) on the mechanical properties and structure of jute fi-
four fibres possess ranges of Young’s modulus (at least 30%) than bre reinforced PLA using film stacking method. In the designed
all other fibres. Therefore, their acceptance and preference in com- experiment, the optimum mechanical properties of composite
posite material among the composite scientists cannot be denied (improvements up to 76%) can be obtained by using 15 wt% of jute
beyond what other natural fibres could give. fibre treated with 12% of NaOH for 8 h with a processing tempera-
Barkoula et al. [33] worked on the utilisation of flax fibre to ture of 210 °C. The modified rule of mixture equation was also
reinforce polyhydroxybutyrate (PBH) to investigate how the fibre developed and confirmed is more suitable to predict the tensile
and copolymer hydroxyvalerate (HV) would affect the mechanical modulus of jute fibre reinforced composites.
properties of fabricated material. Using injection moulding method Goriparthi et al. [37] also worked with jute fibre to reinforce
to fabricate their composite, the effect of cooling temperature and PLA but their focus was to improve the adhesion of jute fibre by
annealing were also reported. They similarly used non-woven flax surface modification using alkali, permanganate, peroxide and si-
to reinforced PBH using compression moulding fabrication tech- lane treatments. Combination of the special prepreg fabrication
nique for the similar purposes. Flax has been chosen for their work method along with surface treatment on their composite sample
due to its reputation which widely used with polypropylene either exhibits some enhancement at least 45% on the mechanical prop-
in non-woven or fibre forms. They found that, by employing injec- erties, tensile and flexural modulus. Reddy and Yang [38] devel-
tion over compression mouldings could give more advantages in oped a biodegradable composite using jute fibre and soy protein
terms of shorter cycle times and higher reproducibility of flax fibre resin using water without any chemical as plasticizer. Their com-
composite yet results to lower impact strength due to broken fibre posite was fabricated using prepreg method and they found that
in the composite. Nevertheless, it is improper to compare those fabricated composite has excellent flexural strength, tensile
two kinds of material (fibre and non-woven flaxes) because non- strength and tensile modulus in comparison to jute/polypropylene
woven is considered as a fabric and the fibre is stacked together composite.
which possesses different properties and the compression mould- The studies described above, besides utilising bio-resin in their
ing is one of the suitable method to convert this material into processing, are some works to enhance the fabrication method on
composite. using reinforcement in the form of fibre. This is important to en-
Investigation done by Bodros et al. [34] in his quest to answer sure the uniformity of fibre distribution and consistency of the fab-
‘Could biopolymers reinforced by randomly scattered flax fibre ricated material properties. The properties of composite made from
be used in structural applications?’, used flax fibre as a reinforce- natural fibre are varying based on the type of fibre, chemical treat-
ment for Mater-BiÒ, Bionolle PBS, Ecoflex PBAT, polylactic acid ment, volume fractions as well as fabrication methods.
(PLA), L-polylactide acid (PLLA) and polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). Table 3 shows the mechanical properties of resin reinforced
Glass reinforced unsaturated polyester was taken as a standard with natural fibres. From the table, jute has a wider range of tensile
benchmark for his fabricated biocomposite. Test samples were fab- as well as flexural properties in comparison with all other natural
ricated by layering flax fibre mats and polymer films alternately fibres, while kenaf and baggase can be said to have lowest mechan-
before heated under hot presser machine and this method are also ical properties. Jute, flax, sisal and hemp can be considered as a se-
known as sandwich or film stacking methods. Fibre mats are pre- nior fibre and their utilisation in composite material have been
pared using paper mill technique which normally done by dispers- started near to a millennium. Their production also varied from
ing chopped fibres (10 mm) in the water in order to have isotropic rough fibre to be used as rope, mat and geotextile, to a very fine fi-
properties in laminating plane. Overall, the experiment revealed bre intended for textile heavy fabric and garments. As for kenaf and
that flax reinforced PLLA (30% fibre loading) possessed similar spe- baggase, their existence is still new started as early as 30 years ago.
cific elastic modulus with polyester reinforced with glass sample Therefore, more researches are needed to extract their fibres be-
and with that, he concluded that there is a possibility of replacing cause so far their fibres can be said rough, lots of impurities and
glass/polyester composite as a structural material when it is sub- voids which lead to lower properties in composite materials.
364 M.I. Misnon et al. / Materials and Design 59 (2014) 359–368

Table 3
Some mechanical properties of composite reinforced with natural fibre forms.

Fibre Tensile properties Flexural properties Impact resistance (kJ/ References/

types m2) sources
Tensile strength Tensile modulus Elongation at break Flexural strength Flexural modulus
(MPa) (GPa) (%) (MPa) (GPa)
Flax 25.0–99.0 1.8–9.6 1.2–2.4 – – 64.0–138 [33–35]
Jute 23.6–216.0 0.48–7 5.15–6.42 37.9–241 2.2–15.0 37–60 [36–38]
Sisal 12.2–75.0 0.17–0.37 10.0–69 79–89 – – [4,39]
Hemp 39.3–54.6 7.0–8.4 1.34–2.25 75.6–102.6 3.7–5.3 – [40,41]
Coir 34.0–53.0 1.4–2.5 6.0–6.1 53.0–68.0 0.8–1.3 – [42]
Kenaf 15.0–58.0 2.0–8.8 – – – – [43]
Baggase 16.5–26.8 – – 31.19–50.86 1.1–2.6 4.12–11.27 [44]

Utilisation of natural textile fibres in composite material has and 6.54 to 6.61 GPa respectively. The highest mechanical proper-
long been established yet even utilisation of high-performance fi- ties of hemp yarn composite is obtained using soy protein at the
bre alone is meant for medium load bearing. These natural fibre pH 10 thus they concluded that the toughness of the composites
forms so far have find their way in commodity and non-structural increased up to pH of 10 and then decreased with further increase
applications such as casing of electronic products and interior parts in the pH.
of automobile because most of their tensile and flexural strength is George et al. [52] investigated the fabrication process of jute
lower than 100 MPa [37]. A factor that could lead to this scenario is yarn reinforced bidirectional thermoplastic commingled compos-
because the dispersion and distribution of fibre in composite mate- ite for treated and untreated samples. Using polypropylene yarn
rial are not easy to control. The method of fabrication usually does as a resin, jute yarn is wound onto a metal plate in a specific layer
not take into account the alignment of fibre thus they are not inter- pattern using a fibre-winding machine specifically designed for
connected. Fabrication method such as; resin transfer moulding, commingling. This commingled jute and polypropylene were then
mixing and blending a thermoplastic with fibre, and vacuum infu- pressed under hot presser in different temperatures from 185 °C to
sion normally result in low fibre volume fraction. It is also difficult 215 °C. They found the optimum fabrication design to fabricate
to control the uniformity of fibre distribution, which could lead a jute yarn composite were on 0.2 MPa pressure at 205 °C for
failure when a less concentration fibre point is subjected to any 9 min. Treatment with KMnO4 was also found to enhance further
destruction force. There are still researches carried out to improve the mechanical properties of fabricated samples. Tensile strength
the properties of natural fibres as well as enhancing the method of and modulus of jute yarn composite which is fabricated using
fabrications for improving composite material properties so that it mentioned manufacturing design and treatment are 68.26 MPa
can be used in many applications. and 3.276 GPa respectively. While flexural strength and modulus
of this composite were recorded 75.28 MPa and 3.012 GPa respec-
3.2. Yarns tively. Nevertheless, the impact strength properties were found de-
creased when applying chemical treatments, for instance,
Common fabrication method of applying fibre in the form of untreated sample was recorded 24 kJ/m2 as compared to sample
yarn is filament winding. This process is primarily used to produce treated with KMnO4 which was recorded 22 kJ/m2 and other treat-
hollow, generally circular or oval sectioned composites such as ments were recorded even lower. These workers using a different
pipes and tanks. For this purpose of fabrication, thermoset resins method of composite fabrication when dealing with yarns and
like polyester and epoxy are preferred. Utilisation of high-perfor- tows, however, their method principle is quite similar with fila-
mance yarns in a composite system cannot be denied and there ment winding. In both methods yarns have to be straight and this
are numerous published works available in journals and reports could only be achieved by applying small tension on it. This is
[45–49]. important to make sure the uniformity of fibres/yarns distribution
Huang and Netravali [50], in their research to fabricate environ- and density in the composite materials.
ment-friendly ‘green’ composites, used flax yarn to reinforced con- Other methods than filament winding can also be used for yarn
centrated soy protein modified with glutaraldehyde and nano-clay. form reinforcement which believably needs some alteration and
During composite fabrication, they used metal frame to wind the assumption. For example, Shah et al. [53] fabricated their samples
hemp yarns and applied small tension to minimize the yarn by employing vacuum infusion (200–300 mbar absolute pressure)
shrinkage and misalignment during the drying of resin. They did to produce composite made of jute, hemp and flax yarns. Using
some characterisation on yarn size using particular standard meth- unsaturated polyester resin as a matrix, they studied the fatigue
od for control purposes. The unidirectional flax yarn reinforced SPC data on natural fibre composites and this is an important parame-
resin composites showed longitudinal tensile failure stress of ter which limits their prospective use in fatigue critical compo-
298 MPa and Young’s Modulus of 4.3 GPa. The flexural stress was nents. From their study, it was found that natural yarn
117 MPa and the flexural modulus was 7.6 GPa. All those results composites met the endurance limit at 107 cycles. Gradual decline
shows the flax yarn reinforced concentrated soy protein has the in fatigue strength was observed and all samples performed similar
potential to replace non-biodegradable in many fields. trend. Fatigue strength coefficient b, were also found quite similar
Kim and Netravali [51] used similar method of fabrication. ( 0.0739 to 0.0623) which indicates similar rates of fatigue
However, they used hemp yarn to reinforced concentrated soy pro- strength degradation. Fatigue strength coefficient of glass fibre
tein resin processed at various pH values (range from pH 7–12) on composite (b  0.074) is comparable and, in certain cases lower
mechanical and interfacial properties. In this work, they managed than bio-based composite. This implies that damage development,
to characterise linear density (40.74 tex), twist angle (26.11°), fatigue strength degradation and damage accumulation rate is
moisture content (8.33%) and tensile properties of hemp yarn (ten- slower than glass fibre composite. They also found that increase
sile strength and tensile modulus were 449.9 MPa and 11.91 GPa in fibre volume fraction up to 40% can maintain higher fatigue load
respectively). Tensile strength and young modulus of fabricated carrying capacities over their fatigue life thus increasing fatigue
hemp yarn composites were ranging from 253.3 to 277.0 MPa performances. Another finding they found from their study was,
M.I. Misnon et al. / Materials and Design 59 (2014) 359–368 365

Table 4
Mechanical properties of textile natural yarns reinforced resin.

Fibre types Tensile Flexural Impact resistance (kJ/m2) References/sources

Strength (MPa) E-modulus (GPa) Elongation (%) Strength (MPa) Modulus (GPa)
Flax 246.0–298.2 3.8–4.3 12.8–13.2 42–145.6 4.4–15.26 19–110 [50,54,55]
Hemp 253.3–277.0 6.54–6.61 7.73–9.70 114.7–127.2 9.27–11.23 – [51,55]
Jute 53–78.9 2.5–8.4 – 63–110 2.6–8.6 16–23 [52,56]

in terms of the fatigue strength degradation rate (b-value), the uni- in spinning process. A rapid development on extracting the bam-
axial and biaxial loading direction of natural yarn composites re- boo recently has produced not only good fibres but the yarns and
sults were better than uniaxial, biaxial and triaxial loading axial fabrics as well. However, there is less work on using bamboo yarn
result of glass fibre composites for at least up to 108 cycles and as hollow and panel composites.
these were identified under normalised stress versus cycle curves. Utilisation of textile yarn gives more control over the properties
From this study, they established the fatigue data of fabricate of composite materials. This is because the scattered fibres are
materials and compared with the E-glass/polyester composites. combined and aligned in a group with or without twist given. Nev-
Data and knowledge of this material are very important for deter- ertheless, there is less of work considering the effect of yarn
mining natural yarns composites life cycle and its feasibility to be parameters such as yarn size, yarn twist and twist angle on com-
used in real applications. posite material. Working with these parameters will give us more
The properties of composite reinforced with textile yarn from knowledge on how the composite will react because the yarn prop-
works discussed above as well as other works have been summa- erties change as the change of its parameters.
rised in Table 4. The mechanical properties of textile natural yarns This type of reinforcement is really useful for manufacturing
reinforced resin and common natural yarns such as flax, hemp and circular and hollow materials. At this rate, the properties of this
jute really have good coverage regarding their contribution as rein- material can be designed based on how the yarn is wound around
forcement material. Their wide-ranging of results are depending the base. Even though with limited design on material, at least it is
on the type of chemical treatments, fibre volume fractions, resins more versatile compared to fibre form and this is due to the fabri-
and fabrication techniques used in fabricating the composite. As cation method. Some other works try to use other methods than
discussed earlier, these kinds of material have been established filament winding, which is by winding this yarn onto the metal
since long time ago thus the development in yarn processing can plate. However, this method is basically similar in principle with
be said matured. existing methods. Therefore, some works are needed to vary the
There are several criteria for a fibre to be neatly converted into processing method of composite material using textile natural yarn
good yarns. The cleanliness, length, diameter and colour of fibres (even for high-performance yarn) in order to enhance the potential
are the important properties that should be taken into account of this kind of reinforcement form for its optimum performances.
when converting fibres into yarns. This is to ensure that the spin-
ning machine could handle the fibre smoothly thus produce the 3.3. Fabric
good quality of yarns. Therefore, the good fibre extraction is re-
quired to ensure that the extracted fibres have good properties to Scardino [1] divided the textile structures or reinforcement
suit the need of spinning processing. This is an opportunity for forms into four categories and that include simple fabrics (2-D)
researchers to work on producing good fibres such as kenaf, bagg- and advanced fabrics (3-D) systems. These kinds of reinforcement
ase and coir because so far these kinds of fibre are coarse, inconsis- are preferably used by manufacturer or researcher because
tent in length, possess unattractive colour and unclean to be used basically they are easy to handle. Fig. 4 shows some common

(a) (b) (c)

(e) (f)

(g) (h) (i)

Fig. 4. Structure of textile fabric; (a–c) 2-D woven fabrics, (d) 3-D fabric, (e and f) braided fabrics, (g and h) knitted fabric and (i) multiaxial multiply warp-knitted fabrics [10].
366 M.I. Misnon et al. / Materials and Design 59 (2014) 359–368

textile fabrics used as composite reinforcement [10]. Utilising of 2- copolymer to PBH maintained the fabricated sample mechanical
D [57–60] as well as 3-D fabrics [61–63] made of high-perfor- properties and they claimed could reduce the cost at least 40%.
mance fibres has been well-known and discussed by many mate- However, results of biodegradation test showed weight loss at
rial scientists for various application and purposes. least 8% on fabricated samples after 20 weeks buried and after
Jute fabric was used by Huang and Netravali [50] to reinforce 2 weeks buried, its mechanical strength decreased sharply.
concentrated soy protein resin in their efforts to innovate fully Hemp is another type of fibre that can be converted into fabrics.
environment-friendly, sustainable and biodegradable green com- Its popularity is getting higher lately due to its availability in differ-
posites. With the calculated fabric volume fraction of 43%, the ten- ent sizes and structures. Song et al. [66] examined the physical
sile strength and tensile modulus were recorded 62 MPa and behaviour of hemp/poly (lactic acid) (PLA) composites, particularly
1.233 GPa for warp direction, 81.9 MPa and 1.325 GPa for weft the thermal properties and viscoelastic behaviour. They used twill
direction respectively. Flexural strength and flexural modulus of and plain woven hemp fabrics as reinforcements by stacking film
jute fabric composite were recorded 25.2 MPa and 1.29 GPa for method. The impact and tensile properties of PLA resin reinforced
warp direction, 46.7 MPa and 1.47 GPa for weft direction respec- with twill structure fabric were found 15% and 10% higher than the
tively. Other than influence of concentrated soy protein, they re- plain woven respectively. Twill woven hemp fabric composites
lated with the failure strain% and the crimp of fabric that give showed better mechanical strength, thermal and viscoelastic
the different results between warp and weft. Nevertheless, data behaviour than plain woven hemp fabric composites and this is
on the yarn crimp percentage and fabric density were not analysed due to the structure of the twill fabrics, such as fewer interlacing
in their work. It is believed that if these two fabric properties are and closer packing. Increment of fibre volume fraction from 6% to
known, they could understand better about the mechanical behav- 20% were the reason why the coefficient of thermal expansion of
iour of jute fabric composite properties. the fabricated hemp fabric composites decreased considerably
Unlike Huang and Netravali, Behera et al. [64] used woven and (from 70  10 6 m/°C to the most 10  10 6 m/°C), which indicates
non-woven jutes in the different weight percentage (40–80%) to that the composites have great potential for parts experiencing a
reinforced soy milk based resin. They found that for both woven wide range of temperatures, such as automobile and aerospace
and non-woven jutes composites, composite having 60% jute felt applications.
possesses the best mechanical properties. Tensile strength and ten- Hemp fabrics were also been used by Kabir et al. [67] to form
sile modulus were recorded 35.6 MPa and 0.972 GPa for woven, composite skins while short hemp fibres with polyester were used
37.1 MPa and 1.04 GPa for non-woven jutes composites respec- as core for making composite sandwich structures. Christian and
tively. Flexural strength and modulus were documented Billington [68] fabricated hemp fabric composite to reinforce
33.5 MPa and 1.026 GPa for woven, 38.4 MPa and 1.12 GPa for poly(b-hydroxybutyrate) biopolymer in order to evaluate its feasi-
non-woven jute composites respectively. Again, not so much data bility for construction applications as replacements for wood or
either on woven or non-woven fabric properties has been analysed petroleum-based composites. Michel and Billington [69] claimed
in this work. Both woven and non-woven are having completely that their bio based polymer composites have suitable initial spe-
different in structure. Woven has more aligned fibre with a specific cific strength and stiffness for use in commercial applications but
structure with it. Nonetheless in non-woven, fibres are scattered the long-term performance of these materials under variable envi-
and there is no specific structure with this kind of fabric and their ronmental conditions is largely unknown.
strength theoretically lower than woven fabric but higher than fi- Table 5 shows some mechanical properties of composite made
bre form. Unless if there are sufficient data on both fabrics proper- of textile fabrics. Their wide-ranging of properties are the result
ties known explanation on how the woven has lower mechanical of the different fabric structures, chemical treatment, fibre volume
strength than non-woven cannot be analysed. Furthermore, both fraction, resins and fabrication method in producing the composite
kind of fabric are different in structure and their comparison can- materials. From the table, it is obvious when comparing the struc-
not be justified. ture of fabric; mechanical strengths of composite made of woven
Jawaid et al. [65] by employing hand lay-up, prepared a com- fabric are higher than nonwoven fabric.
posite made of epoxy resin reinforced with hybrid jute fabric and The reason for this is because the fibre is more arranged than
oil palm fibre (EFB) and he expected this material to have a good the nonwoven fabric. The fibre in woven fabric is firstly converted
potential in automobiles and building industry in near future. into yarn (first degree of arrangement) and then interlaced it into
Hybridizing jute fabric and oil palm fibre with several different ra- fabric (second degree of arrangement). Subsequently, the fibre
tios (EFB:Jute, 4:1, 1:1, 1:4) they kept the total fibre loading at 40% arrangement in woven fabric has been arranged twice regardless
by weight. They found that the tensile properties increase with the of how it is designed by the weavers. Unlike woven, nonwoven fab-
increase of jute fibre in the hybrid composites (tensile strength and ric has no specific alignment on the fibre. The fibre is basically scat-
modulus, from 25.3 MPa and 2.62 GPa to 37.9 MPa and 3.31 GPa tered before the bonding or interlocking process took place.
respectively). From the dynamic mechanical analysis, storage mod- Therefore, the properties of nonwoven fabric can be said lower
ulus, loss modulus and glass transition temperature were also in- than woven fabric. The properties of composite material are easier
creased slightly with the increment of jute loading. Based on to control by varying the properties of fabric properties. For in-
their result and analyses, they positively believed that oil palm/ stance, jute fibre supposed to have far higher mechanical proper-
jute hybrid composite material could replace synthetic composite ties at most 54% than flax (Table 3); however, the gap can be
if it properly design thus it could be used in construction, automo- narrowed to 11% by having a good design in the fabric forms
tive and aerospace industries. (Table 5). This is an example on how fabrics can offer more flexible
Barkoula et al. [33] focused on short flax non-woven fabric rein- design on how we want the material properties would be.
forced composites based on polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and its Numerous works on using natural fabrics have been published
copolymer with hydroxyvalerate (HV) employing compression in many journals and academic writings. The works that were dis-
moulding to study its biodegradability. Stiffness of short flax cussed above are just a small part in natural fabric composites.
non-woven fabric reinforced PBH were found increased with the Designing composite materials using high-performance fabric has
increase of volume fraction (volume percentage of 20%, 30% and long ago practiced. However, there is limited work reporting on
40%) which were approximately 8 GPa from 4 GPa. Impact strength natural fabric designing for composite materials as well as consid-
of the fabricated samples were also increased with the increase of ering the fabric parameters when dealing with natural fabrics such
volume fraction from 62.5 J/m to 132.5 J/m. Addition with HV as a as fabric density, fabric structure and areal density. This is impor-
M.I. Misnon et al. / Materials and Design 59 (2014) 359–368 367

Table 5
Mechanical properties of resin reinforced with textile fabrics.

Fibre types Tensile Flexural strength Impact resistance References/sources

Strength (MPa) E-modulus (GPa) Elongation (%) Strength (MPa) Modulus (GPa) J/m kJ/m
Woven flax 54.6–81.9 0.9–1.8 7.7–19.1 20.9–75 0.75–7.5 – – [50,70]
Nonwoven flax 25–39 4–8.5 1.4–1.8 – – 66–138 [33]
Woven jute 22.6–92 2.23–7.2 – 86–134 5.5–6.5 – – [65,71]
Nonwoven Jute 22.4–35.6 0.714–1.04 5.8–10.2 21.9–38.4 0.68–1.12 – – [64]
Hemp 63–69 3–4.3 4.2–7.1 41.7–60.5 3.2–4.4 30–210 – [67–69]
Nonwoven hemp 24–63 0.56–1.27 5.9–11 54–110 4.2–7.3 – – [72]
Woven ramie 31–44 – – 67–92 4.2–6.2 – 6.0–18.0 [73]
Woven bamboo 48.72–77.58 0.983–1.75 9.8–14.59 104.8–149.3 1.2–2.29 – 13.44–26.93 [74]
Nonwoven kenaf 22–58 1.4–3.1 – 30–59 – – – [75]

tant because some part of designing fabric for composite materials Acknowledgement
is started considering these parameters of fabric. Therefore, a work
considering these factors is necessary in order to understand their The authors would like to thank Ministry of Higher Education,
relationship with composite properties thus to enhance the ability Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia for providing
of composite material made of natural textile fabrics. scholarship to first author on doing this work.

4. Conclusions
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