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Textile Fibres

Textile Fiber

Fiber is smallest part of fabric. An individual, fine, hair like substance. Fibers have comparatively high ratio of length to width thus ensuring the flexibility required for manufacturing and end use. Must possess certain physical, chemical and molecular properties. Readily available, economical and capable of being made into yarn, fabric or product.

Classification of Textile Fibres

Textile Fibres

Natural Fibres

Regenerated Fibres

Synthetic Fibres

Sources of Man made fibres

Made from chemical solutions that are forced through tiny holes. Device used to form the filaments called spinneret. Different techniques are used to harden the liquid and produce filament fibers.

The technique used depends on chemical composition of solution.

Natural Fibres

Four most commonly used natural fibers are cotton, wool, silk and Flax. Comparison Chart of natural fibers Abrasion Resistance Strength Absorbency Resiliency Pilling Resistance


Flax Silk Wool

Fair Fair Fair - Good

Excellent Good Poor

Excellent Excellent Excellent

Poor Fair Good

Good Good Fair


Cotton seed fiber. Most widely used fiber in the world. Leading producers of cotton United States, China, India and Egypt. Some of the major species American Upland Cotton, American Pima Cotton, Sea Island Cotton etc.. Fibre length the most important property of cotton, longer the staple length, better the fiber properties. Additionally color and cleanliness can be addressed in processing.

Favorable Properties:

It is medium weight fiber of natural cream or tan color with length and 2 inches. Good Strength and abrasion resistance. It is hydrophilic, absorbs moisture quickly and dries quickly. Quick drying gives cooling effect which makes cotton a comfortable fiber to wear in hot weather. No static and pilling problem Fair drape and soft hand Completely washable and dry cleanable.

Unfavorable Properties:
Little luster Poor elasticity and resiliency. Attacked by insects Weakened by resin chemicals used in finishing and by acids but is resistant to alkalies. Form lint because short fibres come out of the fabric easily.

Wide range of products apparel, home furnishings, industrial applications.


Flax comes from the stem or stalk of the flax plant.

Considered to be the oldest textile fiber having been used in the stone age.

Largest producer Russia, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Northern Ireland and Belgium are leading exporters of linen cloth.


Flax is composed mainly Cellulose. Medium weight fiber of naturally light tan color Fiber length between 2-36 inches. Shaped like Bamboo(viewed under microscope)

Favorable Properties

Excellent Strength Strongest of the plant fibres. 10% stronger when wet Good hand and luster. More hydrophilic than cotton, absorbs moisture quickly, dries quickly. Completely washable and dry cleanable Has the highest safe ironing temperature 232C Has no static or pilling problems Linen fabrics are lint free because they have no short fibres

Unfavorable properties

Fair resistance to abrasion Less durable than Cotton Poor drape, elasticity & resiliency Vulnerable to mildew & silverfish

End Uses

Dresses Suits Sports jackets Luxury table cloths Napkins Long fibres are used to make fabric Short fibres are used for twine, ropes, rug backings Most widely used for Summer wear because of its quick drying property, hence exceptional cooling effect.


Discovered in 2640B.C. by Chinese Princess Continuous strand of 2 filaments cemented together Cocoon of the Silk worm As much as 1600 yards of fibre Cocoon Silk worms are usually cultivated & raised under controlled conditions of environment & nutrition Sericulture Food for Silk worms Mulberry leaves These worms produce the finest silkiest fibres


Silk composed of mainly Protein Medium weight fibre of naturally white color. It is the only natural filament. Under microscope has rounded triangular shape with uneven diameter. Fiber may look gray or yellow due to Serecin. Silk that has not serecin removed Raw Silk

Favorable Properties

Has excellent drape, Luxurious hand. Thinnest of natural fibers Lustrous and Hydrophilic (11% moisture Regain) Little static problem and no pilling. Can be washed and dry-cleaned sometimes the dye or finish used necessitates dry-cleaning only.

Unfavorable Properties:

Fair resiliency and abrasion resistance. Good strength loses 15% strength when wet but recovers when dried. Poor resistance to prolonged exposure to sunlight. Attacked by moths Turns yellow when washed with chlorine bleach. Weakened and made harsher by alkalis and strong soaps Degrades by exposure to atmospheric oxygen which makes it especially difficult to preserve.

End Uses
Dresses, Blouses and other apparel. Home furnishings particularly decorative pillows. Spun Silk yarn made of short fibres taken from pierced cocoons, from first & last part of cocoon, waste silk accumulating around the machines during various operations.

Wild Silk

Wild uncultivated type of Silk commercially practical for Textile manufacture Tussar silk Worms feed on Oak & Cherry leaves Brown fibre produced is flat, non-uniform, much thicker & less lustrous than Mulberry silk Two silk worms nest together & form one cocoon made of double strand resulting yarn has varying thick & thin appearance Dupion silk Uses Heavier, rough textured fabrics


Fiber that forms covering of sheep. One of the old fiber used during Stone Age. About 200 types of wool fiber of varying grades.

Grades of Wool

Grades of wool vary widely depending on the breed and health of the sheep and the climate.

Well known grades of wool: Fine wool grade-Merino, Debouillet Medium wool grade - Southdown & Columbia Coarse wool grade Romney & Lincoln Merino Wool best grade of wool. most crimp, best drape, most strength, best resiliency, best elasticity, softest hand, most scales on its surface.

Leading Producers

Apparel class - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and United States. Carpet class wool Russia, China, Argentina & Turkey. Expensive fiber due to limited availability and cost associated with fiber.

Grading & Sorting

Grading is the process of judging a whole fleece for fiber fineness and length. Sorting is the process of breaking up an individual fleece into different qualities Best quality wool comes from sides & shoulder Poor lower legs Shorn wool fleece wool or clipped wool Lambs wool taken from sheep younger than one year very soft product.

Sorted Wool


Wool is composed of protein Medium weight fiber of natural cream, brown or black color. Fiber length: 1-18 inches Under microscope fiber shape is round Has scaly surface.

Favorable Properties

Good resiliency when dry but poor when wet. Fair to excellent hand. Good drape and elasticity Hydrophilic (13% moisture regain) Little static problem Good abrasion resistance (in case of coarse wool) Makes warm and bulk fabrics 2 reasons Absorbs moisture slowly and dries slowly, thus having no cooling effect thus feeling warm excellent insulation property because of natural crimp.

Unfavorable Properties

Weak fiber but high crimp allows it to be pulled without break. Poor luster Loses about 25% strength when wet. Wool garments have to be dry cleaned because fabric felts and shrinks greatly. Felting occurs in the presence of heat, moisture and agitation. Pilling occurs. Turns yellow when washed with chlorine bleach. Weakened and made harsher with alkalies, strong soaps Highly resistant to acids. Vulnerable to moths.

End Uses
Overcoats, Suits, Sweaters Carpets and Felt fabric.

Mainly grown Bangladesh, India and Pakistan Yellowish brown fiber Shorter than most bast fibers Cheap to produce


Coarse and harsh Good resistance to microorganisms and insects. Moderate dry strength but low wet strength Low elongation, which helps it retain its shape Fair abrasion resistance

End Uses

Burlap fabric for bagging Interior furnishings, carpet backing, sacks and cordage.


Yellowish brown fiber Russia, India, Hungary, Romania and Poland are leading producers of hemp. Resembles flax in appearance but it is coarser and harsher.


Strong and lightweight Very little elongation Recently gained popularity as a specialty fiber for apparel market. Principal end Uses: twine, rope, cordage. It has been used for jeans, shirts, hats and other items.


Viscose Rayon

First manufactured fiber Composed of regenerated cellulose in which substituent have been replaced not more than 15% hydrogens of hydroxyl groups. Serrated and round shape. Cellulose fiber properties same as cotton and flax.

Manufacturing Process

Favorable Properties

Medium weight fiber Fair to good strength and abrasion resistance. Hydrophilic (11% moisture regain) Washable and dry cleanable No static or Pilling problem Inexpensive

Unfavorable Properties

Loses 30 50% strength when wet thus requiring great caution in laundering. Shrinks from washing Recovers strength when dry. Very poor elasticity and resiliency. Attacked by mildew and silverfish.

End Uses

Include wide range products in the apparel, interior furnishings and industrial areas. Eg. Dresses, shirts, lingerie, jackets, draperies, medical products, non woven fabrics, hygiene products.


Manufactured fiber composed of solvent spun cellulose. Method creates less water and air pollution than regular rayon because of different spinning method. Fiber has round cross section with smooth surface.

Favorable Properties

Stronger than all other cellulosic fibres Less shrinkage Launderable with 11.5% moisture regain and stronger when wet. Known for creating fabrics with great luster, good drape and soft hand.

Unfavorable Properties

Fabric wear & tear may cause fibres to splinter on the surface this may result in fuzziness and pilling over the life of the product. Color and hand changes in splintering may occur. May be washed or dry cleaned but laundry agitation can accelerate surface change. Vulnerable to mildew and some insects.

USES: Dress, shirts, blouses, Hawaiian shirts and dresses. Trade name: TENCEL

Acetate Rayon

Manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is Cellulose Acetate. Round shape with striations on the surface.

Favorable & Unfavorable Properties

Medium weight fiber with excellent drape and luxurious hand. Fair resiliency and fair absorbency (6.5% moisture regain) No pilling problem, very little static problem It is inexpensive UNFAVORABLE PROPERTIES: Poor strength Becomes 30% weaker when wet, but recovers original strength when dried. Poor abrasion resistance and poor elasticity.


Should be dry cleaned or carefully laundered. Hot waters and dryers cause significant loss in strength Casual creases may become permanent or excessive shrinkage may occur from the heat. Acetate also subject to gas fading from pollutant gases in the air that fade or change the color this may be problem particularly for deep blue or navy lining material, which can change to purple & then red from exposure. END USES: Lining fabric, lingerie, gowns, cigarette material, backing fabric for bonded materials.

Polynosic Rayon

Variation of Rayon classified under HWM (High Wet Modulus) or HIGH PERFORMANCE rayon also referred as Polynosic Rayon. Completely launderable. Loses strength when wet but wet strength is higher than regular viscose rayon. Addition to this rayon is shrink resistant by compressive shrinkage methods, mercerised. Hand similar to high quality cotton. Trade name: Modal



First commercial production of nylon fiber in US in 1939 by Du Pont Company. Fiber forming substance is long chain synthetic polyamide. Rod like shape with smooth surface.

Favorable Properties

Light weight fiber Excellent strength and abrasion resistance 10% weaker when wet Very good elasticity, good resiliency, good drape Can be washed or dry cleaned.

Unfavorable Properties

Hydrophobic fiber (4% moisture regain) Static and Pilling are problems Poor resistance to prolonged and continuous exposure to sunlight thus making this fiber unsatisfactory for use in draperies or outdoor furniture.

End Uses

Wide range of products in apparel, home furnishings and industrial areas. Lingerie, Swim wear, Exercise wear, Hosiery jackets, bed spreads, carpets, upholstery, tents, fish nets, sleeping bags, rope and luggage.


First commercial production of Polyester in 1953 by DuPont Company. Manufactured fiber in which fiber forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of ester of substituted aromatic carboxylic acid. Rod like shape with smooth surface.

Favorable Properties

Medium weight fiber Very good strength and abrasion resistance May be washed and dry cleaned Excellent resiliency Best wash-and-wear fiber Possess good elasticity

Unfavorable Properties

Almost completely hydrophobic Difficult to get water and detergent into the fiber to remove stains. Static and Pilling are major problems. Polyester is oleophilic.

End Uses
Wide range of products in apparel, interior furnishings and industrial areas Suits, Skirts, Lingerie, Curtains, Carpeting, Sails, tire cord, fiberfill used to stuff pillows and threads etc.


Manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of acrylonitrile units. Acrylic has rounded shape with smooth surface.

Favorable Properties

Light weight fiber with good drape. Creates fabrics that are warm yet lightweight. Good resiliency & elasticity Excellent resistance to sunlight and weathering May be washed & dry cleaned.

Unfavorable Properties

Fair strength Becomes 20% weaker when wet but recovers when dry Hydrophobic fiber (1.5% moisture regain) Static & Pilling are frequent problems Fair abrasion resistance. END USES: Sweaters, blankets, carpets, childrens garments & outdoor products such as tents, market umbrellas etc.


Manufactured fiber in which the fiber forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed of at least 85% by weight of ethylene, propylene or other olefins except amorphous olefins. Fiber is round shape with smooth surface.

Favorable Properties

Very lightweight fiber Very good strength and abrasion resistance Excellent sunlight resistance and weatherability Almost completely hydrophobic (< 0.1% moisture regain) Spills & staining liquids can be readily wiped up, making for favorable use of this fiber in outdoor/indoor carpenting, bathroom & kitchen floor covering, upholstery. Can be washed & dry cleaned Excellent wicking action when very thin Excellent resiliency

Unfavorable Properties

Almost completely hydrophobic makes it unfavorable for clothing. Blended with other fibers hydrophobic & wicking action makes it suitable for running clothes and other high performance applications. Static & Pilling problem occurs Ironing, machine laundering & machine drying must be done at low temperatures because the fiber has very low softening point.

End Uses

Important apparel end uses athletic clothes, exercise suits, underwear because of its excellent wicking action. Non woven & carpet face yarns Upholstery, auditorium seating, industrial fabrics (filter cloth, bagging, cordage) and geotextiles.


Elastomeric fiber Stretch at least 100% and snap back like natural rubber Elastomeric fibers are available only in filament form monofilament Long chain polymer of at least 85% Polyurethane

Favorable Properties

Lightweight fiber with excellent stretch properties Good durability Can be washed or dry cleaned Chlorine bleach causes yellowing of fiber No pilling or static problems

Unfavorable Properties

Poor strength Hydrophobic fiber (1% moisture regain) White spandex becomes yellow from prolonged exposure to air. This is not major problem in covered yarns or in dyed spandex Ironing should be done quickly with low temperature setting Expensive fiber 1% needed in fabric to achieve desirable stretch.

End Uses

Support products, under garments, ski pants, swimwear, athletic apparel other articles where stretch is required.