- Regs & Labeling
- Natural Fibres
- Regenerated Fibres
- Synthetic Fibres
- High Performance Fibres
A fiber can be described as any substance natural or manufactured that is suitable for being processed into a fabric. Fiber properties include length (staple or Filament?), size and surface contour. These properties affect the end use such as serviceability, aesthetics, durability, comfort, retention and care. To create a fabric, fibers are spun into yarns and then woven into fabric. Through these processes a fabric’s characteristics can be manipulated through blending, manipulation of the fiber and other methods. Look through a microscope and the secret to any fabric is beneath the surface.
Single long fibre used to produce yarn for different types of fabric. Synthetic fibre is initially produced as single filaments, made when liquid polymer is forced through fine holes in a device called a spinneret. The resulting filaments are hardened, drawn, and twisted to produce a yarn, or cut to form staple (shorter) fibres. Silk is the only naturally occurring single Filament? fibre.
Regulations and Labeling
With such a variation in the types of fibres available it is important to regulate naming and labelling to ensure equal quality products are offered. For this purpose European regulation exists;
on textile fibre names and related labelling and marking of the fibre composition of textile products and repealing Council Directive 73/44/EEC and Directives 96/73/EC and 2008/121/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council
The Europa site summaries the Textile products; fibre names and labelling act here; http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/enterprise/industry/mi0088_en.htm
The department for Businness, Innovation and Skills have also published a pdf document giving guidance to the regulation, available here;
Here you will find a brief A-Z of natural fibres. Fibres found in plants are chemically composed of cellulose; fibres from animals are composed of keratin.
General Natural fibre links;
Fibres included in this section; (Click for quick link)
Bamboo fibre is, as you would image from the bamboo plant. It is often promoted as an eco friendly fibre which is due to its ability to grow organically without much human intervention such as chemicals, and is very quick growing. However the processing of bamboo fibre brings its credentials as an environmentally friendly fibre into question as chemical processing requires sodium hydroxide.
Protects against UV rays?. High tensile strength. Anti bacterial, anti-static.
There are two methods of treatment to gain bamboo fibres; mechanical or chemical.
Mechanical is not used very often as it is labour and time extensive. The Chemical process is the same as that used for viscose so has the same drawbacks.
Camel fibre comes from the inner down of the camel and is extremely soft feeling, because of this it is used in luxury apparel, where it is often blended with wool or synthetics.
The Coir fibres is from the outer husky shell of coconuts, due to its coarseness and inability to be dyed its main applications are in mattresses and brushes, however the fibre also demonstrates good microbial resistance so is used in Geotextiles.
Flax fibres are from the Linum plant and therefore make up Linen fabrics. It is a cellulose polymer, but its structure is more crystalline, which does make it stronger, but also more prone to wrinkling or creasing. They can absorb and release a lot of water quickly.
Hemp is widely considered a ‘green’ or environmentally friendly fibre because it can be grown without the need for agricultural chemicals. It is used in agro textiles, and to make rope, canvas and paper. When made into apparel it is often blended with cotton, linen or silk to give a softer feel.
Just is a plant fibre from the Jute plant and is used in sackcloth and to make twines. Blended with other fibres it can be used to create a range of products for use in interior textiles.
Kenaf is processed from a Hibiscus species plant from the bark and pulp. It is being explored as a material for used in composites.
Mohair is an animal fibre from the Angora goat, like other animal fibres it has a surface scale. It is used in luxury apparel.
Nettle was being explored as an alternative to cotton for clothing manufacture during the World War’s however the invention and mass manufacture of synthetics reduced the need for nettle fibres so its widespread use was not seen.
Fibres are hollow so are good insulators, the fibres also has a high tensile strength. It has been used in clothing, interior textiles and is being explored for use in composite materials.
Ramie fibres are from the Boehmeria Nivea plant which is part of the nettle family. It is very strong, has low Elasticity? and dyes well. Due to its strength it is used to make rope and nets, but also has a shine which makes it suitable for apparel fabrics, where it is often blended with other fibres.
The silk worm produces silk, once the worms have spun themselves into cocoons, the worms are killed and the cocoon heated so it can be unspun. This method allows for the fibre to be the only animal fibre in Filament? form. If the worms were allowed to live they would break the Filament? as they ate themselves out of the cocoon.
Silk fibres are very fine and have very good tensile strength, absorbency and dyes well.
From the Agave Sisalana plant, which is native to Mexico. The fibre is too coarse for use in clothing or interior textiles so it has been used in composites instead of carbon or glass fibres.
Wool has a unique chemical and physical structure which gives it inherent natural properties such as water repellence, good resilience, flame resistance, and durability.
It is widely used in a range of textile applications such as clothing and interior fabrics.
The Vicuna fibre is from the Vicuna, a camelid. The fibres are very fine, around 12.5 microns, and is used mainly in luxury fabrics where it is often used blended with other protein fibres or synthetics.