If you want to know about fabrics then you should learn a thing or two about the types of textile fibers. If you don't, you're in the right place. The textile industry has continued to flourish with an encouraging advancement in textile technology. Thus, the industry has seen an influx of different fibers that are now being used for different applications. In this article, you'll learn about the different types of textile fibers, their properties, and what they are used for.
What Are Textile Fibers?
Textile fibers are filaments that can be knitted, woven, bound, or matted to create fabrics. Basically, fibers are used to create the yarns that fabrics are made from. Currently, there are many fibers out there. But they can all be classified under two major groups which are natural and man-made fibers.
Textile fibers are used for making shirts, dresses, underwear, socks, shoes, belts, suits, curtains, bags, and a host of other fashion products.
As earlier mentioned, there are two classes of fibers. They are:
Types of Textile Fibers
Natural fibers are further subdivided into 3 classes. They are vegetable fibers, animal fibers, and mineral fibers.
|Vegetable Fibers||Cotton, Linen, Jute, Hemp, kapok, Ramie, Pina, Coir, Sisal|
|Animal Fibers||Wool, Hair, Silk|
Here's a selection of some of the most popular natural fibers in the textile industry.
Linen Types of Textile Fibers
It is one of the most expensive natural fibers and for good reasons. Linen production is labor-intensive and as such, only a small quantity is produced at a time.
Also, linen fabric is known to be one of the best fabrics to wear in hot weather due to its freshness. High quality meets low production and you can understand why linen is quite expensive.
Properties Of Linen
- It is highly absorbent
- Linen is the strongest vegetable fibre
- Its poor elasticity means it shrinks easily
- It's quite smooth and becomes even softer when washed
- Conducts heat well
- Can be damaged when exposed to bleach, meadow, and perspiration.
Uses of Linen
- It is used to make industrial products like canvas and luggage.
- Used for making different clothes like shirts, dresses, suits, and skirts.
- Furniture items like dish towels, table cloths, bedsheets, window treatments, and wallpaper.
Cotton Types of Textile Fibers
It is one of the world's largest cash crops and tops the list for non-food cash crops. Known for being breathable, washable, and absorbent, cotton is used to create apparels that are comfy and easy to maintain. Hence, it is one of the most popular fibers in the textile industry.
Properties of Cotton
- Good conductor of heat
- Slight elasticity
- Good absorbent
- Susceptible to wrinkling
- Comfy and is soft when felt
- Can easily be damaged by mildew, insects, moths, and rot
- Fairly strong
Uses of Cotton
- Used for making knitted and woven clothes
- Can be combined with other fibers like rayon and polyester.
- Used for making industrial products and homewards
Silk Types of Textile Fibers
Silk is a continuous strand that is removed from a moth caterpillar's cocoon. The caterpillar is known as a silkworm. The silk fiber has a figure that appears like a triangular prism. The figure gives it a shiny look and enables clothes made with silk to refract the light at different angles.
Silk can be dyed, knitted, or woven. It also has wicking and thermal features which makes it a great choice for base layers and underwear.
Properties of Silk
- Silk has little or no elasticity. Hence, it remains stretched when elongated
- It becomes weakened when exposed to too much sunlight.
- Can be damaged by insects when left unclean
- It is both strong and lightweight.
- Silk is smooth, lustrous, and has a soft texture.
Uses of Silk
- Used for creating wall hangings, wall covers, and upholstery
- Many ties, shirts, blouses, and dresses are made with silk.
- Used for making lingerie, robes, and pyjamas.
Wool Types of Textile Fibers
Wool grows from the skin of sheep. The raw wool is called fleece. It is shaved off, cleaned, and scoured to eliminate impurities. The fibers are then untangled using a metal tooth in a process called carding.
The fiber's appearance differs depending on the sheep breed. Fibers with full fleece usually have lots of smooth scales. They are soft, warm, and of fine quality. However, the sheep with brighter fleece is known to possess rough scales that are of lesser quality.
Properties of Wool
- It is considerably elastic
- Wool is resistant to static electricity
- It requires a higher temperature for ignition compared to cotton.
- Wool is hygroscopic. This means it readily retains water.
Uses of Wool
- It is used for making saddle cloths and horse rugs
- Used for carpets, blankets and upholstery
- Used for apparel like sweaters, trousers, hats, suits, and jackets
Man-Made Types of Textile Fibers
Man-Made fibers are subdivided into cellulosic, non-cellulosic, protein fibers, and mineral fibers.
|Cellulosic||Rayon, acetate, Tri-acetate,|
|Non-Cellulosic||Polymer fibers, Polyester, Nylon, Acrylic, Spandex,|
|Protein Fibre||Non that is commercially successful|
Below are some of the more popular man-made types of textile fibers.
Rayon Types of Textile Fibers Fibers
Rayon is produced with regenerated cellulose from natural sources like wood pulp and other agricultural products. Thus, it's neither a truly natural or synthetic fiber. Rayon exists in three forms; viscose rayon, modal, and lyocell.
Rayon is highly versatile and has been referred to by many as the shapeshifting fabric. This is due to its ability to imitate other fabrics. Rayon can take on the properties of fabrics like wool, silk, cotton, and others. Hence, it can be used to make different kinds of apparel.
Properties of Rayon
- Highly absorbent
- Viscous rayon is normally weak, but Modal and lyocell are stronger, more durable, and able to retain appearance.
- Rayon is smooth, soft, and comfy
- High lustre
- Low shape retention and durability
Uses of Rayon
- Tye cord, medical surgery products, and other industrial applications
- Upholstery, bed sheet, bedspreads, and other furniture applications
- Apparels like jackets, lining, blouses, dresses, and neckties.
- Diapers and towels.
Polyester Types of Textile Fibers
In 2002, Polyester upstaged cotton as the world's most commonly used fabric. This was due in no small part to the fabric's cheapness, lightweight, strength, and being wrinkle-free. Polyester can be knitted, woven, or combined with other fibers.
Unfortunately, the story is not all smooth sailing with polyester. Despite its cheapness, the process of producing Polyester consumes a lot of energy and releases noxious pollutants sulfur oxide, and nitrogen into the air.
Properties of Polyester
- Strong and wrinkle free
Uses of Polyester
- Used for making safety belts, conveyor belts, and other industrial applications
- Used for home furnishing like bed sheets, cushioning material, and upholstery furniture
- Apparels like shirts, hats, jackets, and pants.
Spandex Types of Textile Fibers
Also, know as Lycra or elastane, Spandex is a synthetic fiber that's known for its elasticity. It is mostly used for making the stretchy sportswear you see on your favorite athletes. The name Spandex is an anagram for the word "expands" which is a tribute to the fiber's exceptional elasticity.
This fiber can be produced through solution dry spinning, reaction spinning, solution wet spinning, or melt extrusion. Spandex is made by first reactions monomers to create a prepolymer. Once formed, the prepolymer is reacted further and drawn out to create the fiber.
Properties of Spandex
- Highly elastic
- Shape retention
Note: While Spandex can stretch up to 7 times its normal length and return to its original shape, it's still far too fragile to be used as a standalone fibre. Hence, it's always combined with other fibers.
Uses of Spandex
- Used for shaped garments like bra cup
- Socks, leggings, and lingerie
- Used for making sportswear
- Spandex is used to create stretchy superhero costumes including Superman and your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman!
Nylon Types of Textile Fibers
Nylon is the name used to describe any synthetic polymer that contains polyamides. There are many such polymers, but nylon is the generic name used to describe them. It is one of the strongest known fibers in the textile industry, even stronger than polyester. It is also more durable and water-resistant than the aforementioned fiber.
Nylon is resistant to oil and damage from many chemicals. It will neither stretch nor shrink, but it is abrasion and wrinkle resistant. Nylon is also flammable. It melts and then begins to burn rapidly. Due to the cost of production, nylon is more expensive than most synthetic fibers.
Properties of Nylon
- It is durable and weather resistant
- It is strong and flame retardant
- Melts then burns quickly
- It is soft, warm, light-weight, and quick drying
- Resistant to abrasion, oil, and most chemicals
- It has a low moisture absorbency
Uses of Nylon
- It is used for airbags, ropes, hoses, parachutes, and other industrial applications
- Used for raincoats, leggings, windbreakers stocking, swimwear pantyhose, and other apparels
- Used for home furnishing
Types of Textile Fibers - In Conclusion
Whether natural or synthetic, industry professionals have made a lot of progress in creating quality types of textile fibers. With many fibers able to combine with others, we will continue to see the production of top-quality fabrics in the textile industry.
Without fibers, there would be no fabrics and that means we wouldn't have a use for wardrobes or own any clothes. Unfortunately, some fibers are created through processes that release dangerous chemicals that hurt the environment. With humans becoming more aware of sustainability, there's bound to be some changes in fiber production in years to come.