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Natural and Manmade Textile Fiber Types And Their Uses

Updated on November 2, 2019

Fibers

Fibers are the basic building blocks of any textile. It is the most basic component. These fibers come from different sources, which make them unique, and give them distinct properties.

Classification of Fibers
Classification of Fibers

Natural Fibers

The classification of the natural fibers is as follows:

Natural Fibers
Natural Fibers

Vegetable Fibers

Seed

Seed fibers are fibers that are derived from the seeds of various plants. Some of them are as follows:

  • Cotton
  • Kapok
  • Coconut

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Cotton
Cotton is a natural vegetable fiber, that is cultivated from the cotton plant. There are pods on the plant from which the cotton is extracted. The cotton plant is a member of the Mallow family. The fiber is composed of cellulose.
Cotton is extensively used to make fabrics, and finds its uses in apparel. It is also used in home furnishings. It is also used in various industries such as binding, outdoor gear etc.
Kapok
Kapok is derived from the seed of the Kapok plant. It is a white hairlike fiber and resembles with cotton in appearance.
Kapok is used in insulation, and for purposes of soundproofing. It is also used in mattresses, upholstery, and other furnishing products like cushions.
Coconut
Coconut fiber is also called coir. It is derived from the husk of the coconut.
Coir is intensively used in ropes, mats, upholstery, brushes, to make sacks, for insulation etc.

Bast

Bast fibers are those fibers that are derived from the plant's stem. Some of the most common bast fibers used are:

  • Flax
  • Hemp
  • Jute
  • Ramie

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Flax
Derived from the skin of the stem of the flax plant, it is one of the strongest fiber in the category of natural cellulosic fibers. Linen yarn is made from the flax fibers. The texture of the flax fiber is soft and lustrous. It is known to absorb humidity, hence textiles made from the yarn of this fiber is very breathable.
Flax fiber is extensively used in linen fabrics which is commonly used to make breathable garments. Other areas where flax fibers are used are in upholstery, curtains, canvases for art, insulation, towels and other home furnishings.
Jute
Extracted from the bark of the white jute plant, jute fiber is golden in color and has a lustrous appearance. Jute fiber is primarily composed of cellulose and lignin.
Jute fibers are extensively used in making sacks and reusable bags. It is also used in furniture and upholstery.

Leaf

As the name suggests, these fibers are derived leaves of the plant. Some of the leaf fibers are as follows:

  • Sisal
  • Manila

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Sisal
Sisal fiber is extracted from the outer surface of the leaves of the sisal plant, through a process of decortication. The fibers extracted are antistatic in nature and the fine texture of the fiber allows easy penetration of the dyes.
Sisal is commonly used to make ropes and string which are then used to make handicrafts and carpets.

Animal Fibers

Wool

  • Wool

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Wool
Wool fiber extracted from sheep. It primarily composes of keratin. At the surface of the wool fibers, one can see scales and the crimps in the fiber create pockets on the fiber’s surface which gives the insulation property to the fiber.
Wool is used to make winter clothing, blankets, carpets, and upholstery.

Fine Hair

  • Angora
  • Cashmere

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Angora
Angora fiber is the wool that is extracted from the Angora Rabbit.
Angora fiber is primarily used in apparel products.
Cashmere
Cashmere fiber is obtained from the Cashmere goats.
It is used to make apparel products like sweaters, scarves. trousers, gloves etc.

Silk

  • Cultivated
  • Tussah

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Cultivated
Obtained from silk worms, silk fiber is the only naturally occurring filament fiber.
Tussah
Tussah silk is obtained from the silk worm which feeds on oak. The fibers are brownish in appearance and they are considerably more stiff and coarser than the cultivated silk.

Mineral

Rock Fibers

  • Asbestos

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Asbestos
Asbestos fiber is a non-flammable, mineral fiber.
The asbestos fiber is used in fabrics where non-flammable material is required. Asbestos is used to make fireproof products such as safety clothing for fire fighters and insulation products such as hot-water pipe.

Man-Made Fibers

The classification of the man-made fibers is as follows:

Man-made Fibers
Man-made Fibers

Natural Polymers

Cellulosic

  • Acetate
  • Viscose
  • Modal

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Acetate
Acetate fiber is a manufactured fiber made out of a substance called cellulose acetate.
Acetate is used in apparel and home furnishings.
Viscose
Viscose fiber is a regenerated cellulosic fiber. It is a very soft and silky. The textiles made out of this fiber are also very soft and lustrous.
It is widely used in garments and non-woven fabrics like tissues & napkins.
Modal
Modal is a cellulosic fiber made primarily of wood pulp (only beech wood). It can be considered as a form of Rayon.
Modal is used in clothing.

Alginate

  • Alginate

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Alginate
Alginate fibers are obtained from seaweed. It is made from sodium alginate.
Alginate fibers are used to make wound dressing.

Synthetic Polymers

Elastomeric

  • Elastane
  • Elastodiene

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Elastane
Elastane fiber is made from a polymer called polyether-polyurea copolymer.
Due to its stetch properties it is used in athletic wear, leggings, underwear, socks, tights, etc.
Elastodiene
Elastodiene fiber is generally made from polyisoprene.
It is used in hosiery, swimsuits, athletic wear, waistbands and brastraps.

Polyamides

  • Aramid
  • Nylon

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Aramid
Aramid fiber is made up of linear macromolecules composed of aromatic groups joined by amide or imide linkages.
The fiber is used in flame resistant clothing, tires.
Nylon
Nylon fiber is made from melting nylon and creating fibers through spinnerets.
Nylon is used to make women's stockings. It is also used in hosiery, swimwear, track pants, draperies, umbrellas, and luggage.

Polyesters

  • Polyester

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Polyester
Polyester fibre is a “manufactured fibre in which the fibre forming substance is any long chain synthetic polymer composed at least 85% by weight of an ester of a dihydric alcohol (HOROH) and terephthalic acid (p–HOOC–C6H4COOH)”.
Polyester fiber is used in various items like apparel, ropes, bedsheets, jackets, bottles, upholstery, in conveyor belts, etc.

Polyolefins

  • Polyethylene
  • Polypropylene

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Polyethylene
Polyethylene fiber is formed by ethylene monomers which are joined togther in the synthesis of polyethylene polymer.
The fiber is used in medical implants, cable and marine ropes, sail cloth, fish netting and geotextiles.
Polypropylene
Polypropylene fiber is obtained from 85% propylene.
It is primarily used in non-wovens products such as diapers and sanitary napkins. It is also used in clothing.

Inorganics

Glass

  • Glass

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Glass
Glass fiber is made from extremely fine fibers of glass. It is also known as fiberglass.
It is used in home furnishings fabric, apparel, tires and reinforced plastics.

Metallic

  • Metal

Fiber Name
Fiber Description
Uses of the Fiber
Metal
Metallic fiber is composed of metal or metallic alloys.
They are used in a variety of industries, from apparel to automotive.

Hope this article gives you an overview of the fibers. If there are any suggestions on what topics should I write the article on next, feel free to leave a comment down below.

© 2019 PGupta0919

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