Saturday, May 3, 2014

General Overview of Man-Made Fibers[1-2]
Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This is the twenty-seventh post in the "Art Resource" series, specifically aimed to construct an appropriate knowledge base in order to develop an artistic voice in ArtCloth.

Other posts in this series are:
Glossary of Cultural and Architectural Terms
Units Used in Dyeing and Printing of Fabrics
Occupational, Health & Safety
A Brief History of Color
The Nature of Color
Psychology of Color
Color Schemes
The Naming of Colors
The Munsell Color Classification System
Methuen Color Index and Classification System
The CIE System
Pantone - A Modern Color Classification System
Optical Properties of Fiber Materials
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part I
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part II
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part III
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part IV
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part V
Protein Fibers - Wool
Protein Fibers - Speciality Hair Fibers
Protein Fibers - Silk
Protein Fibers - Wool versus Silk
Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Cotton
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Linen
Other Natural Cellulosic Fibers
General Overview of Man-Made Fibers
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Viscose
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Esters
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Nylon
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Polyester
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Acrylic and Modacrylic
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Olefins
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Elastomers
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Mineral Fibers
Man Made Fibers - Other Textile Fibers
Fiber Blends
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part I
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part II
Melt-Spun Fibers
Characteristics of Filament Yarn
Yarn Classification
Direct Spun Yarns
Textured Filament Yarns
Fabric Construction - Felt
Fabric Construction - Nonwoven fabrics
A Fashion Data Base
Fabric Construction - Leather
Fabric Construction - Films
Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins
Fabric Construction – Foams and Poromeric Material
Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns
Weaving and the Loom
Similarities and Differences in Woven Fabrics
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part I)
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part II)
The Three Basic Weaves - Twill Weave
The Three Basic Weaves - Satin Weave
Figured Weaves - Leno Weave
Figured Weaves – Piqué Weave
Figured Fabrics
Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements
Crêpe Fabrics
Crêpe Effect Fabrics
Pile Fabrics - General
Woven Pile Fabrics
Chenille Yarn and Tufted Pile Fabrics
Knit-Pile Fabrics
Flocked Pile Fabrics and Other Pile Construction Processes
Glossary of Paper, Photography, Printing, Prints and Publication Terms
Napped Fabrics – Part I
Napped Fabrics – Part II
Double Cloth
Multicomponent Fabrics
Knit-Sew or Stitch Through Fabrics
Finishes - Overview
Finishes - Initial Fabric Cleaning
Mechanical Finishes - Part I
Mechanical Finishes - Part II
Additive Finishes
Chemical Finishes - Bleaching
Glossary of Scientific Terms
Chemical Finishes - Acid Finishes
Finishes: Mercerization
Finishes: Waterproof and Water-Repellent Fabrics
Finishes: Flame-Proofed Fabrics
Finishes to Prevent Attack by Insects and Micro-Organisms
Other Finishes
Shrinkage - Part I
Shrinkage - Part II
Progressive Shrinkage and Methods of Control

There are currently eight data bases on this blogspot, namely, the Glossary of Cultural and Architectural Terms, Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff, A Fashion Data Base, the Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins, the Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns, Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements, Glossary of Paper, Photography, Printing, Prints and Publication Terms and the Glossary of Scientific Terms, which has been updated to Version 3.5. All data bases will be updated from time-to-time in the future.

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There are seventeen families of man-made fibers but many of these are not used for clothing. Each family or group has a generic name and each fiber has a specific name or trade-mark. For example, the polyester family has several members, including Dacron, Fortel and Kodel. Each one of these fibers has slightly different properties, but is generally similar to the others.

Short Sleeves Polyester Fiber Leopard Print Party Dress.

Man-made fibers can be classified in terms of two broad classification systems: organic (protein and cellulosic) and inorganic (mineral). These two divisions can be further refined into more focussed categories.

Classification System of Man-Made fibers.

Man-made fibers account for approximately 68% of all fibers produced worldwide, and for 82% in Europe (including Turkey). World production was 58.6 million tons in 2012. European production was 4.6 million tons.

The production of man-made fibers are dominating the production of natural fibers.

The principal end-use of man-made fibers is in clothing, carpets, household textiles and a wide range of technical products such as tyres, conveyor belts, fillings for sleeping bags and cold-weather clothing, filters for improving the quality of air and water in the environment, fire-resistant and medical materials, reinforcement in composites used for advanced aircraft production etc. Fibers are precisely engineered to give the right combination of qualities required for the end-use in question: appearance, handle, strength, durability, stretch, stability, warmth, protection, easy care, breathability, moisture absorption and value for money etc. In many cases, blends are used with natural fibers such as with cottons and wools.

Dornbirn Man-Made Fibers Congress – 6th July 2013, Vienna (Austria).

Man-made fibers come in two main forms: continuous filament, used for weaving, knitting or carpet production; and staple, discontinuous lengths of fiber, which can be spun into yarn or incorporated in unspun uses such as fillings or non-wovens. Their burning properties are different from natural fibers.

Modern textile technology can provide fibers that replicate natural fibers. For example, polyacrylonitrile fibers have wool-like properties, polyamides have high strengths like silk-like fibers, polyester which gives good shape retention for suits, water repelling, soft, flame resistant fibers and so on.

Polyacrylonitrile (PAN) fiber.

Several man-made protein fibers have been developed in the USA but none are now being made. Aralac and Vicara were the best known. Using protein from milk and corn, fibers were produced that had many characteristics of wool and cashmere, which are natural protein fibers. They were soft and warm but they were not very strong and were too expensive to produce.

Fabric Nomenclature
When material in a fabric is given a name there is not a single source for such a name and so this makes it confusing for a layperson to understand what type of man-made fabric they are dealing with. For example, the name attributed to a fiber may be the name of the type of fiber – nylon or acrylic for instance. It may be the brand name of a particular fiber; for example, Crylon is Courtauld’s nylon, and Orlon is Du Pont’s acrylic. It may be the brand name of the yarn into which fibers are formed before the fabric itself is made; for example, Agilon is the brand name for a particular stretch-nylon yarn. It may be the brand name of a special treatment; for example, Koraton is a name for a durable press finish. It may be the brand name of the fabric; for example, Moygashel range can be woven from natural or synthetic fibers. Or – a more recent development – it may be the brand name for the fabric in a particular type of garment. Thus Tricopress is the brand name used only on approved shirts and pyjamas made from Bri-Nylon, ICI’s brand name for its nylon.

Bri-Nylon Swim Suit.

Clearly this is confusing for consumers. Hence, in France and the USA fiber brand names can be used only along side the name of the type of fiber. Different brand versions of the same fiber type vary somewhat, but their similarities are very much greater than their differences. Some properties – such as shrinkage – depend on the way the fabric is constituted.

Labeling in Australia.

The type of yarn is also important. Yarn can be bulked to make it feel softer and warmer. Crimplene is a yarn made by bulking Terylene (polyester). It is crimped to give bulk or stretch or is given stretch characteristics in other ways, including twisting. Helanca covers a range of crimped or twisted yarns, mainly of polyester or nylon.

Synthetic Fibers
Acetate is made from cellulose, but is considered a synthetic fiber because of the significant alteration in properties. It is closely related to rayon. The fabric dissolves in nail polish, paint remover and some perfumes.

Acetate Fiber Bridal Gown.

Triacetate is similar to acetate but has a lower strength when wet, and has low resistance to abrasion. It is much more heat resistant and so shows durable crease and pleat retention, dimensional stability and resistance to glazing with an iron. It can be machine washed, tumbled dried and ironed at temperatures up to 230oC (see also Arnel and Tricel from Celanese).

Triacetate Dress.

Acrylic is in fact polyacrylonitrile. Brand names include Acrilan, Creslan, Orlon and Zefran (all of which have 10 to 14% of other monomers in order to improve dyeing), Verel (which is 40 to 50% vinyl chloride), Dynel (more than 50% vinyl chloride) and Belson, Cashmilon, Courtelle, Crylor, Darvan, Dralon, Teklan, and Vonnel. Compared to wool, acrylic fabrics are stronger, easier to care for, softer, do not felt, and provide more warmth for less weight. However, they pill worse than wool (i.e. gentle rubbing forms small but unsightly nodules or pills as the surface fibers are raised). The pills do not break off. Acrylic does not bounce back in the same way as wool. Garments do not retain a snug fit as in the case of wool. They are also more flammable. Acrylic is not attacked by common solvents, bleaches, dilute acids or alkalis, and it is resistant to weathering.

Dralon fabric colors.

Spandex (polyurethane) usually occurs as a 5 to 10% contribution by weight in blends with other fabrics such as wool, cotton, linen, nylon or silk, without changing the look and feel of the basic fiber, but it contributes properties of stretch and recovery. For example, in upholstery, the fabric can stretch to conform with the contours of the furniture. The fibers are used in lightweight garments and swimsuits. Note: they are vulnerable to bleaching agents such as chlorinated swimming pool water.

Jean Spandex.

Modacrylic is a fiber composed of less than 85% and more than 35% by weight of acrylonitrile units. Dense, fur-like fabrics are produced by combining fibers with different heat shrinkage capacities in order to form a surface pile that resembles hair and undercoat fibers of natural fur. The use of 15 to 65% vinyl chloride or vinylidene chloride co-monomer reduces the flammability of the fabric.

Modacrylic flame resistant clothes.

Polyamide occurs in various types: Nylon 66, Nylon 6, Nylon 11 (Rilsan), Antron, Bri-Nylon, Caprolan, Enkalon and Nylon 4.

Nylon is one of the strongest of all synthetic fibers in common use. It neither shrinks nor stretches on washing and is abrasion resistant. It is, however, degraded by ultraviolet light and is useless for curtains. White nylon garments yellow with age. Nylon pills easily. Its use in garments has disappeared and it is now used where its strength is a very important factor (e.g. tyres).

Nylon stockings.

Polyolefins occur as polyethylene with brand names Courlene, Nymplex, and Pylen; and polypropylene with brand names Drylene, Herculon, Marvess, Merkalon, Moplen, Polycreast, Pylene, Reevon and Ulstron. Polyethylene and polypropylene are the lightest in weight of all fibers and are difficult to dye. They are generally used in blankets, carpets, upholstery and also apparel. When mixed with wool they provide a better thermal insulation than wool alone, but when used as a filler in quilted pads (and not treated with wash-resistant antioxidant) they can catch fire in a tumbler dryer. Polypropylene has virtually replaced sisal in cheap ropes whereas nylon and polyester are used in high quality ropes. The fibers are also used in synthetic grass, webbing and carpet backing.

Polyethylene fiber.

Polyester is made under brand names Dracon, Diolen, Fortel, Kodel, Tergal, Terlenka, Terylene, Teoron, Trevira and Vycron. It does not shrink or stretch appreciably in normal use; heat-set pleats and creases last well and water-borne stains may be quickly and simply removed. Like nylon and acrylics, polyester tends to pick up static charge, which attracts dust particles. It has a natural infinity for oils, fats and greases. It has a high density (1.38 g/ml compared with 1.14 g/ml for nylon and 1.18 g/ml for acrylics) and so the cost per unit area of cloth is high. The closed-packed rigid structure without highly polar groups makes it difficult to dye except for disperse dyes. However, the stress-strain curve of polyester fiber can be varied to match other fibers with which it is used to form blends and it was the development of this technology that made possible the polyester-cotton blends now so widely in use.

Vintage 70s Polyester Pop Art, Abstract.

Rayon occurs as two types, both of which are made from cellulose; cuprammonium and viscose. In recent years several “new” rayons, called polynosic rayon, have been developed with greater wet strength. Rayon is one of the cheapest “synthetics” and is easily blended.

Rayon Cocktail Dress.

Chloro-fibers are polyvinyl chloride and co-polymers. Brand names are Vinyon, Geon, Krekalon, Movel, Pre-Ce, Rhovyl, Saran, Teviron, Tygan, and Velon.

Velon is a cost-effective vinyl fabric that is engineered for enabling printed logos, patterns and prints. The result is a high end textile look at a fraction of the cost of traditional fabric, perfect for weddings and galas.

Vinal, polyvinyl alchol, polyvinyl acetate and co-polymers are made under brand names Kuralon, Mewlon and Vinylon.

[1] B. Selinger, Chemistry in the Market Place, 5th Edition, Harcourt Brace, Marrickville (1998).
[2] E.J. Gawne, Fabrics for Clothing,Chas. A Bennet Co. Inc., Peoria (1973).

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