Synthetic fibres

Synthetic fibres or man-made textile fibres are produced completely from chemical substances. These fibres are created with particular properties. They are non-biodegradable and can remain in the environment for many years.

Synthetic fibres, StartUp FASHION

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What are synthetic fibres?

Synthetic fibres areman-made fibresmade mainly fromnon-renewablecoal and oil refined into monomers, which join together in a process calledpolymerisation. Their chemical composition, structure, and properties are significantly modified during the manufacturing process. They do not deteriorate easily. Synthetic fibres can be mass-produced to about any set of wanted characteristics. Millions of tons are produced every year.

Polymerization of styrene, by Syrris Office

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Origins and first developments

The first semisynthetic fibre wasglass. One of the first artificial fibres was invented byJoseph Swanin the early 1880s. His fibre derived from acelluloseliquid, produced by chemically modifying the fibre contained in tree bark. Swan understood the potential of the fibre to revolutionize textile manufacturing, so in1885, he revealed his synthetic material fabrics at the International Inventions Exhibition in London. Hilaire de Chardonnet was a French engineer and industrialist. He invented the firstartificial silk, which he called “Chardonnet silk”. He displayed his product at the Paris Exhibition of 1889. In 1894, the English chemistCharles Frederick Crossand his collaborators created the fibre “viscose“. The name derives from the reaction product of carbon disulfide andcellulosein basic conditions that gave a highly viscous xanthate solution. The first commercial viscose wasrayonproduced by the UK company Courtaulds in 1905. A similar product was invented in 1865, known ascelluloseacetate. Rayon and acetate are artificial fibres, but not completely synthetic because they are made fromwood.

尼龙, the first fully synthetic fibre, was developed byWallace Carothers, an American researcher at the chemical firm DuPont in the 1930s. It soon made its introduction in the United States as a replacement for silk, just in time for the rationing during World War II. It was used in the manufacturing of stockings and for military equipment. The firstpolyesterfibrewas patented in Britain in 1928 by the International General Electric company.


All synthetic fibres haverod-like structures, long, circular when cut in a cross-section. The synthetic fabrics have asleekandshiny exterior. They arelightweightbut verystrong, more thannatural fabrics. They are all poor conductors of heat and usually easily maintainable, with less creasing. Theydryquickly and have naturalelasticityandflexibility. These fabrics are veryinexpensive. Synthetic fabrics do not have thebreathabilityofnatural fabrics. They do not absorb moisture, which makes them rather uncomfortable on the skin. All of them melt with achemical odourwhen put to flame and leave molten bead as residue. The cost to the environment due to the manufacture, use and disposal of synthetic fabrics are many, for example,air pollutionandwater pollution.

Synthetic rope ,ByTextile School

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Types of man-made fibres

Spandex or elastane cycling shorts
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  • Acrylic:强度具有良好的弹性性能好;它doesn’t crease, has poor absorbency but is a decent insulator if the crimp is added to imitate wool fibres. it’s used for jumpers and other knitted clothing that appears like wool, fake fur jackets.
  • Polyester: Hardwearing with good enduringness, good elasticity but poor absorbency, a highly versatile fibre. Clothing and sportswear.
  • 尼龙(polyamide): A hardwearing fibre with good strength, has good elasticity so doesn’t crease and is resists chemicals, not absorbent and melts easy. it’s used for parachutes, tents, rucksacks, sportswear, rope and carpets.
  • Elastane: Highly elastic and stretchy, strong and hardwearing. it’s employed in clothing like leotards, swimming costumes and gym clothing, mixed with cotton in T-shirts for a better fit.

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