Textile Fibers

Textile fibers are natural or synthetic structures that can be spun into yarn and woven, knitted, or bonded into fabric.

Textile fibers are the basic building blocks of fabrics and can be made from natural materials such as cotton, wool, silk, and linen, as well as synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, rayon, and acrylic. These fibers are then spun into yarn, which can be woven, knitted, or bonded into various types of fabrics, such as cotton twill, wool flannel, silk chiffon, or polyester fleece. Different types of fibers and fabric constructions can result in varying properties such as strength, durability, comfort, and appearance, making textiles suitable for a wide range of applications from clothing to home furnishings to industrial uses.

Textile fibres can be broadly classified into two categories:

  • Natural fibres
  • Man-made fibres

Natural fibers are those that come from natural sources, such as plants, animals, or minerals. Examples of natural fibers include cotton, wool, silk, jute, hemp, flax, and sisal. These fibers are generally biodegradable and sustainable, and they are known for their comfort, breathability, and other unique properties.

Fibre nameSourceComposition
 CottonCotton bollCellulose
 KapokKapok treeCellulose
 LinenFlax stalkCellulose
 JuteJute stalkCellulose
 HempHemp or Abaca Cellulose
 RamieRhea and ChinaCellulose
 SisalAgave leafCellulose
 CoirCoconut huskCellulose
WoolSheep Protein 
Silk Silkworms Protein  
Hair Hair bearing animalsProtein  
AsbestosVarities of rockSilicate of Magnesium and Calcium

Man-made fibers, also known as synthetic fibers or artificial fibers, are produced by humans through chemical processes. They are typically made from petroleum-based chemicals or other synthetic materials. Examples of man-made fibers include polyester, nylon, acrylic, and rayon. These fibers can be designed to have specific properties, such as strength, durability, and water resistance, and they are often used in a wide range of applications due to their versatility.

Fibre NameSource
RayonCotton linters or wood
AcetateCotton linters or wood
Tri-acetateCotton linters or wood
Non-Cellulosic Polymers
NylonAliphatic polyamide
AramidAromatic polyamid
PolyesterDihydric alcohol and terephthalic acid
OlefinEthylene or propylene
VinyonVinyl chloride
SaranVinylidene chloride
NovoloidPhenol based navolac
PolycarbonateCarbonic acid (polyester derivative)
AzlonCorn, soybean, etc.
RubberNatural or synthetic rubber
MetalAluminum, silver, gold, stainless steel
GlassSilica sand, limestone, other minerals
CeramicAluminium, silica

In addition to natural and man-made fibers, there are also some fibers that are considered “regenerated” or “semi-synthetic”, as they are produced from natural materials but undergo a chemical process to transform them into fibers. Examples of these fibers include viscose rayon, modal, and lyocell (Tencel).

Primary Properties of textile fibers
Here are some additional essential properties of textile fibers:

  1. High length-to-width ratio: 1000:1. This means that the measure of the length should be at least 100 times more than the measure of its width.
  2. Fineness or diameter: This refers to the thickness of the fiber and can affect the appearance and feel of the final product.
  3. Elasticity: This is the ability of the fiber to stretch and return to its original shape. Fibers with good elasticity can help fabrics maintain their shape and resist wrinkling.
  4. Resilience: This is the ability of the fiber to recover from bending, crushing, or other deformations. Resilient fibers can help fabrics maintain their shape and resist wear and tear.
  5. Absorbency: This is the ability of the fiber to absorb moisture. Some fibers, such as cotton, are highly absorbent and are often used in products like towels and sheets.
  6. Dyeability: This is the ability of the fiber to absorb and retain dyes. Fibers that are easily dyed can be used to create vibrant and long-lasting colors in fabrics.

Secondary Properties:

  • Physical shape
  • Elastic recovery & elongation
  • Resiliency
  • Flammability
  • Density
  • Luster
  • Specific gravity
  • Moisture regain
  • Moisture content

Here’s some further information on these properties:

  1. Physical shape: This refers to the physical form of the fiber, such as its length, diameter, and cross-sectional shape. The physical shape of the fiber can affect how it feels, drapes, and interacts with other fibers in the fabric.
  2. Elastic recovery and elongation: Elastic recovery is the ability of the fiber to return to its original shape after being stretched, while elongation is the amount of stretch the fiber can withstand before breaking. Fibers with good elastic recovery and high elongation are often used in products that require flexibility and stretch, such as activewear.
  3. Resiliency: Resiliency is the ability of the fiber to recover its shape after being compressed, crushed, or otherwise deformed. Resilient fibers are often used in products like carpets, upholstery, and mattresses, where they can help maintain the product’s shape and appearance.
  4. Flammability: Flammability is a measure of how easily a fiber will burn or ignite. Some fibers, such as polyester and nylon, are highly flammable, while others, such as wool and cotton, are less flammable.
  5. Density: Density is the mass per unit volume of the fiber. It can affect the weight, warmth, and feel of the fabric.
  6. Lustre: Lustre refers to the way that light reflects off the fiber’s surface. Some fibers, such as silk and rayon, have a high lustre, while others, such as cotton and wool, have a more matte appearance.
  7. Specific gravity: Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of the fiber to the density of water. It can be used to compare the weight of different fibers.
  8. Moisture regain: Moisture regain is the amount of moisture that a fiber can absorb from the air under specific conditions. It can affect the comfort and breathability of the fabric.
  9. Moisture content: Moisture content is the amount of moisture that is present in the fiber. It can affect the weight and strength of the fabric, as well as its susceptibility to mold and mildew.

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