Fibers

a look at six different fibers

Cotton - Natural Fiber

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History

  • first used about 5,000 years ago
  • originated in middle east
  • the cotton gin made by Eli Whitney revolutionized cotton processing
  • used to be made in factories by women, immigrants, and children for cheap labor costs


Uses

  • apparel - clothes
  • home fashion and furniture - curtains, towels
  • medical and cosmetic applications - bandages
  • technical applications


Characteristics

  • grown in the ground
  • white in color
  • used for things other than fibers
  • cottonseed oils can be extracted
  • hulls and meal are used to feed animals
  • fluffy
  • absorbs moisture


How it's made

  • seeds are planted
  • cotton plants grow from the seeds
  • leaves are removed
  • cotton is picked
  • picked cotton is cleaned
  • processed through cotton gin to remove seeds
  • processed cotton is stored in a warehouse until it is bought


Fun facts

cottonseed oil is used in

  • salad oils
  • snack foods
  • cosmetics
  • soap
  • candles
  • detergents
  • paint

cotton can also be used to make

  • fertilizer
  • fuel
  • automobile tire cords
  • pressed paper
  • cardboard

Polyester - Synthetic Fiber

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History

  • research began in 1926
  • Nylon was made first
  • England ran off of the research and created polyester
  • in 1949, E.I. du Pont (the original researcher) purchased the right to manufacture polyester in the U.S.
  • many other companies became interested in polyester and made their own
  • There are two main types of polyester today - PET and PCDT
  • PET (polyethylene terephthalate) is more popular and has more uses
  • PET is stronger than PCDT
  • PET can be combined with other fabrics to create wrinkle and stain resistant clothes
  • PCDT (poly-1, 4-cyclohexylene-dimethylene terephthalate) is better suited for furniture and is more elastic and resilient than PET

Uses

  • make yarn
  • apparel - clothes
  • home furnishing - carpets, curtains, sheets, etc.
  • other - automobile upholstery, fir house, nets, sails

Characteristics

  • strong
  • resistant to stretching and shrinking
  • resistant to most chemicals
  • quick drying
  • wrinkle resistant
  • mildew resistant
  • abrasion resistant
  • easily washed
  • retains heat-set pleats and creases
  • crisp and resilient when wet or dry

How it's made

  1. dimethyl terephthalate is reacted with ethylene glycol in the presence of a catalyst at a temperature of 302-410 degrees F
  2. the resulting monomet alcohol is combined with terephthalic acid and raised to a temperature of 472 degrees F. the resulting polyester is clear and molten. It's extruded through a slot to form long ribbons
  3. the ribbons cool until they become brittle. The material is then cut into tiny chips and completely tries to avoid irregularities in the consistency of the polyester
  4. the chips are melted at 500-518 degrees F to form a syrup-like solution. The solution is put in a metal container called a spinneret and forced through tiny holes. The size of the resulting yarn depends on the number of holes
  5. This is the spinning stage. Other chemicals can be added to make the resulting material flame retardant or easier to dye but it's not necessary
  6. The polyester is taken from the spinneret and it's soft and easily elongated up to five times its original length. As it dries, the fibers become solid and strong instead of brittle
  7. the fibers are drawn to desired length and diameter. The fibers may be twisted or textured to create duller or softer fabrics
  8. The resulting polyester is wound on large bobbins or slat-wound packages to be ready to be woven into materials such as clothes

Fun facts

  • Polyester fabrics were extremely popular in the 1960's
  • Polyester's popularity took a nose dive after the 60's
  • During its image problem, polyester clothes were devalued and ridiculed
  • In the early 1990's, new polyester fibers were introduced and increased the material's popularity
  • Microfiber is a kind of polyester which is difficult to tell apart from silk fabrics
  • Another kind of polyester is being designed that may be as strong as the material used for bulletproof vests (Kevlar)
  • That strong kind of polyester may be used for cars and airplanes in the future

Cashmere - Natural Fiber

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History

  • dates back possibly to 9,000 B.C.
  • started in Turkey
  • came from the Bezoar Wild Goat which is determined as the main ancestor or domestic goats

Uses

  • scarves
  • shawls
  • sweaters
  • hats
  • underwear
  • apparel
  • socks
  • quilts

Characteristics

  • more like wool than any other hair fiber
  • soft
  • silken
  • lightweight
  • not durable
  • naturally brown, gray, white, or black
  • can be dyed

How it's made

  • cashmere fibers are collected by either combing or shearing the goat during its molting season in the spring
  • the hairs are sorted
  • the sorted fibers are then washed to remove dirt, grease, and any vegetable matter remaining in the hairs
  • the fibers are then dehaired
  • deharing involves the removal of vegetable matter, dandruff, and the coarse outer guard hair
  • After dehairing, the cashmere fibers are ready to be spun into yarns for weaving and knitting

Fun facts

  • Also known as "fiber diamond" and "soft gold"
  • produced in China, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Kashmir, Australia, and New Zealand
  • comes from cashmere goats
  • a full grown adult goat can shed as much as 2.5 pounds of fleece which consists of 60% cashmere

Polyethylene - Synthetic Fiber

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History

  • started being made around World War II

Uses

  • nets
  • fabrics for agricultural uses
  • sun breakers, sun blinds, shade nets, wind walls
  • open packaging
  • safety nets
  • ropes, strings
  • fishing net
  • reinforcements in plastic, paper, etc.

Characteristics

  • round cross section
  • smooth surface
  • not affected by moisture
  • strong
  • insoluble in most common organic solvents
  • high resistance to acids
  • good ultra violet resistance
  • electrical resistance
  • good abrasion resistance
  • transparent or off-white

How it's made

  • a molecule of polyethylene is a long chain of carbon atoms with two hydrogen atoms attached to each carbon atom
  • depending on the kind of fiber that needs to be made, sometimes polyethylene chains are attached to other polyethylene chains where the hydrogen atoms should go. this is called branched (or low-density polythylene - LDPE)
  • with no branching, it's called linear polythylene or HDPE
  • linear is stringier
  • branched is cheaper and easier to make
  • branched is tough and pliable


Fun facts

  • is used for weaving, knitting, reinforcements, and braiding
  • made up of 11 carbon atoms
  • branched is used in squeeze bottles
  • linear is used for toys
  • the most popular plastic in the world
  • simplest of all commercial polymers

Bamboo - Natural Fiber

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Background

  • fastest growing wood plant on Earth
  • grows 1/3 times the fastest growing tree
  • some species can grow up to 1 meter a day
  • can grow to be 60 meters
  • generates more oxygen than some trees
  • acceptable replacement for wood
  • renewable resource
  • has anti-erosion properties


Uses

  • clothes
  • bathrobes
  • towels
  • mats
  • bed sheets
  • underwear
  • close-fitting t-shirt
  • stockings


Characteristics

  • soft
  • elastic
  • versatile
  • white
  • thin
  • resistance to abrasion
  • absorptive to water


How it's made

  • the leaves and soft inner pith are extracted from the trunk using a steaming process
  • the trunk is then crushed
  • the crushed bamboo is spun into yarn


Fun facts

  • bamboo has been used as medicine for centuries in Ayurveda and Chinese acupuncture
  • the powdered hardened secretion from bamboo is used to treat asthma, coughs, and it can be used as an aphrodisiac
  • ingredients from the root of the black bamboo can be used to help treat kidney disease
  • the roots and leaves have also been used to help treat venereal disease and cancer
  • the sap is said to reduce a fever


Soybean Protein - Synthetic Fiber

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Background

  • soy protein has been available since 1936 for its functional properties
  • In WWII, the protein was used by the U.S. Navy for fire fighting. the foam was referred to as "bean soup"
  • edible soy fibers were made in 1960


Uses

  • underwear
  • bedding
  • t-shirts
  • pullovers
  • sweaters


Characteristics

  • can be blended with other fibers
  • soft
  • smooth
  • has natural luster
  • good draping property
  • acid resistance
  • ultraviolet resistance
  • moisture absorption


How it's made

  • soybean protein fiber is made from soybean cake after oiling
  • the protein is distilled from the soybean cake and then refined
  • protein liquid is spun and polymers are added
  • the liquid is cooled
  • the fiber is produced by wet spinning and stabilizing by acetalizing
  • its cut into short staples after curling and thermoforming


Fun facts

  • Henry Ford wore a soy suit on special occasions
  • during WWII, the soy protein foam wasn't always in foam form
  • the isolated soy protein was fed into a water stream, and the mixture was then converted into a foam by the aerating nozzle
  • the soy protein foam was used to smother oil and gasoline fires aboard ships
  • it was particularly useful on aircraft carriers