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Fiber or fibre (from Latin: fibra ) is a natural or man-made substance that is significantly longer than it is wide. Fibers are often used in the manufacture of other materials. The strongest engineering materials often incorporate fibers, for example carbon fiber and ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene.
Synthetic fibers can often be produced very cheaply and in large amounts compared to natural fibers, but for clothing natural fibers can give some benefits, such as comfort, over their synthetic counterparts.
Natural fibers develop or occur in the fiber shape, and include those produced by plants, animals, and geological processes.They can be classified according to their origin:
Man-made or chemical fibers are fibers whose chemical composition, structure, and properties are significantly modified during the manufacturing process.Man-made fibers consist of regenerated fibers and synthetic fibers.
Semi-synthetic fibers are made from raw materials with naturally long-chain polymer structure and are only modified and partially degraded by chemical processes, in contrast to completely synthetic fibers such as nylon (polyamide) or dacron (polyester), which the chemist synthesizes from low-molecular weight compounds by polymerization (chain-building) reactions. The earliest semi-synthetic fiber is the cellulose regenerated fiber, rayon.Most semi-synthetic fibers are cellulose regenerated fibers.
Cellulose fibers are a subset of man-made fibers, regenerated from natural cellulose. The cellulose comes from various sources: rayon from tree wood fiber, bamboo fiber from bamboo, seacell from seaweed, etc. In the production of these fibers, the cellulose is reduced to a fairly pure form as a viscous mass and formed into fibers by extrusion through spinnerets. Therefore, the manufacturing process leaves few characteristics distinctive of the natural source material in the finished products.
Some examples of this fiber type are:
Historically, cellulose diacetate and -triacetate were classified under the term rayon, but are now considered distinct materials.
Synthetic come entirely from synthetic materials such as petrochemicals, unlike those man-made fibers derived from such natural substances as cellulose or protein.
Fiber classification in reinforced plastics falls into two classes: (i) short fibers, also known as discontinuous fibers, with a general aspect ratio (defined as the ratio of fiber length to diameter) between 20 and 60, and (ii) long fibers, also known as continuous fibers, the general aspect ratio is between 200 and 500.
Metallic fibers can be drawn from ductile metals such as copper, gold or silver and extruded or deposited from more brittle ones, such as nickel, aluminum or iron. See also Stainless steel fibers.
Carbon fibers are often based on oxidized and via pyrolysis carbonized polymers like PAN, but the end product is almost pure carbon.
Silicon carbide fibers, where the basic polymers are not hydrocarbons but polymers, where about 50% of the carbon atoms are replaced by silicon atoms, so-called poly-carbo-silanes. The pyrolysis yields an amorphous silicon carbide, including mostly other elements like oxygen, titanium, or aluminium, but with mechanical properties very similar to those of carbon fibers.
Fiberglass, made from specific glass, and optical fiber, made from purified natural quartz, are also man-made fibers that come from natural raw materials, silica fiber, made from sodium silicate (water glass) and basalt fiber made from melted basalt.
Mineral fibers can be particularly strong because they are formed with a low number of surface defects, asbestos is a common one.
Microfibers in textiles refer to sub-denier fiber (such as polyester drawn to 0.5 denier). Denier and Dtex are two measurements of fiber yield based on weight and length. If the fiber density is known, you also have a fiber diameter, otherwise it is simpler to measure diameters in micrometers. Microfibers in technical fibers refer to ultra fine fibers (glass or meltblown thermoplastics) often used in filtration. Newer fiber designs include extruding fiber that splits into multiple finer fibers. Most synthetic fibers are round in cross-section, but special designs can be hollow, oval, star-shaped or trilobal. The latter design provides more optically reflective properties. Synthetic textile fibers are often crimped to provide bulk in a woven, non woven or knitted structure. Fiber surfaces can also be dull or bright. Dull surfaces reflect more light while bright tends to transmit light and make the fiber more transparent.
Very short and/or irregular fibers have been called fibrils. Natural cellulose, such as cotton or bleached kraft, show smaller fibrils jutting out and away from the main fiber structure.
Fibers can be divided into natural and man-made (synthetic) substance, their properties can affect their performance in many applications. Nowadays, man-made fiber materials are replacing other conventional materials like glass and wood in a number of applications.This is because man-made fibers can be engineered chemically, physically, and mechanically to suit particular technical engineering. In choosing a fiber type, a manufacturer would balance their properties with the technical requirements of the applications. Various fibers are available to select for manufacturing. Here are typical properties of the sample natural fibers as compared to the properties of man-made fibers.
|Fiber type||Fiber Diameter|
|Specific Gravity||Tensile Strength|
|Elongation at Break|
|Wood Fiber |
|Sugar Cane Bagasse||0.008-0.016||1.2-1.3||26.7-42||2175-2750||1.1||70-75|
|a Adapted from ACI 544. IR-96 P58, reference  P240 and  |
b N/A means properties not readily available or not applicable
|Fiber type||Fiber Diameter|
|Specific Gravity||Tensile Strength (Ksi)||Elasticity Modulus |
|Elongation at Break|
| Polyethylene |
|a Adapted from ACI 544. IR-96 P40, reference  P240,  P209 and  |
b N/A means properties not readily available or not applicable
The tables above just show typical properties of fibers, in fact there are more properties which could be referred as follows(from a to z):
Arc Resistance, Biodegradable, Coefficient of Linear Thermal Expansion, Continuous Service Temperature, Density of Plastics, Ductile / Brittle Transition Temperature, Elongation at Break, Elongation at Yield, Fire Resistance, Flexibility, Gamma Radiation Resistance, Gloss, Glass Transition Temperature, Hardness, Heat Deflection Temperature, Shrinkage, Stiffness, Ultimate tensile strength, Thermal Insulation, Toughness, Transparency, UV Light Resistance, Volume Resistivity, Water absorption, Young's Modulus
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Biopolymers are polymers produced by living organisms; in other words, they are polymeric biomolecules. Biopolymers contain monomeric units that are covalently bonded to form larger structures. There are three main classes of biopolymers, classified according to the monomeric units used and the structure of the biopolymer formed: polynucleotides, which are long polymers composed of 13 or more nucleotide monomers; polypeptides, which are short polymers of amino acids; and polysaccharides, which are often linear bonded polymeric carbohydrate structures. Other examples of biopolymers include rubber, suberin, melanin and lignin.
A textile is a flexible material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibers. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, hemp, or other materials to produce long strands. Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, tatting, felting, or braiding.
Glass fiber is a material consisting of numerous extremely fine fibers of glass.
Rayon is a manufactured fiber made from natural sources such as wood and agricultural products that are regenerated as cellulose fiber. The many types and grades of rayon can imitate the feel and texture of natural fibers such as silk, wool, cotton, and linen. The types that resemble silk are often called artificial silk.
Viscose is a type of rayon fiber that is made from natural sources such as wood and agricultural products that are regenerated as cellulose fiber. The molecular structure of natural cellulose is preserved in the process. The many types and grades of viscose fibers can imitate the feel and texture of natural fibers such as silk, wool, cotton, and linen. The types that resemble silk are often called artificial silk. The fibre is used to make textiles for clothing and other purposes.
Synthetic fibers are fibers made by humans through chemical synthesis, as opposed to natural fibers that are directly derived from living organisms. They are the result of extensive research by scientists to improve upon naturally occurring animal and plant fibers. In general, synthetic fibers are created by extruding fiber-forming materials through spinnerets, forming a fiber. These are called synthetic or artificial fibers. Synthetic fibres are created by a process known as polymerisation, which involves combining monomers to make a long chain or polymer. The word polymer comes from a Greek prefix "poly" which means "many" and suffix "mer" which means "single units".. There are two types of polymerisation: linear polymerisation and cross-linked polymerisation. Example are rayon, nylon and polyester.
Cellulose acetate is the acetate ester of cellulose. It was first prepared in 1865. Cellulose acetate is used as a film base in photography, as a component in some coatings, and as a frame material for eyeglasses; it is also used as a synthetic fiber in the manufacture of cigarette filters and playing cards. In photographic film, cellulose acetate replaced nitrate film in the 1950s, being far less flammable and cheaper to produce.
Polymer chemistry is a sub-discipline of chemistry that focuses on the chemical synthesis, structure, chemical and physical properties of polymers and macromolecules. The principles and methods used within polymer chemistry are also applicable through a wide range of other chemistry sub-disciplines like organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, and physical chemistry Many materials have polymeric structures, from fully inorganic metals and ceramics to DNA and other biological molecules, however, polymer chemistry is typically referred to in the context of synthetic, organic compositions. Synthetic polymers are ubiquitous in commercial materials and products in everyday use, commonly referred to as plastics, and rubbers, and are major components of composite materials. Polymer chemistry can also be included in the broader fields of polymer science or even nanotechnology, both of which can be described as encompassing polymer physics and polymer engineering.
A binder or binding agent is any material or substance that holds or draws other materials together to form a cohesive whole mechanically, chemically, by adhesion or cohesion.
Natural fibers or naturalfibres are fibers that are produced by plants, animals, and geological processes. They can be used as a component of composite materials, where the orientation of fibers impacts the properties. Natural fibers can also be matted into sheets to make paper or felt.
Polyester is a category of polymers that contain the ester functional group in their main chain. As a specific material, it most commonly refers to a type called polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Polyesters include naturally occurring chemicals, such as in the cutin of plant cuticles, as well as synthetics such as polybutyrate. Natural polyesters and a few synthetic ones are biodegradable, but most synthetic polyesters are not. The material is used extensively in clothing.
A biocomposite is a composite material formed by a matrix (resin) and a reinforcement of natural fibers. These kind of materials often mimic the structure of the living materials involved in the process keeping the strengthening properties of the matrix that was used, but always providing biocompatibility. The matrix phase is formed by polymers derived from renewable and nonrenewable resources. The matrix is important to protect the fibers from environmental degradation and mechanical damage, to hold the fibers together and to transfer the loads on it. In addition, biofibers are the principal components of biocomposites, which are derived from biological origins, for example fibers from crops, recycled wood, waste paper, crop processing byproducts or regenerated cellulose fiber (viscose/rayon). The interest in biocomposites is rapidly growing in terms of industrial applications and fundamental research, due to its great benefits. Biocomposites can be used alone, or as a complement to standard materials, such as carbon fiber. Advocates of biocomposites state that use of these materials improve health and safety in their production, are lighter in weight, have a visual appeal similar to that of wood, and are environmentally superior.
Polymer engineering is generally an engineering field that designs, analyses, and modifies polymer materials. Polymer engineering covers aspects of the petrochemical industry, polymerization, structure and characterization of polymers, properties of polymers, compounding and processing of polymers and description of major polymers, structure property relations and applications.
In architecture, fabric structures are forms of constructed fibers that provide end users a variety of aesthetic free-form building designs. Custom-made fabric structures are engineered and fabricated to meet worldwide structural, flame retardant, weather-resistant, and natural force requirements. Fabric structures are considered a sub-category of tensile structure.
Bamboo textile is any cloth, yarn, or clothing made from bamboo fibres. While historically used only for structural elements, such as bustles and the ribs of corsets, in recent years, different technologies have been developed that allow bamboo fibre to be used for a wide range of textile and fashion applications. Bamboo yarn can also be blended with other textile fibres such as hemp or spandex. Bamboo is an alternative to plastic that is renewable and can be replenished at a fast rate.
Solid is one of the four fundamental states of matter. The atoms in a solid are closely packed together and contain the least amount of kinetic energy. A solid is characterized by structural rigidity and resistance to a force applied to the surface. Unlike a liquid, a solid object does not flow to take on the shape of its container, nor does it expand to fill the entire available volume like a gas. The atoms in a solid are bound to each other, either in a regular geometric lattice, or irregularly. Solids cannot be compressed with little pressure whereas gases can be compressed with little pressure because the molecules in a gas are loosely packed.
Dissolving pulp, also called dissolving cellulose, is bleached wood pulp or cotton linters that has a high cellulose content. It has special properties including a high level of brightness and uniform molecular-weight distribution. This pulp is manufactured for uses that require a high chemical purity, and particularly low hemicellulose content, since the chemically similar hemicellulose can interfere with subsequent processes. Dissolving pulp is so named because it is not made into paper, but dissolved either in a solvent or by derivatization into a homogeneous solution, which makes it completely chemically accessible and removes any remaining fibrous structure. Once dissolved, it can be spun into textile fibers, or chemically reacted to produce derivatized celluloses, such cellulose triacetate, a plastic-like material formed into fibers or films, or cellulose ethers such as methyl cellulose, used as a thickener.
Cellulose fibers are fibers made with ethers or esters of cellulose, which can be obtained from the bark, wood or leaves of plants, or from other plant-based material. In addition to cellulose, the fibers may also contain hemicellulose and lignin, with different percentages of these components altering the mechanical properties of the fibers.
Plastic is material consisting of any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic compounds that are malleable and so can be molded into solid objects.