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Man-made and Synthetic Fibres

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  1. Fibres Information

Man-made fabrics. For thousands of years people used natural fibres. Then people learned to make fibres themselves.

Cellulose fibres. Scientists wanted to find a fibre that would look and act like silk. Their study resulted in the production of a fibre called rayon. Most rayon and acetate fabrics are made from wood pulp. Rayon dyes well and, if treated chemically, it does not wrinkle much. Rayon is a man-made fibre made from a plant source.

Non-cellulose fibres are made entirely by chemical processes. Nylon was the first non-cellulose fibre. It is made from chemicals and petroleum products. Today, nylon has almost as many uses as cotton has. It is wrinkle-resistened, does not shrink and repels water. Nylon is used for rainwear, camping clothes and equipment, parachutes. But it is not comfortable to wear in hot weather. Nylon became a household word in 1940 when it was knitted into hosiery. In 1942 it was called into service for the armed forces use in parachutes, flak vests, combat uniforms, tires and many other vital military uses. Until the war nylon was not available to the public. Nylon became one of the most versatile fibres of the man-made fabrics. In addition to hosiery, nylon is used in tricot, netting for bridal veils, and in carpeting.

Nylon is stronger yet weighs less than any other commonly used fibre. It is elastic and resilient and responsive to heat setting. Nylon fibres are smooth, non-absorbent and dry quickly. Extensive washing and drying in an automatic dryer can eventually cause piling. Nylon whites should be washed separately to avoid greying. This fabric may get yellow so it should be bleached frequently. Nylon melts at high temperatures. If ironing is necessary, always use a low temperature on the wrong side.

Synthetic fabrics, made from chemically produced fibres, include nylon, acrylic, acetate, and polyester. Each fibre has unique characteristics, desirable for different reasons. Many fabrics are blend of natural and synthetic fibres, offering you the best qualities of each, such as the breathable comfort of cotton blended with the wrinkle resistance of polyester, synthetic fabrics are made to resemble the look and feel of natural fabrics. Polyester may look like cotton or silk, acetate and nylon shimmer like silk, and acrylic mimics the texture and appearance of wool.

Blended fibres. Chemical processes are also used to combine two or more fibres into one fabric. Since cotton has a tendency to wrinkle, combining it with a nonwrinkling fibre reduces this tendency. Cotton for example, is often combined with polyester. It makes a fabric that looks like cotton and is cool to wear like cotton. But, like polyester, this fabric does not wrinkle easily. Fibres combined in this way are called blends. Blended fibres and fabrics can take advantage of each fibres' good qualities.


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