Vol. 4 Did you know that there are different fibers?

Vol. 4 ¿Sabías que existen distintas fibras?

The textile industry is very broad and has several procedures, one of them is the extraction and processing of fibers.

Fiber is defined as: a fibrous material or product that can be spun, woven and dyed. Indeed, it must comply with these three qualities mentioned above because they are used to manufacture threads and fabrics.

You were probably ever looking for the perfect fabric that had texture, that had a certain visual appearance, feel or met certain characteristics for your decoration space. Well, let me tell you that all those properties mentioned above depend quite a bit on the type of fiber.

Fibers are classified into three main categories: natural, artificial and synthetic.

Natural fibers

Natural ones are all those that come from animals and vegetables such as stem, leaf or fruit. For example, the plant origin of the fruit is cotton, coconut and kapok (kapok tree). Stem vegetables are flax, hemp, ramie, jute, bamboo and kenaf. On the other hand, those from the leaves are Ixtle, Henequén, Pita, Izote, Soyate, Sotol, among others.


Illustration 1: Linen


Illustration 2: Henequen

Unlike these, protein or better known as animal are all those that are extracted from the hair or wool of sheep, camel, alpaca, llama, vicuña, mohair, angora and cashmere.

All the fibers mentioned above, both plant and animal, are short fibers, unlike silk because, although it is an animal fiber, it is a continuous filament from the Dupion worm or spider.

Illustration 3: Dupion Worm

At FORMATEX, the most common in this section are cotton and linen, since they are absorbent, resistant, have quality and, above all, are easy to mix with other fibers.
Of course it depends on what you are looking for in a fabric, its softness and a lustrous finish like cotton or freshness, elasticity and a good conductor of heat like linen.
Now, artificial fibers are those that are made of cellulose of plant origin along with chemicals. They were precisely created in order to imitate natural fibers, especially silk.

Artificial Fibers

The most common and well-known artificial fiber is rayon. However, variants of this have been released such as viscose rayon, which is made with cotton or wood, then chemicals such as caustic soda and carbon disulfide are added.

Another example is rayon lyocell, eucalyptus wood pulp plus amine oxide.

One of the most used rayons today is bamboo rayon, since the cane is extracted through a process called hydrolysis, then acetic acid is added.

There are also other less known fibers, but they still fall within this category, such as acetate, soy and polylactic acid, thermoplastic polyester derived from corn, tapioca or cane sugar.
You can identify this type of cellulose fiber by general characteristics such as how shiny it is, they are not very resistant, and they drape well. Additionally, if you are looking to imitate cotton, linen, silk or wool fabrics for a lower cost, this type of fiber is ideal for you.

bamboo rayon

Illustration 4: Rayon bamboo

Synthetic fibers

Finally, there are the most used fibers today, especially for interior design, synthetic fibers. These come from petroleum and are mixed with other chemical substances, the best known universally are polyester, nylon, acrylic, polyvinyl, polypropylene and elastic fibers (spandex, triextra, elasterell).

In our company, the most used synthetic fabrics are polyester, polypropylene and acrylic. For this reason, each one will be discussed in more detail.

Polyester can imitate any fiber, especially cotton, of course it depends on the quality with which it is made. In addition, it has resilience to wet and dry conditions, is durable, resists abrasion, aesthetically looks better than nylon, is easy to care for and can be recycled.

Illustration 5: Polyester fabric

Acrylic mainly imitates wool, has low density, retains its shape with heat, requires simple and easy care, resistant even to acids, can be dry cleaned, has excellent resistance to sunlight, moths and fungi .

Illustration 6: Acrylic Fabric

Polypropylene is light, has high resistance to pressure and compression, contains dielectric properties, resists acids and alkalis, is non-flammable, and has a low cost. However, they do not absorb moisture and are also difficult to dye.

Illustration 7: Polypropylene fabric

If you want to be sure of the type of fiber that a fabric contains, we are going to give you some tips that you can do to identify them.

There are four main ways to recognize fibers:

Solubility test using chemicals, acetone or alkalis, but works more on artificial fibers.

Through a microscope or a magnifying glass, seeing the structure of the fibers or behavior of the fabrics.

Visual inspection, which consists of observing and touching a fabric for its characteristics, whether it is luster, opaque, texture, whether it stretches or not, whether it drapes or by touch. You can even untwist threads to see if they have short fibers or filaments.

Another way can be the singe test and it is the simplest when you do not know the characteristics of a fabric perfectly. This consists of a series of very simple steps. First, each thread of the fabric is frayed, then you hold the thread and bring the lighter or flame to it horizontally and through its smell, flame color or residue after it goes out they will detect which fiber it is.

For example, in the case of cotton that burns quickly, it will smell like burnt paper, the ashes are gray and soft. On the other hand, polyester has a sweet smell, the ashes are hard, the thread is left with a black sphere, the smoke is also black and burns very slowly.

Polyester singeing

Illustration 8:Cotton singeing Illustration 9:Polyester singeing
Author | Jimena Chavez


Image 1: Style Alex, (2015) El lino: historical development recovered on April 28, 2021 at http://alexisortegazafra.blogspot.com/2015/04/el-lino-desarrollo-historico.html


Image 2: Explore Magazine, (2021) Henequén: Green Gold of Yucatán in Explore Yucatán retrieved on April 28, 2021 at http://www.explore.mx/el-henequen-oro-verde-de-yucatan/


Image 3: Yamila, (2019) Breeding worms at home in my animals recovered on April 28, 2021 at https://misanimales.com/cria-de-gusanos-de-seda-en-casa/


Images 8 and 9: Chávez Jimena, (2021) Scorching of fibers, photographed on April 27, 2021

"This information is for reference only, to obtain precise details about the use, qualities and care of our products, it is necessary to consult directly with your seller before making a purchase or receiving recommendations."


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