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   » Wiki: Synthetic Fiber
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Synthetic fibers (British English: synthetic fibres) are made by humans with chemical synthesis, as opposed to that humans get from organisms with little or no chemical changes. They are the result of extensive research by to improve on naturally occurring and . In general, synthetic fibers are created by fiber-forming materials through spinnerets, forming a fibre. These fibers are called synthetic or artificial fibers.Synthetic fibres are created by a process known as polymerisation which includes 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".(Note:each single units of a polymer is called monomer).Polymerisation are of two types:linear polymerisation and Cross-linked polymerisation. Example are Rayon, Nylon and Polyester.

Early experiments
invented the first artificial fiber in the early 1880s; today it would be called semisynthetic in precise usage. His fiber was drawn from a liquid, formed by chemically modifying the fiber contained in tree bark. The synthetic fiber produced through this process was chemically similar in its potential applications to the carbon filament Swan had developed for his incandescent light bulb, but Swan soon realized the potential of the fiber to revolutionise textile manufacturing. In 1885, he unveiled fabrics he had manufactured from his synthetic material at the International Inventions Exhibition in .
(2019). 9780761473145, Marshall Cavendish Corporation. .

The next step was taken by Hilaire de Chardonnet, a French and , who invented the first artificial , which he called "Chardonnet silk". In the late 1870s, Chardonnet was working with on a remedy to the epidemic that was destroying French . Failure to clean up a spill in the darkroom resulted in Chardonnet's discovery of as a potential replacement for real silk. Realizing the value of such a discovery, Chardonnet began to develop his new product, which he displayed at the Paris Exhibition of 1889.

(1991). 9780809476992, Time-Life Books.
Chardonnet's material was extremely flammable, and was subsequently replaced with other, more stable materials.

Commercial products
The first successful process was developed in 1894 by English chemist Charles Frederick Cross, and his collaborators Edward John Bevan and Clayton Beadle. They named the fiber "", because the reaction product of and in basic conditions gave a highly viscous solution of .
(1998). 9780415193993, Taylor & Francis.
The first commercial viscose was produced by the UK company in 1905. The name "rayon" was adopted in 1924, with "viscose" being used for the viscous organic liquid used to make both rayon and . A similar product known as cellulose acetate was discovered in 1865. Rayon and acetate are both artificial fibers, but not truly synthetic, being made from .

, the first synthetic fiber in the "fully synthetic" sense of that term, was developed by Wallace Carothers, an American researcher at the chemical firm in the 1930s. It soon made its debut in the as a replacement for , just in time for the introduction of rationing during World War II. Its novel use as a material for women's overshadowed more practical uses, such as a replacement for the silk in and other uses like .

The first fiber was introduced by John Rex Whinfield and James Tennant Dickson, British chemists working at the Calico Printers' Association, in 1941. They produced and patented the first polyester fiber which they named , also known as , equal to or surpassing in toughness and resilience.Frank Greenaway, ‘Whinfield, John Rex (1901–1966)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 20 June 2011 ICI and went on to produce their own versions of the fiber.

The world production of synthetic fibers was 55.2 million tonnes in 2014. Man-Made Fibers Continue To Grow , Textile World

Synthetic fibers are made from synthesized polymers of small molecules. The compounds that are used to make these fibers come from raw materials such as based chemicals or petrochemicals. These materials are polymerized into a chemical that bond two adjacent carbon atoms. Differing chemical compounds are used to produce different types of synthetic fibers.

Synthetic fibers account for about half of all fiber usage, with applications in every field of fiber and textile technology. Although many classes of fiber based on synthetic polymers have been evaluated as potentially valuable commercial products, four of them - , , and - dominate the market. These four account for approximately 98 percent by volume of synthetic fiber production, with polyester alone accounting for around 60 per cent.

Synthetic fibers are more durable than most natural fibers and will readily pick-up different dyes. In addition, many synthetic fibers offer consumer-friendly functions such as stretching, waterproofing and stain resistance. Sunlight, moisture, and oils from human skin cause all fibers to break down and wear away. Natural fibers tend to be much more sensitive than synthetic blends. This is mainly because natural products are biodegradable. Natural fibers are susceptible to larval insect infestation; synthetic fibers are not a good food source for fabric-damaging insects.

Compared to natural fibers, many synthetic fibers are more water resistant and stain resistant. Some are even specially enhanced to withstand damage from water or stains.

Most of synthetic fibers' disadvantages are related to their low :
  • The mono-fibers do not trap air pockets like cotton and provide poor insulation.
  • Synthetic fibers burn more readily than natural.
  • Prone to heat damage.
  • Melt relatively easily.
  • Prone to damage by hot washing.
  • More electrostatic charge is generated by rubbing than with natural fibers.
  • Not skin friendly, so it is uncomfortable for long wearing.
  • Some people are allergic to synthetic fibres.
  • Non-biodegradable in comparison to natural fibers.
  • Most of the synthetic fibres absorb very little moisture so become sticky when the body sweats.
  • Synthetic fibers are a source of pollution from laundry machines.

Common synthetic fibers
Common synthetic fibers include:

Specialty synthetic fibers include:

Other synthetic materials used in fibers include:

Modern fibers that are made from older artificial materials include:

  • Glass fiber (1938) is used for:
    • industrial, automotive, and home insulation ()
    • reinforcement of composite materials (glass-reinforced plastic, glass fiber reinforced concrete)
    • specialty papers in battery separators and filtration
  • (1946) is used for:
    • adding metallic properties to for the purpose of (usually made with composite plastic and )
    • elimination and prevention of static charge build-up
    • conducting to transmit information
    • conduction of

See also

Further reading
  • The original source of this article and much of the synthetic fiber articles (copied with permission) is Whole Earth magazine, No. 90, Summer 1997.

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