For thousands of years, natural fibers were the only materials
available for the creation of fabric. Then, in the middle of the
nineteenth century, scientists began to experiment with the production
of “artificial silk” from regenerated cellulose. The resulting
fiber, rayon, heralded a new era for the textile industry. Rapid
developments have greatly increased the number and refined the
properties of man-made fibers, which have become indispensable
in the contemporary world.
Each type of man-made fiber has a generic name, such as nylon
or polyester. in turn, fiber producers have trademarks or brand
names for the various fibers they manufacture. Often a fiber producer
has several trademarks for one fiber indicating one or more variations
in its manufacture.
The chemical complexities of man-made fibers are endless,
but one of the distinctions among them is the fact that some
fibers are derived from natural materials such as cellulose
or protein, while others are completely synthesized or developed
from basic chemical sources. In either case, the production
involves similar steps. A chemical solution is formed that contains
the basic components of the fiber. The solution is forced through
the tiny holes of a spinneret into a chemical-coagulating bath
or air chamber that hardens the substance into filament form.
A continuous "rope" of unlimited length is produced,
and goes on to be textured and processed. The same solution
can produce filaments with varying properties, depending on
the size and shape of the holes in the spinneret and the nature
of the hardening procedure.
Great advances have been made in the development of man-made
fibers since their inception. Today, man-made fibers can be
engineered specifically to impart the performance feature required
by the end use of the fabric.
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These manufactured fibers are much thinner than normal fibers. Micro
fibers can be made of nylon, polyester, acrylic and rayon. Used on
their own, the fabric hand becomes softer and the fabric drapes better.
Micro fibers can blended with natural fibers or other manufactured
fibers and still have the same characteristics, If a large percentage
of micro fiber is used in a blend, then the fabric takes on a silk-like
texture and hand. Since the wicking effect is greatly improved from
other fibers, it’s often used in fabrics for athletic apparel.