Application of High Performance Fibers for Special Purposes

Last Updated on 27/10/2021

High Performance Fibers for Special Purpose End Uses

Shubham Dadaso Patil
DKTE’s Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Contact no: 8600799176


In many cases, the multi functional fibers are developed or produced on the basis of specific end uses. These fibers are produced by renewable raw material, with low energy consumption, and with non-polluting production technique.

In the 21st century, there are number of advancements took place and it will continue which will influence whole textile world. Biotechnology, nanotechnology, fiber engineering and material science will plays an important role for further development of fibers for next generation. In textile industry lot of development has taken place in fibers, still it will continue in the future and can compete market. This will also impact the forensic fiber investigation.

The paper explains the information or advancement in the fibers till now and future developments in fibers. Some of the Biodegradable fibers, intelligent fibers and high performance fibers have been explained in this article.

Nanofibers, Biodegradable fibers- Lyocell fiber, SeaCell, SmartCell, Polylactic acid fibers, Bacterial cellulose, Bacterial polyster, Man-made spider silk, Bio-degradable polysters. Intelligent fibers- Phase change materials, Shape memory polymers. High performance fibers- Dyneema, Hygra.

Textile is a traditional process in India since very long period of time. Today, the fabric is produced from varieties of natural and man-made fibers and hence they are found in casework. The interaction between the industries has developed the textile techniques and it will continue in future also. For example, Nanofibers with diameter 1- 100 nanometers are developed with special properties.

The concerns for the degrading environmental conditions have led to worldwide efforts to develop biodegradable (Ecofriendly) fibers in ever expanding horizon of textile fibers. These fibers can incorporated as whole or parts of materials and products of various forms and performances properties for wide ranging applications. The fiber is generally defined as a flexible, macroscopically homogeneous body having high length/width ratio and a small cross section it refers collectively to a variety of forms of fibrous materials.

Development in the intelligent fiber made of special polymers that reacts with environment has taken place and it will have demand in the future generation.


It is technology, which will affect development of entire textile technology and applications of products in future.This gives more energy saving, more efficient and cleaner textile industry. Nanotechnology gives high impact on fiber production and dyestuff. With some new surface treatment, nanotechnology combines various properties like water repellency, antibacterial protection, mould protection and camouflage purpose. It is expected that, global market for nanofibers would reach to US $825 million by 2017, according to BBC Research Report[1].

Nanofiber a high performance fibers
Fig: Nanofibers

Nanofibers are ultrafine fibers with diameter less than 100 to few 10 nanometers. Diameter of fibers of cotton, wool and other natural and man made fibers are 10 to few 100 micrometers.

Usually, electrospinning process is used to produce nanofibers which is simple and economical.In this, polymer liquid is exposed to high voltage.When voltage of polymer reaches to the point at which, it cross surface tension of liquid, a mettalic nozzle or pipette ejects liquid jet to metallic collector, which is electrode of opposite charge and where jet disperses into multiple number of fine, extra fine fibers.During this process, charged liquid jet blends and elongational deformation takes place, which results into fine fibers of nanometric crossview dimensions.For good quality nanofibers, with constant diameter, even and smooth surface, technological parameters should be optimised. Hence, suitable polymers and optimum concentration and temperature of spinning liquid and voltage.Porous fiber can also be produced by electrospinning with suitable technological parameters.Morphology and properties of nanofibers, by this method, differs from those of microfibers and conventional fibers.

Nanofibers are used in textile industry as a ‘Nanocoating technique’, which makes textile material 100% water proof. The materials can be made water and oil repellent with steam permeability, abrasion resistance and crease resistance, by use of nanofibers on textile materials. These fibers gives predominate specific surface area, flexibility and tensile strength. These properties can be used for filtration in biomedicine for protection purpose, electronics and optics field. Ten times stronger and more durable material than steel with same weight can be produced, using nanotechnology.



It is a form of rayon consisting cellulose fiber made from dissolving pulp (bleached wood pulp) using dry jet spinning developed in 1972. US FEDERAL TRADE COMMISION defines LYOCELL as “the fiber composed of cellulose precipitated from an organic solution in which no substitution of hydroxyl groups takes place and no chemical intermediates are formed [5].

Lyocell fiber is produced by dissolving pulp, contains highly pure cellulose with little hemicelluloses and no lignin. Hardwood logs are converted into small chips and reacted chemically either with Prehydrolysis- Kraft process or Sulfite process to remove lignin and hemicelluloses. Pulp is bleached to remove remaining lignin and dried into continuous sheet and rolled onto spool. Pulp is delivered in rolls weighing about 230 Kgs.

In mills, rolls are broken in one inch squares and dissolved in N-methylmorpholine N-oxide gives solution known as ‘DOPE’. The filtered cellulose solution is pumped through spinnerets, when solution is pumped, continuous filament comes out. Fibers are drawn into air, for better strength. Then immersed in solution of amine oxide and diluted which set strands. The strand is then washed in de-mineralized water. Finally, Lyocell fibers are dried and water is evaporated. After that finishing is done. The machine “CRIMPER” is used for texturising and bulk.

It has number of same properties as like other cellulosic fibers like cotton, linen, ramie and viscose rayon. These fibers are soft, absorbent, and very strong when dry/wet, wrinkle resistant. Lyocell fabric can be machine washed or dry-cleaned. It has good drapability, can be dyed with many colors. Suede, leather and silk like textures may be introduced.

It is used in denim, undergarment, casual wear, towels, women’s clothing, men’s dress shirts, conveyor belt, paper, medical dressing etc.

5.2. SeaCell:

SeaCell is brand name by fiber producer smartfiber AG. It is eco-friendly fabric made from seaweed. Developed by Nanonic Inc., small percentage of plant is mixed with cellulose. It is classified in LyoCell family itself. It is also known as “Brown Algae”. Seaweed has much advantage that include carbohydrates, amino acid, fat, cellulose, abundant mineral substances like calcium, magnesium, sodium, vitamin A, E, C constituents etc. It consist characteristics of natural cellulose like high strength, soft touch and fast moisture absorption.


  • SeaCell fiber is manufactured from seaweed which becomes less than micron granule, and then its powder is added into wood cellulose NMMO solution for environmental protection. By LyoCell manufacturing process SeaCell fibers are manufactured.
  • In another manufacturing process, silver ion is put into complete shaped cellulose fiber and by sterilization method metal is dissolved inside fiber. Due to this manufacturing process it does not lose its antibiotic properties after washing.


  • Cellulose characteristic makes soft feel
  • It has high strength, size stability, maintains its touch sense and efficacy after number of washing
  • Comfortably wearable and sucks sweat 50% faster than cotton
  • Mineral and vitamin in fiber can slowly release at wet environment and skin posses health care
  • Active compound can arise cell activation in seaweed fiber
  • It can protect skin from environment hurt
  • It is antibiotic and resists mildew
  • Posses good ventilation, avoid infections by keeping skin dry

Wound dressing, underwear, infant wear, sportswear, bed sheet, decoration and other fabrics in skin contact.

5.3. SmartCell:

It can be described as the textile materials that think and act themselves. SmartCell is premium fabric which absorbs and releases heat so that one can remain at perfect temperature, not too cold or too hot. In brief it is very comfortable. SmartCell is a PHASE CHANGE MATERIAL (PCM) micro composite of latest manufacturing generation with thermo regulating features. It regulates temperature and has excellent climate management. It is manufactured from renewable sources and 100% biodegradable with heat absorption PCMs. Intermolecular links are broken and converted into liquid phase when temperature rises. It regulates body temperature. It contains waxes like Licosane, Octadecane, Heptadecane and Hexadecane. These waxes stores heat released by body and returns it back when required by body due to physical activity and external temperature condition.

It is manufactured by LyoCell manufacturing process as discussed in point 5.1.2 of this article. Raw materials used for this are cellulose and zinc. They are combined together to form PCMs.


  • Absorbs heat
  • Regulates body temperature
  • It is biodegradable
  • It changes its phases as per external conditions
PCM incorporated clothing
Fig: PCM incorporated clothing

Figure describes the PCM incorporated clothing action A paraffin-PCM, absorbs approximately 200 KJ per Kg of heat, if it undergoes melting process.

Sportswear, Mattress, mattress pads, Anti-inflammatory apparels, protection against heat or cold in human body.


It is bio degradable organic substance, found in bodies of animals and microbes. It is thermoplastic polymer having 175oc melting point. It is produced by Cargill Dow LLC (nature works) (6).Currently, fibers are produced by Japanese company Toray and American company ‘Fiber innovation Technology, Inc. (F.T.I), Kanebo is producing PLA fibers under trademark ‘Lactron’.

These fibers are produced by using conventional melt spinning process. They have round or profiled (Trilobal) cross section and high to medium luster. The production includes also bycomponent fibers of core/sheath type composed of synthetic polymer and PLA. It can also be produced by direct condensation of lactic acid. Another method to produce is via cyclic intermediate dimmer through ring opening process.


  • It has excellent UV resistance
  • Good moisture absorption capacity
  • Protects skin from environmental hazards

Due to Lactron’s excellent hand, drape, wicking and moisture management properties with a natural base, is used in wide range of apparels such as performance active wear, fashion active wear, sports–wear, inner wear, casual wear. PLA has a competitive advantage against PET and nylon when marketing shirts, dresses, underwear and shoes.


It is a biopolymer produced by several strains of acetic acid bacteria, having same chemical structures as that of plant derived cellulose composed of β-1, 4- glycosidic linkages between glucose molecules. Bacteria cellulose is distinguished from plant derived cellulose by its high degree of polymerization, high purity and high water holding capacity, free from lignin and hemicelluloses. It has high crystalline and excellent physiochemical characteristics superior than plant derived cellulose. It is suitable for biomaterial due to its high tensile strength, insolubility in most of the solvents, non-toxic and good shape retention.

Raw materials used for this are glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltose, xylose, starch and glycerol. These fibers are manufactured by addition of acetic acid to glucose and gluconic acid is formed. Then its fermentation is done for fiber manufacturing or reactor process can also be used.


  • It is very tough
  • Total surface area of this fiber is much higher than that of ideally smooth fiber of same dimensions.

Food industry, medical textiles, electronic paper etc.


Polyhydroxyalkanoates or PHA is linear polysters produced in nature by bacterial fermentation of sugar or lipids. They are produced by the bacteria to store carbon and energy. More than 150 different monomers can be combined within this family to give materials extremely diverse properties. These plastics are biodegradable and are used in the production of bioplastics. They can be either thermoplastic or elastomeric materials, with melting point 40-1800c [8].

To produce PHA, a culture of a micro-organism such as alcaligenes eutrophus is placed in a suitable medium and fed appropriate nutrients so that it multiplies rapidly. The biosynthesis of PHA is usually caused by certain deficiency conditions and excess supply of carbon sources. Recombinants Bacillus subtilis str. pBE2C1 and Bacillus subtilis str. pBE2C1AB were used in production of PHA and malt waste could be used as carbon source for lower cost PHA.

Rivets, staples, screws, surgical mesh, ligaments and tendon grafts, skin substitutes, wound dressing etc.


In year 2002, Canadian Company ‘Nexia Biotechnologies Inc. and US Army soldier biological, chemical command succeeded in developing first manmade spider silk with trademark “ Biosteel”[2-4].Industrial process of Biosteel fibers spinning has been developed by Acordis Specialty Fibers Ltd., Conventry, Great Britain. It is based on genetic recombination technology.

DNA segment which controls production of spider silk proteins was introduced into genome of mammary gland cells of goats. Mammary glands adopted with silk generating genes and production of desired protein milk has started. Later, individual spider genes were introduced into single cell of goat egg using INVITRO injection method. The transgenic goat was generated with spider silk proteins in its milk. From aqueous solution of recombinant spider silk proteins, fibers are produced.

These fibers are more elastic and about 50% less strong than natural spider silk. Man made spider silk has young’s modulus of 40-50 GPa, tough with low density. It is insoluble in water. They are flame and UV stabilized. They are Bio-degradable.

All these properties make them suitable for use in medicine for surgical micro structures, surgical meshes, and artificial ligaments. For technical application Bio-steel fibers must be additionally protected in order to preserve their properties for as long time as possible.

High performance fibers are those which very often are made involving novel materials and sophisticated manufacturing techniques. These fibers are normally characterized for their specific performance enhancing properties. High performance fibers normally add value to the finished products.


It is invented by Albert Penning in 1963 but made commercially available by DSM in 1990 by Dr. Piet lemstra. DYNEEMA is ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE, UHMW) a subset of the thermoplastic polyethylene. It has extremely long chains, with a molecular mass usually between 2 and 6 million units [6].

High Performance Fibers
Fig: Dyneema fiber

It is synthesized from monomer of ethylene. The gel spinning process is used for yarn required for special applications.


  • It has good molecular alignment
  • High crystallization, low density
  • It has long molecular chains due to which they are load absorbing fibers
  • 15 times stronger than steel
  • Up to 40% stronger than aramids
  • Floats on water, resistant to moisture, chemicals and UV
  • Soft as silk, high pliability, low melting point, cut and tear resistant

Armor, car armor, personal armor, cut resistant gloves, climbing equipment’s, tent fabrics etc.

6.2. HYGRA:

Recently high moisture absorptive and highly moisture releasing nylon was developed by Unitika. When nylon was used for clothes the lacks of moisture absorbency caused stuffiness, stickiness and was uncomfortable. Unitika succeeded in making fiber from highly water absorptive polymer, which can absorb water 35 times, the polymer weight and developed an epoch-making fiber HYGRA.

It is produced by melt spinning process. The skin core structure of HYGRA consists of nylon skin part and hydrophobic core part.


  • Good dimensional stability
  • It has good tensile strength

Sportswear, socks, undergarments, civil engineering, construction, interior, industrial materials etc.

Intelligent fibers represents next generation of fibers, fabrics. It can be described as textile materials that think and act for themselves. This means it keeps us warm in cold environment or cool in hot environment. Intelligent fibers are not confined to the clothing sector alone. It is used in protection, safety, added fashion and convenience. Most important intelligent fibers are Shape memory materials, conductive materials, electronics incorporated textiles [7].


These types of materials can revert from the current shape to a previously held shape; usually due to action of heat. This technology has been extensively pioneered by UK Defense Clothing and Textile Agency. When these shape memory materials are activated in clothing, air gaps between adjacent layers of clothing are increased, in order to give better insulation. Shape memory alloys such as nickel-titanium, used to provide increased protection against sources of heat and even extreme heat.


  • It has high strength and high young’s modulus
  • Absorbs impacts quickly
  • Shrinkage in contact with liquid
  • Wrinkle recovery
  • Restraint to tensions

Hygienic textiles, Compression dressing, Plasters, Seat belts, Socks, Agro-textiles etc.

Exploration of human/machine interaction and wholly new types of interface sensor technology has resulted in the development of sensor fabrics. These materials also afford designers new opportunities in developing for product markets. By using conductive plastics, pressure sensitive inks and inflexible substrates facilitates new radial possibilities in flexible, user-friendly interfacing textile.

7.2.1. x-y POSITIONING:
The structures of these materials offer capability of reading the location, within a fabric sheet (pads), of a point pressure (such as finger press). It is possible to incorporate this function into an elastic sheet structure, allowing sheet to conform too many 3-D shapes, including compound curves.


Reading can be obtained from smart fabrics according to force and area. This allows user to differentiate between separately identified inputs ranging from high-speed impact to gentle stoke.

In next generation, clothing products will have special performance functions. This new generation of above discussed fibers places considerable new demands and creates opportunities for innovations in textile industry. Exponential growth of the textile industry primarily runs on textile fibers. In coming few years, there is bright future in R & D activities throughout the world. Developing and manufacturing these kinds of products, both in fiber manufacturing and in the whole textile process, is very complicated and expensive than processing conventional fibers, but they give high added value to final application.


  1. Nanofibers global sales to reach US $ 176 mn in 2007. Filtration Industry Analyst, Nov.2007,
  2. LAZARIS et al.: Spider Silk Fibers Spun from Soluble Recombinant Silk Produced in mammalian cells. Science, vol.295,2002.
  3. BioSteel. An innovative biomaterial.
  4. Nexia and US Army spin the world’s first man-made spider silk performance fibers, releases/2002-01/nbi-nau011102.php.
  5. LyoCell-
  6. Dyneema the worlds strongest fibers-
  7. Intelligent fibers-
  8. Bacterial polyster-

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