Bamboo Fiber: Processing, Manufacturing, Uses, Advantages & Disadvantages
Fardous Wahid Anik
Department of Textile Engineering
Ahsanullah University of Science & Technology (AUST), Bangladesh
When I was a college student always been wanted to be involved in such kind of higher studies which would be innovative, inventive or which will be full of magic of science. My conception was that these desires could have been met only by Engineering. In engineering first few are Mechanical, Civil or Electrical Engineering, but very few will mention Textile Engineering in relation to others. Even some people will dispute to consider it as Engineering in the Backdrop of other Engineering in Bangladesh. Initially I was also quite frustrated while studying my subjects as those were so boring. But in 3rd year I was introduced to a subject named Technical Textile which changed my vision towards Textile Engineering.
Few examples of wonders of textiles are Shape-memory polymers (polymeric smart materials that have the ability to return from a deformed state (temporary shape) to their original (permanent) shape induced by an external stimulus), artificial kidney (hollow viscose, polyester), artificial ligaments, artificial liver (hollow viscose), mechanical lung (hollow polypropylene or silicone membrane), artificial skin etc. Which literally changed my view towards Textile Engineering, that it not only provides knowledge of clothing but also with many innovative ideas of invention. These kind of development will definitely make students more strenuous to involve themselves in many research work and to adopt higher studies.
Another interesting research of Textile Engineering is making fabric from bamboo fibers which is to be discussed here. Bamboo is more talked because of Titumir’s Fort (1831), or used as weapon for land possession, otherwise very few people in Bangladesh would know Bamboo is being used as source of textile fibers.
Bamboo Plant and History:
Bamboo botanically categorized as a grass and not a tree, bamboo just might be the world’s most sustainable resource. It is the fastest growing grass and can shoot up a yard or more a day. The first patents for bamboo paper occurred in 1864 and 1869. Mordern bamboo clothing was first introduced by Beijing University but commercial use increased during 2004-2010.
Bamboo Fiber Processing:
The general process for chemically manufacturing bamboo fiber using hydrolysis alkalization with multi-phase bleaching technology – which is the dominate technology for producing regenerated bamboo fiber – goes like this:
Bamboo leaves and the soft, inner pith from the hard bamboo trunk are extracted and crushed. The crushed bamboo cellulose is soaked in a solution of 15% to 20% sodium hydroxide at a temperature between 20oC to 25oC for one to three hours to form alkali cellulose. The bamboo alkali cellulose is then pressed to remove any excess sodium hydroxide solution. The alkali cellulose is crashed by a grinder and left to dry for 24 hours. Roughly a third as much carbon disulfide is added to the bamboo alkali cellulose to sulfurize the compound causing it to jell. Any remaining carbon disulfide is removed by evaporation due to decompression and cellulose sodium xanthogenate is the result. A diluted solution of sodium hydroxide is added to the cellulose sodium xanthogenate dissolving it to create a viscose solution consisting of about 5% sodium hydroxide and 7% to 15% bamboo fiber cellulose.
The viscose bamboo cellulose is forced through spinneret nozzles into a large container of a diluted sulfuric acid solution which hardens the viscose bamboo cellulose sodium xanthogenate and reconverts it to cellulose bamboo fiber threads which are spun into bamboo fiber yarns to be woven into reconstructed and regenerated bamboo fabric. Newer manufacturing facilities have begun using other technologies to chemically manufacture bamboo fiber that are more benign and eco-friendlier. The chemical manufacturing process used to produce lyocell from wood cellulose can be modified to use bamboo cellulose. The lyocell process, also used to manufacture TENCEL®, uses N-methylmorpholine-N-oxide which is non-toxic to humans and the chemical manufacturing processes are closed-loop so 99.5% of the chemicals used during the processing are captured and recycled to be used again. Nanotechnology is being also used for bamboo fibers.
Manufacturing Process of Bamboo Fiber:
Weaving of bamboo fabric:
The tensile strength of bamboo fiber is very low as it is recommended to give 350-410 twists per meter. Weaving should be carried out in low moisture regain and low tension as bamboo fiber has lower tensile strength in low moisture regain rate. It is better to choose denatured starch as main component of sizing agent for providing strength.
Light sizing can be carried out and desizing rate can be around 80%. Bamboo fabric do not usually require scouring, or mercerizing but to improve fabric quality these can be carried out.
Bamboo fiber is sensitive to acid or alkali so the volume should be maintained carefully. Reactive dyestuff is suitable as it reacts with bamboo fiber in mild alkaline medium. Bamboo textile are suitable to be dyed on jigger or winch loose rope dyeing machine. In dyeing, the volume of calcined soda cannot exceed 25g/L. The temperature cannot exceed 100oC.
Uses of Bamboo Faber:
Uses of bamboo fabric can be as bellow:
- Intimate Apparel: Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, Bathing suits, Bathing suit cover ups, Bath robes, Sleepwear
- Non-woven Fabric: Sanitary napkins, Face masks (industrial and medical), Food-grade packaging (like cellophane), Mattresses
- Medical Supplies and Sanitary Materials: Sanitary towels, Gauze, Bandages, Absorbent, pads, Surgical wear (scrubs), Doctor’s coats, Medical masks
You may also like: Application and Uses of Bamboo Fabric
Advantages of Bamboo Fiber:
Soft and comfortable akin to silk or cashmere, Eco friendly, Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Ultraviolet protection factor is very good. Hypo-allergenic – Bamboos organic and natural properties allow it to be non-iritating therefore perfect for sensitive skins. Thermo-regulating – Bamboo fibers enlarge when warm to be able to enable skin to breathe and contract when cool, to trap heat close to the body.
Disadvantages of Bamboo Fiber:
Bamboo tends to shrink more than all cotton fabrics; therefore, special laundering may be required. Bamboo fabric also wrinkles more than other fabrics. Depending on what the fabric is being used for, bamboo may not be the ideal choice. Sometimes it is difficult to achieve antimicrobial finish.
Textile engineering in developed countries has gone beyond conventional cloth making. They are more improved and concentrating on research work for textiles by implementing improved technologies. We Bangladeshis are far lagging behind than the developed countries. We have ample talent but not enough scopes or opportunities. We hope we can overcome all the unpaved roads to success having one of the most improved textile sectors in comparison to other countries.
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.