Different Types of Man Made Fibers with Their Application

Last Updated on 21/12/2020

Different Types of Man Made Fibers with Their Application

Imran Khan
B.Sc in Textile Engineering
City University Bangladesh

Different Types of Man Made Fibers
Fig: Different Types of Man Made Fibers

Textile fibers are either found in nature or made by man. Natural fibers are obtained from plants, animals and minerals, while man made fibers are produced either purely chemically (Synthetic fibers) or by modifying natural fibers by chemical means (Regenerated fibres). The polymers used for the spinning of synthetic fibers are chemical based, while regenerated fibers are derived from a natural polymer, most commonly cellulose. In this article I will discuss about introduction, applications, advantages and disadvantages of different man made fibers.

Acetate and triacetate fibers


This type of fiber is known as a regenerated man made material.  Acetate is derived from cellulose by reacting purified cellulose from wood pulp with acetic acid and acetic anhydride in the presence of sulfuric acid. Both materials are heat resistant below their melting point.The largest volume application for acetate fiber is cigarette filters, but it is also widely used in women’s wear. The luxurious fibers are available in a wide range of colors and lusters.They are fast drying are resistant to moths and mildew. Triacetate has excellent sunlight resistance but acetate does not. They are shrink-resistant and wrinkle-resistant.Disadvantages include poor abrasion resistance, susceptible to attack by household chemicals.


Acrylic and modacrylic fibers



These fibers are unique among synthetic fibers because they have an uneven surface. The fibers are formed by additional polymerization of at least 85% by weight of acrylonitrile or vinyl chanide. Acrylic fibers can be artificial wool because it has the warmth and softness of wool but does not absorb water. It is often used as cold weather fiber for blankets and sweaters.They have a high resistance to chemical and biological degradation as well as degradation from sunlight. Acrylic is lightweight and strong.High heat can melt the fabric.


Aramid and polyimide fibers


Polyimide fiber is spun from the polymer by wet or dry processing techniques. This is done using a polar organic solvent.Polyimide fabric is flame retardant and can be used in high- temp applications.These fibers are lighter and tougher than steel. 


Carbon and graphiteThese fibers are strong, light, and can be mixed with other materials. Carbon fiber technology converts carbon to graphite to form tightly packed fibers.The material is used to produce high-quality devices such as golf-clubs and fishing rods and can be used for composites for air crafts and autos. 


NylonIt is an artificial fiber made of polyamide which contains carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen.  The material is also resistant to wrinkling, does not absorb water, and it dries quickly, Exceptionally strong, Elastic, Lustrous, Easy to wash, Resistant to damage from oil and many chemicals,Can be precolored or dyed in wide range of colors, Resilient, Filament yarns provide smooth, soft, long-lasting fabrics.Nylon can be used in carpet. High-filament nylon yarns are often blended with spandex and used in athletic apparel, swimwear, and hosiery. nylon products include luggage, carpeting materials and hosiery because of its elastic recovery ability.The fiber is durable, strong, resists stains, hides soil, resists mildew and bacteria, prevents static, and is resistant to abrasion.

Easy to dye,

Resistant to damage from oil and many chemicals,

Disadvantages include: the fabric melts when exposed to high heat, can be uncomfortable to wear next to skin, and absorbs oil and grease.

Can cause skin deases


Elastomeric fibersThey are cross linked natural and synthetic rubbers, spandex fibers (segmented polyurethanes), anidex fibers (cross linked polyacrylates) and the side-by-side biconstituent fiber of nylon and spandex. The fibers can have elongations (400-800%) at break and recover fully and rapidly.The term elastomer is derived from elastic polymer, which is also known as rubber.


FluropolymerIt is a high-performance material that has high strength and durability. Fluoropolymers are resistant to many chemicals and high heat.They are used in nonstick cook and bake ware..


Spandex or elastoesterSpandex is a lightweight manufactured material that can be stretched over 500% without breaking. Elastoester is a substitute for spandex. Stronger, more durable and higher retractive force than rubber,Lightweight, soft, smooth, supple,It is used when a stretch fiber is needed. Garments where comfort and fit are desired: hosiery, swimsuits, aerobic/exercise wear, ski pants, golf jackets, disposable diaper, waist bands, bra straps and bra side panels,It is a soft fabric that is resistant to abrasion and can resist body oils, perspiration and detergents. It does not have static or pilling problems.Ironing, if required, should be done rapidly. Do not leave the iron too long in one position. Use low temperatures setting.


Polyolefin fibersThey are produced by chain growth polymerization of olefins (alkenes) and contain greater than 85% polymerized ethylene, propylene, or other olefin units.Polyolefin fibers are resistant to stains, sunlight, odor and chemicals, mildew, rot, and weather. They are fast drying and have a high wick-ability making them useful for spill cleanup.The advantages of this material include its strength, ability to float, lightness, and resistance to abrasion.Disadvantages include problems with static and pilling as well as a low tolerance for high temperature which tends to cause swelling in the presence aromatic and chlorinated hydrocarbons.


PolyesterThe most important synthetic fiber. They contain at least 85% of polymericester of a substituted aromatic carboxylic acid including, but not restricted to, terephthalic acid and f-hydroxybenzoic acid. The manufacturing process uses melt-spinning so the size and shape can be adjusted for specific applications.It is utilized in all types of clothing, home furnishings, and as a reinforcing fiber in tires, belts, and hoses. New insulating polyester fiberfill are used in high-performance outdoor wear.It’s versatile and has low raw material and production costs. Polyester is resistant to abrasion, has the ability to spring back into shape, does not absorb water, and dries quickly.Disadvantages include, melting when exposed to high heat and it absorbs oils and grease making it difficult to clean. It does attract static electricity,




It is produced by the formation of an ester bond between terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol.  The material floats, resists chemicals and water, and exhibits superior fiber-to-fiber abrasion. Polyethylene fibre has a round cross section and has a smooth surface. Fibres made from low molecular weight polyethylene have a grease like handle.Polyethylene fibers are used in police and military ballistic vests, helmets and armored vehicles, sailcloth, fishing lines and lifting slings, cut-resistant gloves, and a wide range of safety apparel. Medical implants, cable & marine ropes, sail cloth, fish net, useful in geotextile application.High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (HMWP) is one of the world’s strongest and lightest fibers. Polyethylene fiber is pound-for-pound 10 times stronger than steel. Polyethylene is insoluble in most of the common organic solvents at room temperature.Bad affect on environment.


Polypro-pyleneIt is a vinyl polymer, similar to polyethylene. The structure has a methyl group attached to every other carbon in the backbone chain.Polypropylene is used for indoor-outdoor carpeting because it doesn’t absorb water.Improve toughness, Provide excellent impact resistance, Reduce haze, Provide excellent organoleptics


Polyphenylene sulfide (PPS)It is a specialty fiber characterized with high resistance to thermal and chemical attack as well as resistance to heat, solvents, acids and alkalis, mildew, UV light, and abrasion.  .PPS can be used for home interior, automobile, filter bag cloth for a coal-fired boiler, electrical insulation, and as filter material for liquid and gas.Reduce haze, Provide excellent organoleptics



Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)/ VinylThese fibers have a polyethylene hydrocarbon backbone with a substituted functional group to determine the physical and chemical properties of the fiber.In everyday life, they are all around us, from construction profiles to medical devices, from roofing membranes to credit cards, from children’s toys to pipes for waterThey do not burn, and they resist many chemicals.


Latex Latex fabric derives from the latex fibre which comes from the milky or colourless sap of certain plants. It can be mixed with other fibres to make materials such as spandex.Examples of latex products include gloves, soles and mattress pads.It is resistant to light and heat and is waterproof.


Vinyon fiber or VinalVinyon is composed of 85% vinyl chloride

polymerize monomer units. Vinal fibers are at least 50% vinyl alcohol units in which at least 85% of the units are combined vinyl alcohol and acetyl cross linked units.

Application of vinyon is limited because it dissolves easily in organic solvents. Vinal resembles cotton and high strength and abrasion resistance making it useful in many applications. The fiber is of low strength but has properties that make it useful in apparel where heat is not a factor.The fibers have a high chemical resistance. They are also resistant to water.Vinyon does not burn; the fabric will melt at relatively low temperatures. and dissolve readily in many organic solvents, thereby limiting their application.


RayonRayon is a semi-synthetic or artificial fiber. Rayon is recognized by the name viscose rayon and art silk in the textile industry.This includes textile fibers and filaments composed of regenerated cellulose, excluding acetate. It is produced from naturally occurring polymers. The fiber is sold as artificial silk and it has a serrated round shape with a smooth surface.Rayon is used in fashion, furnishings, sanitary products, diapers, and medical supplies.

Mainly, Rayon fibres are used in apparel industry such as Aloha shirts, blouses, dresses, Jackets, Lingerie, scarves, suits, ties, hats and socks. Some rayon fibres are for filling in Zippo lighters, furnishings including bedspreads, bedsheets, blankets, window covers, upholstery and slipcovers.

Rayon typically has an elevated luster quality giving it a brilliant gloss Rayon is very soft, cool comfortable and very good absorbent property but could not be able to protect body heat and used in humid steamy climatic conditions.A disadvantage is that is loses 30-50% of its strength when wet, has poor resistance to abrasion, expensive, and stretches and shrinks more than cotton. Usual rayon fibres recommended care for dry cleaning purpose only.


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