Ramie and Soybean Fiber: Which is the Best?
Apoorva Mekari & Ankit Mansinghka
T Y BTech, ICT Mumbai.
Ramie is a bast fiber, having been used for at least 6,000 years. It is specially used for fabric production. Soybean is a protein fiber made from soybean cake. It has a soft and smooth handle, and the texture is light and thin, with the sense of blending real silk and cashmere. They are described below in conversation way:
Scene1 (soybean in jail- ramie comes to rescue him.)
Ramie fiber: Come on I have come to get you out of the jail. Just accept your mistake and they will let you out.
Soybean fiber: Let me guess. I have been arrested for stealing other fibres’ properties.
Ramie fiber: Yeah, how did you know?
Soybean fiber: Are you kidding me? With an appearance as noble as silk, moisture absorbency at par with cotton and Dyeing properties as good as wool, it’s a shame they didn’t arrest me earlier.
Ramie fiber: I will try to get you out on bail. You possess superiorities of many natural and synthetic fibres which is not good enough reason to keep you in prison.
Soybean fiber: Yeah tell them these are my own properties and not something which I have stolen.
Ramie fiber: I’ve talked to the jailer, he needs your history. If you want the history to be rich and good, I can give him mine.
Soybean fiber: No, thanks. Who are you by the way???
Ramie fiber: Look, I’m ramie, also called as china grass. My family name is nettle and considered as one of the strongest vegetable fibre. I’m a bast fibre. Im chemically classified as cellulose fibre just like my siblings cotton, linen and rayons. I was born in China, and brought up in Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines and Brazil. I’m made up majorly of 95.5% holocellulose, 86.5% alpha cellulose and 21.6% gum content.
Soybean fiber : Keep your boring history with you and go tell the jailer that I’m the first botanic protein fibre in the world. My use got limited after World War 2 but now keeping care of environmental concerns, i have re-emerged as a pretty important fibre.
Ramie fiber: That amounts to two lines on paper and you call it a history?. you even left it incomplete. Let me fill in for you. You were never commercially produced due to lack of functional characteristics and were substituted after WW2 by cheaper petroleum substitutes. I have never been ceased, unlike you. Also, I was used in cloths for wrapping mummies in Egypt during the period 5000–3300 BC. Did you even exist back then?
Soybean fiber: I would rather not exist than having to cover up dead bodies.
Ramie: I was preferred because I’m toxic to bacteria and fungi. My ramie tapes give dead body that mummy effect!!! in other words, I’m ideal for mummy making. So, History is not your strong point. Do you have something you can be proud of?
Soybean: Yeah, sure. For starters, I make apparels for people who are alive enough to pay for it.
Ramie: Only apparels?? My applications cover Apparels, curtains, draperies, bed sheets, sewing threads, handkerchiefs, canvas, filter cloth.
Soybean: Maybe you don’t know, but many derivatives of mine were used for making henry ford’s model T.
Ramie: C’mon, even I was used as a filler in that car! Those good old days though!
Soybean: Yeah, good old days for you when you were used as a filler in a soybean car.
Ramie: You better stop mocking me unless you don’t want to come out.
Soybean: I don’t need your help to get out. I will squeeze my way through the bars.
Ramie: Yeah, like you’re awfully low elastic recovery rate will allow you to do that. Even if you do come out, you never will be same again.
Soybean: U better not talk about elasticity. You have such low elasticity that you actually need to blend with other fibres to be in a fabric.
Ramie: Hey, i don’t blend to mask my limitations. I blend to enhance other fibres’ properties.
Soybean: Yeah, potato-potato. Is that why you’re here? To blend with soybean?
Ramie: Well, I was thinking that…
Soybean: That would be no. I, on my own am pretty special fibre. By the way, what all properties do you enhance other fibres with??
Ramie: I am blended with other fibres because of my superior strength, absorbency, lustre and dye affinity.
Soybean: Superior strength, huh? Now, how superior are we talking about? Is it enough to break a jail?
Ramie: Too desperate to come out of jail? Why don’t you get yourself a heater. That low heat resistance property of yours will get you enough shrunk to come out.
Soybean: Haha, you’re funny. You’re a funny ramie. Get over my limitations already. I am a very special fibre. Top level shirts of high yarn count are prepared using my fibre which have magnificent appearance and excellent drapability.
Ramie: And strength?? You can blend with me and the fabric will also be strong.
Soybean: Yeah, but that would mean compromising on the appearance and that again, sadly would be a no.
Ramie: Hey, I have got a pretty smooth lustrous appearance I will also minimise shrinkage.
Soybean: That’s fine, but all these things don’t make up for your high production cost which will make the apparel expensive. I am low cost as the raw material used to make me is a by-product.
Ramie: See that insect crawling over there? I am resistant to those and many other bacteria, moths and light too.
Soybean: Even I am resistant to light. Doesn’t really have any significance in the jail, but still. Hey do you know that silk gets decolourised under sun, too bad for such an elegant fiber?
Ramie: Yeah, I am aware of it. By the way, I am white as a fibre but if bleaching is required, I am up for it.
Soybean: And I just hate wool. All those pills on the fabric, here and there. Plus it’s so itchy.
Ramie: Yeah, true. I may require degumming for smoother processability, but usually I keep my shape and almost do not shrink.
Soybean: And what is up with cotton?? I mean with all those wrinkles and bad fastness?
Ramie: I am standing here trying to convince you to blend with me and all you think of is gossiping??
Soybean: Yeah, I mean cotton should never be in a jail. With all this heat bubbling, I am happy that my perspiration fastness is good. All thanks to the acid dyes which make me all sparkly and fast and happy-go-lucky.
Ramie: Now, that is something really common between us.
Soybean: What? Happy-go-lucky?? I don’t think so.
Ramie: No, I am talking about Resistance to sunlight, good fastness properties, easy dye ability. I am even resistant to stains and high water temperature during laundering.
Soybean: OK, let’s say that is cool and move on.
Ramie: Move on? Where? You’re in a jail.
Soybean: Then let me out.
Soybean: Do one thing. Take this box and give it to the jailer.
Ramie: What is inside it?
Soybean: Blended form of cotton, linen, wood fibres and other natural fibres dyed with disperse dyes, shows good resiliency and durability. Some people call it money.
Ramie: So, you’re finally out.
Soybean: Feels good to be under the Sun. Not turning yellow.
Ramie: So, Where exactly are we on the blending thing?
Soybean: Well, I have to admit you do have some exceptional properties which makes you special. But my production right now is not that vast to consider blending as an option. But it does have a great promising future.
Ramie: Yeah, that’s right. Your properties are also too good and I think you can survive on your own. You don’t need other fibre to cover up your limitations.
Soybean: Hey, you remember i gave you a hard time in the beginning on the fact that you were used to wrap up mummies?
Soybean: Well, After thinking about it, it seems pretty cool
Ramie fiber: Really?
Soybean fiber: NO.
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.