Synthetic Fibers: Classification, Properties and Applications

Synthetic Fibers: Types, Properties and Uses

Nikhil Yogesh Upadhye
Department of Textiles (Textile Chemistry)
DKTE’S Textile and Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Intern at Textile Learner


The synthetic fibers are result of the extensive research to improve the properties of naturally occurring animal and vegetable fibers. These synthetic fibers are produced by the extrusion of a polymeric material having synthetic origin through spinneret into air or water. This fiber forming polymers are obtained generally from petro chemicals. Therefore, these fibers are called synthetic fibers. These fibers are also called artificial fibers in textiles.

There are different types of synthetic fibers that have been brought into recent research networks with respect to their remarkable properties. There are a variety of contemporary fabrics such as weave cotton, velvet, printed cotton, calico, felt, satin, silk, Hessian, polycotton. All synthetic textiles are used primarily in the production of clothing. Polyester fiber is used in all types of clothing, either alone or blended with fibers such as cotton. Aramid fiber (e.g., Twaron) is used for flame-retardant clothing, cut-protection, and armor. Acrylic is a fiber used to imitate wools, including cashmere, and is often used in replacement of them. Nylon is a fiber used to imitate silk; it is used in the production of pantyhose. Thicker nylon fibers are used in rope and outdoor clothing. Spandex (trade name Lycra) is a polyurethane fiber that stretches easily and can be made tight-fitting without impeding movement. It is used to make active wear and swimsuits. Olefin fiber is a fiber used in active wear, linings, and warm clothing. Olefins are hydrophobic, allowing them to dry quickly. A sintered felt of olefin fibers is sold under the trade name Tyvek. Ingeo is a polylactide fiber blended with other fibers such as cotton and used in clothing. It is more hydrophilic than most other synthetics, allowing it to wick away perspiration. Lurex is a metallic fiber used in clothing embellishment. In this article I will discuss different types of synthetic fibers with properties and applications.

Types / Classification of Synthetic Fibers:

classification of synthetic fibers
Fig: Classification of synthetic fibers

1. Synthetic Fibers from Natural Polymers:

1.1 Acetate Fiber:
Cellulose acetate is a natural-based man made fiber with unique properties that enable the creation of beautiful, functional, and comfortable fabrics, whether used alone or in combination with other natural, artificial, or synthetic yarns or fibers. The textile industry used acetate yarns for the first time in the early 20th century. Since then, acetate yarns have grown in popularity across the board in the fashion industry. Today, acetate yarns are still used extensively in weaving and knitting. Because of the properties of acetate yarns, they can be used to meet the needs of both mass-market items, such as linings, and high-end fabrics in more demanding markets “niche” products.

Acetate Fibers
Fig: Acetate Fibers

Physical properties of acetate fiber:

  • Tenacity: 9.7-11.5 cN/tex
  • Elongation: (wet) 35-45 %, (dry) 23-30%
  • Elastic recovery: 48-60 %
  • Specific gravity: 1.30
  • Melting point: 232oC
  • Moisture regain: 6.5 %

Application of acetate fiber:

  1. Clothing: Like formal wear, nightgowns, coats, accessories for Japanese dresses, neckties, blouses, sweaters, scarves etc.
  2. Home furnishing: Like blankets, bedclothes, fabrics for curtains etc.
  3. Other uses: Like umbrellas, cigarette filters, etc.

1.2 Triacetate Fiber:
Cellulose triacetate is a synthetic fiber made from cellulose. Schutzenberger was the first to discover cellulose triacetate in 1865. This early acetate, on the other hand, was a tough, hard plastic that contained a lot of acids and could only be dissolved in expensive chlorinated solvents. Thus, until the mid-1950s, when more cost-effective solvents became available, cellulose triacetate was not commercially viable. Triacetate is a strong, wrinkle-resistant fiber that also resists stains, chemicals, sunlight, insects, and moisture. It should not be dry-cleaned, but normal laundering will not harm it. It dries quickly in air or cool dryers and keeps its shape without needing to be ironed. Triacetate is a firm, crisp fabric commonly used in taffetas and suiting. Drip-dry clothing, tablecloths, skirts, and slacks are all made with it. It’s commonly used to improve the wash ability and crease retention of wool blends.

Physical properties of triacetate fiber:

  • Soluble in chloroform, methylene chloride, m-cresol, 90% phenol
  • Insoluble in acetone
  • Unaffected by dilute acids, alkalis and bleaches
  • Cross section is bulbous; fiber has longitudinal striations
  • Tenacity = 1.1-1.4 g/denier (dry); 0.7-0.8 g/denier (wet)
  • Elongation = 25-35% (dry); 30-40% (wet)
  • Moisture regain = 2.5-3.5%
  • Melting Point = 3000 C
  • Density = 1.32 gm/cc

Uses of triacetate fiber:
Triacetate is found in underwear and lingerie warp knit garments that keep their shape, as well as woven and knitted fabrics that do not shrink or cockle. Triacetate is blended with cotton and viscose to produce cloths that are completely stable and form permanent pleats, and it is used with wool to confer its non-shrink characteristics on the blend. When blended with viscose rayon staple or cotton, the permanent pleating effects obtainable in triacetate fabrics are of particular interest for applications such as skirts and slacks. Triacetate is blended with wool to create fabrics that combine the warmth of wool with the heat setting and drip dry properties of triacetate.

1.3 Alginate Fiber:
C. Stanford, an English chemist, discovered in 1883 that common brown seaweeds contained a substance that functioned similarly to cellulose in land plants. This substance, now known as alginic acid, is a polymer of d-mannuronic acid with a molecular weight of over 15,000 times that of water. Alginic acid makes up a third or more of the dry weight of many seaweed species, and it’s found in virtually unlimited amounts in the millions of tons of weed that litter the world’s beaches. When alginic acid is treated with caustic soda, the sodium salt, sodium alginate, is formed. The alginic acid present in seaweed can be extracted by treating it with caustic soda or other alkaline solutions, and sodium alginate is soluble in water, forming a very viscous solution. When the sodium alginate solution is acidified, alginic acid precipitates.

Physical properties of alginate fiber:

  • Tenacity: 14-18 cN/tex (1.6-2.0 g/den) dry; 4.4 cN/tex (0.5 g/den) wet.
  • Elongation: 2-6 per cent under normal conditions; 25 per cent wet.
  • Specific Gravity: 1.779

Uses of alginate fiber:
Their non-flammability is a valuable property that has led to their use in theatre curtains, for example. In this case, a truly washable alginate fabric would be particularly appealing for children’s clothing. Alginate fibers’ alkali solubility has led to a variety of specialized applications. The fibers are used as strength providers in loosely spun wool yarns, for example; the alginate fibers are dissolved after knitting, leaving a fluffy light-weight fabric that could not have been made using traditional methods. The hosiery industry is particularly interested in calcium alginate yarn. Socks are linked together by a few courses of alginate yarn, production being continuous. The socks are separated by cutting the alginate yarn, the remains of which are dissolved away. This technique enables perfect welts to be obtained in socks of all types. For medical use a calcium/sodium alginate yarn provides styptic elastic dressings and dressings which are hemostatic, non-toxic and absorbable in the blood stream. It is used in dental surgery for plugging cavities.

1.4 Viscose Fiber:
Among all the fibers, rayon, also known as viscose or viscose rayon, is probably the most permeable to customers. Cotton-like end uses, as well as sumptuous velvets and taffetas, can all be found with it. It can be used in absorbent hygiene and incontinence pads, as well as tyre cords, to provide strength. Rayon is made from wood pulp, which is a relatively inexpensive and renewable resource, but its processing uses a lot of water and energy, and it pollutes the air and water. The availability of raw materials, combined with the modernization of manufacturing plants and processes, has increased rayon’s competitiveness in the market.

Physical properties of viscose fiber:

  • Tenacity: 2.4 -3.2 gm/den
  • Density: 1.64 – 1.54 gm/cc
  • Elongation at break: 13%
  • Elasticity: Good
  • Moisture Regain (MR %): 11 – 13%
  • Melting point: This fiber becomes weak when it heated above 150°C.
  • Ability to protest friction: Less
  • Color: White.

Uses of viscose fiber:

  1. Yarns: Embroidery thread, chenille, cord, novelty yarns.
  2. Fabrics: Crepe, gabardine, suiting, lace, outerwear fabrics and lining for fur coats and outerwear.
  3. Apparel: Blouses, dresses, saris, jackets, lingerie, linings, millinery (hats), slacks, sport shirts, sportswear, suits, ties, work clothes.
  4. Domestic textiles: Bedspreads, blankets, curtains, draperies, sheets, slip covers, tablecloths, and upholstery.
  5. Industrial textiles: High tenacity rayon is used as reinforcement to mechanical rubber goods (tires, conveyor belts, and hoses), applications within the aerospace, agricultural and textile industries, braided cord, tape.

1.5 Modal Fiber:
Modal is a fiber that has been regenerated. It is a rayon fiber of the next generation. This fiber is made from “beech tree” wood chips (European Schneider Zelkova tree). It’s a “high wet modulus fiber” made with a modified viscose process and modified precipitating baths. Wet strength of modal fibers is higher than that of standard viscose fibers. It is abrasion resistant while remaining soft to the touch. It’s also a good draping fabric. Improved fiber properties include better wear, higher dry and wet strengths, and better dimensional stability as a result of this process. Modified cellulose from beech trees is used in the modal fiber.

Physical properties of modal fiber:

  • Specific gravity: 1.53 grams/cc
  • Tenacity: 22-40 grams/denier (dry)3.8-50 grams/denier (wet))
  • Moisture Regain: 11.8%
  • Elongation at Break: 7% (dry), 8.5% (wet)

Uses of modal fiber:
Modal fiber is used to get comfort and aesthetics, lustre, sheen, shine and naturality. Modal fiber is used to make following products:

  • T-Shirts.
  • Socks.
  • Sport wear.
  • Bed sheets.
  • Underwear.
  • Towels and Bathrobes.

1.6 Cupro Fiber:
Cellulose will dissolve in a mixed solution of copper salts and ammonia, called cuprammonium liquor, and regenerated cellulose fibers are produced by extrusion of this solution into a coagulating bath. The yarn produced by the cuprammonium process consists of regenerated cellulose; it is now widely known by the name of cupro.

Cupro Fibers
Fig: Cupro Fibers

Physical properties of cupro fiber:

  • Tenacity = 15-20 cN/tex (1.7-2.3 g/den) dry; 9.7-11.9 cN/tex (1.1-1.35 g/den) wet.
  • Tensile strength = 2100-3150 kg/cm² (30,000-40,000 lb. /in²).
  • Elongation = 10-17% (dry) and 17-33% (wet)
  • Elastic recovery = 20-75%
  • Specific Gravity = 1.54
  • Moisture regain = 12.5 per cent under standard conditions.
  • Decomposition temperature = 250°C

Uses of cupro fiber:
Cupro is used to create chiffons, satins, nets, ninons, and other sheer fabrics. A large portion of this yarn is used in underwear, dress fabrics, and linings. Slub yarn, for example, are used in a wide range of applications, particularly as weft. Dress fabrics, sportswear, and fine drapery fabrics all use slub yarns. The production of yarn-dyed fabrics for high-quality silk-like linings, dress, and upholstery fabrics is a specialty end use. Reel spun yarns are ideal for these applications because they are produced in skeins that are ready to dye in the untwisted state. The dyed yarn is used for both the weft and the warp, untwisted for the weft and twisted for the warp.

1.7 Rubber:
Rubber is a natural polymer made from the coagulation of latex produced by certain plant species, most notably the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis, which grows in tropical climates. Rubber is a tough, elastic material that softens and becomes plastic and dough-like when heated. Rubber is kneaded and mixed in powerful mills during processing. This softens the rubber, making it more thermoplastic and destroying the raw polymer’s elasticity. At the same time, milling allows other materials, such as sulphur, to be mixed into the rubber, which is used in the subsequent vulcanization or curing process.

Physical properties of rubber:

  • Tensile Strength: 385 kg/cm2 (5500 lb. /in2).
  • Tenacity: 4.0 cN/tex (0.45 g/den) (cf. spandex: 6.2 cN/tex (0.7 g/den).
  • Elongation: 700-900 per cent (cf. spandex: 700-800 per cent).
  • Elastic Recovery: 100%.

Applications of rubber:

  1. Corsetry
  2. Swimwear
  3. Footwear
  4. Surgical hosiery
  5. Men’s and children’s hosiery, underwear and outerwear

2. Synthetic Fibers from Synthetic Polymers:

2.1 Aramid

2.1.1 Kevlar
Kevlar is a manmade fiber, it as an organic fiber in aromatic polyamide family. The unique properties and distinct chemical composition of wholly aromatic polyamides (aramids) distinguish them from other man-made fiber. Kevlar fiber has a unique combination of high strength, high modulus, toughness and thermal stability. It was developed for demanding industrial and advanced-technology applications. Currently, many types of Kevlar are produced to meet a broad range of end users.

Properties of kevlar fiber:

Yarn propertiesKevlar and Kevlar 29Kevlar 49Kevlar 68Kevlar 119Kevlar 129Kevlar149
Tensile strength gpd2323232426.518
Initial modulus gpd5509507804307501100
Elongation %
Density g/cc1.441.451.441.441.451.47
Moisture regain%

Application of kevlar fiber:

  1. Vehicle armor
  2. Marine Composites
  3. Armor system
  4. Brake pads
  5. Gaskets

2.1.2 Nomex Fiber:
DuPont developed Nomex, a flame-resistant meta-aramid material, in the early 1960s, and it was first commercialized in 1967. Nomex is made from the monomers m-phenylenediamine and isophthaloyl chloride in a condensation reaction. It’s available in both fiber and sheet form, and it’s used as a fabric where heat and flame resistance are required. Nomex sheet is a calendered paper that is made in the same way. The first Nomex paper was developed, and it was one of the higher volume grades produced, primarily for electrical insulation. The fiber Nomex is produced in the United States.

Nomex Fibers
Fig: Nomex Fibers

Physical properties of nomex:

  • Tenacity = 2.5 – 5.5 gpd
  • Breaking elongation = 20 – 35%
  • Density = 1.8 g/cc
  • Initial modulus = 80 – 90 gpd
  • Melting point = 350
  • LOI = 25 -30

Applications of nomex fiber:

  1. Sandwich Panel applications.
  2. Aircraft flooring – Varying densities depending on level of duty
  3. Aircraft interiors – ranging from side walls galleys and ceilings, including Commercial aerospace, business to interiors.
  4. Cargo lining, Helicopter rotor blades. Aircraft leading and trailing edges, fuselage components.
  5. Nomex is used in Gloves, nomex hood, drivers protection, driving shoes, protective Sacks firefighter protection, filtering material, momex composites.

2.2 Polyester Fiber:
Polyester fiber is produced from poly (ethylene terephthalate) i.e. PET polymer. Polyester fiber is one of the most important among synthetic fibers. The molecular weight of PET polymer used for the preparation of polyester is in the range of 20,000-40,000. The raw materials for the preparation of polyester are dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) or terephthalic acid (TPA) and mono-ethylene glycol (MEG). Most of the earlier plants were based on DMT as raw material since high purity TPA required for polymerization was not available. However, methods for preparing purified TPA are now available and TPA is increasingly used as raw material for the production of polyester.

Physical properties of polyester fiber:

Sr. No.Property
1Fiber structureSmooth and rod like structure
2Tenacity (gpd) Dry3.5 – 7.0
Tenacity (gpd) Wet3.5 – 7.0
3Tensile Strength (Kg/Cm2)4900 – 5950
4Elongation (%)15 – 30
5Elastic Recovery (at 2%)97
Elastic Recovery (at 8 %)80
6Initial Modulus (gpd)100 – 115
7Density (gm/cc)1.38
8Abrasion ResistanceExcellent
9Thermal Property (°C)
Tg (Glass Transition Temperature)
78 – 80
Tm (Melting Temperature )255 – 265
10Moisture Regain (%)0.4

Uses of polyester fiber:

  1. It is used for making sweaters and tracksuits and also for the linings of boots and gloves.
  2. It is also used in making furnishing fabrics and carpets.
  3. It can also be used to make fur and many different knitted clothes.

2.3 Polyamides:
Polyamides are polymers which contain recurring amide groups as integral parts of the main polymer chains. Naturally, polyamides include the protein fibers, e.g. Silk and Wool. Synthetic Polyamide fiber form one of the most important of all classes of textile fiber, which we known generally as “Nylon”. Synthetic polyamides are made by a condensation reaction.

Nylon 66 and nylon 6 are two important members of a group of polymers known as polyamides. The structural units of a polyamide are joined together by an amide, -NH-CO-, group. A polyamide manufactured from aliphatic monomer(s) is commonly designated as nylon. However, the US Federal Trade Commission has denied nylon as a manufactured fiber in which the fiber-forming substance is a long-chain synthetic polyamide in which less than 85% of the amide linkages are attached directly to two aromatic rings, while a polyamide in which at least 85% of the amide links are joined to two aromatic groups is known as an aramid.

Physical properties of polyamides fiber:

Sr. No.PropertyNylon – 6
1Fiber structureGlass rod like structure
2Tenacity (gpd) Dry4.5 – 5.8
Tenacity (gpd) Wet4.1 – 5.1
3Tensile Strength (Kg/Cm2)5110 – 5880
4Elongation (%) Dry23 – 42.5
Elongation (%) Wet27 – 34
5Elastic Recovery (at 6 – 8%)100
Elastic Recovery (10 %)85
6Initial Modulus (gpd)35 – 50
7Density (gm/cc)1.14
8Abrasion ResistanceExcellent
9Thermal Property (°C)
Tg (Glass Transition Temperature)50- 60
Tm (Melting Temperature )215
Td (Degradation Temperature)315
10Moisture Regain (%)4.0 – 4.5

Uses of polyamides fiber:

  1. Synthetic polyamides are commonly used in textiles,
  2. Automotive Industry,
  3. Carpets,
  4. Kitchen Utensils
  5. Sportswear
  6. Due to their high durability and strength.
  7. The transportation manufacturing industry is the major consumer, accounting for 35% of polyamide (PA) consumption.

2.4 Acrylic Fiber:
Next to polyester and polyamides, acrylic fibers occupy an eminent position in the family of synthetic fibers. The importance of acrylic fibers has been shown by their phenomenal growth and their popularity throughout the world. Acrylic fibers have replaced wool in many major applications, particularly in hand knitting and hosiery garments. Blankets and carpets are other applications where acrylic fiber competes with wool because of its high elasticity, color brilliancy voluminosity, ease of washing, resistance to pilling and good light and color fastness. Acrylic fibers have experienced a tremendous growth since their introduction by Du Pont, USA, in 1950. Acrylic fibers are made using acrylonitrile as one of the major monomers.

2.5 Modacrylic Fiber:
Modacrylics are synthetic copolymer fibers containing less than 85% but at least 35% acrylonitrile by weight. Vinyon N is a modacrylic fiber based on 60% vinyl chloride and 40% acrylonitrile. The staple fiber is known as Dynel. Taklan is another fiber produced from acrylonitrile-vinylidine copolymer. Basic properties are built into modacrylics during the fiber forming process. The processing variables particularly in the after-treatment following spinning are major factors in determining modacrylic properties.

Physical properties of acrylic and modacrylic fiber:

1Fiber structureDog bone
2Tenacity (gpd) Dry2.5 – 4.51.5 – 3.0
Tenacity (gpd) Wet2.0 – 4.01.0 – 2. 5
3Elongation (%) Dry27 – 4825 – 45
Elongation (%) Wet27 – 4827 – 48
4Elastic Recovery (at 2%)9995 – 99
Elastic Recovery (at 5 %)80 – 9580 – 95
5Density (gm/cc)1.171.30 – 1.37
6Tg (Glass Transition Temperature)8585
7Tm (Melting Temperature) (°C)330 – 340200 – 210
8Softening Temperature (°C)150 – 160135 – 160
9Moisture Regain (%)1.50.6 – 4.0

Uses of acrylic and modacrylic fiber:
The most successful fake furs are made from modacrylic and acrylic fibers, which are widely used in hairpieces and doll hair. Both fibers are useful for outdoor applications such as awnings due to their superior sunlight resistance, with modacrylics providing additional flame resistance. Despite the low softening temperature, modacrylics’ low flammability provides a measure of safety; end uses based on this property include airline blankets and military sweaters. Acrylic fibers are used as raw materials in the manufacture of carbon (graphite) fibers.

2.5 Polyethylene Fiber:
Chemically polyethylene (PE) is the simplest polymer as the repeating unit of the polymer is ethylene (-CH₂-CH-). However, because of the tetravalent carbon atom, the structure can be linear structure or a branched structure.

Physical properties of polyethylene fiber:

Density (g/cc)0.930.940.95- 0.96
Breaking tenacity (gpd)dry
Breaking elongationStd
Average stiffness2-1210-3020-50
Moisture regainNegligibleLess than 0.01%

Uses of polyethylene fiber:

  1. Medical implants
  2. Cable and marine ropes
  3. Sail cloth
  4. Composites like Pressure vessel boat hulls, sports equipment, impact shields
  5. Fish netting
  6. Concrete reinforcement
  7. Protective clothing
  8. Can be used in radar protective cover because of its low dielectric constant
  9. Can be used as a lining material of a pond which collects evaporation of water and containment from industrial plants

2.6 Polypropylene Fiber:
Polypropylene is produced by the polymerisation of propylene using a catalyst in solution, mass or gas phase. For the polymer, propylene monomer is polymerised to make polypropylene. The reaction is initiated when a propylene molecule is added to an organometallic active centre (M R). Propagation occurs by adding monomer at the active organometallic centre. The reaction terminates either by monomer transfer, metal alkyl transfer or by hydride ion transfer, along with realkylation of the catalyst.

Physical properties of polypropylene fiber:

Density (g/cc)0.90-0.910.90
Breaking tenacity (gpd)Std
Breaking elongationStd
Moisture regain0.01-0.10.01-0.1

Uses of polypropylene fiber:

  1. Industrial pavements.
  2. Highly resistant concrete. Industrial grounds.
  3. Tunnels.
  4. Roads.
  5. Special mortars.
  6. Precast concrete.

3. Synthetic Fibers from Inorganic Fibers:

3.1 Boron Fiber:
Boron fiber is made by chemical vapor deposition in single-filament reactors and has a unique combination of high compression strength, high modulus, and large diameter. When compared to carbon fiber-based composites, it has better compression properties. Elemental boron is produced in diameters of 4.0 mil (102-micron) and 5.6 mil (102-micron) on a fine tungsten wire substrate (142-micron). Amorphous boron with a fully borided-tungsten core is the result.

Boron Fiber
Fig: Boron Fiber

Physical properties of boron fiber:

  • Tensile Strength = 520 ksi (3600 MPa)
  • Tensile Modulus = 58 msi (400 GPa)
  • Compression Strength = ~1000 ksi (6900 MPa)
  • Coefficient of Thermal Expansion = 2.5 PPM/°F (4.5 PPM/°C)
  • Density = 0.093 lb./in³ (2.57 g/cm³)

Uses of boron fiber:
A common use of boron fibers is in the construction of high tensile strength tapes. Boron fiber use results in high-strength, lightweight materials that are used chiefly for advanced aerospace structures as a component of composite materials, as well as limited production consumer and sporting goods such as golf clubs and fishing rods.

One of the uses of boron fiber composites was the horizontal tail surfaces of the F-14 Tomcat fighter. This was done as carbon fiber composites were not yet developed to the point they could be used, as they were in many of aircraft designs since.

3.2 Glass Fiber:
Bundle of glass fibers Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of glass fiber was only made possible with the invention of finer machine tooling. In 1893, Edward Drummond Libbey exhibited a dress at the World’s Columbian Exposition incorporating glass fibers with the diameter and texture of silk fiber.

Types and forms of fiberglass:
Depending on the raw materials used and their proportions to make fiberglass, fiberglass can be classified into following major types:

  • A-glass: A glass is also called as alkali glass and is resistant to chemicals. Due to the composition of A glass fiber, it is close to window glass. In some parts of the world, it is used to make process equipment.
  • C-glass: C-glass offers very good resistance to chemical impact and is also called as chemical glass.
  • E-glass: It is also called as electrical glass and is a very good insulator of electricity.
  • AE-glass: This is alkali resistant glass.
  • S glass: It is also called as structural glass and is known for its mechanical properties.

Uses of glass fiber:

  1. Beverage industry
  2. Car washes
  3. Chemical industry
  4. Cooling towers
  5. Docks and marinas
  6. Food processing
  7. Fountains and aquariums
  8. Manufacturing
  9. Metals and mining
  10. Power generation
  11. Plating plants
  12. Pulp and paper industry
  13. Automotive industry
  14. Aerospace and Defense

3.3 Carbon Fiber:
Carbon fibers (alternatively CF, graphite fiber or graphite fiber) are fibers about 5 to 10 micrometers (0.00020–0.00039 in) in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. Carbon fibers have several advantages including high stiffness, high tensile strength, and low weight to strength ratio, high chemical resistance, high temperature tolerance and low thermal expansion. These properties have made carbon fiber very popular in aerospace, civil engineering, military, and motorsports, along with other competition sports. However, they are relatively expensive when compared with similar fibers, such as glass fiber, basalt fibers, or plastic fibers.

Physical properties of carbon fiber:

  • Tenacity = 1.7 – 1.85 mpa
  • Density = 1.75 – 1.96 gm/cc
  • Elongation break = 0.3 – 1.8%
  • Moisture regain = 0%
  • Melting point = 3650-3700°C
  • Glass transition temp = 250°C.
  • LOI = 18.3 – 31.5%

Uses of carbon fiber:

  1. Aeronautical industry
  2. Automobile industry
  3. Sports industry
  4. Civil Engineering
  5. Medical field
  6. Power plant
  7. Audio equipment
  8. Prosthetic surgery
  9. Textile machinery
  10. Other uses like missiles, aircrafts, antenna, telescope etc.

3.4 Ceramic Fiber:
Ceramic Fiber is a man-made synthetic fiber produced from small-dimension filament composed of high purity aluminosilicate materials. It also known as ‘Ceramic Wool’ or “refractory material”. Cause it has a heat-resistant property white and odorless substance.

Physical properties of ceramic fiber:

  • Tenacity = 3 gpa
  • Density = 3.9 gm/cc
  • Melting point = 1790 degree Celsius
  • Initial modulus = 210 gpa

Uses of carbon fiber:

  1. High temperature insulation seals and gaskets.
  2. Thermal shield.
  3. Fire barrier.
  4. Fire Retardant Fabric.
  5. Protective blankets, and wrapping.
  6. Expansion joint fabric, safety clothing.
  7. Electrical insulation.
  8. Composite reinforcement.
  9. Sealing and insulation

4. Advantages and Disadvantages of Synthetic Fibers


  1. Long lasting
  2. Readily pick-up to various dyes
  3. Stretchable
  4. Waterproofing
  5. Non biodegradability
  6. Moisture resistance
  7. Strain and wear resistance


  1. Flammable
  2. Prone to heat damage
  3. Melt easily
  4. Not eco-friendly
  5. Cause for microplastic pollution
  6. Not suitable for hot washing
  7. Poor insulation capacity


  1. Handbook of textile fibers Volume 2 Man-made fibers By J. GORDON COOK
  2. Synthetic fibers Nylon, polyester, acrylic, polyolefin by J. E. McIntyre
  3. A text book of fiber science and theology of polyolefin fibers
  4. Textile Engineering – An Introduction Edited by Yasir Nawab

You may also like:

  1. Textile Fibers and Their Classification
  2. Different Types of Man Made Fibers with Their Application
  3. An Overview of Glass Fibre
  4. Nylon: The First Synthetic Fiber
  5. Problems of Man-made Fibers & Methods of Rectification
  6. Acrylic Fiber: Properties, Production Flowchart and Application
  7. Kevlar Fiber: Types, Properties, Manufacturing Process and Applications
  8. Aramid Fibers: Types, Properties, Manufacturing Process and Applications
  9. High Performance Polyethylene Fibers – An Overview
  10. Recent Developments in High Performance Fibers
  11. Types, Properties, Production and Application of Ceramic Fiber

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