Synthetic fabric

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Synthetic fabrics are textiles made from man-made rather than natural fibers.

Some examples of synthetic fabrics are polyester, acrylic, nylon, rayon, acetate, spandex, lastex and kevlar.

Synthetic fibres are made by the joining of monomers into polymers, by the process of polymerization. A synthetic fibre, when magnified, looks like plastic spun together. The fabric is made from chemically produced fibers. The chemicals used to make the fibers are sodium hydroxide and carbon disulphide which are derived from coal, oil, or natural gas. The chemicals are in liquid form and are forced through tiny holes called spinnerets. As the liquid comes out of the spinnerets and into the air, it cools and forms into tiny threads. Dyes are added to these threads before they are woven together to make the fabric.

Synthetic fabrics can have many different uses and qualities, some which are not achievable with natural fibers. With synthetic fibers one can create waterproof fabrics and elastic/stretchy fabrics for swimwear and lingerie. Depending on the fabric, other chemicals are added to make the fabric softer, wrinkle free, flame-resistant, water resistant, stain-resistant, and moth-repellent. While all these qualities are desirable, the processes used can have harmful effects on the environment, wildlife and people's health.

Synthetic fabrics are often non-biodegradable, meaning that when discarded, they do not break down in the soil, and the chemicals used in their manufacture can leach out into the environment.

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