Friday, February 22, 2008

Fiber Development

Over a period of time, interest in certain poorly performing fibers faded as they were overtaken by some better quality synthetic fibers such as Nylon. Different kinds of cost-effective fibers are available now-a-days. They were once categorized by different generations (as first generation, second generation, third generation or fourth generation fibers) but now they are divided into two chief categories: natural and man made.

Man made fibers

The fibers generated first were called the natural fibers. In this category cotton, wool, silk and all other animal and plant fibers are included. These fibers were introduced first 4000 years ago but their uses were continued till 1940. All these fibers are mostly known as the first generation fibers. Very delicate handling is needed for these fibers. Silks and cotton fibers have never enjoyed good resistance against moths, wrinkles, wear and washings.

Though first attempts were done in 1664 to make artificial fiber success was achieved after another 200 years when a Swiss chemist Audemars first patented artificial fiber in England in 1855. In the course of discovery of durable fibers, a French textile scientist found a greater need about a century ago of synthesized fibers like Rayon/Nylon. Hilaire de Chardonnet was the first one to make commercially productive artificial silk in 1889. Slowly he has come to be known as father of rayon industry because he was the first one to produce rayon commercially on large scales.

These fibers are cheaper in comparison with natural ones. The development of these new fibers opened up fiber application to the various fields like medicine, aeronautics, home furnishing and modern apparels. Fiber engineers produced many new fibers by combining new synthetic fibers with the natural ones.

In 1910 Samuel Courtaulds and Co. Ltd, formed the American Viscose Company and started rayon production. Arthur D. Little of Boston made a film from acetate which is a cellulosic product in the year 1983 and in the year 1910 Henry Dreyfus and Camille made toilet articles and motion picture film from acetate in Switzerland. In 1924 Celanese Company made fiber from the acetate and that was it’s very first use in the textile industry.

The Emergence of Nylon

The miracle fiber called Nylon was invented in September 1931 at the research laboratory of DuPont Company. Nylon is completely a synthetic fiber obtained from petrochemicals which are very different from Rayon and Acetate made up of cellulosic material of plants. Thus, the discovery of Nylon started a new era in the manufacture of new fibers.

New Life style

DuPont started commercial production of nylon in 1939. In the very beginning it used nylon in parachute fabric, in women's hosiery and in sewing thread on experimental basis. Nylon stockings were firstly visible to the public at the San Francisco Exposition in February 1939.

In the times of war, Asian silk was replaced by nylon in parachutes. The other uses of Nylon are in military supplies, ponchos, tires, ropes, tents and in the high grade paper to make U.S. currency. At the time of war cotton was the most commonly used fiber, 80% more than any other fibers. Another 20% is shared by wool and other fibers. When the war ended in August 1945 the cotton consumption rose to 75% of the fiber market and only 15 per cent rise of was registered by manufactured fibers.

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