What is fiber?
In a broad sense the word fiber is used for various types of matter – natural or manmade, forming basic elements of textile fabrics and other textile structures. It is defined as one of the delicates, hair-like portion of the tissues of a plant or animal. Fiber is defined by Fabric Link Textile Dictionary as The basic entity, either natural or manufactured, which is twisted into yarns, and then used in the production of a fabric. The physical interpretation of the word fiber is a unit of matter characterized by having a length of at least hundred times its diameter.
What is textile fiber?
Technologists have defined the term Textile fibers as those fibers which can be spun into a yarn or made into a fabric by interlacing, or interlooping in a variety of machines including weaving, knitting, braiding, felting, bonding, etc.
The fabric- and garment manufacturing industry is one of the most essential industries. Its raw materials are fibers. So, in making a textile product the parameters of the basic raw material, fiber, are very important.
The use of textiles for clothes and furnishing hinges on an exceptional combination of properties, such as warmth, softness, and pliability. These properties depend upon the raw materials used to make these products. Thus for a fiber to be useful for textile purposes, it should have certain properties: the fiber length must be several hundred times the width, it must be able to be converted into yarn, and it must be strong enough to withstand mechanical action during production. So, a textile fiber must have at least 5 mm of length so that it will be supple, flexible, and strong enough to be spun. Other properties like elasticity, fineness, uniformity, durability, luster, and crimp should also be possessed by a textile fiber.
Classification of Textile Fibres:
Fibers for textiles are classified by many systems. In 1960, the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act became effective. One of the basic ways to classify fiber is by its origin, and this is indeed the most commonly employed method. Flow chart-1 gives a general overview of fiber classification.
There are various types of fibers used in the textile industry, each having their unique properties. These characteristics are largely dependent upon their origins. Natural fibers are obtained from nature, where the source could be a plant, an animal, or a mineral. Regarding plants, we obtain fibers from seeds (cotton, coir), from leaves (sisal), and from stems (jute, flax, ramie, etc.).
From animals we get wool and silk and from minerals we obtain asbestos. With the increasing population, the demand for textiles is ever increasing and to meet these demands mankind has started to develop fibers commonly classified as manmade fibers. Man made fibers are produced from polymer sources, either from nature (regenerated fibers) or from synthetic polymers.
Classification is branching of whole discipline in different categories. Since textile fibers have ceased to be of descriptive discipline and have become a branch of science, the exactness and intricacy has entered into it. Therefore, before selecting any textile fiber for the intended use, the knowledge of the classification of textile fibers is essential.