Textiles: Types, Properties, Production, Uses And Care

Definition Of Textile
Textile is the study of fibres, yarn, construction of fabrics and finishes. The major textile fibres are: cotton, wool, silk and linen. Textiles were first developed as a means of carrying food, providing shelter and later used as clothing.
Importance Of Textiles
They study of textiles provides understanding why certain fabrics are more durable and serviceable for a particular purpose. It provides understanding why certain fabrics make cool wearing apparel or an impression of coolness when used as decoration in the interior (e.g. For door and window blinds). The study of textile gives one the ability to distinguish quality of fabrics and in turn appreciate the proper proper use of textiles for the different purposes.
Uses Of Textiles
a. Apparel: Textiles are used as apparel e.g. Inner wear and outer wear for infants, children, women and men. That is textiles are used in producing clothing, garment, among others for the groups mentioned above.
b. Home Textiles: Textiles are used in production of domestic linens, household textiles or home finishing textiles. Examples are bed, bath, table and kitchen linens, floor coverings window treatments and outdoor furnishings.
c. Industrial Textiles: They are used to design fabric for specific end use such as filter, conveyor belt, building material, tyre cord, motor belt, geotextiles, parachute fabrics, medical texture (cotton wool, bandage, and so on) and sport materials.
Basic Textile Terms
1. Fibre: Textile fibre is the raw materials used in production of various types of textile finished products. A fibre can be spun into yarn or processed into textile fabric e.g. Woven and knitted fabric or it can be used to manufacture fabrics like lace, felt, bonded fabrics among others. Fibre can be classified based on the source of production;
i. Natural fibre (from natural source) and artificial/Man-made fibre (from artificial sources). It can also be classified based on length of fibre thus, we have staple fibre (relatively short length) measured in centimeters; and filament fibre (long fibre) measured in meters. Generally, filament are known for production of smooth shinny yarns, while staple fibers make duller yarns.
2. Yarn: It is the assembling of fibers or filaments having a substantial length and relatively small cross section, with or without twist.
3. Warp: Warp refers to the length wise yarn on the loom or length wise yarn in the woven fabrics which lies parallel to the selvage.
4. Weft: It is also called the pick or filling yarn. They are the cross wise yarn in the woven fabric. It runs across the selvage that is from selvage to selvage.
5. Loom: A loom is a device used in weaving.
Reasons For Studying Textiles
The study of textiles helps to explain the reason why certain textile fabrics are more physically durable, and the characteristics of different textile fabrics. The reason for studying textiles are listed below.
a. The study of textiles will help students to develop better ability to distinguish quality in textile fabrics, in order to appreciate the proper uses for the different fibres.
b. It equips students with better knowledge of how to buy and what to buy as regards to textile fabrics.
c. It makes one to understand the detailed structure of fibre, yarn and fabrics.
d. To understand the properties of fibre, yarn and fabrics. For example why certain fabrics are cool to the body, why some fabrics are absorbent while others are not.
e. To understand the behaviour of fibres, yarn and fabrics end use; it helps in appreciating the proper uses of different types fabrics.
f. To identify faults, and their causes.
g. To be able to design fibre, yarn and fabric having the knowledge of required properties to meet the end-use requirement.
Classification Of Textiles
There are various types of fibers with different characteristics. The fiber characteristics depend on the source from where it is produced. Generally, fibers are classified into two major groups: Natural fiber and artificial or Man made or Synthetic fiber.
1. Natural Fibers: These are fibers produced from natural sources. It can be from animal, plant and mineral origin; e.g.
a. Plant/vegetable origin;
i. Blast fibers (jute, flax, ramie).
ii. Leaf fibers (sisal, manila).
iii. Seed and fruit fibers (cotton, coir).
b. Animal Origin:
i. Wool and hair fiber.
ii. Silk and other filaments.
c. Mineral Origin e.g. Asbestos
Synthetic Fiber/Man Made/Artificial Fiber; They are fibers produced by man through the use of chemicals. They are divided into the two groups namely;
a. Natural Polymer based: e.g. Cellulosic fibres, and protein.
b. Polyesters e.g. Polyonlefi.
General Properties Of Fiber
There are many substances in nature which resemble fiber but they are not fiber because they lack properties of fiber.
i. Primary Properties: They are absolutely essential for any substance to qualify as a textile fiber. This is because it is only those fibers possessing these primary properties that can be converted into yarn and later into fabric.
ii. Secondary Properties: In addition to primary properties, there are other properties which are desirable but not very essential. The secondary properties influence the selection, use, comfort, appearance, durability and maintenance of a textile product. Let us examine fibre properties in relation to primary and secondary properties of fibers.
Primary Properties: They include the following:
i. High Fiber Length To Width Ratio
For a fiber to be processed into yarn, it must have lengths that are much longer than the width. The minimum length to width ratio is 100:1. Fiber that is very long is called filament fiber while fibers that are relatively over short are called staple fibers. Filament fibers are known for the production of smooth, and shining yarns or fabrics, while staple fibers produce dull yarns and fabrics.
ii. Tenacity/Strength: It is used to describe the fiber ability to withstand force without breaking during mechanical and chemical processing as well as the textile product durability.
iii. Flexibility: Fiber require to be pliable, that is, the fiber’s ability to bend repeatably without breaking, so that it can be made into yarn and fabric.
iv. Cohesiveness Or Spinning Quality: This is the fiber’s ability to stick together properly during yarn production processes.
v. Uniformity: It is used to describe fiber processing the same quality (uniformity) in all the given primary properties. It ensures even/uniform production of yarn and fabric of uniform appearance and consistent performance.
Secondary Properties
Fiber secondary properties are listed as follows:
i. Elongation: It is used to describe the amount of stretch a fiber accepts or withstands without breaking.
ii. Elastic Recovery: It describes the fiber’s ability to return to its original length after being stretched. Example of fabric possessing this property is the lycra fabric.
iii. Resiliency: This is used to describe fibers ability to return back to its original position after bending, creases or folding. Resilient fibers recover quickly from wrinkling or creasing. Fibers with high resiliency include; wool, nylon and polyester while fibers with low resiliency include; flax, rayon, and cotton.
iv. Moisture Regain: This is the ability of a dry fiber to absorb moisture. This property is also referred to as moisture absorbency. A fiber possessing high moisture absorbency accepts dye and special finishes, and it is easy to launder and provides greater comfort value in hot conditions. Other fiber secondary properties include, morphology, flammability, electrical conductivity, abrasion resistance, chemical resistance, biological resistance among others.
Fiber Properties, Care And Uses
(1). Cotton
Strong, durable, absorbent, moth proof, dyes well, possesses little or no shrinkage, highly inflammable, resistant to high temperature.
It can be easily boiled, sterilized; dyed cotton fabric should be washed carefully to retain the dye.
Used in garment making, inner wears, rain wear, stockings, sanitary pads, e.g. Pampers.
(2). Silk
Lustrous, resistant to stretch and shrinkage, weak to alkalines, damaged by strong minerals, fairly acids absorbent, strong, resilience and crease resistance, fairly resistant to moth mildew and bacteria attack, easily damaged by strong acids, burns with characteristics of protein small.
Avoid drying silk in the sun, avoid spraying water on silk fabric during ironing to avoid water marks, wash silk fabric with gentle kneading and squeezing.
It is used for garment making, e.g. Ceremonial dresses, evening wears, scarves, ties, hand bags, cushion covers, bedspreads, carpets, typewriter ribbons, sewing threads.
(3). Wool
Very elastic and stretchable, shrinks and felt easily, very absorbent, crease resistant, poor conductor of heat or good insulation of heat, easily destroyed by alkaline and moths.
It can be washed using luke warm water by kneading and squeezing, no wringing and the garment should be spread out on flat surface under the shade to avoid over stretching.
Used in making dresses, blankets, cardigans, sport wear, rugs, carpets, upholstery fabrics, and raperies.
(4). Linen
High luster quality, strong and durable, shrink resistance, dyes readily, not very absorbent, creases easily, easily attacked by mildew, requires high ironing temperature, destroyed by concentrated acids, resistant to alkaline.
It wrinkles easily so it should be handled with care. However, it can be overcome by application of wrinkle resistant finishes.
Used in apparel (Napkins, suits, women wear, car seats covers, draperies, table linen, handkerchiefs, glass cloths.
(5). Rayon
Absorbent, moth proof, resistant to mildew and alkalis, loose shape easily, easily attacked by acids and bleaches, flammable, high lustrous, rayon is a weak fiber and its weaker when wet, poor elastic recovery and poor resiliency.
Good for dry cleaning in order to avoid shrinkage during laundry, it should be washed and handled with care, avoid prolong exposure to sunlight.
It is used in apparel as well as home textiles, industrial uses include medical textiles, surgical pads, under wear bed spread, table linen.
(6). Acetate
Less absorbent, good conductor of heat, drapes well, recover quickly from weakened by strong exposure to sunlight. High temperature causes the fibres to burn, garment made with acetates cling to the body.
They are delicate fibers hence the require greater care, they require very low ironing temperature, it can easily be damaged by strong solvents will be used. Does not require high ironing temperature.
Used in making women dresses, scarves, men’s ties, shirts, umbrellas, rain wears and bathing suits, garment lining, upholstery materials.
(7). Nylon
Strong and durable, not absorbent, good for durable pleating, possess excellent elastic recovery, crease and wrinkle resistant, resistant to mild acids, resistant to alkalis, chlorine and organic solvents.
It can be washed by hand and machine and it takes a shorter time to dry using hot water in washing nylon fabrics should be avoided as it causes formation of wrinkles.
It is used for night wear, head ties, knitting yarns, carpet tiles, upholstery fabrics etc. Mosquito net, tooth brushes.
(8). Polyester
Non absorbent resistant to mildew, weak acids, bleaches and sunlight, cling to the body, dimensional stable, resistant to insects and microbes.
Polyester fabric is easy to care for, it can be machine or hand washed, use only low temperature during ironing.
For garment making, but not good for towel, handkerchiefs, babies and old peoples clothing.
Difference Between Natural Fibre And Synthetic Fibre
Natural Fibre
1. They come from nature.
2. They nature determines the fibre length.
3. Fibre are found in staple or filament form.
4. The fibre can be mixed with both staple and filament fibre.
5. Spinneret is not used during spinning process.
6. No spinning process or filament production.
7. Chemical solution is not used in fibre/yarn production.
8. Natural fibres are comfortable to wear.
9. Dust & impurities are present in fiber.
10. It is not possible to change the fibre structure.
11. It grows with natural colour.
12. It contains natural crimps.
13. Most of the fibres are hydrophilic in nature.
14. It needs scouring and bleaching before dyeing.
15. It is easy to dye the fiber/fabric.
16. Most often they form ash after burning.
17. After burning, it smells like hair or burnt paper.
18. It is more expensive than the Man-made fibres.
19. They are environmentally friendly.
20. They are mostly used as human wears.
21. They are less durable compared to Manmade fibres.
22. They have limited use.
Synthetic Fibre
1. They are Man made fibres.
2. Fibre length is controlled by man (Man-made).
3. It is filament fibres but can be controlled into staple or cut length.
4. It is long filament fibres, it depends on man’s choice.
5. Spinneret is an essential element in production of Man-made fibers.
6. Wet, melt or dry spinning are needed for filament production.
7. Chemical is used in yarn production.
8. They are not comfortable as natural fibres.
9. Dust and impurities can not be found in the fiber.
10. It is possible to change the fibre.
11. Colour is added to the fibre.
12. Crimp is added on the filament.
13. Most of times, they are hydrophobic.
14. It may not require scouring and bleaching in most cases.
15. It is not easy to dye unlike natural fiber.
16. It melts during burning.
17. After burning, it smells like chemical.
18. It is cheaper when compared with natural fiber.
19. They are not environmentally friendly.
20. They are widely used even beyond human wears.
21. They are more durable than natural fibers.
22. They are multipurpose in use.
Textiles are important for everyone, it can be used as body covering, warmth, coolness, beautification and to display ones status in the society. Other uses of textiles include fashion designing, interior decoration, crafts, advertising (using banners and painters). It is also used in hospitals e.g. Cotton wool, plasters, bandages and so on.
Textiles are produced through different construction methods, but weaving and knitting are the commonest methods. Other methods include felting, laminating, bonding, etc.

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