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Synthetic Fibers and Plastics


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Introduction
  • Man-made fibers and not derived from natural sources are called synthetic fibers. E.g. Nylon, rayon, polyester etc.

  • Synthetic fibers and plastics are made up of molecules called polymers.

  • A polymer is a large molecule formed by combination of many small molecules, each of which is called a monomer.

  • The structure of polymer can be compared to that of bead neckless- the bead being the monomers.

  • The process of combining the monomers to form a polymer is called polymerization.

Types of Synthetic fibers-

  • Rayon

  • Nylon

  • Polyester

  • Acrylic are some synthetic fibers.

 

Rayon: Rayon is made from wood (artificial silk) pulp, a naturally- occurring, cellulose- based raw material.

Rayon is moisture- absorbent and comfortable to wear.

 Uses: -

  • Home furnishings such as bedspreads, bed sheets, blankets, curtains, tablecloth, carpets etc. are made from rayon fiber, as it has a silky lustre.

  • It is strong fibre, it is used in automobile tyre cords.

  • It is used to make apparel such are suits, jackets, slacks etc.

 

Nylon: - Nylon was the first synthetic fiber to be made entirely from chemicals.

  • Basic raw materials for the production of nylon are coal, petroleum oil, water and air.

  • Nylon fiber is very strong and elastic.

  • It is light and wrinkle- resistant.

  • It is easy to wash and absorbs very little water.

 Uses:

  • Garments such as saris are made from nylon. Since it is wear resistant, garments made from it last for a long time.

  • Being very strong, nylon fiber is used to make ropes, tents, fishing nets and parachutes.

  • It is also used to make toothbrushes, combs, zip fasteners and machine parts.

 

Polyester: - Polyester is a polymer of many ester units.

  • Polyester is manufactured from petroleum

  • Polyester fibers are extremely strong, very durable, resistant to most chemicals and do not get wrinkled easily.

  • Polyester does not absorb water, so it dries quickly.

  • PET (Polyethylene terephthalate), the commonly used polyester, is made from two monomers by condensation polymerization.

     

Uses:

  • Polyester is used to make pants, shirts, suits and bed sheets either by itself or as a blend.

  • Its water- resistant property makes it ideal for garments & jackets that are to be used in wet or damp environments.

Acrylic: - Acrylic is a light weight soft and warm synthetic fabric which has a wool like feel.

  • It does not shrink is wrinkle- resistant and cheaper than wool.

  • It can also be dyed very well in a variety of color.

Uses:

  • Strong & warm, acrylic fiber is often used for making sweaters and tracksuits and as linings for boots and gloves as well as in furnishing fabrics and carpets.

  • It is used in craft yarns, boat sails and vehicle covers.

 

Characteristics/ Advantages of synthetic fibers: -

  1. They are stronger, more elastic and make tough and durable fabrics.

  2. They are color- resistant and do not bleed color when washed.

  3. They are easy to wash and dry.

  4. They do not shrink when washed.

  5. They are resistant to attack by moths.

 

Disadvantages of Synthetic fibers: -

  1. Synthetic fibers cannot absorb moisture. This makes them unsuitable to be worn during summers when our body sweats.

  2. It is dangerous to wear them while near fire, as they catch fire easily.

  3. They cannot be easily ironed as they melt very easily.



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