Written By- Nikita Rajani
Guided By – [Ms Leela Taparia, Ms Monika Malik & Ms Sana Taj Sheikh]
All those fibres which come from natural sources and do not require fiber formation or reformation are known as natural fibres. Natural fibres are a renewable resource, are biodegradable and readily available from natural sources. These fibres are the substances produced by plants and animals that can be spun into filament, thread and further be woven, non-woven or knitted. Some advantages of natural fibres are that, these fibres result in higher specific strength and stiffness. These are renewable resources and hence, breathable fabrics can be made.
CLASSIFICATION OF NATURAL FIBRE
Natural fibers can be classified according to their origin. The vegetable or cellulose-base class includes fibers like cotton, linen. The animal or protein-base fibers include wool, silk. The mineral fibers are asbestos.
Vegetable fibers are obtained from various parts of the plants. Cotton and linen are the two major fibers obtained from plants. Other minor fibers are jute, hemp, coir, pina, sisal, kapok.
1 . Cotton: The cotton fiber grows in the seedpod or ball of the cotton plant. Each fiber is a single elongated cell that is flat, twisted and ribbon like. It is composed of about 90% cellulose and about 6% moisture; the remainder consists of natural impurities.
Care and finish of cotton:
- Wash colour cotton in hot water and rinse in cold water.
- Soak badly soiled article in cold water before washing.
- The fabrics are impregnated with a chemical so that the cotton recovers from creasing.
2. Linen: The linen fiber is obtained from the stalk of the flax plant. It is composed of about 70% cellulose and about 30% pectin, ash, woody tissue and moisture. Linen fiber is smooth, straight and lustrous. It is more brittle and less flexible than cotton. It is more difficult to prepare and spin into yarn. Linen fiber is smooth and cool to wear. It is firm to handle. It absorbs moisture well and has no fluffy surfaces. It does not trap dust but it creases badly and it is expensive.
Care of linen:
- Hot water, hard soap or soda is used for washing the linen fabrics.
- Rinse thoroughly in cold water.
- If necessary coloured linen is bleaches with chlorine bleach.
- If it is well washed and dried in sun then linen will remain in good colour.
Animal fibers are obtained from different sources, consist exclusively proteins. Silk and wool are the two major animal fibers.
1 . Silk: Silk fiber is a fine continuous strand unwound from a cocoon of silkworm, which is generally cultivated. Another type of silk is obtained from uncultivated silkworm cocoon. They latter produce a coarser fiber. Silk fiber is lustrous, lightweight, smooth, strong and elastic.
Characteristics of Silk:
- The threads of silk have no twists and have a natural luster.
- The fibers are naturally elastic and therefore crease- resistant.
- Silk is the warmest fabric.
- It is an expensive fabric to buy.
- Silk is non- flammable.
2. Wool: Wool fiber grows from the skin of sheep. It is composed of a protein known as Keratin. Wool is a coarse fiber and is wavy in nature. Woolen cloth does not fray easily and knitting yarns do not readily divide. Wool fibers vary in quality and length according to the breed of sheep. The shorter fibers are finer. Due to the natural grease from the skin of the animal, raw wool contains many impurities. Wool is a good non-conductor of heat. Woolen clothes help to maintain body temperature. It is non-flammable and safe material for children to wear. When wet the fiber become softened and will easily stretch.
Care of wool:
- Brush to remove loose dusts.
- Do not rub when wet.
- Do not allow fabric to become too soiled.
Mineral fiber is a non-metallic, inorganic fiber. Asbestos, graphite and glass are the mineral fibers.
1 . Asbestos: Asbestos occur naturally as fiber. It is composed of soft and fiber that are resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion. Asbestos is an effective insulator and strong fiber. When handling these materials, the process has to be designed in such a way that no asbestos fibers are released into the air.
Natural fibers are very important and very useful fibers which compete and coexist together with man-made fibers, particularly in the areas of quality, sustainability and economy and production. The main challenges for the near future is to further improve durability and mechanical performance of these composites & developing the eco-friendly as well as sustainable strategies for the same.
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