Fibers are a continuous chain of molecules that are considered to be filamentous in shape and are also a discrete elongated piece, similar to lengths of thread. There are many types of fibers and it has vast uses in our daily life. In biology they also have significance. Fibers help to hold tissues together in both plants and animals. Fibers are obtained from different sources. Fibers are spun into filaments, string or rope. It can be used as a component of composite materials or matted into sheets to make products like paper. Organic fibers that are found in vegetables and foods are non-digestible.
Based on the source of fiber it can be classified into two types.
Natural Fiber- It is the type of fiber that is obtained naturally from living organisms or by geological processes. These fibers are biodegradable over time. These fibers are comparatively expensive and are less available.
Artificial Fiber- It is the type of fiber that is man-made, such as petrochemicals. Some of the artificial fibers are made up of natural cellulose, like rayon, modal, and lyocell. Most of the artificial fibers are non-biodegradable.
Based on the constituent of the fibers, we can further divide the Natural fibers and artificial fibers as follows
Based on the utilization of fiber producing plants are divided into two types. The plants, which are grown mainly to obtain fiber is called primary plants, they have higher fiber content in them. On the other we can get fibers as a bi-product from some plants, these plants are known as secondary plants.
Based on botanical type natural fibers can be divided into five types.
Bast Type Fiber
Leaf Fiber – This is mainly obtained from sword-shaped leaves which are thick, fleshy, and hard surfaces, such as plants of the agave family.
Seed Fibre – Fibres that are obtained from seed known as seed fiber. Cotton fiber is very essential and it’s widely used in the textile industry.
Example – Cotton
Grass and Reed Fiber – Reeds and grasses are grown naturally in marshy lands and are used to make a variety of baskets, mats, and floor coverings.
Wood and Roots Fiber – This type of fiber is usually extracted from the trees, they have high cellulose content.
Natural fibers are obtained from animals which mainly consist of a particular protein. All animals do not have the same property and within the species, the fiber is not consistent.
Example: Wool, Silk.
Artificial fibers are made by the process of polymerization. The artificial fibers which are completely made up of the chemically derived compound are known as purely synthetic fibers and the fibers which are produced by using a natural polymer as raw material is known as semi-synthetic fibers.
Example of semi-synthetic fibers is Rayon
Example of synthetic fibers are nylon, polyester, acrylic
We can observe different properties based on the constituent of the particular fiber.
All the botanical fibers have a density of approximately 1.5gm/m3. Among the botanical fibers, bast fiber is the strongest.
Natural fiber has low weight, high specific strength, and high specific stiffness. As these fibers are biodegradable so they are also eco-friendly.
Animal fibers have a significant value in the textile industry. This fiber shows a variety of morphological character and is made up of proteins. Almost all animal hair is made up of the protein called Keratin.
Artificial fibers are very strong. Synthetic fibers are more durable and wrinkle-resistant than silk or wool so it is used in the textile industry as a substituent. Synthetic fibers absorb less water than silk or cotton.
The fabric has many uses in our daily life. Clothing, bags, apparel, accessories like hats, shoes, scarves, carpets, curtains all are made up of fabric.
Fabrics are also used for medical purposes as bandages and to dress up the wound.
Some of the fabrics are considered luxurious materials, like silk or muslin.
Uses of Botanical Fibers - Lenzing lyocell fibers are used to support the hops in the growing process or in shellfish farming. This fiber is also used on a large scale as they are disposable.
Uses of Animal Fiber – We get wool from domestic sheep, alpaca fiber, and mohair from angora goats and they are used to make clothing by hand spinners.
Uses of Synthetic Fiber – It is used in making ropes, seatbelts, wrinkle-free, and easily washable clothes.
1. Which one is better to use amongst the cotton cloth and the synthetic cloth?
Cotton wears are hypoallergenic and it is considered to be a very strong fiber. Cotton is soft and it has great cooling properties and that’s the reason it’s considered to be a breathable fabric. On the other hand, synthetic fibers don't have these properties. Moreover, cotton fibers burn with a low flame, but synthetic fibers melt and cotton has less burning time than the synthetic fibers. So synthetic burn is more dangerous than cotton burn. So, we can conclude that Cotton wear is better than synthetic wear.
2. State biological source, active constituent, and uses of any three natural fibers.
Biological source, active constituent, and uses of three natural fiber are stated below –
Cotton- Source is epidermal trichomes seeds of Gossypium species. The active constituent of cotton is Cellulose (93%-94%) and it is used in the surgical dressing, filtering media, and insulation.
Jute- Source is phloem fibers of corchorus species, the active constituent is Hemicellulose and lignin. It is used in the manufacturing of Gunny-bags and filtration media.
Silk – Source is the fibers obtained from the silkworm cocoons of Bombyx mori. The active constituent is a protein known as Fibroin and it is used in sutures and ligatures.