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Diversification of Fibers
The development of specific fibers

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The Development of specific fibers among synthetics has encouraged natural fibers producers to redouble their effort to protect the shrinking market.

The earliest attempts to modify synthetic fibers were believed to aim at creating anti-static fibers for the carpet industry. Recently, with a shift in emphasis towards ecologically friendly materials, there has been renewed interest in various types of fiber modification.

Fiber producers have started to develop fibers such as “bioactive” versions and which offer a range of special properties, such as the suppression of germs and bacteria, or which are inherently antiseptic.

With additives, in the early stage, there were problems of temperature, as many possible compounds could not withstand the temperatures during melt-extrusion. This was specially so with polyester.

Now, it appears that silver-based ceramic additives offer a solution to this type of melt-spun fiber. Probably it is one of the major outlets for a range of additives that can safely be used in these higher melting polymers.

Manmade and natural fibers compete for niche markets
“musty” when damp, due to the development of bacteria in an environment that was ideal for their growth.

But it was clear from such a development that there was a world need for fibers with various special properties, and which could perform a number of different tasks.

In Japan, some fibers were treated with certain types of aromatic oil, which was lodged in superficial faults or fissures in the fibers to offer a degree of durability. The actual product was intended specifically for use in making bedding. By using pine oil, the argument was that anyone sleeping under such fabrics would enjoy the fresh smell of woodlands and “nature”, and this in turn would create an atmosphere of well-being during sleep. Several such products were patented, but gradually they disappeared and research turned towards more practical possibilities in addition to special medical-type materials. The development of specific fibers among synthetics has encouraged natural fiber producers to redouble their efforts to protect the shrinking markets. In the United States, for example, there has been a massive increase in the cultivation of organic cotton and in 2001 production reached almost 10,000 bales of fiber, according to the Organic Trade Association - OTA. This was supported by the quasi-official organization Cotton Inc.

Most of the organic cotton was grown mainly in two states: New Mexico and California where large areas are being irrigated. The yield was said to be about 3 bale/acre (150 lbs/bale - say 205.3 kg) from about 11,316 acres (4,582 hectares).

A new association is being proposed by the Soil Association, which is largely dedicated to growing of organic food in Britain. This will serve the special interests of growers of organic cotton, but the wider objective is to promote fabrics and garments which only use dyes ad finishes that come from organic sources. Clearly cotton would be a major fiber in this context. Already a number of brand leaders have started to introduce goods that are indicated as being “organic”. A major brand name in this sector is Nike, which has introduced T-shirts promoted in this way, and it is suggested that perhaps Timberland may well follow this lead.
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