Video lesson





Textiles have such an important bearing on our daily lives that everyone should know something about the basics of fibres and their properties.


Textile fibres are used for a wide range of applications such as covering, warmth, personal adornment and even to display personal wealth.


Textile technology has come a long way in meeting these requirements. A basic knowledge of textile fibres will facilitate an intelligent appraisal of fibre brands and types and help in identifying the right quality for the application.


This bulletin covers various textile fibres and the properties that are important for a suitable textile application.

Fibre Classification

Textile fibres can be broadly classified into two categories:


Natural fibres

Man-made fibres




Fibers are classified by their chemical origin, falling into two groups or families: natural fibers and manufactured fibers. Manufactured fibers are also referred to as man made or synthetic fibers. The classification system used in the United States is dictated by the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act (TFPIA). Figure 1 gives a breakdown of textile fibers by these groupings, and the Appendix compares the properties of some of the most commonly used fibers.


2.1 Natural Fibers

Natural fibers are those that occur in fiber form in nature. Traditionally, natural fiber sources are broken down into animal, plant, or mineral. Fibers from plant or vegetable sources are more properly referred to as cellulose-based and can be further classified by plant source. They may be separated from the plant stalk, stem, leaf, or seed. Fibers from animal sources are more properly known as protein-based fibers. They are harvested from an animal or removed from a cocoon or web. Mineral fibers are those that are mined from the earth. Except for silk, all natural cellulose- and protein-based fibers are obtained in short lengths and are called staple fibers. Silk is a continuous filament fiber.


A class name for various genera of fibers (including filaments) of: 

(1) animal (i.e.,silk fiber, wool fiber)

(2) mineral (i.e., asbestos fiber) or

(3) vegetable origin (i.e., cotton. flex, jute and ramie fiber).


2.2 Man made Fibers

Man made fibers, such as nylon, polyester, and rayon, are produced by chemical reactions controlled by people, rather than occurring naturally. The term synthetic fibers is often used to designate man made fibers; however, to many people, this term has a negative connotation, meaning inauthentic, artificial, or fake. TFPIA classifies man made or manufactured fibers by generic names. Currently, TFPIAN recognizes 26 generic groups of manmade fibers.



(1) Polymers synthesized from chemical compounds, e.g., polyethylene fiber, polyurethane fiber, and polyvinyl fibers;  

(2) Modified or transformed natural polymers, e.g., alginic and cellulose-based fibers such as  rayons fiber; and  

(3) Minerals, e.g., glasses. The term manufactured usually refers to all chemically produced fibers to distinguish them from the truly natural fibers such as cotton, wool, silk, flax, etc.e.g: glass fiber.