Chemistry - Synthetic Fibres and Plastics



  • The clothes that we wear are made up of fabrics and the fabrics are made from fibers, which is obtained from natural or artificial sources.

  • The natural source of fibers is cotton, wool, silk, etc., which are obtained from plants or animals.

  • The synthetic fibers are made by human beings; therefore, these are called synthetic or man-made fibers.

  • A synthetic fiber is usually a chain of small units those joined together; each small unit is a chemical substance.

Types of Synthetic Fibers

  • The artificial silk is usually known as Rayon.

  • Rayon (fiber) was obtained by chemical treatment of wood pulp.

  • The fiber, prepared from coal, water and air, is known as Nylon.

Rayon, Nylon
  • Nylon was the first fully synthetic fiber.

  • Polyester is also a synthetic fiber; it is wrinkle free fiber. E.g. Terylene.

  • PET is one of the familiar form of polyesters and it is used for making utensils, bottles, films, wires, and many other useful products.

  • Polyester (Poly + ester) is made up of the repeating units of a chemical known as an ester.

  • Plastic is also a sort of polymer like the synthetic fiber.

  • Polythene (Poly + ethene) is a common example of a plastic.

  • There are some plastics, which when molded once, cannot be softened by heating; therefore, these are known as thermosetting plastics. E.g. Bakelite and melamine.

  • Bakelite is a poor conductor of heat and electricity; therefore, it is used in making electrical switches, handles of various utensils, etc.

  • Melamine resists fire and can tolerate heat better than other plastics; therefore, it is used for making floor tiles, kitchenware, and fabrics.

  • A material, which gets decomposed through the natural processes, e.g. action by bacteria, is known as biodegradable.

  • A material, which cannot be easily decomposed by natural processes, is known as non-biodegradable.

  • Plastic is not an environment friendly.