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What is Fiber

Cotton Fibers
Textile fibers exist in nature or are created through technology. Technical definitions of the term textile fiber such as that of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) tend to stress their dimensions: "a generic term for any one of the various types of matter that form the basic elements of a textile and that is characterized by having a length at least 100 times its diameter" (ASTM 1986). Although this may explain how a fiber looks, some materials that do fit this definition are not suitable for use in textiles. The fibrous structure of an overcooked pot roast, for example, is obviously not suitable for use in a textile. Fibers appropriate for use in textiles must have not only fineness and flexibility but also sufficient strength and durability to withstand conditions encountered in use.

To understand and evaluate suitability of different fibers for particular products, professionals in the textile field and consumers need to understand the physical and chemical properties of fibers. Particular fibers may be suitable for use in some textile applications but not in others. Carbon fiber, excellent for use in high-technology products and sports equipment, is not useful for wearing apparel. Even among those fibers used in many apparel and home furnishing items, some are preferred for particular applications. Nylon has become synonymous with sheer women's hosiery-women may refer to their stockings as "nylons" although in fact, in the past, fibers such as silk or rayon were used to make women's dress hosiery.

On reflection, then, it is obvious that we tend to prefer some kinds of fibers for certain uses because those particular fibers offer some special advantages. For example, a particular fabric may seem to be more comfortable in warm or cool weather, may soil less easily, may dry more quickly, or may have an appearance that is best suited to a particular kind of occasion. The reasons for these differences among fibers reside in the specific properties of each fiber. If we are to have a clear understanding of the finished products and what qualities are to be expected of them, we need to know the fibers from which the product is made-and the characteristics of those fibers.

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Most spinning today is done using Break or Open-end spinning, this is a technique where the staples are blown by air into a rotating drum, where they attach themselves to the tail of formed yarn that is continually being drawn out of the chamber. Other methods of break spinning use needles and electrostatic forces. This method has replaced the older methods of ring and mule spinning. It also is easily adapted for artificial fibres.
The spinning machines takes the roving, thins it and twists it, creating yarn which it winds onto a bobbin.

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