Use of material properties in commercial products

Material properties are vital to consider when creating a textiles product, as the functionality of a fabric can make it a success or a failure. For example, a non-absorbent bath towel or a warm sundress would not be viable.

Natural fibres

Natural fibres are all derived from vegetation, cellulose-based materials, as well as products that are made from animals.

Natural fibrePropertiesUse
Cotton Cool, cheap, strong, renewableDenim jeans, shirts, lightweight clothing
Bamboo Cheap, renewable, soft, absorbent, comfortableKnitwear, socks
Linen Renewable, strong, creases easilyLightweight clothing
WoolSoft, hardwearing, renewableKnitwear, carpets
SilkExpensive, renewable, drapes (hangs) well, good insulation properties (cool in summer, warm in winter) Wedding dresses, ball gowns

Synthetic fibres

Synthetic fibres are not plant or animal based; they are made from polymers that are derived from petrochemicals.

Synthetic fibrePropertiesUse
PolyesterCheap, durable, non-renewableShirts, school uniform
AcrylicWarm and soft, non-renewableBedding, clothing
ViscoseCheap, lightweight, versatile, non-renewableClothing, underwear
AcetateResistant to degradation, cheap, no elasticity, non-renewableShiny, reflective clothing and curtains

Blended fabrics

Fabrics can be blended to improve their properties.

Blended fabricPropertiesUse
PolycottonCheap blend of polyester and cotton, crease resistantShirts, bedding
ElastaneStretchy, retains shape well, cheapSportswear, leggings
KevlarFive times stronger than steel, uses chemical bonds and weave patterns for strengthBullet-proof vests, car tyres
NomexHeat resistant and lightweightFirefighters’ outfits
SympatexBreathable and waterproofSportswear and outdoor equipment